THURSDAY, October 1, 2009
Jonathan Seff

Theme: Dodo Bird — Clues to the theme answers are all homophones of doe.

Theme answers:
  • 27A: Do (KEY NOTE IN A SCALE).
  • 49A: Dough (BREAD BAKING NEED).
  • 65A: D'oh (HOMER SIMPSON CRY).
Here's the thing. Some people really hate this kind of theme, but I sorta enjoy it. Unfortunately, this one doesn't quite hang together as well as I'd like. Why? Well, because I don't think of an anonymous person as Doe — it's John Doe or Jane Doe. Two problems with the second theme answer. One was just my brain — I kept reading KEY NOTE as one word and couldn't figure out what do had to do with a speech. Then when I realized it was about music, well, the word KEY has a specific meaning in music (it's complicated, but it has to do with the tonic triad that's the main focus of a piece of music) and it's totally different than the meaning here (which I read as "primary" or "important"). The third theme answer is okay, but ... aren't the dough and the bread really the same thing? I mean, for bread baking need I would think yeast, flour, rolling pin. But the actual dough? Technically, I guess it's accurate, but it feels off to me.
And, of course, I would rather see the possessive in the last theme answer (i.e., Homer Simpson's cry). It's perfectly legit the way it is but, again, it just feels off to me. The reason some people don't like this kind of theme is that the theme answers themselves are not typically in-the-language phrases. That doesn't bother me much, but I would like the theme answers to be really coherent and make sense.

But, ya know what? Theme answers were all gettable from the crosses and other than my nitpicking, this was another breezy Tuesday. I'm guessing you didn't have a whole lot of trouble with it.

Crosswordese 101: How is it possible that we haven't talked about the ERN yet?! The only tricky thing about ERN is that it can also be spelled ERNE and with the spelling we have today, there are other ways to clue it (e.g., "Directional suffix"). There are certainly other three- and four-letter birds that show up in puzzles (the legendary ROC and the warbling WREN, for example), but if the clue is today's 36A: Coastal bird or "Sea eagle," or includes the words marine, shore, fish-eating, raptor, or predator, you're probably looking at an ERN(E).

What else?
  • 5A: Young reporters (CUBS). This feels old-timey to me. Do journalists still use it? I'm definitely not complaining, I think it's awesome. I'm just wondering.
  • 21A: French monarch (ROI). Can never remember if its ROI or REI (which is Portuguese).
  • 25A: Maker of ergonomic kitchenware (OXO). Not a big fan. They always look really cool, but they don't work as well as you'd think they would based on their price.
  • 38A: Dentist's directive (BRUSH). Raise your hand if you entered RINSE at first.
  • 55A: __ acetate: banana oil (AMYL). Had to get this one through the crosses.
  • 59A: Hitter's stat (RBI). Have you all read Michael Lewis's Moneyball? It's a book about baseball that rests on the premise that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are way more important than the statistics that are typically relied on (like RBI and batting average). I'm only an occasional baseball fan, but the book is fascinating and funny. Worth a look!
  • 61A: Duke Ellington's "Take the __" (A TRAIN). When I lived in New York, I used to take the A train to get home, so I always had this song stuck in my head.

