THURSDAY, December 24, 2009 — Elizabeth A. Long

Theme: Looong answers — Theme answers are familiar phrases, the first word of which means, roughly, elongate, with the second word lengthened by adding an extra vowel.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Too long a ride? (STRETCH LIIMO).
  • 37A: Too many relatives? (EXTENDED FAAMILY).
  • 54A: Too much information? (SPREAD SHEEET).
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate the holiday. And for the rest of you, I hope you're having a great day and at least enjoying a day off. In keeping with out tradition, PuzzleFamily will be opening presents tonight after dinner. Then tomorrow morning the kids will probably have a couple things to open from "Santa." (They've always known that Santa doesn't exist, but we all kind of like the idea of Santa.) Then PuzzleGram and PuzzleGramp will show up Friday night. They are coming straight from Costa Rica and I'm going to guess they will not be happy with the results of the ice storm we're supposed to get today. Anyway, it's going to be a fun-filled couple of days I'm sure and then PuzzleHusband and I are off to Chicago for a college wrestling tournament. Go, Hawks!

Oh, you want to talk about the puzzle? Well, I thought the theme was a little on the weird side. I get it that the words are stretched, extended, and spread, and that they all do that by adding a vowel but ... why? It just seems kind of random to me. Maybe if there had been just one more theme answer it would have magically come together. I don't know. It didn't thrill me, but there were still some interesting parts.

A couple things about the puzzle:
  • 1A: Spare underwear (THONG). Okay, that clue is so weird that it's hilarious. I'm all "Spare underwear? Do people keep spares in their office desk drawer or their car or something?" But in this case, spare means "not liberal or profuse," which I guess is an accurate way to describe a thong. Yikes.
  • 14A: Joyous shout (WAHOO). Just received a holiday card today from an old friend who always had a vanity license plate that said WAHOOOOO (or however many O's were allowed). I don't know if he was always having fun, but he liked people to think so!
  • 17A: Mideast language (IRANI). I'm pretty sure we've talked about this before and I'm going to call foul on this answer. I'm no expert, but from the little bit of poking around I did, IRANI is a person, not a language. In fact, there are a whole mess of languages spoke in Iran, but not a single one of them is called IRANI. Also, according to the Cruciverb.com data base, IRANI has never been clued as a language in any of the major publications. I think this might be a mistake that slipped through the cracks. But feel free to edjumicate me if I'm wrong.
  • 24A: Presidential pollster John (ZOGBY). Being something of a politics geek, this was a gimme for me.
  • 34A: Swinger's cry (WHEE). I think the THONG answer must have directed my mind down to the gutter because this clue had me thinking of a whole different kind of swinger (that would, obviously, have a whole different kind of "cry").
  • 36A: Fox hunt call (HALLO). No idea. I was thinking tally-ho for some reason. I guess it's been a long time since I've been fox hunting.
  • 61A: Good way for dreams to come (TRUE). This feels off to me too. Seems like TRUE would be a good way for good dreams to come. I don't think I'd really want to be finding myself in random homes that aren't mine but at the same time they are (ya know?) and walking around having random people from my past showing up with different names. That would not be good.
  • 2D: Roaring Camp chronicler (HARTE). Got this one from crosses. Apparently it was his story, "The Luck of Roaring Camp" that "propell[ed] Harte to nationwide fame."
  • 3D: Hub near the Loop (O'HARE). See ya soon, O'Hare!
  • 4D: Large chamber groups (NONETS). That would be a group of nine.
  • 5D: Thyroid problem (GOITER). Ew! Ew! Breakfast test!
  • 8D: DXXX ÷ X (LIII). I know some of your are going to whine about this roman numeral clue/answer pair, but I really don't mind the kind — like this one — where I can do the math in my head.
  • 30D: Brown sauces (SOYS). No idea what this means.
  • 38D: City SSE of Las Cruces, NM (EL PASO, TX). Okay, this is awesome. I have a cousin who's a musician and has a song called "Las Cruces." It had never occurred to me before right now to go see if there was a video of him performing the song and guess what! There is!

