FRIDAY, Feb. 5, 2010 — Gary Cee

THEME: BE ON THE BALL (38A: Demonstrate effectiveness, and a literal hint to the puzzle theme found in the answers to starred clues) — "BE" sits atop "BALL" four times in the grid.

Took me a while to figure out the gist of the theme — saw all the "BALL"s but couldn't figure out why the central wasn't the (to my ear, infinitely better) HAVING A BALL. Then noticed that other clues besides the "BALL"-containing ones were starred. That's the only way I noticed the "BE"s on top of the "BALL"s. I like the theme much better now.

Theme answers:

14A: *First family member (ABEL)
17A: *Old street corner singer (BALLADEER)

21A: *Arthur in a dress (BEA)
25A: *Receptacle for choice slips (BALLOT BOX)

47A: *Brit. award (O.B.E.)
55A: *Danseur noble's partner (BALLERINA)

62A: *Ball honorees (BELLES) — yuck, do NOT like "Ball" in this clue...
65A: *Southwestern horseman (CABALLERO) — a great word

Upon further inspection, I see that this is a rather lovely grid. Some short junk, but nothing too distracting. Generally elegant all around. Maybe one too many names in the NE (had to really hack my way to ELINOR — 12D: Emma's "Sense and Sensibility" role), but LAST LEGS, ALGEBRA, BAR TAB ... all good.

Crosswordese 101: ADIT (32A: Mine entrance) — paradigmatic crosswordese for me. One of the first odd, oft-repeating four-letter crossword words I ever learned, back when I was first struggling to become a competent solver (early 90s, solving NYT puzzles edited by Eugene T. Maleska). ADIT's days of grid dominance have waned (which is probably for the best), but I still have crazy affection for this word because it represents my earliest sensation of feeling familiar with and comfortable in the world of crosswords.

What else?

  • 1A: ___ St Ives: Cornwall museum (TATE) — ????; did you know that Nahum TATE rewrote the ending of "King Lear" ("The History of King Lear," late 17th century) to have Cordelia and Edgar marry (!?), and that that version was *the* accepted version of the play until well into the 19th century!? (teaching "Lear" again, and ran into this tidbit yesterday in Marjorie Garber's book "Shakespeare After All").
  • 8D: Provençal cuisine delicacies (MORELS) — had no idea these mushrooms were particularly Provençal.
  • 53D: European auto (OPEL) — much easier clue than the one I saw recently in the NYT, which gave two OPEL models I'd never heard of (I've barely heard of OPEL at all).

See you Monday.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: __ St Ives: Cornwall museum (TATE); 5A: Drift (ROAM); 9A: Caught on video (TAPED); 14A: *First family member (ABEL); 15A: Muppet who testified before Congress (ELMO); 16A: Spry (AGILE); 17A: *Old street corner singer (BALLADEER); 19A: Director De Mille (CECIL); 20A: Keys (ISLETS); 21A: *Arthur in a dress (BEA); 23A: Orkan sign-off word (NANU); 24A: Express gratitude to (THANK); 25A: *Receptacle for choice slips (BALLOT BOX); 27A: Publisher often seen in PJs (HEF); 28A: Park, in NYC (AVE.); 30A: Cpl.'s superior (SGT.); 31A: Valuable rock (ORE); 32A: Mine entrance (ADIT); 34A: Cover letter letters (ENC.); 36A: Diamond stat (ERA); 38A: Demonstrate effectiveness, and a literal hint to the puzzle theme found in the answers to starred clues (BE ON THE BALL); 42A: Farm dweller (ANT); 43A: Musical ability (EAR); 44A: D.C. fundraisers (PACS); 47A: *Brit. award (OBE); 50A: Summa __ laude (CUM); 52A: Eastern principle (TAO); 54A: "Murder, __ Wrote" (SHE); 55A: *Danseur noble's partner (BALLERINA); 58A: Eucharist plate (PATEN); 60A: Culinary author Rombauer (IRMA); 61A: 63-Across hdg. (ENE); 62A: *Ball honorees (BELLES); 63A: Besiege (STORM); 65A: *Southwestern horseman (CABALLERO); 67A: Musher's wear (PARKA); 68A: Abbr. that shortens text (ET AL.); 69A: Gossip columnist Cassini (IGOR); 70A: Extra large? (OBESE); 71A: Con (SHAM); 72A: Three-part nos. (SSNS); 1D: "Bewitched" role (TABITHA); 2D: Hangdog (ABASHED); 3D: Lie (TELL A FIB); 4D: Actress Barkin (ELLEN); 5D: Ruby and others (REDS); 6D: 65-Across's "Bravo!" (OLÉ); 7D: Microscopic organism (AMEBA); 8D: ProvenÁal cuisine delicacies (MORELS); 9D: Middle x (TAC); 10D: One taking a little off the top? (AGENT); 11D: Street going downhill? (PICABO); 12D: Emma's "Sense and Sensibility" role (ELINOR); 13D: Ritzy (DELUXE); 18D: Aleutian island (ATKA); 22D: Course with x's (ALGEBRA); 25D: Inclination (BENT); 26D: Other, in Spain (OTRA); 29D: Risky undertaking (VENTURE); 33D: Drink from a bag (TEA); 35D: Fidel's friend (CHE); 37D: Finsteraarhorn, e.g. (ALP); 39D: Start of many a story (ONCE); 40D: "Do I dare to __ peach?": Eliot (EAT A); 41D: Near-exhaustion metaphor (LAST LEGS); 45D: Root for (CHEER ON); 46D: Radar guns, e.g. (SENSORS); 47D: San Luis __, California (OBISPO); 48D: Bill for shots (BAR TAB); 49D: Author Leonard (ELMORE); 51D: Chops finely (MINCES); 53D: European auto (OPEL); 56D: Carefree diversions (LARKS); 57D: Bard's "below" (NEATH); 59D: "__ forgiven" (ALL IS); 62D: Lip soother (BALM); 64D: West who said "To err is human, but it feels divine" (MAE); 66D: Repeated nursery rhyme opener (BAA).


