FRIDAY, June 11, 2010 — Donna S. Levin

Theme: "Gouda Morning!"Cheese puns!

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Cheese records? (ROQUEFORT FILES).
  • 28A: Cheese from the deep? (SEA MUENSTER).
  • 44A: Cheese no one is eating? (IDLE CHEDDAR).
  • 51A: Cheese and beef concoction for humorist Mort? (SAHL'S BRIE STEAK).

I had a very pleasant experience with this puzzle that I'm not sure is duplicatable (if that's even a word), but it sure worked for me. I kept coming across things in the puzzle that I knew for reasons that just seemed odd or coincidental. Like KATES (39A: Actress Beckinsale et al.), for example. I wouldn't know Kate Beckinsale if she socked me in the nose. But I used to read recaps of "Lost" on Television Without Pity (formerly Mighty Big TV), where the writer referred to the character Kate Austin as Kate Beckinsale. I have no idea why, but I remembered the name. Then I knew YIPS (12D: Golfer's nervousness during putting, with "the") because PuzzleHusband and I were just talking about the phenomenon the other day. And 34A: HOITY-toity? At lunch with some co-workers just yesterday, the word "riff-raff" came up and everyone was curious about the word's (a) origin and (b) meaning. I didn't know the origin, but I started running down a list of synonyms: outsiders, undesirables, common people, hoi polloi. And that got me off on a tangent about how hoi polloi sounds like it should mean the exact opposite of what it means. One of my co-workers suggested that's probably because it sounds similar to hoity-toity and another co-worker called me a nerd. Ladies and gentlemen, my life in a nutshell.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, obviously this puzzle isn't anywhere close to a New York Times level of difficulty. But, there were definitely some deceptive clues that made this puzzle more difficult than the others we've seen this week. For example:
  • 43A: Having a bite (ACERB). In this case it's not about people biting food, but about food biting back! Ha!
  • 49A: Social (TEA). One-word clues can be awfully deceptive. In this case, social is a noun, not an adjective.
  • 66A: Store (SHOP). And here, store is a noun and not a verb. And in this case, with the S and the O in place, you might be tempted to enter stow. Not that I did that.
  • 13D: Holy follower? (SEE). Raise your hand if your first thought was cow.
More? Yes, please!:
  • 25A: Three-in-one vaccine, familiarly (DPT). Confidently entered MMR here.
  • 41A: Octopus feature (BEAK). Um … what?
  • 48A: Canaanite god (BAAL). Runner-up for this week's CW101 choice. In other words, if you haven't seen this one before, remember it because you'll definitely see it again.
  • 4D: Show some backbone, slangily (MAN UP). Not a fan of this particular phrase. I do use it occasionally, though. But only ironically.
  • 27D: Potomac River feature (TIDAL BASIN). Location of the Jefferson Memorial (my fave!).
  • 29D: "There Is Nothing Like __" (A DAME). A Rodgers and Hammerstein song from "South Pacific."
  • 32D: "Your Movie Sucks" author (EBERT). Best. Title. Ever.
  • 50D: MapQuest predecessor? (ATLAS). I don't really understand the question mark here. That seems pretty straightforward.
  • 51D: "Do the Right Thing" pizzeria (SAL'S). "Do the Right Thing" is one of Spike Lee's early movies. I believe Sal was played by Ossie Davis.
  • 52D: Key using all five black keys in its scale: Abbr. (B MAJ.). Ack! I was so proud of myself for knowing E MAJ. But E MAJ. only has four sharps!
Crosswordese 101: As far as world capitals go, it's a good idea for you to remember ULAN Bator, the capital of Mongolia. It's almost always clued completely straightforwardly (e.g., "_____ Bator" or "_____ Bator, Mongolia") but once in a blue moon (if that), you'll see a clue like today's 17A: Red, in Mongolian.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 5A: Trans Am option (T-TOP).
  • 14A: Stale Italian bread? (LIRA).
  • 43D: Mars counterpart (ARES).
  • 56D: 1 for H, e.g. (AT. NO.).
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Everything Else — 1A: Two percent alternative (SKIM); 9A: Chain with a cowboy hat logo (ARBY'S); 15A: Stray (ROVE); 16A: Whoopi's role in "The Color Purple" (CELIE); 18A: Headlight? (IDEA); 19A: Hosiery shade (TAUPE); 23A: Bud (PAL); 24A: Oft-rescued comics heroine (LOIS); 36A: Tool or fool (DUPE); 37A: Perfume by Dana (TABU); 38A: "The West Wing" actor (ALDA); 40A: Canoodling couple, maybe (ITEM); 42A: Sign (OMEN); 47A: RR depot (STA.); 58A: Pasta sauce herb (BASIL); 59A: "The Phantom Tollbooth" protagonist (MILO); 60A: How busy people often work (LATE); 61A: Much the same (ALIKE); 62A: Rights org. (ACLU); 63A: Annoying spots (ACNE); 64A: He voiced the curmudgeonly homeowner in "Up" (ASNER); 65A: Joke around (JEST); 1D: Defame (SLUR); 2D: Narc's seizure (KILO); 3D: Where Al Sharqiya is broadcast (IRAQ); 5D: Toy (with) (TRIFLE); 6D: List heading (TO DO); 7D: No longer hooked on (OVER); 8D: Garden supply (PEAT); 9D: Bruce Willis genre (ACTION); 10D: True-to-life (REALISTIC); 11D: Left-leaning ones (BLUE STATES); 21D: "Calm down!" ("EASY!"); 22D: Skedaddles (FLEES); 25D: Abu __ (DHABI); 26D: Moved, as a gondola (POLED); 30D: Toned down (MUTED); 31D: Invert (UPEND); 33D: Latin dance (RUMBA); 35D: "Get lost!" ("TAKE A HIKE!"); 39D: Department store chain that began in Wisconsin (KOHL'S); 43D: Mars counterpart (ARES); 45D: Talk radio regular (CALLER); 46D: Dined at the bistro, say (ATE OUT); 53D: Jambalaya ingredient (RICE); 54D: Misfortunes (ILLS); 55D: Per (EACH); 57D: Retain (KEEP); 58D: Sheep trill (BAA).


