TUESDAY, December 15, 2009—Joel Fagliano

Theme: "Ay ay ay!" — Theme answers are two-syllable compound words with long I's. (Is there more to it than that?)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Like Tater Tots (BITE-SIZE).
  • 24A: Metaphorical site of some presidential chats (FIRESIDE).
  • 48A: Lengthy guarantee period (LIFETIME).
  • 53A: "Ditto" ("LIKEWISE").
  • 4D: Delicate path to walk (FINE LINE).
  • 40D: Energetic type (LIVE WIRE).
I went looking for a video to go with my made-up theme name and I found these goofballs:

Straightforward cluing and a ho-hum theme made this a quick solve today. Lots of prefixes and fill-in-the-blanks in the grid:
  • 19A: Online prefix with -pedia (WIKI).
  • 32A: Baked __ (BEANS).
  • 41A: __-Caps: candy (SNO).
  • 44A: "Dies __": hymn (IRAE).
  • 64A: Pro __ (RATA).
  • 67A: Prefix with distant (EQUI-).
  • 29D: Alien: Pref. (XENO-).
  • 38D: "__ want for Christmas ..." (ALL I).
  • 54D: "__ just me, or ..." (IS IT).
  • 56D: In __: as found (SITU).
That's more than I want to see. But I bet there's some good stuff too:
  • 16A: Gusto (ELAN). I'm thinking with the whole Tiger Woods scandal going on, we might see ELIN in the grid here one of these days.
  • 18A: Bee parts that are really cool? (KNEES). HAha! The bee's knees! Such a dorky / corny / old-timey phrase. Love it!
  • 22A: Jeered (GIBED). I know the different between jive and jibe/gibe, but I sometimes get confused about the various definitions of jibe/gibe.
  • 59A: Dispatch boat (AVISO). Did you know this one? I had no idea.
  • 65A: River of Hades (STYX). Ah yes, the 80s.

  • 1D: Graceful horse (ARAB). Arab? Arabian? Arabian is what comes to mind.
  • 2D: "The Open Window" storywriter (SAKI). Pen name of Hector Hugh Munro, a short story writer sometimes compared to O. Henry and Dorothy Parker. Crosswordese 301.
  • 7D: Painter Georgia (O'KEEFFE). Love her work. Don't love the funky spelling of her name. Did that trip you up?
  • 45D: Highest point (VERTEX). I entered vortex at first. Totally different thing.
  • 47D: Rocks at the bar (ICE). This is about as clever the cluing got today.
  • 49D: Chucklehead (IDIOT). Chucklehead is an awesome awesome word. Try to use it today. You know you want to.
Crosswordese 101: Just when I think we must be running out of crosswordese to cover, I come upon a word that I can't believe we haven't talked about yet. ÉTÉ is the French word for summer. Easy clues for ÉTÉ will include the word summer and a hint that the answer will be French: "Somme summer," "French summer," "Summer on the Seine." Harder clues will still give you the French hint, but will most likely include something about heat or vacation: "Hot time in Paris," "Vacation time in Valois," "When Cannes heats up." The super super tricky clues will include the French town Nice, but will put it at the beginning of the clue so you think it's the English word for kind: "Nice season," "Nice summer," "Nice time of year?" Today's clue — 33A: Automne preceder — doesn't follow any of these conventions (figures), but you get the point.

