MONDAY, Dec. 14, 2009 — Samantha Wine

THEME: "PUT A LID ON IT!" (59A: "Stop complaining!" (and what you might do to the start of 17-, 33- or 41-Across) — theme answers all start with words that are (in other contexts) items that might require lids

Did you know that, according to the cruciverb.com database, PUTALIDONIT has been used as a theme answer a whopping ten times in the past decade (at least twice as part of a hidden "I DO" theme, and at least twice again as part of an "All the theme answers have the same clue" theme, e.g. ["That's enough!"] cluing every theme answer)? And yet it has never been used in this way before, where the first words are all lidded items that appear in non-lidded contexts (though POT-BOILER undoubtedly derives from a pot on the stove). The matter of context is important, as an ideal "phrases that start with" puzzle features those words in contexts *other* than the one that unifies them, i.e. JAR JAR BINKS and POT BOILER have nothing in common *until* you link them via the theme-revealing answer. Anyway, overall, a pretty good experience, and far tougher (and more Scrabbly!) than today's NYT — a "V" and a "Z" short of a pangram.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Comical character in "Star Wars" films (JAR JAR BINKS) — there is very, very little "comical" about him. If anything, he (he?) tends to drive people into rages, with his grating voice and ... unique ... syntax. Horror show.
  • 33A: Novel by a hack (POT-BOILER) — really resent the cluing here. Would rather read a competent POT-BOILER (they take skill to write) than most of the so-called "literary" fiction of today, ugh.
  • 41A: Ticket-selling place (BOX OFFICE)

Crosswordese 101: LEE J. COBB (26D: Actor Lee J. _____) — I know him exclusively from crosswords. Like TAMI HOAG, he can appear as either a first or a last name. Actually, for him, it's a first name + middle initial (yes, you will see LEEJ in puzzles, not infrequently). COBB is best known for creating the role of Willy Loman in the original production of "Death of a Salesman," and for playing baddie Johnny Friendly in "On the Waterfront."

What else?

  • 30D: Rising trend in the market (UPSIDE) — not a term I know, so there was slowness in the middle here. To me, an UPSIDE is a positive attribute.
  • 39A: Davis of "Dr. Dolittle" (OSSIE) — ???? he was in that? Oh, the remake! With Eddie Murphy. Gotcha. What a weird way to clue him.
  • 6D: Elephant boy portrayer of film (SABU) — never can remember this guy's name, beyond the -BU. Today, I had NABU.
  • 39D: "The Wizard _____" ("OF ID") — had "OF OZ," of course. Old, old trick.
  • 42D: Cat's front foot (forepaw) — not sure why I like this, but I do.

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Trumpet mufflers (MUTES); 6A: Like pretzels (SALTY); 11A: CD-__ (ROM); 14A: Observe Yom Kippur (ATONE); 15A: Degrade (ABASE); 16A: Latin lover's verb (AMO); 17A: Comical character in "Star Wars" films (JAR JAR BINKS); 19A: __ Bartlet, "The West Wing" president (JED); 20A: O.K. Corral event (SHOOTOUT); 21A: Old enough (OF AGE); 23A: French designer's monogram (YSL); 24A: Father of Isaac (ABRAHAM); 26A: Takers of pics (CAMS); 29A: Be superior to, as in the military (OUTRANK); 32A: Japanese sash (OBI); 33A: Novel by a hack (POTBOILER); 37A: Hit on the noggin (BONK); 39A: Davis of "Dr. Dolittle" (OSSIE); 40A: "Golden" principle (RULE); 41A: Ticket-selling place (BOX OFFICE); 43A: P. Hearst's kidnappers (SLA); 44A: "Is the gamble worth it?" ("DO I DARE?"); 46A: London guy (CHAP); 47A: "Fencers, prepare to duel!" ("EN GARDE!"); 50A: Sine __ non: essential (QUA); 52A: Seismic event (QUAKE); 53A: "Could be" ("I SUPPOSE"); 58A: Suffix with sub (-URB); 59A: "Stop complaining!" (and what you might do to the start of 17-, 33- or 41-Across) ("PUT A LID ON IT!"); 62A: Lead-in for metric (ISO-); 63A: Whisky __: Hollywood disco (A GO GO); 64A: Dad's brother, in Bordeaux (ONCLE); 65A: Pay-__-view (PER); 66A: Excited cry (WHOOP); 67A: Tries to find (SEEKS); 1D: They're above capts. (MAJS.); 2D: Great Salt Lake state (UTAH); 3D: Bull in a corrida (TORO); 4D: Gets a kick out of (ENJOYS); 5D: Does an usher's job (SEATS); 6D: Elephant boy portrayer of film (SABU); 7D: Not very much (A BIT); 8D: Data-sharing syst. (LAN); 9D: Displeased cluck (TSK); 10D: "Make up your mind!" ("YES OR NO!"); 11D: Indian bigwig (RAJAH); 12D: Last Greek letter (OMEGA); 13D: Digital data transmitter (MODEM); 18D: Hershey's caramel-and-chocolate brand (ROLO); 22D: Hindu wonder-worker (FAKIR); 24D: More hoity-toity, in a cultural sense (ARTIER); 25D: Ruth of the Yankees (BABE); 26D: Actor Lee J. __ (COBB); 27D: Peek-__ (A-BOO); 28D: Hussy (MINX); 30D: Rising trend in the market (UPSIDE); 31D: Puccini title heroine (TOSCA); 34D: Heavy drinker (LUSH); 35D: Fitzgerald of scat (ELLA); 36D: Harvest (REAP); 38D: Instamatic maker (KODAK); 39D: "The Wizard __" (OF ID); 42D: Cat's front foot (FOREPAW); 45D: Same: Pref. (EQUI-); 46D: Gangster Al (CAPONE); 47D: Furnish with gear (EQUIP); 48D: Emergency room VIP (NURSE); 49D: Eva or Zsa Zsa (GABOR); 51D: High hair styles (UPDOS); 53D: Othello's betrayer (IAGO); 54D: Sty food (SLOP); 55D: In days gone by (ONCE); 56D: Fancy hat fabric (SILK); 57D: Sorbonne summers (ÉTÉS); 60D: "That's icky!" ("UGH!"); 61D: Also (TOO).


