THURSDAY, November 5
Xan Vongsathorn

Theme: "Mum's the Word" — Theme answers are phrases a person might say to explain their silence.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Non-speaking line? (MY LIPS ARE SEALED).
  • 22A: Non-speaking line? (I'M ALL EARS).
  • 34A: Non-speaking line? (WORDS ESCAPE ME).
  • 50A: Non-speaking line? (NO COMMENT).
  • 57A: Apt adage for this puzzle (SILENCE IS GOLDEN).

Awesome puzzle today. I really enjoyed this one. The theme is clever and the theme answers are all perfectly smooth, nothing forced. I can imagine someone saying every one of these "non-speaking lines." The only clunkers that jumped out at me were UNARM and CASER (14A: Render weaponless / 52D: Crime planner). Other than that, the fill is pleasantly diverse. We're spanning the pop culture spectrum from Li'l ABNER to The "BIONIC Woman" to and AMELIE (66A: "Li'l" guy / 46A: Jaime Sommers, TV's "__ Woman" / 12D: 2001 French film starring Audrey Tautou). For food, you have a choice of SPICY Thai or ORE-IDA Tater Tots (25D: Like much Thai cuisine / 44D: Tater Tots maker). With the colloquial SO AND SO and "I'M GONE" (43A: Blankety-blank type / 47D: "Later, bro"), really the only other thing you could ask for is a really cool constructor's name. Oh wait! We've got that too!

Quick hits:
  • 1A: Thumper's buddy (BAMBI). Pop quiz. Who's Bambi's aunt?
  • 40A: Vital anatomical passage (AIRWAY). I was thinking "I'm sure there are a lot of vital anatomical passages ... Oh vital vital!"
  • 49A: The Phantom of the Opera (ERIK). Other Erik-with-a-Ks to watch out for: composer Satie and CHiPs actor Estrada.
  • 6D: President with a Grammy (OBAMA). He won a 2008 Best Spoken Word Album Grammy for the audio version of his The Audacity of Hope.
  • 24D: Lhasa __: Tibetan dog (APSO). I can never remember this one. I think "Ipso? ... Apsa? ..." and wait for the crosses.
  • 33D: Country where Hägen-Dazs H.Q. is (USA). Very tricky!
  • 35D: Continue to irritate (RANKLE). We saw this word in a puzzle not too long ago. Liked it then; like it now.
  • 46D: Five-time Wimbledon champ (BORG). Sigh.
  • 59D: "How could I miss that?!" ("DUH!"). I was going to expound upon the differences between D'OH and DUH but decided to give my Inner Nerd the day off. I'll just say that, to me, DUH is not properly clued here.
Crosswordese 101: SMEE lobbied hard to be our CW101 feature a couple of times now, so I'm finally going to give in. In the various incarnations of J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," the pirate SMEE is referred to as the Jolly Roger's bo'sun, first mate, and cook. In any event, most crossword clues — like today's 18D: Hook's right hand — will indicate that he's subordinate to Captain Hook.

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Everything Else — 6A: La Scala production (OPERA); 11A: Cap seen on a brae (TAM); 15A: Ad target (BUYER); 16A: "If you ask me," in chat room shorthand (IMO); 20A: "__ at 'em!" (LEMME); 21A: Spill the beans (TATTLE); 26A: Word after pig or pony (TAIL); 27A: State of rest (REPOSE); 28A: Little women (PETITES); 31A: Aurora's Greek counterpart (EOS); 32A: Romantic hopeful (SUITOR); 41A: George Gershwin's brother (IRA); 53A: Magnetic inductivity units (TESLAS); 56A: Soda size (LARGE); 62A: Summer drink (ADE); 63A: Too trusting (NAIVE); 64A: Prefix with surgery (NEURO-); 65A: Smidgen (TAD); 67A: Bygone anesthetic (ETHER); 1D: Mooch, as a ride (BUM); 2D: "__ questions?" (ANY); 3D: Start to practice? (MAL-); 4D: Under-the-sink brand (BRILLO); 5D: Gets moving (IMPELS); 7D: Not as diluted (PURER); 8D: Look over (EYE); 9D: Remaining part (REST); 10D: .17 square miles, for Vatican City (AREA); 11D: Attack à la Don Quixote (TILT AT); 13D: Cover girls, e.g. (MODELS); 19D: Worn things (ATTIRE); 22D: Fury (IRE); 23D: Cat call (MEOW); 29D: Greek "H" (ETA); 30D: High point (TOP); 32D: Attach, as a patch (SEW ON); 36D: Accomplished (DID); 37D: Some coll. students (SRS.); 38D: Diamond source (MINE); 39D: Celtic land (ERIN); 42D: Behave (ACT); 43D: Goes after (SETS AT); 45D: Like theaters (AISLED); 48D: Brunch staple (OMELET); 51D: Source of edible oil (OLIVE); 54D: "Happy tune" whistler of Broadway (ANNA); 55D: Picketer's bane (SCAB); 58D: "Ich bin __ Berliner!" (EIN); 60D: Before, before (ERE); 61D: Negative conjunction (NOR).