Crosswordese 101: There are three primary ways puzzle constructors clue RES.
  • A short form of resolution (as in, "hi-res monitor").
  • The plural of the second syllable in solfeèe (do re mi, etc.).
  • The Latin word for thing.
The first two are pretty easy to pick out in clues. The third one will either be a fill-in-the-blank clue with a common Latin phrase — e.g., "In medias ___," "___ judicata," "___ ipsa loquitur" — or the clue will mention something about the law — it will include the word law, legal, case or, as in today's clue, 31A: Matter in court.

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Everything Else — 6A: Thermometer part (BULB); 10A: Farm female (MARE); 15A: Most of Ohio's northern boundary (ERIE); 16A: Cameo gemstone (ONYX); 18A: A 66-Across lacks one (TAIL); 19A: Nureyev's negative (NYET); 23A: Sway (TEETER); 27A: Sellout signs (SROS); 29A: Orders (DECREES); 41A: Inscribed monument (STELA); 42A: Piano piece with "primo" and "secondo" parts, e.g. (DUET); 43A: Plural feature, usually (ESS); 44A: Sends a check with the order (PREPAYS); 46A: Columnist Barrett (RONA); 49A: Chop-chop (APACE); 50A: Calendar divisions (MONTHS); 58A: Weaponless self-defense (JUDO); 62A: Board for nails (EMERY); 63A: "__ happens ..." (AS IT); 64A: Diet label word (LITE); 65A: Some closet contents (LINEN); 66A: Critter with no 18-Across (MANX); 67A: Son of Seth (ENOS); 68A: So yesterday (PASSÉ); 1D: Peel in a drink (TWIST); 6D: Aleph follower (BETH); 7D: River through Kazakhstan (URAL); 9D: Mexico neighbor (BELIZE); 10D: LBJ or JFK (MONOGRAM); 11D: Whichever (ANY); 12D: Ham site (RYE); 13D: Request to an oper. (EXT.); 21D: Stand very close to (CROWD); 22D: Chocolate-flavored coffee (MOCHA); 25D: Misrepresent (BELIE); 26D: Sounds angry (YELLS); 28D: Lets the fur fly? (SHEDS); 29D: Postpone (DEFER); 31D: Breathing: Abbr. (RESP.); 32D: More than usual (EXTRA); 33D: Prohibitive, perhaps (STEEP); 35D: University Web site ending (EDU); 39D: Civil rights org. (NAACP); 40D: Matter components (ATOMS); 45D: Seuss turtle (YERTLE); 47D: Useless (NO HELP); 48D: Lack of vitality (ANEMIA); 51D: Soon-to-be adults (TEENS); 52D: Word spoken with a raised glass (HERE'S); 53D: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" composer (STYNE); 55D: Joyce's motherland (ERIN); 56D: Focus opening (AUTO); 57D: Substandard marks (DEES); 58D: Dilemma (JAM); 59D: "Royal Pains" network (USA); 60D: Loud noise (DIN).


Tinbeni said...

On Christmas Eve I was expecting maybe a Holiday theme, instead we get this trite, obtuse mess (which is how my puzzle looked after the write-overs).

Farsi or Parsi, OK - IRANI? = stupid answer.
STELA, inscribed monument? STELE or STELAE, I know, but I found no ref. that has this spelling. anyone?
RES = latin "thing" two days in a row.
Is O'HARE really close to the Loop in Chicago?

@JNH, you're the photo guy, is AUTO a good ans.for Focus opening?

@Sfingi - ZOGBY, your Utica native. I know you jumped on this one, I got from the crosses.

Wanted Fore for WHEE. Tally(ho) for HALLO ... and my fav.non answer, wanted s**t happens for AS IT (shades of yesterdays shinola).

Fav = MANX and its 16a lacks one, TAIL.

@PG Great clip, loved the EP PASO,TX - remembered @ORANGE comment on the Rule of Cluing Equivalence, so the state thing fell into place.