imsdave said...

Hand up for OZ.

Leave us not forget Mr. Cobb's incredible performance as Juror #3 in "Twelve Angry Men". He was the angriest. A quick trip to Wikipedia shows me that Henry Fonda's portrayal of Juror #8 is listed as number 28 in the American Film Institute's list of greatest movie heroes of the 20th century.

If you haven't seen this film, I urge you to seek it out.

Paul said...

To me, UPSIDE has always been a hypothesized future, so that clue threw me also. Cluing OSSIE Davis via a crappy remake of a crappy movie concept is criminal.

I'm reading a collection of short stories hyped by reputable critics as the "Most anticipated book of 2009". Can't figure out why I'm not reading a good POTBOILER instead.

James said...

I am with Rex and Paul - UPSIDE is badly clued. "The stock may not be doing well and is not yet in a rising trend, but it has UPSIDE potential" is the notion I am familiar with.

I liked seeing ENGARDE and MINX.

Parsan said...

Thank you Rex for starting us off this week with a laugh. Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry were a wonderful team, especially in the TV show "Jeeves and Wooster", based on books written by PG Wodehouse. We can now ENJOY Laurie's SALTY characterization of a doctor on "House".

Had showdown for SHOOT OUT, and of course of Oz for OF ID.

Lee J COBB was a fine actor with a wonderful voice. When actors are bunched together as types, he seemed to be in a class by himself.

Did not like subURB.

Agree about POTBOILERS and "literature", and not only just current books. Some of the the "classics" are ponderous and boring, regardless of "fine sentance construction" (a point an English prof. used to make).

I did like the theme! Clever! This was a very good brain stimulating Monday puzzle.

@JNH--regarding your post of Saturday. My sentance was poorly constructed. My Mother made mush (no sugar), mixed and refrigerated until solid, then sliced and fried in butter, a preparation different than pone. Try it, I think you will like it!

Parsan said...

Sorry! That's "sentence".

Sandy said...

uptick for upside combined with ox for id gave me a really messy grid.

Sandy said...

um, "oz" not "ox".

xyz said...

-Very fun
-Very smooth
-very clean
-Medium fast (although I don't do speed puzzling)

Two thumbs up from me

Favorite: MINX -ooooh, very '50's

ddbmc said...

Loved "Wizard of Id" as a kid. But,I too, went for the easy fill, "Oz." Wanted "wawas" (probably appropriately spelled as "wahwahs") for trumpet muffler, but then got 'Utah" and redirected myself. 66 A, Excited Cry-had "wahoo" at first, but "sty food" cleared that up. 19 A __Bartlett, had "Jeb" making 13D "mobil" which was all kinds of wrong!

The "Jar Jar Binks" character was absolutely sub par for George Lucas. What kind of Kool Aid was he drinking when he wrote that character? Very cringe worthy-in the vein of Stepin Fetchit's role in old movies-whose real name was Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry. He was the first black actor to become a millionaire and receive a film credit. He was highly literate and had a concurrent career writing for the Chicago Defender," according to Wiki.