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Everything Else — 1A: Valley girl's "Pshaw!" ("AS IF!"); 5A: Ere (AFORE); 10A: Facial bones (JAWS); 14A: Indian princess (RANI); 15A: City attacked by Godzilla (TOKYO); 17A: Related (to) (AKIN); 23A: Novelist Deighton (LEN); 27A: "Haste makes waste" and others (MAXIMS); 30A: Sassy (FRESH); 31A: Tree of life site (EDEN); 36A: Place for a Pinot (WINE BAR); 39A: Handyman's carryall (TOOLBOX); 42A: Marry in a hurry (ELOPE); 45A: Bravery (VALOR); 46A: Chunks of fairway (DIVOTS); 51A: Many a Roddick serve (ACE); 52A: Smells (ODORS); 58A: Turin-based automaker (FIAT); 61A: Pupil's locale (IRIS); 62A: Hefty volume (TOME); 63A: Ceiling (LIMIT); 66A: Angel hair, e.g. (PASTA); 3D: Part of LBJ, e.g.: Abbr. (INIT.); 5D: "Diet Revolution" doctor (ATKINS); 6D: "Aaay!" sayer of '70s-'80s TV (FONZ); 8D: Deli request (RYE); 9D: Dawn deity (EOS); 10D: Like the calendar established by Hillel II (JEWISH); 11D: Cover story? (ALIBI); 12D: Roused (WAKED); 13D: Said with a sneer (SNIDE); 21D: Future father's sch.? (SEM.); 22D: Plaster painting surface (GESSO); 25D: Teed off (IRATE); 26D: Attorney general under Clinton (RENO); 27D: Kittens' cries (MEWS); 28D: Server's edge, in tennis (AD IN); 32D: Dustpan's partner (BROOM); 33D: Spanish river (EBRO); 34D: Perfectly (TO A T); 35D: It can be awkward when they run into each other (EXES); 37D: Rhythms (BEATS); 43D: Fights before the main event, for short (PRELIMS); 46D: Actress Fanning (DAKOTA); 48D: Hay storage areas (LOFTS); 50D: Like freshly poured beer (FOAMY); 55D: Baghdad's land (IRAQ); 57D: Morales of "La Bamba" (ESAI); 59D: Mont Blanc, e.g. (ALP); 60D: Through (VIA).


Pythagoras said...

As a mathematician, I was going to scream that the clue for VERTEX was 10 different kinds of wrong. Geometrically it's just the intersection of line segments, in calculus it's where the slope is zero, which may equally be where the curve is a local max or min. However, dictionaries provide 90%+ of their definitions to common understandings, i.e. the highest points.
Damned Laymen!

Gareth Bain said...

Yeah, I was also wanting to gripe about that clue, one of those, "the letter pattern means it has to be, but it can't be cos it's wrong" situations...

I had "Dispatch" boat down to either AVISA or AVISO couldn't remember the vowel ending. Looking it up in Matt Ginsberg's database, it has 35 records, 29 times clued as "Dispatch boat."

jazz said...

Well, this was a fine puzzle for a Tuesday...uninspired theme to me, but the fill made up for it. Not that challenging, but just right for a Tuesday.

There were lots of fill that (for me) could have gone two ways...and I always picked the wrong one! Good thing I do it online; it saves me bottles of white-out!

Someday I'll grok the differences between GIBED, JIBED, and JIVED.

Why put TOOLBOX when TOOLBAG fits just as well (err. no. 1)? And what about HIGHWIRE for FINELINE (err. no. 2)? VERTEX seemed clued incorrectly to me as well (thx, Pyth) but the dictionary don't lie. And I hadn't heard of SAKI the author...looking for "wine" in a SAKI clue. Had to google that one.

Few three-letter answers today, which I always attribute to skill in puzzle-making. And very little junk fill IMHO.

All in all, a nice Tuesday puzzle. Thanks Joel, PG, and unrecognized editor.

Sandy said...

Thank you explaining the "theme." I don't know what I'd do without you. I stared at the grid for a while wondering if there was a word chain, but no there wasn't, and then I had to leave for work.

I always have to wait for crosses to find out if it is O'keeffe or O'keefee. Because I have other things to remember.

docmoreau said...

An easy Tuesday puzzle for me. Ran into a bit of a snag at the bottom since I forgot that "Mont Blanc" was an ALP (I wanted "pen") and not knowing that an AVISO is a "dispatch boat." Clever was EXES (I had "oxes" at first since they are often called clumsy). Also, never associated AS IF with valley girl talk, just "barf" and the buzz phrase "gag me with a spoon."


Fairly easy puzzle… fit’s a Tuesday level. Lots of nice scrabble words. I had fun with it.
Didn’t see a theme until @PG pointed it out. I'm not a big fan of constructors who use a lot of fill-in-the-blank clues (I call them "blankety-blank" puzzles).

Thought (1d) “Graceful horse” should have been ARABIAN and not ARAB.

Yes, AVISO popped into my head... I suspect from prior puzzles.

Liked the “cool bee parts” = KNEES

Learned about SAKI today in PG's writeup and WIKIpedia... always thought it had something to do with Japanese rice wine.

@Pythagoras, you're just a theorem, but thanks for straightening that VERTEX thing out... it bothered me also.

Last year I went to the Georgia OKEEFFE Museum in Santa Fe… now I’m a big fan of her artwork. Of course I had to buy a big print of her famous white datura (Jimson weed) painting.
Then the entry next to her is the FONZ… another fave with me.
And then the entry next to that is Doctor ATKINS… Boooo! During the next few weeks I’ll be espousing the famous “Cookie Diet”.