Rex Parker said...

Enjoyed the puns, but SAHL'S BRIE STEAK is a gigantic fail in terms of theme consistency. All the others are familiar words changed to cheeses. Rockford to roquefort, monster to muenster, chatter to cheddar. But Salisbury to SAHL'S BRIE??? You've brought Mort SAHL in ... for some reason? SAHL has no business being any part of any pun in this puzzle. Big black mark on the grid, which is a shame, as I really enjoyed it otherwise.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Was coming here to complain about the exact same thing as Rex -- it's not too often you see inconsistencies like that in the LAT. On the plus side, I did enjoy the corner 4x4 and 5x4 blocks more than usual for some reason.

Donna L. said...

For what it's worth, I believe my original theme entries were ROQUEFORT FILES, FETA ACCOMPLI, MUENSTER MASH and BRIE-ADOLESCENT. The final quartet was reached through a collaboration with Rich N., whose judgment I've learned not to question. He's the master.

A great weekend to all ...
--Donna L.

David L said...


Thank you for your attention.

Tinbeni said...

The first three themes got a smile, with a nod. The final one, SAHLSBRIE STEAK got a groan, then the smile.

I like Donna Levin's PUNS and her clever cluing.

Thought 'cow' put in SEE since I went to ARBY'S yesterday.
KOHLS I got off the 'K' in KATES.
ASNER off the 'A' in BAA.
EBERT off the 'B' in TABU.
Educated wags or good deductive reasoning.

IDEA for Headlight clicked on as I was pondering the Oft-rescued comic heroine, LOIS.

MUTED isn't "Toned down" it is totally turning off the sound.

I get that the fool is a DUPE, but I can't see how that applies to the tool.

All-in-all a FUN FRIDAY.

@Puzzlegirl, Thanks for a great write-up and the Monty Python

SethG said...

I don't even like puns, but if you have to pun then cheese is a good subject. Why is Danny Aiello not in the puzzle more?

Anonymous said...

Prior to the advent of the "mute" button on remotes, "muted" did indeed primarily mean "toned down," soft in volume, quiet.

Anonymous said...

Although trivial in "Do the Right Thing" Sal's was an Italian pizzaria and Sal was played by Danny Aiello not Ossie Davis.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

@Donna: thanks for sharing your original theme set. Rich's help has been invaluable to me as well...but I'm still not a fan of that last answer. Thanks for the puzzle though, it was lots of fun :)

Tinbeni said...

@Anon 7:23
Oops, my bad.
You are correct, I realized that after my post. Also works if I think of colors.

To those who dislike PUNS ... well they are a staple in crossword puzzles.
I like them and look forward to the constructors who do them well.

Great job Donna!

Ratty said...

Loved today's puzzle. That's two fantastic puzzles in a row. KATES across gave me KMART down for awhile. Damn I hate hate having to cross out letters - the perils of working in pen. Loved the clue "stale italian bread" for LIRA. Knew octopi had BEAKs right off the bat. Had ACERB just a couple of days ago in some puzzle or other so that was a no brainer. Thought clueing West Wing actor for ALDA was mean, but what else can you do to freshen up a CW101 staple?

*David* said...

I found this one easier then yesterday's and the puns while not my thing, at least didn't get in the word of this cheesy theme. Did put in COW right away and then had to rework that section. My other mess-ups were OKRA and WOES for 53 and 54D, ACLU cleaned that section up. Still finished with a Wednesday-like time.

