WEDNESDAY, February 17, 2010—Pete Mitchell

THEME: "Play (Volley)ball!"—Three phrases start with words that are also volleyball hits

Theme entries:
  • 20A: [How some scary things go] (BUMP IN THE NIGHT). I'm not wild about BUMP IN THE NIGHT dangling out there without its prefatory GO. BUMP is the standard underhand volleyball move, isn't it?
  • 29A: [Not subject to change] (SET IN STONE). That's rock-solid. A volleyball player SETs by hitting the ball upwards with both hands up high.
  • 47A: [Some stilettos] (SPIKE HEELS). Jump up and smash the volleyball over the net for a SPIKE.
  • 54A: [Activity that involves the first words of 20-, 29- and 47-Across] (VOLLEYBALL GAME).

Bloggy health update: Rex is much improved, but now his wife has come down with the stomach virus. Seems to be a short-lived bug, which is good because Rex is heading to the ACPT on Thursday.

What all is in this puzzle? This:
  • 23A. [Nous minus moi?] (TOI). That's French for "us minus me = you." Speaking of French arithmetic, there's also 8D: [Quatre + sept] = ONZE. That's 4 + 7 = 11.
  • 46A. [More work] (UTOPIA). That's Utopia, written by Thomas More in 1516.
  • 52A. [Not quite oneself] (OFF). I fear I will be a little OFF this weekend. Am not feeling that competitive fire in the crossword belly.
  • 63A. [Tobacco unit] (LEAF). Not at all an expected clue for LEAF. The clue had me thinking of CHAW.
  • 25D. [Leans, as a ship] (LISTS). Anyone else use this word when your own body is leaning to one side? I do. I tend to LIST as I walk down the hallway to my kitchen.
  • Aw, man! 45D. ["Star Trek" defenses] (SHIELDS) duped me. I know that PHASERS are offense, not defense, but still. The PHASERS messed me up here.
  • 53D. [Canine woes] (FLEAS). Your canines are your eyeteeth, of course. And you go to the dentist when your eyeteeth have FLEAS. Speaking of which...The Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist is named Flea. This acoustic version does without Flea and the bass.

Crosswordese 101: Today's hot crosswordese has been covered before:

Everything Else — 1A: Whack, biblically (SMITE); 6A: Condescending sort (SNOB); 10A: Kodak rival (FUJI); 14A: Brightly colored tropical fish (TETRA); 15A: Chaplin's last wife (OONA); 16A: Road for Pilate (ITER); 17A: "That's __ trick!" (A NEAT); 18A: Cutting-edge Motorola phone? (RAZR); 19A: Statistician's input (DATA); 20A: How some scary things go (BUMP IN THE NIGHT); 23A: Nous minus moi? (TOI); 24A: "The loneliest number," in a 1969 hit (ONE); 25A: Wasted, as a chance (LOST); 29A: Not subject to change (SET IN STONE); 35A: "I wish!" ("IF ONLY!"); 37A: On the calmer side (ALEE); 38A: Floors, briefly (KOS); 39A: Wolfgang Puck's restaurant (SPAGO); 40A: Third qtr. start (JUL.); 41A: Talons (CLAWS); 43A: Male in an alley (TOM); 44A: Cognac initials (VSOP); 46A: More work (UTOPIA); 47A: Some stilettos (SPIKE HEELS); 50A: Not easy to see (TINY); 51A: Crimson opponent (ELI); 52A: Not quite oneself (OFF); 54A: Activity that involves the first words of 20-, 29- and 47-Across (VOLLEYBALL GAME); 62A: Perfume holder (VIAL); 63A: Tobacco unit (LEAF); 64A: Like chalet roofs (EAVED); 65A: Be sore (ACHE); 66A: Take a shot (DARE); 67A: Word after sing or string (ALONG); 68A: Nerve opening? (NEUR-); 69A: Lose fur (SHED); 70A: Common asset? (SENSE); 1D: Rough guess (STAB); 2D: See 3-Down (MENU); 3D: Unit on a 2-Down (ITEM); 4D: Ambush (TRAP); 5D: Weird Al Yankovic spoof of a Michael Jackson hit (EAT IT); 6D: Airman's assignment (SORTIE); 7D: Early boat builder (NOAH); 8D: Quatre + sept (ONZE); 9D: With no exceptions (BAR NONE); 10D: Act nervously (FIDGET); 11D: Home to Zion National Park (UTAH); 12D: Rocker Joan (JETT); 13D: Brokerage statement subj., perhaps (IRA); 21D: Overly curious (NOSY); 22D: Bat's prey (INSECT); 25D: Leans, as a ship (LISTS); 26D: King ___ (Michael Jackson) (OF POP); 27D: "Ditto" ("SO AM I"); 28D: "Star Trek" sequel, for short (TNG); 30D: Brownish gray (TAUPE); 31D: Under the weather (ILL); 32D: Giraffe cousin (OKAPI); 33D: Hopeless (NO-WIN); 34D: Exam type you can't guess on (ESSAY); 36D: Apollo 13 commander Jim (LOVELL); 40D: Average guy? (JOE); 42D: Auction unit (LOT); 45D: "Star Trek" defenses (SHIELDS); 46D: Defunct gridiron org. (USFL); 48D: Sullivan's charge in "The Miracle Worker" (KELLER); 49D: Emulated a couch potato (LOAFED); 53D: Canine woes (FLEAS); 54D: Guilty pleasure (VICE); 55D: Iolani Palace site (OAHU); 56D: "Uh-huh" ("YEAH"); 57D: In one's birthday suit (BARE); 58D: "The Wizard of Oz" family name (GALE); 59D: Bard's river (AVON); 60D: Clothing store department (MEN'S); 61D: Fringe (EDGE); 62D: U-Haul rental (VAN).