Fakir was new for me. Apparently, there are some fakers who pass themselves off as fakirs. Tsk!

I enjoys me a good Hugh Laurie-Stephen Fry skit. Big fan of "House."
Fun puzzle and write up.

Sfingi said...

Pretty satisfying cw. Never heard of Jarjarbinks, so I read up. I would have been kicked out of Gungan City for being clumsy, too. He created a debate as to whether Lucas should throw a bone to children by including JJB in Star Wars. So Star Wars is an adult movie?!

Had "Of Oz" before OFID.

You like forepaw because it's so cute.

We all love OSSIE, but his name never fails to put the word "ossified" in my mind.

Poor Sabu died young. He was one of the first "exotic" actors, and got the Distinguished Flying Cross in WWII.

@ImsDave - thanx for including that. The original 12 Angry Men is a wonderful B&W that I always showed my class. Great study in eye-witness ID and prejudice. Turns out Cobb's prejudice is based on his feelings about his own son. The remade movie's not bad, either. Glad you reminded me since I want to buy the CD.

GLowe said...

UPTICK or UPSWING for market talk, UPSIDE is a prediction, or good news, or silver lining.

"The upside is he won't live long enough to get out of prison."

"... a strong upswing in techs brought brief uptick to the NAS..."

Or so I think.

Carol said...

Nice Monday puzzle. I'm raising my hand for Wizard of Oz, but squared that away pretty quickly.

Enjoyed the video clip - thanks, Rex.

After puzzles yesterday & today, am once again looking forward to Tuesday's offering. Puzzles just seem to be getting better.

bluebell said...

For once I thought before writing: have been caught on the Oz/Id thing sometime recently, so I waited for crosses this time.

The clue trumpet mufflers amused me no end. I am picturing long woolen plaid scarves tied in bows around a row of trumpets.

I anglicized en garde to on guard, and had to back track when equip came into sight.

Bohica said...

Hand up for OZ too.

Also had Uptick for UPSIDE, just felt better.

Gareth Bain said...

Thank you for the excerpt, Rex!
BTW, the show is A Bit of Fry and Laurie which is a hilarious skit show, BTW


A very nice puzzle, but I don't think I've ever sailed through one as fast as this one before... well maybe the ones in Highlights Magazine for Children (Puzzlemania). Not often that I get a puzzle done before I get my first cup of coffee served.

I guess I'm not the only one who right away wrote Wizard OF OZ.

Haven't seen MINX used for a while. Hussy has an interesting etymology... here's what the AHD says:
1. A woman considered brazen or immoral.
2. A saucy or impudent girl.
[Alteration of Middle English houswif, housewife; see housewife.]
I find it interesting that the usage of the word "hussy" has evolved from "housewife" to "MINX".

The other word that's fascinating is BONK. The usual regional word for being hit on the head is CONK.

Now I'm wondering just why a hack novel is called a POT BOILER... anyone, anyone?

When I saw FOREPAW come up, I said "hey, that's for yesterday's puzzle!"

Yves Saint Lauret is a good crosswordese item, but usually I see YVES instead of YSL.

In the later Star Wars movie we get an out-of-place character called JAR JAR BINKS. Who else found him annoying and totally out of context?

Thanks @parsan for the mush info.
I've been finding that if you fry even the blandest stuff in butter it tastes pretty darn good.

@Rex, Orange, or PG
Here's a gnawing CW problem for me, so I'll ask for help from any of the CW experts:
Often we get a Latin phrase that I'm totally unfamiliar with (perhaps it's a legal term), like today's "Sine QUA non" (50a), and I'm forced to use a dictionary. Well today it was no problem because I could lookup "Sine" and get the answer. But here's the rub: When we have something like yesterday's puzzle "___ pro nobis" (ORA), you can't look it up in the dictionary because you need ORA, which is exactly the word you're stumped on. Is there a way to find Latin phrases without knowing the first word? This problem occurs over and over and it's frustrating. Another one was "____fixe" (IDEE), which I already knew from, I think CW101, but what if you needed to look it up... same problem!


Another etymological conundrum---
The word MINX was used by us guys in the 50's to describe any girl who "put out". I never really understood why they were called minks until I visited a relative who operated a mink ranch. Rabbits would be embarrassed to watch minks.

Tinbeni said...

@bluebell - I concur, of oz looked too obvious so I waited for the crosses to deliver the OF ID.

@GLowe - You are sooo correct. A stock or the market are generally reported as: "GE is on an UPTICK" or "the market today was on an UPSWING" ... occasionally I do hear UPSIDE, though its use is much rarer on CNBC, and a rising market trend IS a positive attribite.

