MONDAY, Mar. 29, 2010 — Barry C. Silk

THEME: HAT (73A: The last word of this puzzle's five longest answers is a type of one)
— clue pretty much says it all — theme answers end in words that can describe types of hats.

A zingy little number. Simple theme concept, entertainingly executed. Loved most all of it, except KNURL (3D: Small knob) — there's a word only KNURL's mother could love. Ugh. Got hung up in only a couple of places, both involving names: I have no idea who portrayed Watson in the '30s and '40s (!?), so NIGEL was just a good, British-sounding guess (45A: ___ Bruce, '30s--40s Dr. Watson portrayer). I *did* know that Roy Rogers's birth name was SLYE, but somehow my brain didn't process the information correctly, or didn't recall it quickly, so I had to piece it all together from crosses (32D: Leonard ___: Roy Rogers's birth name). Still managed to come in a hair's breadth under 3 minutes. Started easily in the NW and then decided I would race across the grid to the SE, via crosses, as fast as I could. Didn't hesitate once — until I got to the clue for HAT, which was too long for me to read clearly in my software window, and which wouldn't have made much sense anyway since I had no theme answers at that point. From SE, I shot across to SW, then up the west coast. Rode the DRUGSTORE COWBOY across to the E and then went up and finished the puzzle off in the NE, with crosswordesey EMO being the last thing to go down. I see the makings of another theme built into this one — I just accidentally typed out MIDNIGHT COWBOY instead of DRUGSTORE COWBOY (perhaps bec. MIDNIGHT SUN is an answer in the grid). So ... you just need a RHINESTONE or a DALLAS and you're on your way to a COWBOY theme. Have at it!

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Gyroscopic toy (SPINNING TOP) — in America, we call them, simply, "TOPS." The "SPINNING" part is kind of implied.
  • 24A: Central American fishing mecca (GULF OF PANAMA) — theme actually helped me get this quickly — rare that theme ever helps out on a Monday, as I'm usually moving too quickly to notice.
  • 40A: Pretender in a ten-gallon hat and boots (DRUGSTORE COWBOY) — also a Matt Dillon film.
  • 52A: Proverbial backbreaker for a camel (THE LAST STRAW) — these feel like two entirely different idioms to me: there's "THE LAST STRAW," and then there's "THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK." Never heard "THE LAST STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK."
  • 63A: Arctic solar phenomenon (MIDNIGHT SUN)

Crosswordese 101: QANTAS (29A: "Flying kangaroo" airline) — certainly the puzzle's most common 6-letter "Q" word, and possibly the most common non-abbrev. "Q" answers wherein the "Q" is followed by a letter that is not a "U." See also the "Q" cross, IRAQ, which is probably the most common non-abbrev. "Q"-ending word. QANTAS thus becomes the first "Q" word in our Crosswordese 101 Pantheon. Now, only "V" and "W" are unrepresented.

What else?

  • 7D: Tucker of country music (TANYA) — don't have much to say about the non-theme fill today, so ... when in doubt, cut to music.

[Just a *great* country voice]

  • 6D: The Diamondbacks, on scoreboards (ARI) — Opening Day is just 8 days away. ARI has an excellent player in Justin UPTON, whom they signed to a huge contract during the off-season. He's got real MVP potential. His brother B.J. also plays in the Majors. Maybe some day you will see UPTON clued via one of them instead of via the more predictable [Author Sinclair].
  • 43D: Numbers on 45s (OLD SONGS) — saw "45s" and thought "guns." Then thought "Bible verses."

See you Friday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. Just a reminder — the Crosswords L.A. Tournament is coming up May 1, 2010 at Loyola-Marymount University. See link at the top of the sidebar for more info. I'll be there. If you're a west-coaster, you should be there too. Lots of low-key crossword fun.