Octopus have beaks, pretty sharp that they use for opening their prey.

KJGooster said...

Seemed easy for a Friday but very enjoyable, though I gotta agree with Rex et al. about the theme inconsistency. The B in BRIE was the last to fall for me because I was trying to fit in, I dunno, CHEESESTEAK or something.

If you haven't, you should really check out Roger Ebert's Journal. It's one of the most interesting and literate blogs you'll find anywhere. Since he lost his voice, he's become even more prolific online.

CrazyCat said...

I really liked the puzzle today except for the SAHLS BRIE STEAK theme answer. Thanks Donna for explaining. I love FETA ACCOMPLI. I'm fond of puns and cheese, so this was my favorite of the week.

Husband gave me the answer for YIPS. He told me that my late dad always had the YIPS when he putted. Who knew?

Still don't get how 17A Red in Mongolian=ULAN. Had DIRT before PEAT, MMR before DPT and CO HOST before CALLER. Got everything untangled and finished in a good time for me for a Friday. TGIF

@PG Thanks for the entertaining write up. Very much appreciated!

Van55 said...

SAHLSBRIESTEAK was my favorite theme answer! It actually made me laugh a little to myself. Maybe it's a bit inconsistent with the other theme answers, but the cheese pun is otherwise perfectly intact.

I thought his was a first rate puzzle all around. A+ from me.

Anonymous said...

No fair to spell "rhumba" as "rumba." Otherwise, good show!

Mr. Helpful said...

CrazyCatLady, ULAN is the Mongolian word for red.

Golfballman said...

@ Ratty if you work in pen as I do, get yourself a Bic Wite-out EZ correct tape. They are fantastic for Xword puzzles, you can fill in just one square or a whole line. I wonder if they are accepted at the ACPT's. Also note I said BIC.

DataGeek said...

So much fun with today's puzzle. Loved ROQUEFORT FILES - a riff on one of my favorite shows growing up. My only nit to pick was the answer to 26D - POLED. Didn't we (either here or on that "other" blog)already establish that gondolas aren't actually poled; rather they are moved with oars? Otherwise, this was right up my alley and a great accompaniment to my lunch.

Jeff Chen said...

Nice puzzle! Not a fan of the last theme entry, but, eh, nothing's perfect.

Nice clue on EBERT, thumbs up! Sigh, I miss the days of Siskel and Ebert...


lit.doc said...

Wow, what a cheesy puzzle. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.) I actually liked it a lot, and (almost) always get a kick out of punzles.

As to all the harshing on SAHL’S BRIE STEAK, I simply don’t get it. Not in the sense of disagreeing or objecting—I really don’t understand what’s wrong with it. Cheese pun? Check. Funny? Check. Although, @Donna L., I think your original answers were even funnier, FWIW. Are rigor and elegance really relevant to a construct that’s simply trying to entertain?

@Puzzle Girl, I really do love your tone and style. Ever consider penning a crossword how-to book or some such? Speaking of which…

@Rex, title for your next book: Your Puzzle Sucks. Best crossword title. Ever.

@Anon 9:33, though I’ll cheerfully defer to fluent Spanish speakers, I don’t think Spanish uses the R-silent-H pair at the start of a word. The dance is, I believe, Cuban in origin, so I’m guessing that the H is a later Anglicization.

Fav clue today was 14A “Stale Italian bread?” Shoulda been a gimme. Shoulda.

Sfingi said...

The theme was clever. Love puns and loved the Salisbury, and all the others.
I wanted to like this puzzle as a whole, but too much of the non-theme stuff was not in my world. The NE killed me.

Googled for:
RICE - only had Jambalaya once and the veggies in it (peppers and okra) drove me off.
IRAQ - I once made a list of Japanese vs. Chinese for my inmates. I should do the same for the Mideast. Except it's boring beyond the ancient stuff.
MILO Huh! (Didn't know Up, another kid show.)
ULAN - couldn't find, but now I know.

Didn't know Octopi had BEAKs, but checked it out afterward.
Never heard of the term MANUP.
Don't know what a TTOP is. Don't follow muscle cars.
Had Josh before JEST. Josh is a major name, now.

@Jeff - Me2

@Data Geek - the oar/POLE thing again.

@GolfballMan - I put that whiteout tape on my shopping list!

Google and Blogger keep telling me my password in incorrect, and I keep going back and correcting it. This is what happened before. Any suggestions?

Tinbeni said...

Yup, it was earlier this week and the answer was OARS and the discussion went on and on at Rex.

So today I first put in oared and had the delight of doing a write-over in pen. Which is OK since I need all the Ink Blot testing I can get.