Anonymous said...

Nice puzzle. Wrong day, but nice puzzle.

Up late celebrating PG?

Anonymous said...

Nice puzzle. Wrong day, but nice puzzle.

Up late celebrating PG?

SethG said...

Enjoyed it, but it maybe doesn't seem as fresh to me as it does to you. Because I remembered this. Too bad the Thumper clue didn't abut I'M ALL EARS and TAIL.

I made spicy Thai food last night, and yesterday I bought a 5 pound bag of ORE-IDA Tater Tots. The phrasing on Häagen-Dazs is especially tricky because Häagen-Dazs is not an independent company. It's a General Mills brand, produced in the US by Dreyer's, a division of Nestlé (Swiss). And in other countries it's different--for example, General Mills owns 50% of Häagen-Dazs Japan.


@PG Was it ENNA? (Bambi's aunt)

I really really like this puzzle.
The clues were precise, the fills were good, and the theme was easy to figure out.
I actually completed this puzzle before I finished eating my OMELET at Mother's Cafe... a place that I love and I hang out at often. It feels good when I can complete a puzzle away from home, because then there's no Google temptations.

Loved the clue "Hook's right hand" for SMEE. I just knew my first guess of HOOK wasn't right.

Didn't like the clue for (10d) AREA... thought it was a bit contrived. And, BRILLO, for under the sink brand??? I had BRITTA, the water filter (makes more sense). Who the heck keeps their scouring pads UNDER the sink?

I loved all the slangy stuff like SOANDSO, IMGONE, LEMME and DUH.

Did you know that there is no such place or thing as Haagen-Daz? It was a totally made up word to sound very Skandinavian. Us "screamers for ice cream" have been bamboozled!

AMELIE was a fantastic movie... go rent it! Audrey Tautou is a totally fascinating actress who you will fall in love with.

Anonymous said...

Delightful puzzle! I like any puzzle with SMEE. In Disney's PETER PAN he was a round little pirate with horizontally striped black and white trousers (which, of course, made him look even rounder). My younger daughter had a very fat grey tabby named Sweet Dreams, a name which over time morphed into Smee. I always appreciate a reminder of that roly poly puss. I enjoy your write-ups and always learn something. Thanks.




How nice is that!
A soft sweet rendition of the Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfinkel. Thank you PG.

Anonymous said...

Me, I keep my Brillo pads under the sink - where else would you keep them?

Good, enjoyable puzzle though

mac said...

Good puzzle and fun write-up. We are still celebrating, aren't we, PG? Now the parade on Friday.

I agree, unarm and caser were not pretty, and with the Li'l clue I figured it had to be a little rapper.

You think "Amelie" was a shout-out to SethG?

Rex Parker said...

I'M ALL EARS is wildly out of place here. Else, good.

And it's ENA (Bambi's aunt). ENNA is something else entirely (city or province of Sicily)

Burner10 said...

Today was the first day I tried the on-line puzzle-world, being at home and not on the bus. Loved the clock but I kept getting interrupted, so Ihave no idea how long it really took me. At one point I scrubbed a pot (yes, reached for Brillo pads under the sink).

Tuttle said...

No one noticed the bionic/borg cross? 'Borg' is a slangy shortening of 'cybernetic organism', effectively a bionic man or woman. I thought it was clever.