FAV - reference to the Whiskey-A-GO-GO & LUSH (me and my Scotch at times. Hey, its the Holidays!)

ONCLE - french uncle twice within a week = lame. Did anyone NOT get it this time?

Rex - A big WHOOP for the Hugh Laurie Clip!!!

Tinbeni said...

I grew up here in Florida and before I even realized it I just wrote in BONK (due to the B in COBB).
Until your comment, I never even thought of CONK which sounds correct too.
So maybe it is a regional thing.


A little nostalgia here---


Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni - must be regional. I think of conk as the terrible process involving lye, that Blacks used to go through to straighten hair and which appears to be coming back. Chris Rock has been suggesting people accept their own natural look. I mostly agree, though some noses...

MINX - from Minsk? I guess it's just from Germanic languages, say the dictionaries.

chefbea said...

Never heard of Jar Jar Binks

Don't understand novel by a hack??? Taxi driver???

And is it ok to have 2 outs...Shoot out and Out rank??

Didn't get my NYT puzzle today

@JNH love your new avatar. You ought to have it put on a t-shirt!!!

JIMMIE said...

The comic strip "Mutts," surely a national reliable authority, consistently, as late as yesterday's LAT Sunday comics, uses BONK as the sound that results when the squirrel's acorn hits Mutts on the head. So there!


Well I work at the Morton Arboretum and I get pummeled by acorns all the time. The sound when they hit my head is always a loud hollow CONK sound. So there!

Charles Bogle said...

Ditto what some have said re Lee J. Cobb. Salesmen, Waterfront and Last Angry Men are on dvd and Cobb ensures they stand the test of time

Liked the theme; uncertain about POTBOILER because I didn't think it's necessarily associated w a "hack" writer. Eg, isn't Maltese Falcon a potboiler? Chandler, Hammett etc--no hacks they

Although I give this two thumbs up, I do have a bone to pick re some of the hackneyed (or just plain it's so simple-why-am-I-doing-this) fill. E.g.,BABE Ruth, Peek-ABOO, TSK, UGH et al; otherwise would be a keeper

Charles Bogle said...

And, is "Samantha Wine" a pseudonym for crazycatlady? (FOREPAW a clue?)

Tinbeni said...

@Charles Bogle
Samantha Wine is a pseudonym for Rich Norris, an anagram of "What's in a Name?"
As to the cheap, hackneyed fill. I learned (or is that finally just accepted) that sometimes the constructors have to use them.
Rex coined a phrase OOXTEPLERNON a while back when those four three letter answers were in a row of an Oct.NYT puzzle. He called it "the God of short bad fill" or there abouts. It is why I almost have stopped bitching about these things, at least they weren't eel, era,eon,eee, etc.

A second vote for your new GREAT avatar.

Orange said...

@John: No, the dictionary won't help you with "___ pro nobis," but Google sure will.

CrazyCat said...

Personally I thought this puzzle was an UPTICK from the usual LAT Monday puzzles. Hand up for OF OZ and UPTICK for UPSIDE. I vote for a BONK on the noggin. CONK is when someone goes to sleep or passes out as in "He's CONKED out. Or "He CONKED off."
@CharlesBogle - Thanks for the compliment, but I don't think I'll be constructing crossword puzzles any time soon. My spouse, however might find the name Samantha Wine amusing since I do like my Sauv Blanc. Not quite a LUSH. Did think FOREPAW was kind of cute as long as the little forepaw doesn't have it's claws out. @JNH liked your mink vs bunny story :>)

Tinbeni said...

Since @JNH changed his Avatar ... I decided to add one.

Couldn't find a "Don't Drink and Drive" avatar, so I settled for one that I rarely ever do ... I mean the running part.

After all they (whoever "THEY" are) always say:
"Don't Drink & Drive !"
"Don't Drink AND Drive !!"

How the hell am I ever going to get somewhere ????

Aaaahh ... it is Scotch time.

Sfingi said...

@JNH - Squirrel Nut Conkers' season when they drop the acorns and rush down to hide them is over around these parts. Hiding undercover seems to be in. They only come out in a thaw. Of course I left them lots of stuff in begging season that they SEEK now.
They have cute busy FOREPAWS.

Tinbeni said...

Our squirrels don't spend much time hiding acorns down here. Hell the coldest it ever gets is around 40 degrees in February for about an hour or so.
I like to throw them peanuts when I'm outside doing a puzzle, having a coffee or a Scotch.

xyz said...

Sine qua non is medical.

basically THE most identifiable finding associated with a disease process