  • 70A: Altar exchanges (I DOS). I like this and I'll tell you why. Sometimes it seems like constructors just tack an S onto the end of a word because they need help making it fit into the grid. But in this case, the plural is actually something people are likely to say.
  • 4D: Hustler (CONMAN).
  • 11D: Canadian gas sign (ESSO). We just talked about this two days ago! Please tell me you got it with no problem!
  • 19D: "Finding Nemo" studio (PIXAR). If you solved yesterday's New York Times puzzle, you had this one right in the front of your brain. (Hi, Kevin! Does Kevin read us over here?)
  • 31D: Pres., vis-à-vis the armed forces (CIC). Read this as press at first and had no idea what it was going for. CIC stands for Commander in Chief.
  • 50D: White 66-Down, e.g. (ALBINO). Random! This seems like an awfully long way to go just to include a referential clue, which nobody really likes anyway.
  • 55D: One giving Starbuck orders? (AHAB). I had No Idea the coffee place was named after a Herman Melville character! Every Single Day you learn something new!!
Everything Else — 1A: Gillette's __ II razor (TRAC); 9A: Half-and-half half (CREAM); 14A: __ sapiens (HOMO); 15A: European capital (OSLO); 16A: Speed (HASTE); 20A: Get loose for the game (WARM UP); 22A: Long, long time (EONS); 23A: Matured (AGED); 35A: Suffix with ranch (-ERO); 37A: Curb, as spending (REIN IN); 41A: Puppy's bite (NIP); 43A: Nearly boil (SCALD); 44A: Relating to the body's main blood line (AORTIC); 46A: Laddie's negative (NAE); 48A: Indians, on scoreboards (CLE); 53A: Sushi fish (EEL); 54A: Final Four initials (NCAA); 68A: Big name in kitchen foil (ALCOA); 69A: Sculptor's subject (NUDE); 71A: Animal (BEAST); 72A: She-bears, in Seville (OSAS); 73A: Promgoer's concern, maybe (ACNE); 1D: Melting period (THAW); 2D: Gossipy Barrett (RONA); 3D: Passionate deity (AMOR); 5D: Vie (COMPETE); 6D: Military morale-boosting gp. (USO); 7D: Indistinct image (BLUR); 8D: "Already?" ("SO SOON?"); 9D: "Evita" narrator (CHE); 10D: Steakhouse request (RARE); 12D: Oodles (A TON); 13D: Clothing store section (MEN'S); 18D: Bygone Serbian auto (YUGO); 24D: Laura of "Jurassic Park" (DERN); 26D: Plural ending for neur- (OSES); 27D: Meal on a skewer (KEBAB); 28D: 1 + 1 = 3, for example (ERROR); 29D: "__ a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (YOU'RE); 30D: How contracts are usually signed (IN INK); 32D: Has __ up one's sleeve (AN ACE); 33D: City in which de Gaulle was born (LILLE); 34D: Rear-__: hit from behind (ENDED); 39D: Grand Central, e.g.: Abbr. (STA.); 40D: Sweep under the rug (HIDE); 42D: Tylenol target (PAIN); 45D: "Good buddies" (CBERS); 47D: Sheathes (ENCASES); 51D: Cat, in Canc˙n (GATO); 52D: Land chronicled by C.S. Lewis (NARNIA); 56D: Double agent (MOLE); 57D: Pantomimed disco song title (YMCA); 58D: Many August babies (LEOS); 60D: Don of talk radio (IMUS); 62D: Outlet letters (AC/DC); 63D: Golfer's choice (IRON); 64D: AMEX rival (NYSE); 66D: Pied Piper follower (RAT); 67D: BlackBerry or Sidekick, briefly (PDA).


Parsan said...

PG--The write-up is for Thursday but the puzzle shown is the one we did on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

your puzzle doesn't match the one in my paper

Orange said...

It does now. (Thanks, Parsan.)

PuzzleGirl said...

Sorry about that, guys. I just grabbed the wrong graphic and didn't notice. Thanks, Orange, for fixing it up! I also said today's puzzle is "another breezy Tuesday." Why do I have so much trouble remembering what day it is?? I need a job.

Jeffrey said...

They're all breezy Tuesdays around here.

The ESSO sign by my house has these horrible numbers that keep rising. Currently $1.069. That's per litre. You do the math.

Parsan said...

PG--You probably have quite "a job" getting kids out in the morning. Most of us have been there.

This is a good puzzle and like yesterday, although easy, it had better clues and was fun to do. Two in a row!

Originally had BREAD mAKING NEED but got it right on downs.

Did not know AMYL or NYSE and first had 'a card" instead of AN ACE but they filled in. Yes, remember ESSO.

Liked CBERS and SO SOON and the way DERN crosses and rhymes with ERN. (Another shore bird the tern).

I took KEY NOTE ON A SCALE to mean the first or beginning. That's probably stretching the real definition.

PG--Loved Moneyball! Billy Beane's theory of selecting players was revolutionary in babeball and now other teams use it. I became a CLE fan as a kid when Larry Doby, the Bob's (Feller and Lemon),etc played. CUBS could have been baseball clued, but that is probably too common.

Met the great Duke Ellington, a reserved man but always the gentleman. Duke and Nat King Cole--thank you, thank you!


Puzzlegirl, when you're my age, you always know what today's day is by your pillbox. [CHORTLE here]. Young people LOL, but us geezers chortle.

A rather decent crossword albeit too simple for a Thursday (or a Tuesday).

Why did I want to put ATRA in (1a)?
ATRA is overused.

CREAM = {Half-in-half half}.
Cross of PIXAR with OXO.
D'oh (I use this too much).
ACNE = {Promgoer's concern}

I always remember Lawrence-a-Welk saying "and now we're gonna play Take A Train".

C.S. Lewis is my fave author, so it's always good to see a NARNIA entry. I love his allegories, but his book, "Mere Christianity" had a huge impact on my life!!!