Joon said...

i also keep my brillo pads under the sink. and brita has only one T. i keep that in the fridge; where else would it go?

loved this puzzle. i especially like how all of the theme answers have essentially different reasons for staying quiet.

SethG said...

mac, it is probably my most favoritest movie ever, but I doubt that XV knew that. Too bad he didn't know me in college, when Brillo was one of my nicknames...

Van55 said...

Very nice puzzle, and I disagree 100% with the notion that "IMALLEARS" is remotely out of place in the theme.

I don't like UNARM, but CASER seems a fitting word for the criminal or abetter who cases a joint before a burglary.

Sfingi said...

@Seth - wow you have a good memory.

Things I got wrong and mostly stuck with: picnic for 46A BIONIC (too old), liter for 56A LARGE, Pete(Sampras) for 46D BORG, ach for 59D DUH, Gene for 53D ANNA, pygmies for 28A PETITES (don't say I'm un-PG), "upand" for 20A LEMME at em, stab for 55D SCAB. The last one was admittedly grisly, but it's happened.
Things I didn't know (besides sports): 16A IMO, 49A ERIK. That seems odd to me - Like King Moishe II of Great Britain. How scary is a guy named Erik? Guess I'll have to see the movie. I've put a list of chat room terms in my Reference Folder.

Googled 4 x.

Got my musicals all mixed up. It was Anna and the King of Siam. "Give a Little Whistle," "Whistle Whilte You Work," "Whistlin' in the Rain." Well...

Enna is a province, commune and capital. It's a mesa (high plain) in the center of the island, often called the Navel of Sicily. It has historic buildings from all the ruled eras.

@John - keep your powder - and Brillo - dry, is all. Do the Brothers go to Mothers? The kids don't know what we're talking about.

@Seth - there's a Dreyers and a Breyers? I know Breyers is kosher - can't mess with that by selling the business here and there.

@June - I like liquids lukewarm/tepid, so I keep Brita on counter. Never claimed to be normal.

Went to BJs and they had T-shirts celebrating the Yankees. Almost bought one for my husband, but the checkout clerk said, "you know this is only the AFL(or NFL? - whatever) victory." Well, I kinda knew what he meant, so I didn't get it. Thank you clerk.

SethG said...

[Breyer or Dreyer?] would be a wicked clue for WILLIAM. Two companies, started by two similarly named guys. (Dreyer's was co-founded by Edy.)

And Ben and Jerry and Baskin and Robbins and Carvel and Isaly are all real names too.

I'm not sure, but I'm guessing no one named Ida started ORE-IDA...

CrazyCat said...

Our constructor today does have a very cool name. My DUH moment was that I kept looking at IMPEL thinking it rhymed with Dimple. Then after a second cup of coffee, I had an AHA moment. Liked the pic of Bjorn BORG in his hootchie shorts. I am remembering that the last time there was a Phantom clue, it was ERIC with a C. My son is ERIK with a K so I notice these things. Thanks PG for yet another amusing and insightful write up.

gespenst said...

I liked the theme and the fact that it was 5 long theme answers. The first took a while, but after that I could guess the others more quickly.

I agree that "DUH" should have been "D'OH"!

I thought "NEURO" as a "prefix" was weird, I think of prefix more as a word fragment, and "neuro" seems too substantial to me. I guess technically it is a prefix. BUT I much prefer "hidden" prefix clues, such as 3D "start to practice" ... maybe 64A could have been something playing on "pre-surgical" (I'm not a clue constructor, can you tell?)

I'm a little tired of "Before, before" (ERE) ... we've seen that one too often recently.

Overall, though I didn't need to google, I thought it was a pretty good puzzle, maybe more of a Wednesday than a Thursday, but definitely an improvement over the last few months!

Oh, and I almost forgot ... where else would you keep brillo, but under the sink???

Bill from NJ said...


He not only has a cool name, he is probably the coolest cat I have ever read about. This young man is one fascinating individual. He had a late week puzzle in the New York Times last year and his web site address was listed. He is involved in an urban game that is a combination of Hide-and-Seek and racing in an urban environment. It is called PARKOUR and his desxription of it is, quite frankly, indescribable. His web site is called 101 DIVERSIONS and can be found HERE.