@Van55 & Lit.doc.
SAHLSBRIESTEAK filled all the cheese and pun requirements for me too.
Sometimes I fiqure if @Rex doesn't like it ... then maybe it IS a good answer.
(This goes with those times when he says he doesn't like a "word" ... like the combination of letters elicits a negative response).

Googled RUMBA and it seems fine to me. Also in dictionary.

@PuzzleGirl: I know nothing about flowers and was wondering what kind is your pink avatar?

syndy said...

we learned last week in NYT that gondolas are in fact rowed-not poled !! But i love puns, the cheesier the better,sure sahls brie steak made you work for it.it was still tasty!Sea muenster!

mac said...

Nice puzzle; I had a little troube getting started, then it flowed smoothly. I also thought oared before poled, thought we had gotten to the bottom of that.

At.no. got me again.... Also have to admit to cow and ocra. Good bit of bite to this piece, like the octopus, I like that!

captcha is "rigel", crosswordese.

obertb said...

@Those Who Dislike Puns: If you don't like puns, there are (at least) two things you ought to avoid, crossword puzzles and newspaper headlines. (Do journalism schools offer pun-writing classes? They should.)

lit.doc said...

@Sfingi, T-tops are an alternative to rag tops. Looks pretty much like a normal hard-top except the panels above the driver's and passenger's seats are removable, leaving a thin segment (which is, hopefully, part of a roll-cage) running from the top of the windshield back to the aft part of the hard roof. Looking down, makes a "T".

Tuttle said...

Don't know what a TTOP is. Don't follow muscle cars.

Huh, I can't think of a true muscle car that ever came with t-tops.

Then again, I have a very strict definition of muscle-car.

JIMMIE said...

@Tinbeni, I don't see how DUPE is a tool either.

Yes, the B in BRIE was the last letter for me too.

I once had a Stilton steak at the Lion's Inn in Salisbury and it was beyond great.

John Wolfenden said...

I was all ready to hate "SAHLSBRIESTEAK" but it was so clever I couldn't stay mad at it. Quality punning from Donna. "Stale Italian bread" for LIRA is pretty good, too.

RUMBA sticks in my craw. I don't mind alternate spellings as a rule, but when it's one you never see it bugs. It's as if the puzzler has thought to herself, "Well, maybe this will work if 'rhumba' can be spelled without an H. It can? Problem solved!"

A Guy who looks things up said...

From Dictionary.com:
dupe (dōōp, dyōōp)
n. 1.An easily deceived person.

2.A person who functions as the tool of another person or power.

CrazyCat said...

Great comments section today.
@Mr. Helpful - so now we're supposed to know Mongolian as well? Thanks!

Ah yes, I too thought of that POLE vs OAR discussion from the other day.

@Lit.doc Your Cheesy comment and you comment @Rex totally cracked me up!

@Obertb loved your comment about puns. Today's headline in the review of the "Karate Kid" remake in the LAT -

CrazyCat said...

@sfingi - I'm having the same problem. I just had to enter my password four times before it would accept it.

Anonymous said...

You're not supposed to know Mongolian, you're supposed to know that Ulan Bator is in Mongolia.

AVIV is Hebrew for "spring". You might get asked that, too. But that's much different than being asked for the Hebrew word for red or the Mongolian word for spring.

CrazyCat said...

@Anon 3:52 It was just a JEST!

NJ Irish said...

Wow, lots of good comments. Fun puzzle, love puns. @PG thanks for the heads up on At. No. had no idea what that was all about. Got the theme which is amazing for me, I never do, have to read it here. 14A Stale Italian bread was cute and for some reason got 39A Kates just popped into my head. I have no idea why, don't know who she is. Will someone explain 59A?

Second attempt, won't let me post.

Rex Parker said...

I couldn't write a book titled "Your Puzzle Sucks" — too cruel. Now, "Your Blog Comment Sucks"... *that* has possibilities :)


*David* said...

The Phantom Tollbooth, kids book, main character Milo learns all about how important edumacation and time is in a fantasy-like world with the watchdog Tock. I remember my third grade teacher reading it to us in its entirety and zoning out big time.

NJ Irish said...

@David, thanks. The only tollbooth I could think of was from the Godfather when James Caan is done in.

Unknown said...

Sorry-still don't understand at. no. and is see supposed to mean c as in the first letter of cow? I'm confused. Can someone please explain?

KJGooster said...

@Randi: ATNO is short for Atomic Number. The at. no. of hydrogen (abbrev: H) is 1. I used to get fooled by that type of clue all the time. Also watch out for ATWT (Atomic Weight).

And the noun "see" refers to the jurisdiction of a bishop. The "Holy See" is "The Holy See (Latin: Sancta Sedes) is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole Catholic Church. It is also recognized by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained." (Wikipedia)