FRIDAY, May 14, 2010 — Matt Ginsberg & Peter Muller

THEME: ON END (50D: Upright, and what's been removed to form this puzzle's theme answers) — familiar phrases that end in "-ON" have that "-ON" removed, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Did this in five flat, with most of the trouble coming early on (getting started, getting the theme) and very late (trying to finish up in the rough SW). I think the revealer here is a little clunky. I like that it's specific — addressing the "ON" and the fact that it comes at the end — but I would say the phrases have "-ON" endings. I might have gone with NOON as the revealer. Or ON/OFF (like some switches, or...). The grid is snazzy — lots of Scrabbly stuff. The theme yields some interesting, if mixed, results. Since when are JOHNS a word for underwear? LONG JOHNS, sure, but I've never seen JOHNS stand alone. Not saying it's never been done before, just that it's not familiar to me At All. Those JOHNS should have been bathrooms or the clientele of hookers (much, much funnier and more in-the-language). MEDIA BAR(ON) is only vaguely familiar to me as a phrase, though I can infer who might fit this category (Turner, Murdoch, etc.). All in all, good work. Wouldn't have crossed BAR and BARRE (which means "BAR"), but that's just me. Oh, and I-BAR is mocking that crossing from on high there in the north.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Underwear that never needs washing? (MAGIC JOHNS)
  • 20A: Attack of Tolkien's Ents? (TREE SURGE)
  • 32A: Press watering hole? (MEDIA BAR)
  • 44A: English horn? (ANGLO SAX)
  • 56A: Chest bump cousin? (BELLY BUTT)
  • 61A: Fido's greeting? (WELCOME WAG) — cute.
[Magic Newton-John!]

As you are reading this, I am either flying across the country or have already arrived in Idaho and am enjoying the company of my extended family at my grandma's 90th birthday celebration (which officially takes place on Saturday). I'm taking my voice recorder and camera — there will be crossword-related activities. My grandma's the first person I ever saw work a crossword. Idaho! With the exception of having to get up at 4:00 am tomorrow (i.e. today), I'm terribly psyched.

Crosswordese 101: Zhou (Chou) EN-LAI (51D: 1972 host to Nixon) — first premier of China, serving from '49-'76. You will see ZHOU and CHOU in puzzles. I don't think "EN-LAI" has alternate spellings. I needed this answer today, as I had KNOT for 64A: Bump on a log (KNAR), and ACT I for 55D: Plot part, perhaps (ACRE). EDIE was only barely familiar to me (67A: Peter Gunn's girlfriend), and I had no memory of Ethan HAWKE's being in Fast Food Nation, so I needed the help of EN-LAI a lot today.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Tinbeni said...

This was a 2 mug slog.

Started in the SE, ESPN was my first entry.
Then STOW got me that TOWN. Clever clue that Hamlet.

BELLY BUTT, got a grin. Wasn't thinking of the kind the athlete's do. Probably TMI.

Anyway, had Distrusts before MISTRUSTS revealed THEMES, which got me to the theme reveal clue, ON END.

SW was the last to fall. Just would not give up that KNOT until the ACRE, plot part, slapped me in the head.

Fave was, of course, WET. Duh! I'm ANTI prohibition.
Also liked COLT for piece. And SEXY for hot.

ETHNO & JOHNS, and they are MAGIC, 2 days in a row.

@Rex Enjoy the celebration.

David L said...

Is KNAR really a word, or only in crosswordese? It's not in MW11, and the only reference for it in Wiktionary is -- the LA Times crossword. Boo.

Your Dictionary said...

knar (när) noun
a knot in wood; esp., a bark-covered bulge on a tree trunk or root.

Orange said...

@David L: You will not find a single instance of crosswordese that is not a real word. They're real words, just generally not ones that people use often. Sometimes they don't make the cut for the abridged dictionaries (like MW11).

I'm mostly in agreement with Rex, except that I loved the ON END theme revealer. ON END and NO END are often clued indistinguishably—"incessantly," "constantly," "without interruption." So I kinda hate them both, and I'm glad to see one of them used for a grander purpose than filling a corner.

David said...

My quibble with this puzzle is 51D. En-lai is a given name. Chou is the surname. Hence the clue should properly have read: "1972 host to Richard".


Well I work at the Morton Arboretum and we use KNAR all the time. It's a perfectly legitimate word with arborists and botanists.

Didn't like this puzzle at all. First of all, being reminded of JIHAD, ANTI-Americanism, STRESS, and dirty underwear (MAGIC JOHNS) is not the way to start off a Friday morning breakfast.
Secondly, some of the clues were horrible:
"Chest bump cousin"???
Well, I'll say no more... I don't like being negative on a beautiful TGIF morning.

I had forgotten about BARRE, then I remembered that hanging on my wall is an Degas painting entitled "Dancers at the BARRE".

