THURSDAY, June 17, 2010 — Robert W. Harris

Theme: Movie Mash-Up — Theme answers are names of movies with other (shorter) movie names embedded in them.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Alan Alda feature with a Will Smith short (CALIFORNIA SUITE).
  • 27A: William Hurt feature with a Warren Beatty short (ALTERED STATES).
  • 47A: Barbara Stanwyck feature with a Dustin Hoffman short (NO MAN OF HER OWN).
  • 62A: Michael Redgrave feature with a Helen Gahagan short (THE LADY VANISHES).
Not my favorite puzzle of the year. I like the idea, but I'm not crazy about the execution. First, the theme clues absolutely need to end in question marks. I'm all "Really? Alan Alda did a movie that featured a Will Smith short? Huh." Well, no. He didn't. Second, I haven't heard of four of the theme films, and all four of those are in the bottom of the grid. THE LADY VANISHES sounds vaguely familiar, but none of the others rang any bells whatsoever. That sort of detracts from the enjoyability factor for me. I can't figure out how I feel about seeing nine straight-up crosswordese answers in the grid. That seems like too many for a Thursday. On the other hand, I struggled with parts of this grid (particularly in the south) so the crosswordese helped quite a bit.

Quick Hits:
  • 5A: Hall & Oates hit "__ Smile" (SARA). This video has nothing to do with "Sara Smile." But I ran across it while I was looking for an appropriate video and it's just too good not to share.

  • 39A: Terhune collie (LAD). I had no idea what this meant. I assumed Terhune was a place in Ireland and collie : boy :: lassie : girl. But no. Albert Payson Terhune wrote novels about his collie whose name was Lad. Not sure I'm excited about knowing that.
  • 65A: Ipse __ (DIXIT). Latin for "he himself said it."
  • 66A: Grand Marquis, briefly (MERC). The Grand Marquis is a car made by Mercury.
  • 5D: Norman athletes (SOONERS). Oh, I like this tricky one. The teams at the University of Oklahoma (in Norman, Oklahoma), are called Sooners.
  • 8D: Klingons, e.g. (ALIENS). I think that would depend on where you are at the time you make the assertion.
  • 38D: Rice, to Montana (TEAMMATE). I haven't paid attention to football in many, many years and I couldn't grasp the idea that Jerry Rice and Joe Montana were from the same era. I thought Rice might have been Montana's MENTOR (which, obviously, doesn't fit). Turns out their stints with the San Francisco 49'ers overlapped from 1985 to 1992. Also, Jerry Rice is black. I swear I didn't know that until just now.
Crosswordese 101: Time to learn about Morse code. Did you know that Morse code's dots and dashes are also called "dits" and "DAHS" (40D: Some code signals)? Well now you do. The letter T in Morse code is one "dah." The letter E is one "dit." You probably know the sequence for SOS from watching Hogan's Heroes or something.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 15A: GM subsidiary since 1929 (OPEL).
  • 46A: Montana motto word (ORO).
  • 53A: Former flier (SST).
  • 68A: "Gymnopédies" composer (SATIE).
  • 70A: Kiln for drying hops (OAST).
  • 35D: Sign at a popular musical (SRO).
  • 49D: Indian royal (RANI).
  • 64D: Dada daddy? (ARP).
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Everything Else — 1A: Tired (LIMP); 9A: Beast of burden (LLAMA); 14A: Higher than (OVER); 15A: GM subsidiary since 1929 (OPEL); 16A: Lady who reportedly exchanged barbs with Churchill (ASTOR); 20A: Like some condors (ANDEAN); 21A: Net worth factor (DEBT); 22A: __ leaf (TEA); 23A: Part of a process (STEP); 25A: They take vows (NUNS); 32A: Prefix with sac (OVI-); 33A: Familiar saying (SAW); 34A: Fuses, as ore (SMELTS); 36A: Prepare to fire on (AIM AT); 41A: Hot fragment (EMBER); 42A: Sets aside for later consideration (TABLES); 44A: "Excellent!" ("RAD!"); 51A: Frantically (AMOK); 52A: Management ally of a sort (SCAB); 56A: Dick of adventure fiction (MOBY); 58A: WWII encryption machine (ENIGMA); 67A: Depressing situation, with "the" (PITS); 69A: Spot (ESPY); 1D: Crazy, in a Ricky Martin song (LOCA); 2D: Russian John (IVAN); 3D: Blend (MELD); 4D: Christian guide (PRIEST); 6D: Boston Marathon mo. (APR.); 7D: Split apart (REND); 9D: Job application line (LAST NAME); 10D: Fightin' Tigers' sch. (LSU); 11D: Working (AT IT); 12D: Small particle (MOTE); 13D: Region (AREA); 18D: Inevitable outcome (FATE); 19D: Borders (ABUTS); 24D: Big ring (PEAL); 26D: 31-Down opposite (STEM); 27D: Bird-related (AVIAN); 28D: Dance at a bar (LIMBO); 29D: Doc, for one (DWARF); 30D: Attention-getting joint (ELBOW); 31D: 26-Down opposite (STERN); 32D: Cereal grass (OAT); 37D: __ mater (ALMA); 43D: Hair net (SNOOD); 45D: Propriety (DECENCY); 48D: "I find that acceptable" ("OK BY ME"); 50D: San Luis __ (OBISPO); 53D: Agreed-on guidelines: Abbr. (STDS.); 54D: Branch of Islam (SHIA); 55D: Message often sent using thumbs (TEXT); 57D: First name in fashion (YVES); 59D: Karmann __: sports car (GHIA); 60D: 1986 World Series champs (METS); 61D: Helper: Abbr. (ASST.); 63D: First-century date (LII).



