WEDNESDAY, November 25, 2009—Gareth Bain

THEME: "Rama Lama Ding Dong"—The words in that song title are found at the end of four theme entries

I finished this puzzle with no idea what the theme was—I knew that 43D/EDSELS had something to do with it, but in Across Lite, long clues are truncated in the clue list and in teeny print above the puzzle so I hadn't read the complete clue: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across. Aha! The long Down answers, MACHINE GUN and ANGORA GOAT, are not involved in the theme. The puzzle seemed sort of weird, but when "RAMA LAMA DING DONG" popped out, I was delighted.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 360-degree artwork (CYCLORAMA). This term is not at all familiar to me. The Wikipedia article is informative, and covers Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the U.S. Civil War, and Disney's EPCOT Center.
  • 26A: Former resident of Lhasa's Potala Palace (DALAI LAMA).
  • 41A: Wildly exciting, in slang (RING-A-DING). This...is not the sort of slang I use.
  • 52A: Long-time Chinese leader (MAO ZEDONG). The Mao Tse-tung spelling fits neither the space in the grid nor the theme's spelling requirements.
  • 43D: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across (EDSELS).
What else? Here are my favorite answers and clues:
  • 16A: Give __: care (A HOOT). Nobody loves a partial...except Woodsy Owl. He's just glad these words can be recycled rather than being thrown away to pollute the earth.
  • 34A: Limerick's place (IRELAND). That's Limerick, the Irish county. If you're looking for limericks, the ribald verse, check out Roger Ebert's blog, where more than 700 limericks have been submitted in the comments. If you're easily offended by ribald language, I beseech you, do not click that link.
  • 46A: Golfer who won the 1992 U.S. Open (TOM KITE). I like full names in a crossword, but this guy? I dunno. Dull?
  • 47D: Melville novel—OMOO is uninspired fill, but when it crashes into OMAHA (51A: Nebraska city), it picks up some oomph. Or maybe omph.
  • 24D: "In space no one can hear you scream," for "Alien" (TAGLINE). Scary!
  • 38D: Shi'ite leader (AGA KHAN). I feel a connection to the Aga Khan via Minnesota. No, really. Carleton College's president Bob Edwards left Minnesota to work for the Aga Khan on educational matters.

  • 42D: Bygone bringers of cold blocks (ICEMEN). Once again, cold weather has arrived and I have failed to caulk the old iceman's door to my kitchen. You wouldn't believe how cold it gets in the kitchen cabinet the ice door is behind. In January, there's really no need for the ICEMEN.

Well, we've covered AZO and OMOO before, so that leaves only a few Crosswordese 101 candidates. Hmm, ENZO Ferrari, anagrams A-ONE and AEON, and French ETRE? Let's go with basic French.

Crosswordese 101: The easiest clues are often fill-in-the-blank clues, such as 13D: Raison d'__: reason for being for ÊTRE. ÊTRE is the verb "to be," so it's super-common in French but if you've managed to avoid learning any French, maybe you don't recognize the word. Its letters make it an appealing glue for crossword constructors, though, so you need to know this puppy. Commonest clues: French 101 verb/word/infinitive; To be, in Toulouse/in Brest/to Henri/in Tours; and Vichy/Versailles verb.