I had AXES for (35d). I guess that too “can be awkward when they run into each other.” Am I a “chucklehead”?

PG's Ay Ay Ay clip really cracked me up!

Off to Mother’s Café for a late breakfast with the guys.


Surprised that we didn't get a clip of the FONZ. "Happy Days (1974–1984) was my fave sitcom... thought the FONZ was so cool. During the 50's I looked a lot like him, but I never said "Aay!"
The 50's were indeed the happiest days of my life. Can anyone else share those sentiments?


*David* said...

All I can say is ditto to PG. Didn't know AVISO, put in VORTEX, and hated the spelling for OKEEFFE that second F looks so wrong. Nice easy Tuesday also put in TOOLKIT at first.

lit.doc said...

Thanks, PuzzleGirl, for pointing out the theme. Just as well I didn't spot it--probably would have been negatively utile (hate that word). First-year sorta question: aren't themed puzz's supposed to announce themselves with a (hopefully) clever title?

AVISO was misclued. It's actually a masculine Spanish credit card.

Also hate the word-form ARAB for a horse, despite its being etymologically legit. Graceless descriptor for a graceful animal.

Best Right Answer, Wrong Reason moment was when I realized that 18A was a reeealy bad pun referring to "beanies", which indeed can be cool caps. Had never heard the expression "the bee's knees".

Carol said...

@PG - Good thing I had my coffee before the "Ay, ay, ay" clip. Looks as though those folks had mucho SAKI and/or FOAMY beer before making that one!

Not only was AVISO a new one, (gotten from crosses)I'd never heard of a dispatch boat. Looks like a great Scrabble word.

@JNH - "Happy Days" was one of my favorite programs, too. Knew a couple of guys in my high school with the same hairdo, white t-shirt, (usually with a cigarette pack rolled up in one sleeve off campus) & jeans. "American Graffiti" all the way!

Nice Tuesday puzzle as well as writeup. Thanks!

Orange said...

I have to dock this puzzle a few points for including two forms of the same word in the theme—LIVE wire and LIFEtime.

@lit.doc, the LA Times and NY Times crosswords do not include titles except on Sundays. The Newsday and CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzles have titles seven days a week.

shrub5 said...

I finished this puzzle without errors or googles but it was not particularly easy for me. I had 2 entries that were promptly found to be wrong: AXIOMS for MAXIMS and BRUSH for BROOM. Took a while to get TOAT (TO A T); I've stumbled on that one before.

Knew VERTEX as an OB term: In a vertex delivery, the top of the baby's head comes first (cf. in a breech delivery, buttocks or feet come first.) I probably knew vertex as a math term at some point, but it is long gone.

chefbea said...

Tried to figure out the theme. Wrote down all the two word answers including wine bar and tool box... nothing. Then I thought it had something to do with F's - there are 6 of them. Had to come here to find out the theme.

Tinbeni said...

Got the theme answers without realizing there was a theme until @PG pointed it out here.

ARAB for arabian horse (AS IF) was kind of weak, but all-in-all I liked the cleaver cluing and few 3-letter fill. Good Job Joel

Faves were EXES and SEMinary for future fathers school.

AVISO, EOS, ETE, RANI, GESSO, SAKI and dies IRAE all learned by doing crossword puzzles. Just filled them in.

First thought was toolbelt but it wouldn't fit and WINEBAR is a place I'll never visit. Make mine a Scotch with one ICE cube.

@PG Great write-up and I enjoyed the second clip.
But the Ay Ay Ay clip I had to turn off, reminded me af fingernails on a blackboard. First time I can remember doing that.

xyz said...

Got all except NW easily, but it was a wasteland, to me. Yuck, admit didn't know RANI. Oh bother.
VERTEX, ARAB, ASIF - all too ugly to love.

Better Clueing? (NO, JK)
Here follows useless Orthopedic trivia:
ASIF = AO in rest of world. ???
Association for the Study of Internal Fixation
die Arbeitgemeinschaft fur Osteosynthesefragen.
Cutting edge treatment of fractures to advance early rehabilitation. If you break something, ask your Ortho Surgeon if he's ever been to Davos, CH

I'll stop now ... :-)

Van55 said...

59A: Dispatch boat (AVISO). Did you know this one? I had no idea.

I have never seen AVISO other than in crossword puzzled, but, because I have seen it in so many crossword puzzles over the years, it was a gimme.