imsdave said...

I really liked this one! Only problem for me was trying DEES, then GEMS before getting REDS.

Great theme.

Off to Westport for the crossword puzzle tourney there tomorrow.

See you all on Monday.

MM said...

The theme was great, but ADIT and PATEN almost ruined the puzzle for me. If ETUI was in there, I would've cried.

Van55 said...

Wow, I didn't even notice all the BEs on the BALLS. Until I came here and saw that pointed out, I was going to conclude that the theme was pretty humdrum. I now officially upgrade the theme and execution to good.

The only bits of junk fill that distracted me were ADIT and SSNS.

"Street going downhill" almost stumped me. How many years ago was it that PICABO Street enjoyed her 15 minutes of Olympic skiing fame?


For me it was an easy breezy puzzle for Friday.
I must BE ON THE BALL or something… I finished this puzzle 100% correct in a little over 11 minutes with no Google help. It’s always better when I do puzzles at the restaurant because I’m not tempted to use assistance tools. I think the key to a fast solution is trying to figure out the theme from say, 38A today. Then the other starred words just drop in place and the crosses become a cinch. Loved the theme.
Some of the clues were quite diversionary, like “Drink from a bag”, “Three-part nos.” and “Ruby and others”; but I like that. Forgot about Leonard ELMORE, so that slowed me down a bit till the crosses revealed it. There were lots of people names today, but I guess my age helped a lot as I knew almost all of them. Some good crosswordese was used: OBE, ABEL, ETAL, ERA et al.
Strange that we had another (but different) Aleutian Island today.
21A “Arthur in a dress” (BEA)… all I could think of was some word meaning transvestite. Oye!
I always want to spell AMEBA with an O (amoeba).
Love the word “Hangdog” (ABASHED).
I liked that Rex wrote about Nahum TATE and King Lear… somehow, I just knew he would.
Always thought the skier’s name of PICABO was sort of cute… I can just imagine her parents playing games with her as a baby.
Yesterday I said I loved quotation puzzles and see, we even have a quotation by T.S. Eliot today “Do I dare to EAT A peach?”

Breakfast today was Swedish Pancakes with lingonberries and meatballs…Yummmmmy!


Interesting article in the Joel Stein (LA Times) column regarding ELMO (and other Muppets).
Anyone are to rebut this?

*David* said...

This puzzle was a bit slow for me, 10-15 minute range. It seemed like I couldn't complete an entire section of the puzzle at one time. I kept on hopping around. I also filled in DEES for the RUBY clue. My other error was INLET for ISLET otherwise no mistakes, just a slower then usual pace.

Sfingi said...

Fairly easy. Theme was good
I had a senior moment on ELINOR and the last letter of NANU. Didn't know PICABO (sports), but seemed familiar - pronounced peek-a-boo, or something. So the NE corner was hairy.
Had "Ruby DEES" for REDS at first, and GEM for ORE. ATKA is new for me, I think.

But then, the dreaded SSNS.

The OPEL Cadet was around in the late '60s. My husband had a roommate in law school (a physics major) who owned one. He said, "It's nice to have one mechanic who knows your car." One time we were in his OPEL when he drove into that gas station (mechanics ran gas stations, then) and heard the mechanic say, "That a-h-e again?" Then, same roommate was in a road rally and won The Mario Andretti Poor Sportsman Prize.

Tinbeni said...

Fell into that exact same write-over, dees/gems/REDS!