Everything Else — 1A: Workout room (GYM); 4A: Bit of hardware (SCREW); 9A: Suffix with sea (-SCAPE); 14A: Extinct ostrich-like bird (MOA); 15A: Games authority (HOYLE); 16A: Give __: care (A HOOT); 17A: 360-degree artwork (CYCLORAMA); 19A: Hardly the gregarious type (LONER); 20A: Buckeye (OHIOAN); 21A: "Skip the sordid details" ("SPARE ME"); 23A: Like many airports: Abbr. (INTL.); 24A: __ firma (TERRA); 25A: Well fluids (INKS); 26A: Former resident of Lhasa's Potala Palace (DALAI LAMA); 30A: God of hawks? (ARES); 31A: Gear part (COG); 32A: Frank (WEENIE); 33A: Fanzine, e.g. (MAG); 34A: Limerick's place (IRELAND); 36A: Old Prizm automaker (GEO); 37A: Represent as identical (EQUATE); 39A: __ and outs (INS); 40A: East Berlin's Cold War counterpart (BONN); 41A: Wildly exciting, in slang (RING-A-DING); 43A: Guesses "true" when the answer is "false" (ERRS); 44A: Pulitzer winner Walker (ALICE); 45A: Concert halls (ODEA); 46A: Golfer who won the 1992 U.S. Open (TOM KITE); 49A: Prescription measure (DOSAGE); 51A: Nebraska city (OMAHA); 52A: Long-time Chinese leader (MAO ZEDONG); 55A: Boston airport (LOGAN); 56A: Throw out (EXPEL); 57A: Nitrogen-based dye (AZO); 58A: Pork cuts (LOINS); 59A: Essentials (NEEDS); 60A: Go one better (TOP); 1D: Canyon or Sierra (GMC); 2D: Toy on a string (YO-YO); 3D: Rapid-fire weapon (MACHINE GUN); 4D: "Eats, __ & Leaves": punctuation handbook (SHOOTS); 5D: Reef stuff (CORAL); 6D: "Saving Private __" (RYAN); 7D: Common street name (ELM); 8D: Cunning sort (WEASEL); 9D: Not paid hourly (SALARIED); 10D: Bach work (CHORALE); 11D: Superior (A-ONE); 12D: Keats work (POEM); 13D: Raison d'__: reason for being (ÊTRE); 18D: Golf course (LINKS); 22D: Shrimplike crustaceans (PRAWNS); 24D: "In space no one can hear you scream," for "Alien" (TAGLINE); 25D: Mosul resident (IRAQI); 26D: Forest female (DOE); 27D: Source of mohair (ANGORA GOAT); 28D: Bearings (MIENS); 29D: Near-eternity (AEON); 30D: From the U.S. (AMER.); 31D: Cash alternative (CREDIT); 34D: Neapolitans, e.g. (ITALIANS); 35D: Director Lee (ANG); 38D: Shi'ite leader (AGA KHAN); 40D: Server's basketful (BREAD); 42D: Bygone bringers of cold blocks (ICEMEN); 43D: Named for a car model, group who sang the 1961 hit formed by the ends of 17-, 26-, 41- and 52-Across (EDSELS); 45D: Leaked slowly (OOZED); 46D: Turnpike fee (TOLL); 47D: Melville novel (OMOO); 48D: "The Gift of the __" (MAGI); 49D: Info (DOPE); 50D: Auto designer Ferrari (ENZO); 53D: Stump creator (AXE); 54D: Red state org. (GOP).


Tinbeni said...

Excellent Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve?

Knew I was going to enjoy when Sinatra's slang, RING-A-DING (41a) appeared.
Then a few things just didn't seem to fit correctly.
For 34a,Limerick place, I wanted Nantucket. (There once was a man from Nantucket ...)
For 16a,Give____, I wanted A Damn.
Mao Tse Tung is toooo long, Ugh!

A few other 're-writes' and the next thing I realize is "Hey, the grey-cells are engaged, these are some great clues (ie.Well fluids - INKS)". And the longest answers aren't part of the theme!

AZO was new, so I learned something (I checked the CW101 link) and that is always a plus.

Good job Gareth Bain, great write-up Orange, especially enjoyed both clips and your link to Roger Ebert's blog & 700+ Limericks.


Nice easy puzz for a Thanksgiving Eve.
I second Tinbeni's motion.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

I really enjoyed this, just because...who would have thought RAMA LAMA DING DONG could be made into a theme? RING A DING was unfamiliar to me too, and the G was the last letter to go into the grid. Still got out pretty quickly for a Wednesday though.

A note on MAO: ZE DONG is the way his name is spelled in hanyu pinyin, which is the common Romanization system that speakers of Mandarin use. TSE TUNG is from an older system that's more commonly used by speakers of other Chinese dialects. The former is more familiar to me, and what I grew up learning, though (in my experience) less commonly seen in grids and clues. I was happy today though, since it was what I instinctively filled in :)

ddbmc said...

Delightful Wednesday entry from our own Gareth Bain! Loved the Rama-lama-ding-dong theme and @Orange's write up and clips!
Didn't know Aga Kahn, moa, azo, odea. Took me a bit longer than the usual Wednesday.

In the process of reading Frank McCourt's "Teacher Man," so Ireland and Limerick were gimmes. (Thanks, @Orange, for the limerick link- snicker,snicker!)

The spousal unit loves golf, so Tom Kite floated up from some memory recess. (My old personal favorite was Seve Balesteros) Like @Tinbeni, loved the Ring-a-ding. Old Blue Eyes was a fave of my mom's. Nice memories.

17 A- cyclorama--kept trying to put diorama-with various spellings. For whatever reason, GMC escaped me today and I know I've gotten that clue in the past, so cyclorama and GMC turned out to be last words filled in.

25 A-Well fluids-stumped me for the longest time. Luckily, I wasn't axed before I came up with the word! I kept thinking meds? oils?

Off to clean & cook for my gang. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

shrub5 said...

@Orange: Thanks for the Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong link. I do love me some doo-wop early in the morning and that one was dance-worthy.

Puzzle was fun. I had just one misstep...had WIENER for WEENIE but the crosses fixed it up. I checked ODEA definition/spelling after finishing -- plural of odeum.

Way to go, Gareth!

