Monday, Mar. 22, 2010 — Robert Fisher

THEME: body part + random word + body part — theme answers follow that pattern

Slower than normal today because the theme wasn't entirely clear as I was solving, so didn't help at all, and one theme answer (FINGER-TO-NOSE) was a phrase I'd never seen before. I can picture the sobriety test in question, but didn't know that it had such a literal name. Had FINGER and needed crosses to take down the rest. Theme was ho-hum, but the grid is pretty cleanly filled, and the cluing was decent, so the overall experience was enjoyable.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Hopelessly, as in love (HEAD OVER HEELS)
  • 29A: Field sobriety test (FINGER-TO-NOSE)
  • 46A: Fierce way to fight (TOOTH AND NAIL)
  • 56A: Facetious (TONGUE IN CHEEK)

Tougher-than-normal cluing added some zest to the puzzle today. Any time I can't pick up a clue's answer on first glance, that counts as "tougher-than-normal" cluing on a Monday. Today, I got stumped at 60A: Forte of a certain "doctor" (SPIN). I think the word "Forte" was making me think "Foot" and thus think "Doctor" SCHOLL'S. Clearly my aviation vocabulary needs work, as both the clue and answer at 26A: Piper in the air (CUB) are only barely recognizable to me. Here's a piper CUB in action:

More mess-ups by me — couldn't pick up 29D: Hertz inventory (FLEET) without most of the crosses. Don't know what I was looking for, but I'm guessing it was something like, uh, CARS. AUTOS? Wrote in MANLY for MACHO very early on in the solve (1D: Virile). And then there was my favorite mistake: misreading the clue on 31D: Umbilicus (NAVEL) as "Umbilicious!" Not surprisingly, I had *no* idea what to do with that. I think "Umbilicious" is an exclamation associated with a fetish you don't want to know *anything* about.

Crosswordese 101: AD HOC (14A: Like a specially formed committee) — "To this," as in "for this occasion only," as in "not standing or planned in advance." Used most often of committees, as you undoubtedly know. Grids love this fivesome of letters for some reason. Terminal "C" almost always needs to be preceded by an "I," and thus the words where it's preceded by something else show up an awful lot in the grid. This is because once you opt out of "I," your options narrow right down: -OC gives you, what? MEDOC? ADHOC? HAVOC? And then a bunch of stuff you don't really want in your grid, like "ASSOC." "THE O.C."

What else?

  • 2D: Work shirker (IDLER) — knew it was IDLER before I ever looked at the clue, but then, when I read the clue, I read [Work shriker]. This is almost certainly due to the appearance of SHRIKE in a recent puzzle in another publication.
  • 28D: Stupefy with booze (BESOT) — a great word. The language of drunkenness is very well represented in Crossworld. I nearly made BESOT my Crosswordese 101 lesson, but it's nowhere near as common as "SOT" (or "TOPE," or "DTS," etc.), so went for the drab but far more crosswordesey ADHOC. Also on the short list: EMCEE.
  • 22D: They're big in Hollywood (EGOS) — this is a tired, recycled, and stereotypical clue that needs to die a hard death. EGOS are big in many, many businesses. Slurring "Hollywood" en masse is like saying everyone who works on Wall St. is a greedy fat cat. Come on. Bring some more imagination to the cluing.
  • 6D: Broken chord, in music (ARPEGGIO) — how did I never see the clue for this? That's a really long word for me to have missed the clue completely. It's probably a good thing I missed it, as I wouldn't have picked it up easily anyway.