Everything Else — 1A: Calligrapher's need (INK); 4A: Hilton alternative (HYATT); 9A: Fragrant wood (CEDAR); 14A: Lair (DEN); 15A: Surrounding glows (AURAE); 16A: Fuming (IRATE); 17A: Day "Grey's Anatomy" airs: Abbr. (THU.); 18A: Gyroscopic toy (SPINNING TOP); 20A: Archery projectile (ARROW); 22A: Time past (YORE); 23A: Comic Philips (EMO); 24A: Central American fishing mecca (GULF OF PANAMA); 28A: At liberty (FREE); 29A: "Flying kangaroo" airline (QANTAS); 33A: The Beatles' "__ the Walrus" (I AM); 36A: Skin layer (DERMA); 39A: British nobleman (EARL); 40A: Pretender in a ten-gallon hat and boots (DRUGSTORE COWBOY); 44A: Division word (INTO); 45A: __ Bruce, '30s-'40s Dr. Watson portrayer (NIGEL); 46A: Scand. nation (SWE.); 47A: Be lenient (GO EASY); 50A: Chinese leader? (INDO-); 52A: Proverbial backbreaker for a camel (THE LAST STRAW); 58A: IV squared (XVI); 61A: The same, on the Seine (EGAL); 62A: Bush successor (OBAMA); 63A: Arctic solar phenomenon (MIDNIGHT SUN); 67A: __ alai (JAI); 68A: Kindle download (EBOOK); 69A: Gizmo (THING); 70A: Ques. response (ANS.); 71A: Homes in trees (NESTS); 72A: Letters after thetas (IOTAS); 73A: The last word of this puzzle's five longest answers is a type of one (HAT); 1D: Dog collar attachment (ID TAG); 2D: India's first prime minister (NEHRU); 3D: Small knob (KNURL); 4D: Argues (HAS WORDS); 5D: "Fer sure!" ("YUP!"); 6D: The Diamondbacks, on scoreboards (ARI); 7D: Tucker of country music (TANYA); 8D: Part of a carpenter's joint (TENON); 9D: Movie theater (CINEMA); 10D: Fraction of a joule (ERG); 11D: Dinner and a movie, say (DATE); 12D: Tiny particle (ATOM); 13D: Seized auto, for short (REPO); 19D: Big oil exporter (IRAQ); 21D: Not quite right (OFF); 25D: There are three in every yard (FEET); 26D: Eva of Argentina (PERON); 27D: From square one (ANEW); 30D: Folder features (TABS); 31D: Get one's ducks in __ (A ROW); 32D: Leonard __: Roy Rogers's birth name (SLYE); 33D: "Got it, man!" ("I DIG!"); 34D: Pisa's river (ARNO); 35D: "Turn off the sound" button (MUTE); 37D: X-ray cousin, briefly (MRI); 38D: Auspices (AEGIS); 41D: Nanny __ (GOAT); 42D: Penny (CENT); 43D: Numbers on 45s (OLD SONGS); 48D: Arab chieftains (SHEIKS); 49D: Safecracker (YEGG); 51D: Gambling parlor letters (OTB); 53D: "Chicago Hope" actress Christine (LAHTI); 54D: Even if, informally (ALTHO); 55D: Indian prince (RAJAH); 56D: Kenmore competitor (AMANA); 57D: Spot for a belt (WAIST); 58D: Mutant superhero group (X-MEN); 59D: Hard-to-describe feeling (VIBE); 60D: Nuptial vows (I DOS); 64D: "Wayne's World" catchword (NOT); 65D: Get off one's 25-Down (SIT); 66D: Italian article (UNA).


Sfingi said...

I can't believe I did a Barry Silk in record time. He definitely geared it to Monday.

I did have a Natick - no surprises in that it was a crossing of a show I never watch and a French word. LAHTI-EGAL. I asked my husband what the French word for "same" was and he said, "meme."

ARI is meaningless to me.
1. How do they decide on these scoreboard letters? and
2. Where do you get a list of them?

Tinbeni said...

The race here in St.Pete will be a soggy affair at 10:00 am.

Like always I searched out the theme unifier, 73A Hat, and it was a Go Easy time from there.

@Shrug5, ARI, 6D D-backs on scoreboards are my initials.

I never heard of KNURL.
Didn't know 32D, Roy Rogers birth name, SLYE.
THING for Gizmo, 69A was thinking along the line of a "do-dad" but I already had 52D, LAHTI, Chicago Hope actress.

Two 'Q' words without a 'U', QANTAS & IRAQ was nice.

Barry Silk's offering was a notch up from the typical Monday LAT.

ALTHO I believe having the current President OBAMA in any crossword should be banned (why not put the letters in the grid, did anybody have to think to get 62A, Bush successor?).

@Rex Great write-up & TANYA.
There is a 'V' at 58A, XVI (16).


Nice Silk puzzle, but thought EGAL was an internet girlfriend.
Le climat est égal cet printemps.
Enjoy this super spring week, y’all.

Tinbeni said...

oops, I meant @Sfingi

BTW, I forgot to tell you how much I liked your "forties" last week.

EGAL I only got from crosses.

David said...

Was it proper to use the word HAT in the clue for 40A wahen that was the theme?

gespenst said...

@Sfingi, ARI=Arizona Diamondbacks.

Best place to check out MLB abbreviations would be your newspaper sports page or mlb.com :)


@Rex, I think of the last straw and the straw that broke the camel's back as pretty much equivalent, though you're right, you don't ever hear "the last straw that broke the camel's back."
I wonder if they're truly related phrases or just coincidental constructions.

Anonymous said...

Hands up for "meme" over "egal". Ce n'est pas la meme chose!

CrazyCat said...

Monday puzzle with a good VIBE. Finally I remembered YEGG. Never heard of a KNURL. Got NIGEL from the crosses. Same for SLYE - hmmm? Does that mean that Roy Rogers was a DRUGSTORE COWBOY?

*David* said...

Some resistance for a Monday, my oops fill was going for GULF OF MEXICO, AURAS and HAD WORDS.

Reno911 said...

Usually use 'knurl' as an adjective describing a type of knob or a particular type of wood. Went together well as soon as I spelled sheiks correctly. One of those exceptions to 'i before e'.

lit.doc said...