I'm not sure, but I'll bet ERN(E) is one of the most used fills.

Yes, "Cub reporters" is still used... I just today got an email from a cub reporter, she gives the 411 on bear activity in the Great Smoky Mountain N.P. Cute, huh?

New Word-of-the-day for me is AMYL acetate for banana oil.

Why was I trying to think of another word for "magazine" with (4d), {Hustler}?

Did anyone else have trouble spelling KEBAB?

Could someone please explain what AHAB has to do with Starbucks?

doc moreau said...

Another LAT puff piece. The "dough" theme was clever, however, ...as were a few of the clues: "outlet letters" (ACDC), "good buddies (CBERS), "one giving Starbuck orders?" (AHAB) and "promgoers concern, maybe" (ACNE). A dozen more ingenious/misleading clues would've made this well-constructed puzzle worth spending a whole lot more time on.

Parsan said...

My brain thinks one thing and my fingers type another! I meant KEY NOTE IN ---,not "on", and "babeball" instead of BASEBALL? Doh!

My posts yesterday also needed editing. So pathetic!


Actually I'd prefer to go to "Babeball" game today instead.

SethG said...

John, Starbucks Coffee named themselves after STARBUCK, Ahab's first mate in Moby Dick.

Hey, guess what I'm gonna do here. I wouldn't, but you all have turned it into My Thing: One might have an ace up one's sleeve. But once you switch to has, you're talking about a specific sleeve. And once you've got a sleeve, you no longer have a one.

The Chronic-What?

Parsan said...

@JOHNS-----Why do I think only men can CHORTLE? To say a woman would CHORTLE sounds funny to me.

Herman Melville went to the school my son attended, Albany Academy. Not at the same time, of course!

Sandy said...

My hand is up for FLOSS.

Also slowed down by neurOTIC error.

Thank you for helping me realize why I don't like OXO.

And here I thought the coffee place was named after the Battlestar Galactica character ;)

chefbea said...

I love all the oxo products. Especially the salad spinner and the new cannisters with the push thingy on the top. Keeps things really fresh especially all the different flours for my bread making.

The puzzle - very easy for what ever day. And a good shout out to Rex with the simpson answer

toothdoc said...

I tell my patients to "only brush the teeth you want to keep" and have never told a patient to Rinse so I was glad my first answer was wrong.

Charles Bogle said...

thanks SethG for explaining Starbuck and Ahab...for me, the best thing about this puzzle was PG's write-up and great links to Duke Ellington, Paul Newman; also, how ironic ESSO is here w Canada reference that PG taught two days ago; way to go...otherwise, this constructor and I just inhabit two completely different planets. My fault I'm sure, not his. Had no idea what OXO was, who DERN was, AHAB here, she-bears in another language and that last theme answer re Homer S. And AMYL acetate. Lower left-hand corner took me forever. So no complaint here about it being easy or having hackneyed fill...I was just too thick and slow today to enjoy it

Joon said...

PG, i actually think KEY is being used in the technical sense in the KEY NOTE IN A SCALE answer. "do" is indeed the note which names the KEY of the scale. for example, in the key of C, do = C, re = D, mi = E, etc. your other nits with the theme answers are dead-on, and that's exactly why i don't like these puzzles: the answers can be whatever they need to be in order to have the right number of letters. my thinking has always been: if you're going to make up a phrase and call it a crossword answer, it should at least be funny, and clued in a funny way. making up four boring phrases and cluing them all the same boring way ... i guess you can do it, but why?

Sfingi said...

Doh - I didn't detect the theme, even after finishing. Which may or may not prove the theme is unimportant.

When I was a kid, all my dentist ever said was, "Open." Many times.

I don't remember Starbucks in Moby Dick, probably because the book bored me, probably testosterone deficiency again. One of my Albany cellar-door relatives (Lansing) helped support Melville back in old Albany. The Dutch Lansinghs and Gansevoorts had great faith in his talent.

I can never understand why certain books are chosen as the best works of certain artists for kids to read. Melville had many more interesting than MB and Longfellow had much more appealing fare than Evangeline.

Roi Rei Re - the last is Italian. Pinocchio begins - Once upon a time (C'era una volta) there lived - and the children immediately yell "Un re!, un re!" No, kids, it's about a piece of wood-
In English, king is from König,a baby word. But royal, regal, that's Italian.

Dough differs chemically from bread. It can be shown spectrographically.

@John - I know the day of the week from pills, but don't need to know it's Labor Day or any other holiday!

CrazyCat said...