Anonymous said...

Way too easy even for Wednesday in my opinion. If I hadn't to stop and do some actual work, I would have finished it quicker.

Happy Thanksgiving All!

*David* said...

I found it an odd puzzle. Starting with the Downs being longer then the theme answers. The quantity of geogrpahical locations, car brands, and unusual full length answers like AGA KHAN, TOM KITE, and AGORA GOAT. I walked away kind of befuddled and not really sure of what I had completed.

scott said...

Surprise you all enjoyed this theme so much. The theme idea is great, I agree, very cute and clever. But I've never heard of CYCLORAMA or RINGADING (slang?) and the MAOZEDONG spelling is fairly nonstandard at this point. Only DALAILAMA is a decent theme answer imo.

That aside, the first two are both pronounced ...rahma/...lahma with a long [a] unlike the song.

Theme aside, there's some wonderful long fill here like AGAKHAN, MACHINEGUN, CHORALE, etc.

GLowe said...

Woodsy Owl. He never caught on like Smokey, did he?

I've always had trouble with a free association link between Aga and Chaka, somehow 'Wang Chung' is in there as well. Thought maybe Cheech and Chong, with Chaka Khan, playing Wang Chung, would be a good seller.

split infinitive said...

Gareth: this was a fine, smart, clever puzzle.

Scott: as noted above, MAO Zedong is the current spelling, according to many stylebooks.

Remember, Beijing? Now the TAO is spelled DAO in some cases, it's a new world of romanization -- no wonder my head is spinning!

Tuttle said...

Isn't "Shiite leader" an oxymoron since shi'a means "follower"?

Anonymous said...

The museum at the Gettsburg National Military Park has a cyclorama:

What in the world is a Cyclorama? This massive, 360-degree “Battle of Gettysburg” painting-in-the-round was first exhibited in 1884. Today, this colossal experience is exhibited the way the artist originally intended—with the painting (measuring 377 feet around and 42 feet high!), a canopy that removes the building’s architectural features from your sight, and a three-dimensional diorama, which carries the painted scene into the foreground. All of these elements combine for an illusion of immersion - you feel as though you’re surrounded by the fury of Pickett’s Charge on the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.


chefbea said...

Easy wed puzzle. Loved hearing the Edsels. Now to read all the limericks

Rex Parker said...

What, you've never heard "Rama Lama Gun Goat?!" It's awesome.

So RING-A-DING can be stand alone ... that is interesting to me. Very interesting.

Never heard of CYCLORAMA and did not know the fabric was named after the goat it came from. Cool.


Charles Bogle said...

Way to go Gareth! Clever puzzle; solid and inventive fill (did you and today's nyt constructor hob-knob on that four-legged critter answer?)..I second Anonymous' post re Cyclorama at new Gettysburg Visitor's Center

Has anyone heard "Ring-a-Ding" since expiration of Rat Pack? Liked: HOYLE, ICEMEN, EXPEL...not fond of: AMER, ODEA (?)

MIENS-tough one

@tinbeni, @mac: thanks for the great Fields references yesterday

Happy Thanksgiving Day to all...special thanks to RP, Orange and PG for these super blogs


If you're a seasoned traveler, the word CYCLORAMA is not all that unusual. I believe in my lifetime I've seen at least 5 very wonderful CYCLORAMAS. It is a panoramic painting on the inside of a cylindrical platform, designed to provide a viewer, standing in the middle of the cylinder, with a 360° view of the painting. The intended effect is to make a viewer feel as if they were standing in the midst of a historic event or famous site.
1) Of course most people are familiar with the one in Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama, is a huge painting which depicts "Pickett's Charge", the climactic Confederate States Army attack on the Union Army forces during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
2) The Atlanta Cyclorama is a cylindrical panoramic painting of the American Civil War Battle of Atlanta. The cyclorama is housed in a museum in Atlanta Georgia's Grant Park.
3) General Motors had a cyclorama called Futurama and I believe it was in the New York World's Fair during the 60's.
4) I also remember seeing one in Disney's EPCOT (the China Pavilion, I think).
5) My most recent sighting is the Cyclorama of Jerusalem which is located in Ste. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec near the shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre. It is a circular painting of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, showing what the city might have looked like at the time of His death.

J Garcin said...

My office walls form a cyclorama of beige hopelessness.

hazel said...

The Cyclorama in Atlanta is nothing to write home about - although I would say its a step up from J Garcin's walls.....

The puzzle prompted me to listen to Alabama 3's Mao Tse Sung Said which is a v. cool song, but nowhere near the best on the album.

Very cool and quirky puzzle.

Maestro said...