'Ball honoree' BELLES could have been "Southern____" and this clever theme would have BEen perfect.

First off, it had my Scotch BAR TAB. THANK god I have an ORE Card.

Then I got the ALP because, this is probably going sound crazy, it looked swiss.

61a ENE (which I got from the crosses) was clued '63a hdg' STORM (heading?). How is this answer devined correctly? Not all storms move in that direction.

Learning moment ATKA & PATEN.

Clever clue award to PICABO & SSNS (Van55, I agree it is trite but the clue was original).

ADIT (like etui, eddy & yegg) was a crosswordese learned so long ago it is always a gimmie.

Fun Friday.

gespenst said...

Question: is it kosher to have "Three-part nos." where nos=numbers, then have the answer be SSNS, where N=number??

Similarly, "Brit. award" Brit=British and OBE where B=British??

The top of my grid was pretty sketchy till I put it away for a bit (to head to work) but then able to chip away at it. Turning point was getting the BALL part of the theme, which gave me BALLADEER and it fell into place from there.

I also like having an 'o' in my am(o)eba, but I'm used to an o-less ameba from puzzles.

Easier for me than yesterday's, that's for sure, but still tough enough to be a challenge for a Friday. I got through w/o googling, which I enjoy :)

Crockett1947 said...

My first car was an OPEL Rekord, so that was almost a gimme for me.

Parsan said...

An easy but interesting puzzle. @imsdave--initially had Dees for REDS (fun misdirect) and @JNH (did you get the photos I e-mailed you?) also wanted amoeba for AMEBA. I guess if you did not know IRMA, ELINOR, ELMORE, PICABO, TATE,or TABITHA this might be a hard puzzle.

I grew up where there were many coal mines and I never heard anyone use the word ADIT.

@Van55--With all due respect, PICABO had more than a 15-minutes-of-fame career. She won medals at the '94 and '98 Olympics and at World's in '93 and two in '96. She is in the Nat. Ski Hall of Fame. Her feats are widely admired by skiers who would love to have had such a career. While most medalists are often unknown to the general public, she was a star in her time, not only known for her wins and unusual name, but also because of her sunny disposition.

Does anyone else own ELMORE Leonards "10 Rules of Writing" (originally a NYT article) with illustrations by Joe Ciardiello? A funny book with serious advice and pertinent examples.

Thanks Rex!

lit.doc said...

Not an easy puzzle for me, but a good Friday level of difficulty for the LAT, compared to some months back, and good practice. The theme was clever, but not useful (to me) for solving as I had all of the starred answers except A__L before I saw what it was.

PICAWHO?! No smooth skiing in the NE. Also tripped myself up by slamming in 36A HRS, based on the crossing R, and not questioning it soon enough. And my Breakfast Test Failure Award for the day goes to “Drink from a bag” / TEA” for evoking “teabagging”. Ugh.

@Rex, me too in spades re those Opel models.

C said...

Good puzzle, lower left hand corner was slow for me but it was conquered. The Dude abides.

@Rex, I also improved my crossword skills with Mr. Maleska's edited puzzles when I first started crossword puzzles. I still work one or two a week whenever I think I am getting good at crossword puzzles to keep me humble ;^) ADIT is a gimme in puzzles. Words for needle cases, harem rooms, Swiss Cantons and variable spellings for Turkish officials are taking up valuable real estate in my limited mental capacity due to Mr. Maleska.

Carol said...

Good Friday puzzle. Liked the theme especially after @Rex explained it!

Wasn't sure with the NE corner if I would manage to finish it, but loved the use of PICABO which helped. She was quite the Olympic skier with a fun-loving bubbly personality. (I just can't imagine having to go through life with that name!)

@JNH - I've fixed many a Swedish pancake with lingonberries, but never with meatballs for breakfast! Were they Swedish meatballs?

shrub5 said...

I never noticed the BE on top of the BALL words so was underwhelmed by the puzzle theme, especially for a Friday. Glad to come here and have Rex clue me in to the rest of the story.

Count me as another for the Ruby DEES to REDS write-over.

"Do I dare to EAT A peach?" always reminds me of the produce man on one of our local TV 'news at noon' shows who was on a rant about mealy, tasteless peaches and used this quote.

Van55 said...


I used "fifteen minutes of fame" as a figure of speech and not to dis Ms. Street in the slightest. She was a great skier. I had forgotten that she participated in two of the Olympic Games. As I recall here skiing career was ended by a serious injury.

CrazyCat said...