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Prefix with brewery (MICRO-); 6A: Quite a ways away (AFAR); 10A: Field furrow maker (PLOW); 14A: Like a specially formed committee (AD HOC); 15A: Infrequent (RARE); 16A: Learn about aurally (HEAR); 17A: Track shoe part (CLEAT); 18A: Canon shots, briefly (PICS); 19A: Dark and murky (INKY); 20A: Hopelessly, as in love (HEAD OVER HEELS); 23A: Meal remnant (ORT); 24A: Cribbage piece (PEG); 25A: Writer's coll. major, often (ENG.); 26A: Piper in the air (CUB); 29A: Field sobriety test (FINGER TO NOSE); 32A: Fossil fuel (COAL); 35A: Draw a bead (AIM); 36A: Keeps for later (SAVES); 37A: A single time (ONCE); 38A: Theater chain founded in 1904 (LOEW'S); 41A: __ Beach, Florida (VERO); 42A: Firestone products (TIRES); 44A: Bit of a chill (NIP); 45A: Formerly, previously (ERST); 46A: Fierce way to fight (TOOTH AND NAIL); 50A: Reply: Abbr. (ANS.); 51A: __, dos, tres ... (UNO); 52A: '50s car embellishment (FIN); 53A: "Antiques Roadshow" airer (PBS); 56A: Facetious (TONGUE IN CHEEK); 60A: Forte of a certain "doctor" (SPIN); 62A: Eye blatantly (OGLE); 63A: Throw with effort (HEAVE); 64A: Political alliance (PACT); 65A: Mass transit option (RAIL); 66A: Game show host (EMCEE); 67A: "The Sun __ Rises" (ALSO); 68A: Somewhat (A TAD); 69A: Competed in a bee (SPELT); 1D: Virile (MACHO); 2D: Work shirker (IDLER); 3D: Copy from your classmate's paper, say (CHEAT); 4D: Willie Nelson's "On the __ Again" (ROAD); 5D: Squid cousins (OCTOPI); 6D: Broken chord, in music (ARPEGGIO); 7D: Expo (FAIR); 8D: Shooter with a quiver (ARCHER); 9D: Bristle at (RESENT); 10D: Golfer Mickelson (PHIL); 11D: Camera's protective cap (LENS COVER); 12D: Cask material (OAK); 13D: Droll (WRY); 21D: Bribable (VENAL); 22D: They're big in Hollywood (EGOS); 27D: Online surfers, e.g. (USERS); 28D: Stupefy with booze (BESOT); 29D: Hertz inventory (FLEET); 30D: Edit (EMEND); 31D: Umbilicus (NAVEL); 32D: Terra __: pottery clay (COTTA); 33D: Burger topper (ONION); 34D: Puzzles involving quotes, usually (ACROSTICS); 39D: Hall of Fame outfielder Dave or actor Paul (WINFIELD); 40D: Madrid's country (SPAIN); 43D: Steer clear of (SHUN); 47D: Long-haired cat (ANGORA); 48D: Chewy candy (NOUGAT); 49D: Yard's 36 (INCHES); 53D: What a V-sign may mean (PEACE); 54D: Slanted edge (BEVEL); 55D: Trapshooting (SKEET); 57D: Not hoodwinked by (ONTO); 58D: Director Kazan (ELIA); 59D: Natural rope fiber (HEMP); 60D: Place to be pampered (SPA); 61D: Buddy (PAL).



PEACE !!!!

I liked this puzzle… 8 good theme words and some pretty rich fill words. Better than most Monday puzzles. I did struggle a bit with the SW.
I’m really into idioms and their etymology. The theme phrases are great idioms concerning body parts, but I never could figure out why “Hopelessly in love”, which implies topsy-turvy, or somersault, is HEAD OVER HEELS. Shouldn’t that be HEELS OVER HEAD?

As a Chicagoan with Spring fever (yes, it is Spring now), I would have preferred a different clue for CUB.

Wasn’t sure what ACROSTICS are… I thought they were more related to a form of wordplay than to quotes. Now I know.

Thought the crossing of BESOT with FINGER TO NOSE was cute.

And why do I think of Congress when I see TOOTH AND NAIL? Of course I ask that with TONGUE IN CHEEK.

The only thing I didn’t like about this puzzle---
SPELT is an ancient grain… actually SPELT (Triticum spelta) is a hexaploid species of wheat. To use it with the clue “competed in a bee” is just plain gauche.

Do you have any ANGORA cats?

I Wanna Be a Nacho MACHO Man

Now where the heck did I put my LENS COVER?


BESOT has another (higher) meaning---
BESOT: infatuation n. A foolish, unreasoning, or extravagant passion or attraction.
Like I'm BESOT with Beyoncé.

Tinbeni said...

Most Mondays are A TAD too easy, this one had a few new things.

ACROSTICS I never heard of, since I abhor quote puzzles, I'll pass on playing.

Got APPERGGIO by the crosses, another term learned.

My Track shoes had spikes. CLEATS were for baseball & football.

HEMP, Oh yeah, the coarse fiber of the cannabis plant used to make ropes. Hmmmm, I wonder what they do with the rest of it?

BESOT was my last fill. Stupify with booze? WTF are these fools drinking.

PEACE out !!!

Charles Bogle said...

ARPEGGIO BESOT ACROSTICS VENAL...what a wonderful, challenging and clever way to start the week--and four theme answers to boot! Way more fun and challenging than today's NYT IMO...a heck of a lot of thought and work went into this thank you!

The Corgi of Mystery said...