VSOP, very simple ordinary puzzle.

I'm sure that Tinbeni knows this one quite well-
Cognac VSOP = Very Superior Old Pale.

OOLA OOLA OONA, our favorite crosswordese (besides OOPS).

Wolfgang Puck and SPAGO, my faves.

RAZR was a stumper for me.

I don't understand the clue "The Wizard of Oz family name" for GALE.

I'm a pretty darn good guesser and that's why I got through a lot of hard crosswords and final exams. So I hated doing ESSAY exams. Forced me to BONEUP with those all-nighters.

This puzzle had some pretty obscure names, like OKAPI (which I knew, because I have some good photo shots of them).

Loved the French lessons for ONZE and TOI.

YEAH, it was pretty good construction, despite the ITER, KOS, AVON, ALEE, and NOAH entries.

Hope both Michael and Sandy are in tip-top shape for the ACPT tomorrow.

To all you ACPTers, have a wonderful day!

Sfingi said...

After I filled in the 3 activities and had no idea what BUMP SET and SPIKE referred to, I Googled the 3 together. I must warn that the first definition was from the Urban Dictionary and was a truly disgusting activity of the type that Kobe Bryant apparently favored. So, it's sports.

Another thing that held me up was that I put "plug" instead of tobacco LEAF, and "nude" for BARE.

Googled Mr. Puck for SPAGO. I'm sure the foodies got that one. Googled Apollo 13 for LOVELL. Took a guess at the 2 French words and got them. USFL and Star Trek filled themselves in.

The combination of sports - including space science as a sport (I prefer non-manned), French, and Star Trek put this puzzle in a category of Things I Don't Know and Have No Interest In.

I own a RAZR, and only its name is cutting edge. It is pink, though.

John - Judy Garland played Dorothy Gale.

Our local girl, Erin Hamlin only made 16th. She's young, though.



Burner10 said...

Isn't volleyball a summer game?
I thought utopia was clued in response to the economic crisis and folks being unemployed. Ha ha.

Joon said...

lovely puzzle today, with clues that had more bite than usual for a wednesday. i expect that from pete even though i haven't seen his byline in forever. i've seen that UTOPIA clue before but i still love it. and the french arithmetic, the double "star trek" references, the sneaky KOS clue, and the double-reverse "oh, canine means dog this time?" FLEAS clue, and it all adds up to a very fun solve.

Tinbeni said...

VSOP = Best Non-Scotch answer, BAR NONE, ever. IF ONLY ... but, CLAWS do Pinch.
The constructors are getting closer to my UTOPIA.
I like A NEAT snifter every now and then. Until one LISTS and goes BUMP IN THE NIGHT.

When I DARE to SHED my LEAF, I think nude, not BARE.
RAZR / EDGE was cute.

YEAH, I liked this puzzle

lit.doc said...

@Joon, me too re the quality of the cluing for this one.

Best of Show for me was the UTOPIA clue which, as I hadn't seen it before (though I have studied the work), gave me an amusing WTF moment while I checked the crossing Downs. "Crimson opponent" is the best Yale clue I've yet seen. Honorable Mention to "Floors, briefly" and "Common asset".

The amount of French seems fine for Wednesday. I'm just glad it wasn't Italian. Somehow, having studied a little French and Spanish has made it impossible for me to grok any Italian but musical terms.

I neeever want to see anything about Chaplin's last wife again. I'm sure she was a perfectly nice person, and it's a perfectly nice clue. I just can't get her damned name to stick in my brain.

@Orange, the only clue I'm still puzzled about is "Canine woes". I thought fleasing was *good* for your teeth, especially with the minty, waxed fleas.

Van55 said...

Liked the puzzle a lot but for the SPAGO/TNG cross. Didn't know the name of Mr. Puck's establishment.

Pete M said...

Fwiw, the UTOPIA clue was not mine; Rich added this one. Also, my original submission did have two Star Trek clues, but SHIELDS was not one of them -- DATA was. I went Lord of the Rings for the SHIELDS clue.

xyz said...


Cool puzzle, loved doing it

muchas gracias

Tuttle said...

Orange LISTed to the left going to the kitchen

You don't list to the left, you list to port. ;)

Parsan said...