A tad challenging for me today, but I chipped away at it. Got the BALL theme, but not the BEs until I came to the blog. That really made it fun. There is another BE in OBESE at 70a which was not a starred clue. Count me in for having GEMS first and then DEES at 5d. Loved both the clue and answer for PICABO. I also liked BALLERINA and the Lionel Ritchie clip. My daughter took ballet classes from age 4 to 15 when she had a growth spurt and grew to almost 6' tall. At that point she switched to jazz and lyrical. She now lives in San Luis OBISPO. IMO there is nothing sweeter than little girls in ballet recitals. Now if I could only remember that darn ADIT.
@Shrub5 Eat a Peach reminds me of the Allman Brothers. I too go into rants about mushy, mealy peaches.
@JNH - interesting, funny Elmo article.
Thanks RP for another fine write up.

mac said...

Good puzzle, and I'm even more impressed since Rex disclosed the Be on top of the ball theme.

Had no idea that the Tate had expanded in Cornwall. What is PACS? Got it through crosses but am drawing a blank. I also had gem, of course, before red.

Hope the coming snowstorm isn't going to get the Westport tournament cancelled.

Parsan said...

@Mac--Political Action Committees

shrub5 said...

@mac: PACS = political action committees. They raise money privately and employ lobbyists to influence legislation, especially at the federal level.

hazel said...

@shrub5 - when I see "do I dare to eat a peach?" I think of bone-crushing despair - of lives measured out with coffee spoons, butt-ends of days, lonely men in shirt-sleeves leaning out of windows, an Eternal footman snickering, a life paralyzed by indecision.

If I thought it would do any good, I would try to reprogram to @crazycat's AB association (awesome awesome album), but Prufrock won't let me. He has power than he knows!

Nice puzzle. Got the ball pretty quick, but took a bit longer to get the be. Sort of ironic.

Joon said...

hand up for DEES before REDS. and hand up for knowing about tate's bowdlerized (really, should be tatized) shakespeare. i took marge garber's class as an undergrad lo these many years ago. king lear is really good. the shakespeare version, i mean. haven't read the other one, but it wouldn't occur to me to rewrite it except perhaps in the pierre menard sense.

i enjoy themes like this one and i thought it was deftly executed. there's some old-skool krosswordese, yes, but it's in the service of a fine idea.

Sfingi said...

@Parson - Crossword coal mines have ADITs. Or is it coal minds? and in those mines/minds are OREs and GEMs and ORO.

@Mac - if you know too much about PACS, you'll be as depressed as @Hazel. And the Supreme Court has just given them more power. Suddenly the First Amendment isn't just about porno. Maybe corporations will have to hire the old porno lawyers to handle their cases until in-counsel learns how.

Swiss names. Well, Finster means window, and the double aa usually is a clue for Dutch. But that "horn" had to be it. I suspect names ending in "li," or names half German and half Italian.

Rex Parker said...

I confess to DEES as well.


Tinbeni said...

When you teach King Lear, do you include the Nahum TATE happy ending for laughs?

My head is spinning from the stuff I learned at google about this guy and your revelation.

Its like the Reader's Digest condensed books.
My favorite is the Four Commandments.

hazel said...

@Sfingi - [how to say. how to say politely. Oh who cares?] Please keep your mental health diagnoses to yourself in the future - at least as they relate to me.

There's a difference between responding to great poetry and being depressed, a condition I'm truly thankful that I don't suffer from - as I've seen what it does to people. If I had actually been depressed, though, I think I might find your comment, let's see, really inappropriate.

On the bright side, I'm going to see George Jones tonight!

chefwen said...

Looks like Gary Cee fooled a lot of us using good 'ol Ruby, I also had to change my O to an E in AMEBA. Those were my only two write overs.

Loved the BALLERINA clip Rex, thank you.

da kutch said...

@sfingi ... since you got (very politely) flamed -- singed, perhaps? -- for something else I want you to know that your story about the roommate with the Opel and the Mario Andretti award greatly brightened my afternoon.

oh yeah, the puzzle. I liked it, tho I didn't pause to take in the whole theme (just got the balls, and no I won't take that any further) ... took me about 8 minutes, which seems to put me at the fast end of slow or the glacial tip of moderate or something. but particularly liked adit because, like Rex, I was reminded of the Maleska era, when I did about 2 puzzles a year 'cause they felt so ... musty .... Seeing that word reminded me how much better they've gotten.

Tinbeni said...

If you, or any of the other Usual Suspects, want to get on my case about my obsession with my beloved Scotch, please go right ahead.
I'm immune (or slightly buzzed).

You are probably right on both the 'n' & 'Brit' things.
On the other hand if the clue WAS the answer I would probably have a write-over or two.

Thanks for the tip, it is probably the only ELMORE Leonard I haven't read (yet).
Whenever I find a new author, I then have this habit of reading every book they ever wrote.

Finally, "Do I dare EAT A peach?" had a different meaning when I was in my 20's ... a zillion years ago.

Oh, It's SCOTCH time !!!