It’s testimony to Barry C. Silk’s skill that he was able to construct a puzzle this easy and smooth—not an easy thing to do, I hear. This was a “fill in the squares as fast as you can write” puzzle (pausing only long enough to cringe at YEGG, though I acknowledge the legitimacy of its wordhood).

Had one rekey—DIMESTORE COWBOY—because the “correct answer” is actually wrong. Real country folk refer to cowboy wannabes as “dimestore cowboys”. “Drugstore cowboys” (as dramatized in Matt Dillon’s movie) are junkies who support their habits by knocking over drugstores.

mac said...

Typical smooth Barry Silk puzzle. What a pro!

I guess the straw that broke the camel's back was the last straw.

Is this a pangram? Don't have time to count right now.

Noah Webster said...

Definition of drugstore cowboy courtesy of on-line dictionary:

1. A loafer who passes time on sidewalks or at drugstores.
2. One who dresses or acts like a cowboy but has never been one.

Argyle said...

No pangram, no 'Z'.

lit.doc, us farm folk calls 'em drugstore cowboys, with which the dictionaries agree.

C said...

Strange, I see replies to posts that don't appear on my loaded URL nor any note that a post has been removed. Odd.

Some banana peels for me today: had MEXICO instead of PANAMA, DIME_ instead of DRUG_. All easily correctable, a fun puzzle Monday puzzle today.

Anonymous said...

I agree with David about the "hat" in the clue 'Pretender in a ten-gallon hat and boots' leading to the Drug Store Cowboy.

Wouldn't 'Ten-Gallon and boots pretender?' lead to the theme answer?

Also, isn't same in French 'meme'?

lit.doc said...

@Noah, you raise an interesting point. Though my dead-tree dictionaries don't dignify either phrase with inclusion, the online sources do indeed go back and forth. Makes me wonder if it's a matter of regional variation.

Tinbeni said...

oops to you also ...

Thought your 'V' and 'W' reference in the write-up was to a possible panagram.

Was sure Vole had been covered in the CW101 (until I checked).

Isn't here a rule about not having the "Hat" in the clue and in the puzzle as @David questioned?

a guy said...

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is hte national motto of France. Liberty, equality, fraternity. EGAL works.

shrub5 said...

Exceptionally nice Monday puzzle. Not hard but I hit a few speedbumps. Had AURAS at first before fixing the last letter to E. Hand up for DIMESTORE before correcting to DRUGSTORE COWBOY.

My last booboo was quickly whipping in the word YURT at 49D off of the Y. I proudly remembered that yurt was a safecracker. Nope. It's a type of tent. Wrong crosswordese word starting with Y. I needed YEGG.

Remembered NIGEL Bruce. A friend of mine named her two cats Nigel and Chauncey. I know Nigel was named after Bruce, don't remember anything about Chauncey's name. @CCL, that fascinating story was for you.

Like @Reno911, my knowledge of KNURL was just the adjective form as in "turn the knurled knob clockwise." Like this watchstem.

Rube said...

I agree with @Reno911 re knurled vs KNURL, however, dictionaries say that KNURL is both a noun and a verb, with knurled and knurly thrown in. I remember a discussion either here or at the NYT blog about just this word, only then it was the verb.

My only writeover was IRAn for IRAQ. Should have held off, but IRAQ is exporting much more oil these days than Iranso figured it was a go.

NIGEL Bruce was a gimme, primarily because those were the days when movie credits showed pictures of the actors along with their names. Nowadays it seems the only pictures you get of actors is in People magazine, (or SNL).

xyz said...

A great little puzzle today

Was confused at GO EASY as I did not remember YEGG, my CW 101.

MEME is same EGAL, well, sort of

Tsk, tsk

Hurry today ...

xyz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sfingi said...

Use to be "dude" meant a city slicker trying to look like a cowboy, as in Dude Ranch. Now it just means pal, or something.

I learnt this KNURL in the early '70s as pertaining to wooden rifle stocks or gun hammars. The same crosshatching as seen more often in metal.
1907 Nickel-plated Colt semi-automatic cutie

Don't know if Silk or the editor wrote or rewrote the clue. Coulda mighta said Stetson.

Van55 said...

I expected just a bit tougher challenge from Barry Silk than this one delivered, even on a Monday. Still, it was a very enjoyable solve for me. I loved, KNURL! Go figure. Chac'un a son gout, n'est pas?

Captcha is "paings." Is that a ST-PA TRICK?

backbiter said...

I was running very late for work so I didn't have time to solve. Only now at 10:30 pm am I getting to it. I didn't like "ten gallon hat" in a clue when the theme was hats. I don't know all the construction rules, but it was like beating me over the head.
"Knurl" is one of my favorite words. I love the feel of the knurl of a half-dollar in my hand. Okay, so I'm not right in the head.

jolly good said...

By Jove I think he's got it! Nice post old man!

CrazyCat said...

@shrub5 NIGEL and Chauncey are fantastic feline names. They sound like quite a pair. Right now we seem to be naming our pets after wines. We have a Brunello and a Zinfendel. Of course they get shortened to Brun and Zin.


Cute kitty names, but then Brun could be short for Brunhilda (ugh!).