@Rex: out of curiousity, why isn't THE O.C. something you'd want in a grid? It seems vastly better than ASSOC. at any rate.

Tuttle said...

5D should be clued "Squids cousins" to let us know it will use the common, but incorrect pluralization of octopuses. The word is not Latin. And if it were it would not be second declension.

"The only acceptable pluralization in English is octopuses." - Fowler's Modern English Usage

That said, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable Monday puzzle. FINGERTONOSE was the only real head-scratcher.

shrub5 said...

Excellent Monday puzzle. Count me in for MANLY before MACHO. Like @RP, I hesitated at Hertz inventory and had FORDS for a time until fitting FLEET into place. Fun to see OCTOPI in the puzzle. (@Tuttle: interesting info on the plural form.)

I don't associate the word VENAL with bribery so went to the dictionary. Looks like I was getting venal mixed up with venial. Luckily, I don't have much occasion to use either word.

C said...

Hand raised for entering MANLY before MACHO although in a Dr. Seuss sort of way, I think the Who's in Whoville referred to their table scraps as YRTs. Yeah, that rationalization didn't help with the C or H so MACHO it is.

Fun puzzle for a Monday.

florida grandma said...

As a former English teacher, I must say I absolutely hated
SPELT 69A especially as was clued.
Outrageously awful.

CrazyCat said...

This was definitely a little more difficult than the usual Monday fare. I started off quite speedily. Hand up for MANLY before MACHO. Changed that quickly when I got to 23A Meal Remnant. Hey I know my ORT clues when I see them. Where I got messed up was in the middle where I put PIN instead of PEG. That whole section with VENAL, PEG, AIM and the second half of ARPEGGIO gave me fits. I don't really get how Draw a Bead=AIM- something to do with a caulk gun maybe? Didn't like SPELT. I like SPELT pasta though.

Words of the day ACROSTICS and VENAL (sounds like something to do with veins).

@JNH no ANGORA, just a domestic longhair, a Maine Coon/Burmese mix and an Abyssinian mix.

Rube said...

A very enjoyable puzzle. More so than the NYT and only slightly more difficult.

@shrub5, I too wondered about VENAL, thinking bribable was a second meaning, so I looked it up. Venial refers to minor sins whereas VENAL means corruptible. My WOTD.

Just noticed that VENAL is symmetrical with NAVEL.

Van55 said...

I liked it a lot.

RASTA said...

Love Mondays, they make me feel kinda smart again. Couple of little hang ups but nice, fun and fairly easy puzzle. Manly for macho also and for some reason tongue in cheek gave me a little trouble.

@tinbeni- thanks for the encouragement yesterday!

@crazy cat- nice with the cats, down to 1 cat and a dog. Had more cats prior but now with the dog it's harder.

Thx Rex for the write up

Margaret said...

There was an old Saturday Night Live routine which asked the immortal question "what if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?" so that one was a gimme for me.

Hand up for manly rather than MACHO.

Tinbeni said...

@CrazyCat (who is still a lady)
I'm so good with my WOTD, ARPEGGIO
that I mis-SPELT it earlier.

Check out @Orange's "Diary of a Crossword Fiend" and you will see why she placed 9th at the ACPT.
Her times are amazing.

I figure if I get the puzzle in one cup of coffee Mon.to Wed. then I am doing good. No speed solver here.
Not my objective.

I just like a fair, some clever clues with a bit of misdirection is OK, fun themes etc. As I catch up with the news and get the brain cells connecting.

Also, check out the CW101 in the banner.

Sfingi said...

Got my self back.

SPELT is a kind of grain. Does anyone know where to buy grape-flavored matzos?

(Prolly everyone's in bed.)


I really enjoyed your entertaining and infomative writeup today...especially the bit you wrote about AD HOC and other *OC words. I'm dabbling with CW construction myself, and I find these kind of things very useful.
I went to a good website: FIND CLUES OR MATCH PATTERNS, and plugged in *OC just to see what other possibilities there are. Besides the ones you mentioned, there aren't many decent 5 letter *OC words.
This tool must be very useful for constructors who are groping for a tough fit-word.
I'm mentioning it here because I think it could also help solvers with those real stumpers.

I too dislike the EGOS thing.
CWPs should not target professions with those kind of generalizing labels. Next it'll be lawyers, then politicians, and then (god-forbid) us teachers.

Crockett1947 said...

@sfingi Surely such a concoction doesn't exist, does it? Why?

Anonymous said...

Skeet is not a form of trap shooting . It is a totally different game.