@Joon thanks for putting into words, what I was feeling about this puzzle. It was just a bit dull. I was able to zip through until I got to the cross of Outlet Letters and Promgoers concern. I was thinking about Outlet Malls not electricity. And ACNE just never crossed my mind re: the prom. I was thinking limo, tux, corsage, etc. Finally got it though. D'oh. Thanks for the write up PG.

shrub5 said...

I liked figuring out the theme answers - the first 3 were not obvious from their clues, but HOMER SIMPSON--- went in right away. I just had to get the CRY which took a while due to an error in the vicinity.

I had KEBOB before KEBAB and my dictionary says kabob is also OK. LOL at Half-and-half half clue. And I thought the White 66-Down, e.g., clue was cute. Are all white rats albinos? I made a cursory search but couldn't answer this -- maybe someone out there knows. This little guy's picture was labeled as snow white rat, although he looks tan to me.

@CCLady: We had identical thoughts re outlet malls and prom concerns!!

Parsan said...

Sfingi--Herman Melville lived in Lansingburgh, now incorporated into the city of Troy, NY, as I did at one time. Not in the same century, of course. Was it named for your relatives? He wrote his first 2 books there.

Agree about some of the books required for students. Many of the classics are so boring it turns young readers off. Also, a book read at age 15 can seem awful but really enjoyed at 30.

Did not know Konig meant king. I had a wonderful onr-armed Civics (wish they still taught it) teacher named Ed Konig. Wonder if he knew he was a King? He could pass out a test and leave the room and no one talked or cheated, he was that respected (but not true of all our teachers). Does that happen anymore?

ddbmc said...

@Charles Bogle, Dern is Laura Dern as in Bruce Dern's daughter. Jurassic Park seems to be in another cycle through cable.

I remember the "down and dishing" Rona Barrett-she always seemed to be a tad on the nasty side.

My husband played the Gillette Cricket at a Gillette sales meeting prior to our "meet cute." We had sample Trac II blades around for years! Donated them to local missions and to our boys in Iraq!

Dad was an old ham radio/CBer guy (pre cell phones, pre everything!) He flew a single engine plane, too. Was flying home from some adventure and the local airport manager failed to leave the auto switch on for the runway lights, after the airport had closed for the night! Dad radio'd mom on the ham (crystal set)to get her to drive to the airport and shine her head lights down the runway for him to land! Talk about your scary situations! 10-4, good buddy! He could've been over and out! We played "Take the A Train" at his service, when he passed at the ripe old age of 83.

Hmmm. I always remembered the dentist saying: Rinse and spit! My new dentist says: Brush and Floss! I have an "osas" of a time getting that floss between my teeth sometimes!

Anonymous said...

very new to crossword puzzles (wednesday was my first completed one, woohoo!)...struggled a little bit more today with a few clues (couldn't get away from mach for 1a)...i was wondering though if anyone could explain 45d to me, i don't get cbers

Jeffrey said...

@Anon3:24 - Congratulations. I'm sure you'll just keep getting better with practice. Pick a screenname so we can chat easier.

CBer is short for Citizen's Band [Radio]er. Before cellphones, truckers used CB to communicate with each other. It was a fad in the 70s when everyone (including my dad) got one.

Bohica said...

@Anon 3:42: Cb is short for "Citizen Band" radio, a CBer is someone who uses one.

@PG: Be thankful for this puzzle, at least you had something to wrote about (even if it was in the form of complaining). This is the longest post I've seen her in weeks, because of previous puzzles ease/triteness. And that's a good thing.

Loved SOSOON and REININ (especially as the clue and solution relate to today's economic situation).

Bohica said...

Oops, typos (damn these fat finger) wrote s/b write and her s/b here.

Parsan said...

Anon--CBers mean people, often big-rig truckers, who use CB radios to communicate with one another. The phrase "good buddy" supposedly is a term they use. You may have heard "ten-four", a term used in signing off.

Sfingi said...

@Parsan - Lansing's are mine. We we're very upset when they got rid of the town name. I went to Sage for freshman year ('62-3) and liked shopping in Cohoes. Melville was a complex(+-) person, but impressive as a writer. Yes, teachers continue to vary in their disciplinary effectiveness. And, yes, I've read many classics a 2nd time as an adult, with better results.

My dad had a ham radio setup, but since he was a NYCity boy he didn't drive, and never got into CBs. He loved electronics and taught it during the war. We gave his ham stuff to a friend who warned that we shouldn't lose the frequency in case of attack. Remember the cell phone calls which couldn't get through in NYC 9/11?