All in all a pretty good effort, even if the "theme" was a bit lame.

Bohica said...

I'm with PG, thought the same thing about the "theme" - compound words with long I's - that's it? Might have been a tad better if it featured a clever "reveal" clue, but not much.

Where do I know AVISO from? Popped it in with only the a in place, must be from crosswords. Wiki says:

An aviso (formerly also an adviso), a kind of dispatch boat or advice boat, survives particularly in the French navy.

The Dictionnaire de la Marine Française 1788 – 1792 (by Nicolas-Charles Romme) describes avisos as "small boats designed to carry orders or advices".

Sfingi said...

@John - agree on ARABian.

Did not know AVISO, EBRO (drunken rio?) or this DAKOTA (Fanning).
Didn't figure the theme until 2/3 done. None of this mattered.

We always called the "dustpan" the gride, as in gride and broom. Hee, haw.

Vertex - Axis of symmetry, as in solution of the 1st derivative of a parabola where slope = 0, maybe. But, then, it could be a bottom as well as a top. I didn't think about it while cw-ing.


His short stories may be read on that site.

O'KEEFFE - why 2 Fs? A friend of my son's was waxing poetic about Georgia, and my dear outspoken son (where did he get that?) said - "Me too. Her paintings are so vaginal." The guy turned pale and started stuttering.

Gareth Bain said...

The wine's spelled SAKE - though that's hardly intuitive!

Actually, just checked the SAKI spelling is listed as a var. in my one dict. Another only describes SAKI as a "tropical American monkey with coarse fur and a long bushy non-prehensile tail."


SAKI is the way all my Japanese friends spell it, including a restauranteur.

Tuttle said...

@Pythagoras, you're just a theorem...

As a student of Greco-Roman history, that cracks me up. Pythagoras himself (the original Samnian one) being only psuedo-historical.

I wanted 'primrose' for the delicate path but that didn't last long. Toolbag crossed with egos rather than toolbox crossed with exes is the only real problem I had.

Tinbeni said...

@Gareth Bain
I googled it also, and found both spellings for Saki/Sake. One reference considers it in the wine category, another in the beer category ... and still another put it in a class by itself. Oh, well ...

@Sfingi - I believe you are the resident English teacher, is it O'Keefe or O'Keeffee ?
Googled and found these two different spellings also for Ms Georgia.

@PG & @Orange
38d the answer was "ALL I."
Could this have been the constructors subtle clue to the puzzles theme?

chefbea said...

@sfingi LOL love it...gride and broom!!!!

Tinbeni said...

@Sfingi - oops!
Mis-typed again (I'll blame it on the smashed finger)
O'Keefe or O'Keeffe ?


I am blessed to have one of Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings and she signed her name with two F's

Anonymous said...

It's O'KEEFFE. Her father was an O'KEEFFE. Her paternal uncles were O'KEEFFEs. Her name is O'KEEFFE.

On-line dictionaries put in stubs in an attempt to accomodate bad typists, or people who don't know how to spell the word they're looking for. From there they direct you to the proper spelling. Just because Google returns results for a mis-spelling, half of which are dictionaries, doesn't mean they are acceptable variants.

Oh, and if you're in the horse business you're much, much more likely to use ARAB rather than Arabian Horse when describing the breed or any specific example thereof.

Tinbeni said...

@JNH & @Anon
O'Keeffe is what I thought and filled in earlier when doing the puzzle. Then @PG suggested in the write-up that the spelling was funky.
Like AVISO, I just filled ARAB in, figured I learned it VIA CW's and then I read a few comments and it made me wonder.
Like most people, I am not in the horse business.

Sfingi said...

O'Keeffe as everyone said. It's sometimes annoying that Irish names are spelled every which way. I just don't think the double F has any usefulness, except to Google Georgia since she seems to be the only double F O'Keeffe

Anon 11:45 - Arab horse - sounds like people who sell horse meat or compulsive,pathological,
"degenerate" gamblers who are disrespectful of man's second best friend. Just sayin'

Orange said...

O'KEEFFE is a funky spelling, but absolutely correct. There's no way in hell a misspelled name would appear in the crossword. There are rules! Firm rules! (There's also an O'Keeffe & Company ad agency and a musician named Joel O'Keeffe.)

I checked a dictionary. ARAB is defined as the noun: (1) a member of a Semitic people, etc.; (2) an Arabian horse. Also an adjective. Again: There are rules!