When I see SST, LII (First-century date), and a seemingly LIMP theme, I wanna just say “boo”; but there’s also a lot of stuff that’s really OK BY ME. I can never pan a crossword because of a few duds when it offers some exciting clues and new words to learn.

Never knew that OPEL was a GM subsid way back in 1929. Forgot that Lady ASTOR gave W.C. a hard time. I knew all about the ENIGMA code buster machine in WWII, but totally forgot about it. Calling SOONERS the Norman athletes was clever.
Albert Payson Terhune, the writer, had a fav Collie named LAD… totally new to me, but now I know some good books to read. STEM to “opposite” STERN was rather cute. So after working this puzzle for a while, I began to appreciate it more. This often happens with me.

And now I see the double movie titles ALI, REDS, HERO, and SHE embedded. Wow, that’s pretty good.

… and it included Erik SATIE and Gymnopédies, a huge fave of mine, and a lovely thing to wake up to on a beautiful June morning.

In my Ornithology classes I learned a little about the ANDEAN condor… a very impressive AVIAN fact: On average it is about 2” shorter from beak to tail than the California Condor, however the Andean Condor has a larger wingspan, 9 to 11 feet.

Off to Mother’s Café for some Huevos Reales (eggs with pine nuts, cinnamon, raisins and sherry)… yummy!

Y’all have a beautiful June morning!

Van55 said...

Epic fail for reasons I won't repeat -- and for the fact that the theme is just so so for my taste.

David L said...

Once I figured out that the theme answers were movie titles, I ignored the clues, so didn't even notice the embeds -- and I don't know enough about movies to have figured them out in any case. I think a theme puzzle that you can solve pretty easily without having any clue about the theme is kinda self-defeating....

ampub: a place that serves a.m. ale!

Rex Parker said...

"She" and "No Man of Her Own" = ???

Also, what you said about "?"s on the clues.

SethG said...

SHE came out in 1935. It was Helen Gahagan's only movie.

The shorts are too short, with letters that are too common, to make the fact that they can be embedded in longer names at all interesting to me. ALI, for example, is also in ALIEN VS PREDATOR and STEALING SINATRA. SHE is in THE GOOD SHEPHERD and WEDDING CRASHERS. And those are just the 15s...