@Shrub5 - Albino rats/mice have pink eyes from lack of coloring. They can't survive in nature because they don't blend. I guess the idea is that if they escape they won't spread. Also, they're pretty much clones. Not all white beasts are albinos. Polar bears, etc. need coloring to protect their eyes from glare.

@toothdoc - I was remembering how we had visiting dental hygienists at my grade school. I loved those ladies. That along with music, art, gym, penmanship (yuck) and recess. Gym was the weak one then since it catered to boys and competitive sports. We actually had a boys' and girls' doors - carved in stone.


I don't how many of you remember CB, but when our kids were little and we travelled, we became CBers ourselves and would chat with all the truckers on the road. The kids thought trying to learn their jargon was a lot of fun... remember "Smokey Bear ahead?"
Then we also had to explain some of the other @#%&/* words they used.
I was cleaning out the garage the other day and behold, there in all the junk was our CB unit. I wondered if I put fresh batteries in it, would it still work. Does anyone know if those CB bands are still in existence?
Now I've actually IMed with long distance truckers who have laptops and use WIFI... such a day!

Djinn said...

Started out in the NW corner with Mach for 1A, too, but had no other troubles with the rest except that I fell into the SE mall outlet/prom concern trap. Knowing that Ct. Ahab gave Starbuck orders helps explain why Starbucks uses a mermaid as its logo. Only participate 4 days a week here because I have a partial subscription to the LAT and little spare time. I have followed this blog for a year now. I commented as anonymous until I found out how to register. My daughter told me about this site. Thanks for the opportunity.

CrazyCat said...

@shrub, I'm thinking you probably have prom age kids or recent prom age kids. Mine have graduated from college, but we
had 8 years of proms. The concerns we had ranged from limos, gowns, hair, nails, tuxes, dates, where we would all descend to take pictures and most of all would everyone arrive home safely. Acne was never a concern. I just think that was an unoriginal and boring clue dealing with teenagers. In our town, you can't just invite someone to prom, you have to make a theatrical presentation of some sort. My son once had Will You Go To The Prom With Me, spelled out in olives on a pizza which he had delivered to his date's home. I guess that's a 16 year old's idea of romance LOL.


I've always wondered where the Starbucks name came from...now I know.
In some parts of the country there's a Starbucks on every corner. Not sure I like their bitter tasting coffees and the espressos are outrageously priced. But the most abominable thing that I ever saw was a Starbucks tucked away on the INSIDE walls of the sacred Forbidden City in Beijing China. I'm sure Mao is rolling over in his tomb across the square.

shrub5 said...

@crazycl: Your son's prom date request was very creative!
@Sfingi: Thanks for the info on albino vs. white animals.
@Djinn: Glad you're on board. BTW, I like your avatar!

All hosts and commenters: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, opinions, thoughts, musings, tips, etc. -- such a great bunch of folks here in this community!

Madge said...

I hate to see comments like; easy breezy, good Tuesday puzzle, I assume you had no problem with this one...

Not all of us visiting this site are "puzzle snobs"! Some of us are quite proud of ourselves for solving a Thursday puzzle with NO HELP!

You tearing down the puzzle only serves yourselves(self esteem), and tears down our own self confidence!

I'm just happy to see the positive communications and sharing of thoughts/memories on this blog, rather than the constant tirades against the constructors/editors of the LAT puzzles!

Mind you I enjoy Puzzle Girl, Rex and Orange pointing out the foibles of a certain puzzle (regards to Joon and Crosscan) I do not enjoy the comments where "everyone" bitches!

This IS the LAT, live with it! Vapid movie stars have a voice too.If we can keep the puzzle at this level (or a little bit harder), we've done all we can do.

So, stop your whining, enjoy the solve and get on with your day.

If you crave harder puzzles go to cruciverb.com and try today's "onion", or subscirbe to the NYT puzzles!

I say "good job Rich, thanks for ramping things up this week",as compared to the last 6-8 weeks!

Orange said...

Gimme a break, Madge. We're bemoaning the loss of the more challenging LAT puzzle we had for years. It's only in the last several months that it's been defanged. I loved it as it was, as I enjoy wrestling with twisty clues. The CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle and the Newsday puzzle already offer a crossword on the easy side Monday through Friday/Saturday—and anyone can do those puzzles for free via the Internet. I want the old LAT back!

mathcapt said...

Actually I thought the "Tuesday" reference was deliberate.


I say "Hear Hear" to Madge's comments.
We need to stop whining and start having fun with the LAT puzzles.