Not what I anticipated for a Christmas Eve puzzle, but it was a “quickie” and that’s okay for today.
I liked those onomatopoeia words, WHEE and WAHOO, but sure didn’t like seeing made up words like LIIMO, FAAMILY, and SHEEET. I think (13d) clue should be changed to “Request from an oper.” (EXT). Then there’s LIII “DXXX/X”… this gets a huuuge uuugh!
And, I really hate the "Hub near the Loop" clue. O'HARE airport is far far from the Loop. Obviously Ms. Long has never taken that harrowing one hour taxi ride.
Now yesterday we had that “____ and Shinola” clue… today we have “__it happens”. Hey constructors, you’re teasing all these dirty minds out here.
Words I liked (yes, there were a few): ZOGBY, STELA, HALLO, STYNE, YERTLE, and MANX. Wow, we just had MINX and now we learn about the tailless MANX.
@Puzzlegirl, your writeup got me really laughing today....ROFLOL! Can you hear those bellowing HO HO HO's? I especially liked your comment about the spare THONG. Our family always opened presents on Christmas Eve also. I always thought this was a scandinavian tradition.
@Tinbeni, yes AUTOfocus is a feature of most modern cameras. The word "opening" is one of the tricky CW things meaning prefix. I'm sort of old fashioned in that I never use the autofocus... actually, I like to be in total control of all the camera settings.
Well, it’s time for that very special pancake/ham breakfast with my MOCHA coffee… WAHOO!
Y’all have a very Merry Christmas!

imsdave said...

That had to be one of the most bizarre themes I've ever seen! Not a bad puzzle, just strange. I had _ALL_ and thought to myself - aha - it's a missing word puzzle. I was sure it was TALLY with an implied HO at the end of it. What a fun idea for Christmas. Now I just need to find the other two implied HO's, and the reveal answer of HOHOHO.

Not exactly. Strange how we puzzlers think sometimes.


Wanna see a delightful clip for the holidays?
I know you'll love this one!!!

Anonymous said...

Gosh, I really enjoyed this puzzle, and loved the theme. I assume SOYS refers to soy sauces.

Hope everyone is having a great holiday/day off!

Amy B.

Gareth Bain said...

Yeah, I'm all for a different gimmick but this one's a little weird... Was amused that it was Elizabeth Long making a theme based on making things long. And ELPASOTX is such a crazy answer, but in the best kind of way.

Don't see what's wrong with GOITER, though? They're just swollen, they don't ooze or do anything disgusting just make you look like you've swallowed a plate. I'd argue THONG is much closer to failing the breakfast test...

Tinbeni said...

Great Holiday DUET clip !!!

I know that AUTOfocus is on most cameras. I was questioning that the "opening" is referred to as "auto" (probably just being picky).

The funny thing with the "add a vowel" theme is that when I was doing the puzzle, I had my "I Love Spreadsheets" T-Shirt on (a Christmas present from a client). So when I was answering 54-A it became a major groan, leading to two more groans at liimo and faamily.

imsdave said...

Lovely Christmas present JNH - thank you so much

GLowe said...

I thought the theme was great. Cute in fact. One more would have made it ...er ... greater.

OT Perfect storms: When 3 things have to go wrong, in succession, in order mess one up.

Local rag NYT (synd) puzzle today, I got absolutely nowhere. Themeless, big longs stacks. WTH?? (note the H = heck).
Check RP's blog, link not updated yet. No biggie, I can use 'the google' to find it. There it is, the wrong puzzle. Double WTH?? Back to the google, find it. It's synd. + 1 day = Friday, Nov 20th.

AH! Now, Charlie don't do Fridays very well, so that's one mystery solved. The other? Local rag doesn't publish tomorrow, I guess they thought they're doing a favor by giving us the Friday puzzle!

*David* said...

I really disliked this puzzle. The theme came out as forced. There should have been some consistency of vowels between consonants for it to have a semblance of working, seeing SHEEET is just...

I also do NOT like the onomatopoeia words since the option of variant spellings makes it a problematic affair. The rest of the fill was uninspired.

Tuttle said...

Irani is just egregiously incorrect. On every level. It's not a language and what it does refer to, an ethnic group of Zoroastrians, doesn't exist in the Middle East. The Iranis mostly live around Mumbai. In INDIA!

Iranians live in Iran and they mostly speak Farsi and other Persian dialects. Iranis live in India and they speak Dari among themselves and Hindi, Marathi and/or English in public.