It is truly delightful.

chefwen said...

Brillo on top of the counter????

ddbmc said...

Loved "Amelie" Have the DVD, too. Did you ever notice that there is something red each scene? A shout out to romance and passion!

Enjoyed the puzzle. Congrats to the Yankees, (even tho' I'm a Red Sox fan...)College son's a Yankee fan and today is his birthday so I got him a Yankees WS Tee, to surprise him with. Don't know if he'll head to the parade tomorrow. Those ticker tape parades in the Canyon of Heroes are pretty spectacular.

Mr. Borg's attire is spicy! Ooo lala. (nice after the decidely male oriented puzzle the other day!)

Always forget Tesla, even tho' there is a $100,000 hybrid magnetic car by that name. Loved little women clue. Any one see that commercial with Erik Estada? E-S-T-R-A-D-A....
Tried Brillo, but prefer SOS. Ether one would work...

Rex Parker said...

The ways that I'M ALL EARS is out of place are numerous. First, it's a phrase about listening, not (directly, as all the others are) about being quiet or shutting up or being SILENT. The person saying it need not even have been speaking beforehand, or have been asked to speak, or tempted to speak, etc. Literally has Nothing to do with speaking or not speaking. In fact, after listening, one might (in fact, almost certainly will) speak. Second, the phrase implies that there will not, in fact, be SILENCE, but, rather, that someone (else) will be speaking. Manifestly out of place. You could say "eh, good enough"; I can see that. But to say it's not even remotely out of place is ... just not credible.


jazz said...

I liked REST abutting AREA. MEOW next to Lahsa APSO, and NEURO with ETHER. I don't know whether these juxtapositions are happy accidents, or intentional by the puzmaster, but they're noticed!

Didn't care for SETSAT ("Goes after") nor DUH, but overall found this a challenging puzzle. It took me way longer than the more recent Thursday efforts. Lotsa crafty cluing makes for an enjoyable solve!

Thanks to PG, XV and editor!


All right, ALL RIGHT!!!
So I'm weird... I keep my Brillo pads at the edge of the sink, not underneath.

I wish one of the Silence phrases was SHUTUP.

I think ORE-IDA is a potato company that's based in OREgon and IDAho, hence ORE-IDA.

mac said...

@SethG: I loved the film. Went to see it with two other couples, and several people fell asleep... I smile every time I see a gnome.

Funny you should mention Ben & Jerry. I gave a pair of kitten brothers those names, and my husband used to work for the company that owns or owned it.

Ore-Ida: JNH is right, that's what it means. My husband worked for that company as well, sothat we lived in Boise for two years.

DON'T use Brillo, just soak those pots. Don't want to damage the inside.

@Bill from NJ: How are you? Thanks for that link!

Sets at for goes after doesn't make sense to me either. Isn't it "sends after"?

shrub5 said...

Enjoyed the puzzle -- nice work, Xan.

I did not know the Phantom of the Opera's name was Erik and I've seen the musical about 5 or 6 times! Think I'll dig out a program and see if it is mentioned in the list of characters. Wikipedia states his name is Erik in the plot summary.

Based on the positive comments above, I'm going to put "Amelie" in my Netflix queue. Should get to it sometime in 2011....

Sfingi said...

@John - I keep both up top.

I have 2 doz. jpg pictures of Tesla and his inventions. I was a little obsessed for a while. Now that our city is 10% Bosnian, I see he looks like them, though he's Serbian. He still has much to teach us.

I'm humming the 4 Season's "Silence is Golden," and Jim Reeves "My Lips are Sealed."

Remember when Kennedy said, "Ich bin ein Berliner," which meant he was some sort of jelly doughnut from Berlin? Today, ich hab' eine Linzertart! And I don't mean I'm from Linz. Grüss Gott, y'all.

wilsch said...

Great puzzle. I first tried LITER for LARGE soda size.

choirwriter said...

I enjoyed this one, and even more so now that y'all have confirmed that it's harder than past weeks, and I still managed to complete it without a google! Whoo hoo -- progress is being made!