Nice clues:
"Noted cat suit wearer" LAHR (sheesh! and here I was hoping for Diana Riggs or Julie Newmar)
"Fire proof" = EMBERS
"Winchester weight" = TONNE
"Colorado conquerer" = RAFTER
Speaking of which---
I am leaving tomorrow for a big trip to CO, UT, and AZ. I hope to be a RAFTER on the Colorado River next Tuesday. For 42A, I kept thinking the word was POWELL for sure.

Can someone please explain "Around the Horn" for ESPN?

I liked the TV series "Peter Gunn", and especially his girlfriend, EDIE Hart (Lola Albright). I always thought that of all the TV theme music, PETER GUNN was the best. I think it was composed by Henry Mancini.

Gotta go pack for my big trip... see y'all in a few weeks.

Tinbeni said...

Around the Horn is an ESPN show (at 5:00 pm,ish) where so-called sport experts lamely discuss things like:
1) Will James stay in Cleveland
2) Who will win the World Series
3) Who will win the Super Bowl
Those will be the topics today.
They covered the Derby, in February, Preakness Race back in early April.

ursiemac said...

@johnsneverhome - "Around the Horn" is a show on ESPN.


Oh yeah, and thanks Rex for the Xanadu clip.
Perfect for MAGIC JOHNS... I love that girl!

*David* said...

This puzzle went pretty quckly except the NW corner. TREE SURGEON and MEDIA BARON are not what I would consider typical fill. I knew Ents were TREES so finally put that in to help break my logjam.

Otherwise a pretty decent puzzle with minimal ick. Didn't like the abbreviation for address. I've seen KNAR quite a few times so waited until I had ACRE to fill it in to make certain knob wasn't the answer.

Tuttle said...

It's "Chou Un-Lai" in Min Chinese.

Did not like OENO. It's Greek. 'Cellar' is English. We don't say 'oeno lover', we say 'oenophile' or 'wine lover'.

The "Dell Drivers" clue is guaranteed to drive a tech up the wall. Drivers are software, CPUS are hardware. It's like clueing 'engine' with 'car driver'.

Zeke said...

@Tuttle - My take on those two clues was that it was a welcome ratcheting up of obligue, late week clueing. Only an oenophile would refer to his wine cellar as his cellar. I, too, originally balked at Dell Drivers, trying to fit in DLLS, but the CPU as the driving force of a PC fit.

shrub5 said...

Very enjoyable solve. Toughest area was the NW where I put PLUM before PEAR and didn't initially understand the 1A or 1D clues. Also I had GNAR instead of KNAR. Eventually all fell into place, though GNAR remained. Inexplicably did not see that that left Ethan HAWGE instead of HAWKE. (d'oh)

Love to see the WELCOME WAG greeting! Needed all the crosses for ACCRA (the capital of Ghana). LOL at BROKE (Flat condition?) ETHNObiology is my new word for today.

Rex: have a wonderful trip!

C said...

I enjoyed the puzzle, and, as a tech guy, the Dell Drivers clue was not cool. I expected it to have nothing to do with actual drivers (the software that makes your video, sound, usb, bluetooth, etc. hardware work) as it seemed an overly technical clue for a crossword so assumed the clue was referring to a general part of the computer. Still, put my brain into a pain trying to forget about the real drivers and come up with the correct(incorrect) answer.

Curious said...

Dell is the computer, the hardware. CPU, Central Processing Unit makes sense as the "driver."
Granted the software and apps are what it drives.

If the clue was 'Corvette power,' the answer 'engine' would there be a discussion that it was the gasoline that provided the combustible energy?


The clue for 1A (CPU) is totally way off course. Now it's been quite a while since I worked with computer software, but I think I still know the distinction between software and hardware. It seems to me that Dell Drivers are software that interfaces the devices (like printers, harddrives, etc) with the operating system (software). CPU generally stands for Central Processing Unit which is totally the hardware guts of a computer.

OENO is totally crosswordese. Who the heck refers to his wine cellar as an OENO cellar?

ASKER is clunky and another example of something you see only in CWs.

I thought the same thing as @David. EN LAI is a given name, then following good construction rules would make the clue Richard instead of Nixon.

Curious said...

But John the clue was:
Dell drivers: Abbr. (little d)

mac said...

Good puzzle. The LAT has been sending us mostly good stuff lately, I'm enjoying them better than 6-8 months ago.

@Rex: have a great time in Idaho! We lived in Boise for two years and enjoyed it a lot. Probably the best climate I ever lived in, and I've lived in many different places.

outch! Now that's funny.

CrazyCat said...

AS TO today's puzzle. I enjoyed it and thought the theme was cute. Really liked WELCOME WAG and BELLY BUTT. Always get a WELCOME WAG when I get home. BELLY BUTT - well I'm not going there. I've been HOEing around in the garden all day.
@JNH have a great trip. Take lots of pics.

Anonymous said...

The plural of adieu is adieux, not adieus. :(

Orange said...

@Jen: In French, yes. But this crossword is in English, and "adieu" has made it into the English language. (When someone says, "I bid you adieu," they're speaking English.) Both of the English dictionaries I consulted offer two accepted plurals: adieux and adieus.

mac said...

@Jen: I thought the same thing, but realised Orange's argument.