Hmmm.... Honed right in on 10D for Bach's work as CANTATA, a specialty form he employed over 250 times; some of his greatest choral/vocal works. The NE corner gave me fits until I realized it indeed was CHORALE, which is not a unique Bach specialty. Even Martin Luther wrote many of them. Interesting puzzle, from Bach to the Edsels! Happy, Happy......

mac said...

Easy Wednesday about a song I never heard of. Plenty of interesting words and clues, though. Good job, Gareth.

What exactly is the difference between a cyclorama and a panorama?
The one in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum is interrupted by doors, the one in The Hague, by Mesdag, you approach in the middle, at the top of stairs. It's a seascape, basically, and the foreground is real sand! Typical school trip destination. We know it as a panorama.

We have an artist friend, Sanford Wormfeld, who made an abstract cycloramas which was at the Edinborough Festival in 2008. I had seen pictures of it before, but it's now on view on the internet.

Sfingi said...

Did not know cyclotron - it appears there are a couple in the US.
Did not know Tom Kite (sports).

Had "fruit" before 40D BREAD.

Caught on to theme. Getting better at that.

Missed yesterday - Went to see younger sister. Unpleasant conversation with brother-in-law, a.k.a. the Troll. Went home early. Went to NW Jersey by mistake. Wished hubster was with me to see views. The good news? New Focus was great, did 37 mpg.

Comment on yesterday: Liked the theme muchly. May my tongue cleave to my palate if I lie. Had Behan instead of YEATS; had "earn" instead of GAIN; kept thinking it was Toledo, Spain. Haven't seen OATER in a while. Seen too much of ELIE on cw, cent'anno, may he live to 100.
Missed the mob discussion. Ho hum; "friends of" hubsters were at the Apalachin meeting, NY Southern Tier (said with polishing of fingernails on shirt).

wilsch said...

I've been to the Cyclorama in Gettysburg, PA. Great word that I've not seen in crosswords.

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi, were you in Mawah yesterday? Sorry "The Troll" was unpleasant! Didn't the Billy Goats Gruff do him in?

@Glowe, "Dave's not home, man..."

Wang Chung

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Apalachin Meetin' an all!


@Gareth... This was a super puzzle! It would work on any day of the week. Thought provoking, but very doable. Great entries. I like seeing longer words and uncommon CW entries, like CYCLORAMA and MACHINEGUN. Almost all the entries (including the fill words) inspire discussion, and that makes for an exciting puzzle. I like when I can solve without necessitating Google, but then I use it anyways (afterwards) just to expand my knowledge.

The clue for LOGAN should be "a place to avoid." I guess my many years of traveling to Boston has gotten to me.

Orange, I'm so glad that you did a CW101 on ÊTRE. I don't know why, but I always find myself filling in ETAT or ERAT for this French word. I've got to bone up on my CW French. However, I do know what "Je suis un gênie" means and that keeps up my popularity in Paris.

Some other good CW101 words: EMU and MOA, often get mixed up (like today).

"Give A HOOT: care" So does that mean that someone who works at HOOTERS is a caregiver?

I liked INKS for "Well fluids." Also liked WEENIE for "Franks", but most of my "WEENIE" friends are not named Frank.

The winning clue-of-the-week is [rimshot here]:
TAGLINE = "In space no one can hear you scream," for "Alien".

I too don't think of CHORAL when I see "Bach work" in a clue... I think CANTATA.

Some good @Corgi comments on MAO ZE DONG vs. Mao Tse-tung.


Here's my limerick, I don't think I'll win it -
I've a brain but there ain't too much in it.
I'm possessed, if you please,
With "Egg timer's" disease.
I forget everything in a minute.

Oh, here's one that I can remember.
On Thanksgiving Jule's can dismember,
The turkey for us,
Now don't make a fuss,
There's enough to go round this November.

You can share out the thighs and the breast,
Add some Cranberry sauce for some zest.
But the piece I will own,
Is the bit with the bone
To wish you my Thanksgiving best.

Hope y'all have a RING-A-DING
Thanksgiving Day.

And don't mess-up with those WEENIE relatives!

Karen from the Cape said...

We went to the Cyclorama by the Atlanta Zoo several times in my childhood, to me it's more cherished as a memory than a piece of art. I'm so used to seeing the Civil War told from the POV of the South that Gettysburg felt like a foreign country; I don't remember their cyclorama.

Sfingi said...

@Near Newton. I had the car with the SFINGI plates.

@Karen - What cape are you from?
I guess not Cod. I'm assuming the Cyclotron in Atlanta is from the POV of the South? or is that non-PC? It would be curious to me.

Don't have time for NYT today, though I bought the last one in the county.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. We've been invited to 3 homes. That either means we are fun or they want to be sure I won't cook.

ddbmc said...

@Newton's up the road a piece, not too far. Used to go to the Stanhope House to listen to music.

Enjoy your non-cooking day!