FRIDAY, May 28, 2010 — David Poole

THEME: OOF PRINTS! — "H" dropped from the front of familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

A bouncy and entertaining puzzle, and by far the hardest one of this week so far. I especially like that the constructor cared enough to give us five different theme answers that appear in alphabetical order, with a different vowel leading off the wacky phrase in each instance. There are some ugly abbrevs. in the grid — ECUA, IDENT, and *especially* TOC, which I only just this second figured out ("Table Of Contents") — but most of the rest of the fill is pretty solid, and the theme answers are good enough that the infelicities in the grid hardly matter.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Works in Satan's museum? (ART OF DARKNESS)
  • 27A: "Tell Senator Bayh to take a number? ("EVAN CAN WAIT!")
  • 38A: Egotism? (I ESTEEM)
  • 47A: Resistance quashers? (OHM WRECKERS)
  • 55A: Evidence of a love-hate relationship? (UGHS AND KISSES)

Worst of the lot, by far, is I ESTEEM. I didn't realize it was a theme answer until after I was done — figured it was some odd colloquial phrase I just hadn't heard before. Of all the "HIGH" phrases in the world, you go with "HIGH ESTEEM" as your base phrase?! That's a cop out of the first order. SOCIETY? SCHOOL? ANXIETY? BROW? CHAIR? DEFINITION? FIBER? Etc. etc. etc. Guess ESTEEM's many ultra-common letters were too hard to resist. A shame. Speaking of HIGH phrases ... what is up with the clue on SIERRA (9D: Saw-toothed ridge)? That is a new one on me, though the "ridge" part suggested mountains enough that I was able to piece it together. Can't say I'm thrilled to see SIERRA and CIERA in the same grid (67A: Olds Cutlass model).

Crosswordese 101: BIFF (1A: Willy Loman's favorite son) — crosswords are the only reason I know this bit of literary / theatrical trivia. BIFF also occasionally gets clued as the bully in "Back to the Future." I do not remember this character, but then again I haven't seen "Back to the Future" since it came out in the mid-80s.

What else?

  • 36A: One objecting to a called strike (SCAB) — I think the SCAB benefits from the strike. How is he "objecting" to it, exactly? I get that the clue is trying to make you think baseball, but the clue's gotta make sense on some level, esp. w/o a "?" at the end of it.
  • 8D: Alhambra wall artwork (MOSAIC) — very nice clue. "Artwork" in clue for answer that crosses ART OF DARKNESS probably should have been rethought, but that's a minor detail.

See you Memorial Day!


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 5A: Clothes lines (SEAMS); 10A: Sweet Sixteen initials (NCAA); 14A: Like some history (ORAL); 15A: Ballade's closing stanza (ENVOI); 16A: Aloe, for one (BALM); 17A: Fictional princess (XENA); 18A: Pretense (GUISE); 19A: First Nations tribe (CREE); 23A: More felicitous (APTER); 25A: "Dies __" (IRAE); 26A: Hugh Capet, par exemple (ROI); 34A: List of chaps. (TOC); 35A: Amarone or Barolo (VINO); 36A: One objecting to a called strike (SCAB); 37A: Where, to Brutus (UBI); 42A: __ Friday's: restaurant (TGI); 43A: Tabula __ (RASA); 45A: Cousin of hibiscus (OKRA); 46A: Three-time NHL MVP (ORR); 51A: Beatty of "Network" (NED); 52A: Andean nation: Abbr. (ECUA.); 53A: Patella sites (KNEES); 61A: 1934 role for Claudette, briefly (CLEO); 62A: Birth cert., e.g. (IDENT.); 63A: Casualty of German reunification (WALL); 66A: "Kinsey" star Neeson (LIAM); 67A: Olds Cutlass model (CIERA); 68A: Syrup brand (EGGO); 69A: Cutting the mustard (ABLE); 70A: Moray catcher (EELER); 71A: Out of concern that (LEST); 1D: Place for letters (BOX); 2D: More than annoyance (IRE); 3D: Santayana defines it as "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim" (FANATICISM); 4D: Common skirt feature (FLARE); 5D: Utah state flower (SEGO); 6D: Adequate, slangily (ENUF); 7D: Gung-ho (AVID); 8D: Alhambra wall artwork (MOSAIC); 9D: Saw-toothed ridge (SIERRA); 10D: "The Chris Matthews Show" producer (NBC NEWS); 11D: __ package (CARE); 12D: Pub quaffs (ALES); 13D: Central Iowa city (AMES); 21D: Rome's Fontana di __ (TREVI); 22D: Central U.S. state (KAN); 23D: Conductor Toscanini (ARTURO); 24D: Authority (POOBAH); 28D: Contest (VIE); 29D: Yvette's years (ANS); 30D: Far from fine (NOT OK); 31D: Be mature (ACT ONE'S AGE); 32D: "Hear, hear!" ("I AGREE!"); 33D: Cars designed to compete with Corvettes (T-BIRDS); 39D: Scrape together, with "out" (EKE); 40D: Stray (ERR); 41D: Hides (MASKS); 44D: "Totally rad!" ("AWESOME!"); 48D: "His Master's Voice" co. (RCA); 49D: Carol Burnett persona (EUNICE); 50D: One carrying a bag (CADDIE); 54D: Banister post (NEWEL); 55D: The Bruins of the 10-Across (UCLA); 56D: Like con artists (GLIB); 57D: Make sound (HEAL); 58D: Stem-to-stern part (KEEL); 59D: Memo words (IN RE); 60D: High light (STAR); 64D: Some HDTVs (LGS); 65D: Developer's unit (LOT).