@Pete M--Thank you for your input. It's always great to have constructers comment. This puzzle had several sly clues and was a lot of fun! UTOPIA filled in but I was really puzzled until I got it, and then had to laugh. I wrote a paper on More many years ago!

Weird Al, EAT IT, is an original performer and his parodies are very clever. Didn't know TNG.

Where I grew up, "she's nibby" was what people would say about a NOSY woman. My northern friends had never heard the word and still think it is very funny.

When I used to wear them, we always said SPIKE HEELS, not spiked. Starting at the bottom of the puzzle and with that in and VICE and KELLER, VOLLEY BALL GAME was apparent so the theme was a given.

OONA, Chaplin's 4th wife, was 36 years younger than he. She was the daughter of Nobel winning playwright Eugene O'Neill (Long Day's Journey Into Night, etc.). Obviously a long and successful marriage that produced 8 children.

Thank you Orange!

Parsan said...

Oh yes, when I think of someone who LISTS when he walks I think of John Wayne.

shrub5 said...

Don't know French, don't know Star Trek stuff -- but still managed to finish this one in a reasonable amount of time. Spelled SORTIE wrong (sortee) -- more French -- that made "nous minus moi" TOE, which didn't seem right. Figured it must be TOI.

Played a lot of VOLLEYBALL GAMES in HS, though not much resemblance to the version I see today, e.g., not many dives on the floor.

Wish I could attend the ACPT but distance and family commitments prevent it. Maybe some day. Good luck to all participants. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it!

Carol said...

Nice Wednesday puzzle. Couldn't think of LIST for the longest time, but crosses helped.

Rest of the puzzle worked itself out pretty quickly. All those "Crosswordese 101" lessons are really paying off.

Thanks @Orange, @Puzzle Girl, & @Rex!

chefbea said...

Good puzzle. Again I found it harder than NYT.

@Petem - thanks for stopping by

Have heard of Spaga but have never eaten there

Anonymous said...


After she crashed she said "I'm Dorothy Gale from Kansas!"



It's always nice to hear from constructors and especially when they give credit to someone else... Thanks Pete. And thanks Rich for a mighty fine clue like More work = UTOPIA. At first when I saw that, I said "what the...", how can "More work" be considered utopian? Then, boing! Thomas More.
This puzzle has several really great clues (as already mentioned).

After a fun puzzle, I always look forward to Tinbeni's funny remarks.

Sorry but when I think of a person listing, I don't think of a medical condition (or John Wayne), I think of a drunk.

Very close to where I live, there's a huge indoor volleyball facility, and I don't live anywhere close to the beach.

You can flame me any time you want!

badspelller said...

Oona is actually a very current news item, well within the last few weeks anyway. Anybody care to guess how?

I got the volleyball reference but I wanted to put it at the end as in
Beach or Sand volleyball.

I had no clue on the french stuff.

CrazyCat said...

I too, wish one and all good luck at the ACPT and hope that Mr. and Mrs. Parker, I mean Sharp, feel better. Flat coke is my remedy of choice.

@Sfingi re: NEV in the NYT puzzle. The department of the interior was rounding up the mustangs again a couple of weeks ago. They are transporting them to holding pens in the midwest where they hope they will be adopted, but probably won't. They chase them with heliocopters and then transport them via truck. Many of them die from the experience. Out of over 3,000 they left about 600 on the range. The cattle industry are the ones that want them gone because they are competing for grazing land. IMO it's dispicable.
Hop off soap box....

Tinbeni said...

Well OONA O'Neill did date J.D.Salinger in 1941 before she married Charlie Chaplin later that year.
I guess she was mentioned in the Obit.

@Crazycatlady and @ddbmc
Do you want Rex and his wife to get well in time for the ACPT?
Well forget the Coke or Ginge Ale (flat or fizzy), Saltines, Gatorade, yaddie, yaddie, yadda.

Doctor Tinbeni's remedy will cure you every time.
There was even a hint in the puzzle.

VSOP or Scotch!!!

Two 6 oz. glasses and you will feel great in the morning.

It is just that simple.

I haven't been ILL in 35 years.
Coincidence? I don't think so.

Tinbeni said...

oops (see @JNH, I got one in)

OONA dated Salinger in 1941 before she MET Chaplin later that year.
She married Charlie after she turned 18 in June 1943.
My earlier comment implied they married in '41.
Alas, OONA was into OONA and she wouldn't, couldn't miss out on being "Debutante or the Year" in 1942.

CrazyCat said...

I think I'm going to name my next cat Oona or Oola.
@Tinbeni 2 6oz glasses of VSOP and you would feel like s***t in the morning!

badspelller said...

@Tinbeni Oona dating Salinger was
exactly what I was referencing.

ddbmc said...

@Tin, somehow I KNEW you'd work the "Scotch Cure" in! LOL!

@CCl, I'm with you, that much Scotch Elixir would do me in! Just thinking about it, gives me a headACHE.

@Tuttle, I would LIST from drinking, port, too. But, hey, if it works for the Tin Man!....

xyz said...


Obviously you're not a back speciaLIST


re: my captcha:: extrusad - not what a disk does