Those who've said "it's not ARAB, it's Arabian": Your dispute is with the dictionary, really, not with the puzzle. The dictionary and the editor are the final arbiters, and if something's in the dictionary and not patently offensive, the editor has no reason to change it.

GLowe said...

OKEEFFE <=== many a scrabble rack for this cowboy, it seems.

First time ever a theme actually ticked me off. I played around that there was something to it - that they're interchangeable, FINELINE FIRELINE LIFELINE BITESIZE LIFESIZE LIFETIME FINETIME FIREWIRE.... argh. Gave up at BITE WIRE, :-|

One could probably make the biggest jeeziz portmanteau/ headline ever:


Anon 11:45 said...

@Sfingi - I bred two of my mares, one of which was a filly that I bred, to an Anglo Arab (twice each). It just happens to be an acceptable, and commonly used, name of the breed. It is not a dismissive, pejorative nor an ethincally biased term, and certainly not a sign that I work as a killer or am a degenerate gambler.

The mother of the filly I bred, and in turn bred to the Arab, when retired had a hard time maintaining weight, so I spent an entire year hand feeding her on my lunch break, each and every day. I stood out in -10 degrees wind chill holding her bucket of (essentially) hot cereal until she finished, then topped it off with buckets of warm water, or when it was 95 with 95% humidity in the summer, I stood there for hours swatting the flies that bothered her or cold hosing her legs so she felt more comfortable.

Just Sayin'

*David* said...

@Orange Are there rules in the USA Today crossword puzzles?

nanpilla said...

I own an Arabian horse, and I always refer to him as an Arab. It's perfectly acceptable and the most common way to refer to the breed when just speaking casually. Today, a farrier was working at the barn, and let his dog run loose. The dog ran into the indoor arena as I was trotting down the log side - I almost got thrown. Later, all I had to say to the farrier was "spooky arab" and he understood immediately why I had asked him to leash up his dog.

nanpilla said...

sorry, that should have said "long side"!

docmoreau said...

Always enjoy coming back to the comments page toward evening, after work. It is almost like, at midday, it's "Let the quibbling begin!" (Not to disparage that. It hones puzzle constructors' and editors' work to a fine edge. Er, hopefully.) But,occasionaly, later entries are rife with rich anecdotes like Anon's.
@anon Thanks for sharing that piece on your ARAB.

Orange said...

@*David*: Heh. All bets are off for the USA Today crossword. Editor Timothy Parker has his own sensibility, which can run far afield from the Norris/Shortz/Newman/CrosSynergy style. Those USA Today puzzles drive me nuts so I only do 'em when I'm staying in a hotel that gives me the paper.

mac said...

I did get the theme, and found the puzzle just fine for a Tuesday. Even the live/life situation is different enough for me.

I really liked the future fathers' school and the bees' knees! For the valley girl expression I wanted "like"; we were seated next to a couple of young women last week who used this word twice in every sentence. Annoying.

Arab is used all the time in crossword puzzles, I never blinked an eye, and Georgia O'Keeffe is familiar to me, too. @Sfingi: I can see where your son is coming from, in every respect!

Pete P'Tui said...

What if Wile E. Coyote bought his mail order supplies from the Vertex Corporation instead of the Acme Corporation?

Is Meep Meep the Road Runner version of "AsIf?"

If Eediot=Idiot, what does Chucklehead equal? Py, you got a theorem for that?

Pythagoras said...

@Pete - Yeah, in fact I do. Smoke less weed = Ask saner questions

Sfingi said...

@Nanpilla and anon - sorry. My knowledge of horsey talk is 40 years old. Further, if they lifted me with a crane or derrick onto a fine Arab, his legs would give out in 4 different directions, and he would have to be put down.

I like USA Today. It's not much of a vacation thing since they don't publish on Sat/Sun. But when the NYT gets to hard about Thurs., I can do my USAs I bought Mon-Fri. Just wish I could comment.

Glowe said...

@ Pythy;
Don't be a stranger. come back soon :-)

Pete P'tui said...

@Py, big oops here! I was just kiddin' around. Realized I didn't separate the line with Eediots, etc. Was just referring to earlier in the week clue for Ren and Stimpy. Wasn't meant as an insult. Honest. Was just getting my silly on. No mind altering substances were used. Just screwed up the spacing on the sentences. When I looked again, realized the sentence looked like I was calling you names. I wasn't. Apologies cubed.