hazel said...

You tell 'im Bobby Cox!! Alltime leader in getting thrown out of games. Remember the year the umps WERE the scabs?

I wouldn't imagine scabs exactly enjoy crossing picket lines. If you were in "management," and had to cross the line to get to work, you would probably object to both the strike, and being called a scab. So, I think the clue makes sense on some level, but maybe not every level.

I thought this puzzle was a bit of a fighter - but I eventually wore it down. Some lame fill, but I liked the theme, and CREE always reminds me of the Wishing Bone Cycle, an awesome collection of translations of Swampy Cree narratives. I always thought this work had been done by Gary Snyder who himself is awesome, but a quick check of my library says assumption has been incorrect (going back 20 years or so). The puzzle has made me order the Gary Snyder Reader - so for the anticipation of that book arriving on my doorstep, go puzzle!!

Tinbeni said...

I AGREE, this was a tougher test.

ART OF DARKNESS and UGHS AND KISSES got me the top and bottom. Yup, my approach was a bit erratic.

SCABs benefit from strikes so this clue earns the WTF!
CADDIE, One carrying a bay was clever.
NOT OK, Far from fine, got me moving in the middle where I had no traction.
Finally put in TREVI for the Rome Fountain since it is the only one who's name I know. Are there other fountains in Rome I should learn?
Had Cur for stray, was thinking stray dog, but it was an easy fix.
NEWEL we had recently, learned then. Gimmie today.
TOC, Table of Contents got the head slap.
UBI was a 'wild ass guess' (wag).
I liked the SIERRA / CIERA homophones.

All-in-all, my I ESTEEM was bruised but I was ABLE to finish.

FUN Friday.

*David* said...

Nice puzzle got stuck in South-Central but otherwise the puzzle moved. I also didn't realize I ESTEEM was a theme and it bothered me for a while especially with the 10 letter down non-theme but oh well.

Sfingi said...

I got the theme but didn't notice IESTEEM was part of it. Liked the rest of the puns. Also shkeeved TOC.

Had to Google 6 - Death of a Salesman to get the sons names; the Santayana quote (good one); UBI; Colbert's role; the wines, then changed to VINO; Utah's flower (3-petalled beauty).

Had no idea what the sports clues were talking about: Sweet 16? what constitutes a bruin?

Wanted "like some history" to be "bunk," rather than ORAL. Some recent studies have shown that oral histories eliminate heroes if they have no descendants. So ORAL history may be bunk! Good thing the "begets" were written down in the Old Testament.

Had no idea EGGO had a syrup. I don't think I'll try it. This is maple country, and we're spoiled. A cousin of Hubster wants to set up a maple syrup market in the MidEast since he's married a Pakistani.

@Tinbeni - thanx for noticing the homophones!

@Hazel - didn't know the Beat Snyder was still alive. I guess he's 80. I'll need to check out some of his recent stuff. Last time I read him was during my Villanelle quest (Villanelle of the Wandering Lapps). Beat McClure wrote a Villanelle for Gary Snyder, too.

lit.doc said...

Good grief, I had a hard time with this one! Really enjoyed the “What the H?” theme, though.