The Iranis are descended from 18th and 19th century Iranian Zoroastrians who emigrated to India and are distinct from the Parsi Zoroastrians who emigrated from Iran in the 8th and 9th centuries and who speak, for the most part, Gujerati and English.


Good info

Seems we keep going over this error... when will the constructors learn this?

Orange said...

Preach it, Tuttle! I've been pointing this out for a few years now, and wish the word would get clued accurately. It would be a wickedly tough clue if clued accurately...which means the word would be inappropriate outside of Saturday puzzles. Which would cut down greatly on the number of times IRANI is in the grid! So it's win-win.

Margaret said...

Boy, I don't know ZOGBY at all. I skimmed through the clues, saw "pollster" and had the O as the second of five letters... put ROPER automatically. Didn't even notice the first name John in the clue. I'll read more carefully next time!

Thanks to you, RP and Orange for all the wonderful write-ups. Merry Christmas to you and hope your travel is safe and easy.

PS I love Mom from the Incredibles -- the pic of Elastigirl is the only saving grace of this loony theme.

This comment has been removed by the author.
shrub5 said...

I finished this entertaining puzzle but made a couple of dumb mistakes that I won't even go into. Must have been half asleeep. Didn't know STELA or ZOGBY but was able to get them from crosses. I thought the theme was clever; with EXTENDED FAMILY, it took me a while to figure out which letter was going to be added -- had the F at first, without a good reason.

HALLO (or halloo) is shouted by a hunter to signify that the fox has been seen breaking into the open, according to one on-line dictionary.

To the blog hosts, constructors and editor, and all my fellow commenters: have a safe and happy holiday season.

gespenst said...

@Margaret, I had ROPER first too. Didn't know his first name, so didn't know it was wrong ;) Got ZOGBY w/ crosses.

@Tuttle, thanks for the info! I KNEW IRANI was wrong, but didn't know *how* wrong. I had to write over FARSI. I had some Persian friends when I lived in Berlin, and they spoke Farsi.

@everyone more or less ... agree, didn't like the theme much.

Other complaints: TWO "spell out the letters" answers, ESS and DEES. Lazy. As w/ others, wanted TALLY (HO) rather than HALLO. Trying to remember if HALLO was used in Rita Mae Brown's fox hunting mysteries.

Things I liked: LOVED "spare underwear"! Had to think about a 4-letter farm female (usually 3-letter, e.g. sow, ewe). Liked "Board for Nails" (EMERY).

Overall an "ok" puzzle, not thrilled, but I had to work for it (especially the NW corner).

CrazyCat said...

A lame WAHOO is about all I can muster for this puzzle. With 1A THONG - Spare Underwear I thought oh boy this is going to fun. Wrong! Had the same thoughts re: IRANI/ FARSI. Wanted S**T happens63A, but then we got SPREAD "SHEEET." LOL. Brown Sauces SOYS was just yuck. Hated the stupid abbreviation RESP and had no idea what RES meant until I came to the blog. Thank you PG. And then to boot there was the Roman Numeral math prob. I did like BELIZE - where my daughter went with her church youth group and had to sleep in a hut with chickens, goats and no plumbing. She also got to stay at Target Earth in the rain forest - hooray for composting toilets. On that note a Very Merry Christmas to all!

Tinbeni said...
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jeff in chicago said...

What was this??? Did. Not. Like. I could not even parse STRETCHLIIMO for a minute. That's an odd bunch of letters. I live in Chicago, and OHARE is definitely NOT near the Loop, even by train. ESS and DEES? I so hate the spelled out letters.

Also, had YAHOO for WAHOO for a moment. Two regular words that end in X...nice! (I'm not counting TX.) With the IT in place I was worried about the clue "___ happens"!!!

Merry Christmas/Happy Festivus everyone!

Anonymous said...

Just finished this puzzle. I wanted to throw a suggestion out there for the clue for AUTO: any chance it is referencing a (Ford) Focus as an automobile?

Sfingi said...