I’ve never met a puzzle I couldn’t make arbitrarily harder, and this was no exception. In S, had 67A ALERA crossing 50D SADDLE. They felt sooo right for sooo long. Worked fine with UGHS AND KISSES, IDENT, EELER, STAR, and IN RE. Yeah, I had S nailed.

Similar success in NW. Despite having taught Death of a Salesman, I couldn’t immediately remember BIFF, which allowed me to start with 4D A-LINE crossing 14A ORAL. When ART OF DARKNESS and APTER eventually forced me to change A-LINE to FLARE, I entered 17A LEIA without hesitation, which gave me 1D AOL.

Despite my valiant attempt to fail, I eventually worked it all out with no googles or errors.

Toady said...

@Sfingi: "Sweet Sixteen" is the name given to the last sixteen college basketball teams still alive in the NCAA tournament. Also known as "March Madness". Bruin is the team name for UCLA. Something to do with a bear I guess.

Van55 said...

As did others, I didn't recognize IESTEEM as a theme answer. I guess it works, though.

"Scabs" -- there are two types of them. One type consists of workers represented by the union calling the strike (employees in the bargaining unit) who object to the strike (or its aims) and cross the picket line to go to work anyway. Crossing the picket line may subject them to fines or other lawful disciplinary acton by the union (if they are members). They certainly don't benefit from the strike (unless it succeeds somehow). It is to this group whom the clue best applies.

The second type consists of outsiders who are hired as permanent or temporary replacements for the striking workers. They may or may not obect to the strike (or its aims), but certainly benefit from if by gaining employment that they would not otherwise have.

Tinbeni said...

UCLA Bruins, bruin I think is a bear.
Sweet 16 is a ref. to the NCAA College Basketball Tournament
They started with 65 this year, (next year it is 68).
Have a "play in" game to get it to 64.

After the first weekend they are down to 16 teams that the media call "The Sweet 16."
They play yeilding the "Elite 8"
They play we're down to the "Final 4"
They play and we have the Championship Game.

Thanks, when doing the puzzle I only considered the outsider's.
Your right, when Mgmt. does the job they too are called SCABs.

captcha: Later, so bye for now, LOL

shrub5 said...

Had ALERO for the Olds and MOON for High light until UGHS AND KISSES emerged which led eventually to the correct answers CIERA and STAR.

How many times can I still think ECUAdor is spelled with a Q? Jeez.

Whenever I see a reference to "Death of a Salesman", I remember many years ago when I saw it at the Ashland (Oregon) Shakespeare Festival. I spent so much of the performance trying to suppress tears that I was actually in pain. Easily the best, most moving theatrical experience I've ever had.

I've seen the abbreviation TOC for table of contents a lot. Don't know why -- but for me it was a gimme. New word today: ENVOI.

Thanks for the AWESOME puzzle, David Poole!

CrazyCat said...

Phew! Agree with others that this was the toughest of the week. I also didn't recognized I ESTEEM as a theme answer. It just looked odd to me. Liked the alphabetical progression in the theme answers. Loved UGHS AND KISSES. Hardest part for me was the Central Coast with the stack of APTER, ROI, TOC, UBI and RASA. Had to google TABULA to get RASA (my WOTD). Took a wild guess at ARTURO and then got POOBAH, but it was a struggle. SIERRA is defined online as a Rugged mountain range with peaks. So Saw-toothed ridge does not seem like a great clue.

The house I grew up in had a NEWEL Post. It served as a stopper for those who chose to slide down the bannister.
@Tinbeni there are oodles of fountains in Rome. TREVI just happens to be more famous.
@Sfingi UCLA are the Bruins. Cal (UC Berkeley) are the Golden Bears. The State Animal of CA is the Grizzly Bear.

The guy in the lion video is truly a "CRAZY cat person."

syndy said...

How in the name of all that is Holy does POOBAH equate to authority!!! I object sirs !!!! i object. High self esteem 'yes corruption,yes buffoonery yes .Authority How? does his being able to trace his family back to the primordial ooze grant him gravitas ,authoritas? no no no no no!!

Orange said...

@syndy: You might wanna Google up a dictionary definition next time:


mac said...

Very good puzzle! Loved poo-bah, and thought I-esteem was cute, without realizing it was a theme answer.

Instead of "wall" I had Bonn at 63A. That poor town must be more or less dead now.

Unknown said...

By SCAB he means a worker who refuses to go on strike so crosses the picket line....thus "objecting" to a called strike:)

C said...

POOBAH, loved it. So did Fred Flintstone.