@Tinbeni - Zogby is from Utica, and still has his business in Utica. Of course, I know him. He's married to his first wife and has 3 grown sons. He graduated from LeMoyne and SU. He built a new, larger building. We have plenty of foreign speakers, which is a plus. By the way, he's a Christian, as are most of the Lebanese (and Syrians) who came here a century ago. The Mideast loves kicking whole ethnic groups out. @Tuttle - Iranis)

One writeover - "free" for LITE (diet label word). Had to Google for Yertle. Most children's and adolescent books were written after my time. PREPAYS hung me up for a strangely long time, and that's not something you can look up.

Knew the town S of Las Cruces was not in NM, but it didn't occur that the abbrev for TX would be included.

@Jeff - OHARE is closer to the Loop than I am. Most of us know 3 things about Chicago. That's where too much knowledge can hurt you.

Anais Nin wrote Gentleman Prefer Blondes. A couple years later she wrote Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Both became movies, but STYNE's "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," is remembered.

I was thinking, when I wanted "fore" for WHEE, that Tiger gives new meaning for "swinger."

CW404 Expert said...

@Sfingi - It was Anita Loos, not Anais Nin.

Tinbeni said...

Over the last few months you have made many elucidations re:Utica.
The ethnic make-up seems to be interesting, are there any "European-Americans" still there?

@JNH - the first clip you embeded was beautiful.
The second one I was trying to avoid (successfully) until ...
Believe it or not, IT IS one of the most played/requested at this time of year.

@Tuttle - If my memory serves me, aren't you Capt.Hawkeye Pierce's imaginary friend?

@Anon 12:45
If the Focus opening was a Ford. Wouldn't the answer be ... DOOR?
(But I like the way you were thinking).

@CW404 Expert - way to jump on @Sfingi pronto! You may be correct, but I hope Santa brings you a lump of coal.

mac said...

Agree with most of the above. Hand up for tally-ho and s**t, and also stele.

@PuzzleGirl: I've seen Orange use this edjumicate thing as well, so I finally looked it up. Up popped "edumacate, Homerized version of educate". Funny!

We do the stockings on the eve, with lots of teasing gifts in them, some good stuff. The rest in the morning, while drinking coffee and eating different kinds of Dutch pastries.

@JNH: it's Amy, Angela and Michael. All of you, thanks for the daily fun, merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2010!


I used to believe in Santa Claus, but now I have my doubts!
Comeon now! I know pigs can fly, but you expect me to believe there actually are flying reindeer??


Hey, aunt Lucy, what was that stuff you just put in my eggnog?

HERES to the best bloggers in the world (well, at least in my world)!
Amy, Angela, and Michael...

chefwen said...

Screwed the north west corner right off the git go by putting in lemon for 1 down. Seems like I do this EVERY day. Traveled to the south and worked my way up, finally figured it when the light bulb went on and I thought of THONG, thought that was pretty funny.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tinbeni said...

I'm not clicking on that Terra Firma Reindeer twice, haha.

Plus I have been following Santa on the NORAD Tracks Santa website all day, saw him take-off, he has worked his way from the Pacific Islands thru Australia, Asia, Africa and is just about to Rome (hope he brings the Pope a nice toy).

So my vote is Santa's Reindeer do fly ... and fast, he's already out of Rome,currently in Bosnis-Herzegovina heading to Split in Croatia.

I think I need a Scotch to slow this all down.

Cheers & Merry Christmas to one-and-all!!!

Sfingi said...

@CW404 - Thanx. It's all good. I'm old and slipping. I think that's what I meant.

@Tinbeni - thanx for the defense, but we do want the truth, right? Right now, Utica is 10% Bosnian, 20% Italian,15% Black; Irish, German, Polish each about 10%; PR and English each 5%. Most Euros moved to the suburbs or out of state. After the Indians it started out English and a little Dutch; then the Welsh came; then the Polish, Italian and Arabs during the factory period; then the Afro-Americans after WWI; then the Vietnamese, Cambodians; then the Bosnians, Russians, Africans. The new census should reveal the true numbers.

I'm going to my husband's cousin Millie's place for the Christmas Eve meal - the Italians do the Eve, instead.

Burner10 said...

Just about to get off the train and enjoy Xmas festivities at Oma's house - the eve is also a German tradition, so I'm told.
As soon as the momentum builds big enuf it will be politically incorrect to mis-clue Irani and all will be well.
Happy, merry and more.