Challenging puzzle, fun one today.

er, CAPTCHA is renal, I don't like the sound of this one ....

syndy said...

@orange :dont care what google says , I am familiar with the character from the Mikado-every you read on the internet is not correct.

Orange said...

@syndy—That's the dictionary, not Google. Merriam-Webster is reputable. The word came from The Mikado, yes, but the meaning has broadened over the years as people have used the word.

John Wolfenden said...

I liked the theme answers, although I see why traditionalists would have issues with the nonstandard spelling of the answers once the 'h' is added.

"EVAN CAN WAIT" is one of the best puns I've seen in awhile. Senator Bayh's second appearance this week!

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for a meek "never mind" from @syndy.

shaniam said...

I'm new to this site, so Hi Everyone! I liked this Friday puzzle as well. Just wanted to mention that I figured out saw-toothed ridge by thinking "serrated knife" and then wrestled it into proper form. Don't know if there's a relationship there or not! Also had siera for olds model and really hated it until I discovered it was spelled with a c!

Rex Parker said...

I looked it up in the Google!

I get mail all the time saying "such and such is WRONG!" when a simple search of virtually any dictionary will tell a person otherwise (see INURNED, in today's NYT, for example).


CrazyCat said...

Didn't do the NYT today, but remembered INURNED from a while ago. Everyone wanted INTERRED.

Hi Shaniam! Welcome. Today I learned that Sierra means saw in Spanish. Living in California, it seems like I learn a new Spanish word every day. So saw- toothed is fine. It's just that a SIERRA as in a mountain range is made up of many ridges. So if the clue was Saw toothed Ridges, I would have liked it better. I'm sure serrated (as in knife) comes from the same word/root. When my husband and I go hiking, he'll point something out to me and he'll say "see that ridge and then look to your left". I'll respond, "There's about ten ridges out there. Which one are we talking about?"


I miss y'all... back on the Mother Road now, so although I try to do the daily puzzles, I can't always post blog comments.
From me, today's puzzle gets more UGHS than KISSES. Clunky clues, cheesy themes, some obscure words, and lots of crappy abbreviations makes this a NOT OK puzzle.
IESTEEM, IDENT, IAGREE... really awful!
I did however, like the BIFF/BOX/XENA and ENVOI/SEGO crossings. The reference to Willy Loman's son BIFF, baffled some, even the literati... much to my chagrin, because Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" is a benchmark in American literature. BIFF Loman is a leading character in the story and should not be considered as just some esoteric CW101 word.
I really enjoyed Rex's posting of the "Hugs With Lions" vid-clip. It just goes to show that wild animals are by nature affectionate beings and innately respectful of mankind. It is mankind who is the natural aggressor! Mankind was created to be a STEWARD over nature, but has since failed in his God-given responsibility.

Forget Mikado and Merriam, this is the real POOBAH


Do any of you own (or have owned) TBIRDS?

1955 Ford TBIRDS

CrazyCat said...

Hey JNH. Welcome back. No TBIRD.

KJGooster said...

Loved EVAN CAN WAIT, IESTEEM not so much. Also wanted LEIA instead of XENA for a while until the crosses straightened me out.

Hey JNH -- knew you must have been away when OGDEN Nash made yesterday's puzzle without a link from you ;)

wannadayoff said...

When a game is called, it is canceled, i.e. called because of rain. In this sense, when a strike is called the scabs lose their new-found source of income.

The problem is that a union will call for a strike vote to go on strike. then we walk off and don't work and the scabs are called. Makes a potential joyful clue very confusing.

syndy said...

aint getting it. i stand my ground!If the reference has been misused in the past its still wrong!

DA Traveler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gespenst said...

Day late and dollar short and all that, but did anyone else notice both the English IRE and the Latin IRAE in the puzzle? Not sure if I think that's a good thing or a bad thing, lol. I actually liked the SIERRA/CIERA pair. (though I did start out w/ ALERO until I got STAR).

My other writeovers: LEIA for XENA, ALINE for FLARE, AONE for ABLE, KARO for EGGO.

Loved all the theme answers except IESTEEM.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only puzzled puzzler who would like to know why the puzzle PRINTED IN THE L.A. TIMES (actual) NEWSPAPER (which I have received for nearly 5o years. is NEVER discussed in ANY blog? Or am I being a silly old-fashioned, anachronistic technophobe? Must all puzzles now be solved on line? Should I toss my erasered pencil? Oh, woe is me.