Tinbeni said...

You said "I can never pan a crossword because of a few duds when it offers some exciting clues and new words to learn."
Well, then you'll never replace Rex.

After I got the "REDS" in that theme, ALTERED STATES, I just filled in the other three circled movies, and the themes fell easily. Ahhh, the advantage of watching a lot of TCM and being a bit older.

Liked the ANDEAN / LLAMA connection.

For a Thursday this was OK BY ME and a FUN grid.

Burner10 said...

Ish. Thé fact that I even got the theme answers by the crosses since I didn't know any of the associated stars and I always fall asleep to TCM can only mean that I've been a good student of CW101.

*David* said...

Nice theme idea but you got to recognize the movies. Too many unfamiliar movies and especially the majority of those unfamiliar were long fill. This turned into a down crossing puzzle slog and when I was done I saw the themes and went, so what?

I also was not a big fan of the cluing, tried to be too cute for his own good i.e. SCABS.

Anonymous said...

Tinbeni, you talk about Rex a lot. I don't remember him mentioning you.

John Wolfenden said...

Lady Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."
Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."

Another favorite Churchill quote, to a young lady who accused him of being drunk:
"I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”

I badly wanted "Agreed-on guidelines" to be SOPS. Oh well.

Overall a good challenging puzzle.
Even as a movie buff, "No Man of Her Own" is REALLY obscure.

abnorma said...

There was a Ricky Martin clue in the NY Times puzzle today, too.

lit.doc said...

@Puzzle Girl, did you add the circles to the grid on your blog, or did I link to a “special” edition of the LAT puzzle? No circles on my grid. Don’t know that it would have helped solving, or even raised the interest level above “meh”, but it might have saved me from repeatedly thinking “s/he was in that?!” despite the bizarre absence of the “?”s.

Also, speaking of Crosswordese 101, a good day to already know 43D SNOOD.

LIMP answer for a “Tired” clue got me off to a cranky-pants start and, absent circles and question marks, it was just a plug-and-chug exercise, no harder than it was interesting.

Vuvuzela. Just because.

hollyhock80 said...

Ok, not that I was ever very good at end of the week CW's, but geesh. I get a big DNF today. I just couldn't get my head wrapped around any of it. Between a dozen BB/SB/t-ball games this week and potty training the youngest, I am running on empty. Usually, I pick up on the sports/entertainment clues pretty quickly, but after one pass through the clues, I had only penciled in OAT, ENIGMA, and TEAMMATE. Kind of a bummer, since I know Friday and Saturday will not be any easier. I will consider this a learning experience.

picker of nits said...

PG, you are reading/interpreting the theme clues incorrectly.
It says (e.g.,) Alan Alda feature with a Will Smith short, NOT Alan Alda (movie) that features a Will Smith short. So, I disagree with your complaint. And yes, question marks should have been used.

CartBoy said...

Ok, got the puzzle, but what does ALI REDS HERO SHE in the circles get me? Is this a bad Jumble? Must be brain dead 'cause I'm missing something here...

a guy said...

And you say PuzzleGirl's the one reading/interpreting incorrectly?

Anonymous said...

Just curious, isn't there an implied question mark with all clues in a crossword puzzle?

*David* said...

Question mark in a crossword cues you in to something tricky, play on words, or out of the ordinary. Like John's john? Loo.

Zeke said...

@CartBoy - Will Smith starred in ALI, Warren Beatty in REDS, etc. Just highlighting the amazing fact that some film titles contain, embedded within them, other film titles. Just be thankful that we didn't have the exhaustive list of movie titles which contained "IT" in them.
@Picker - PG explained how she initially misread the clues. It's kind of what she does, explain the solving process.

Sfingi said...

After an easy Wed, this was difficult for me. I had The Lady Vanishes but didn't fill it in because I thought it would have a switcheroo in it. Of the other movies, I knew only the short ones. So, I Googled the rest and finally got it. I, too, wish it had been worded differently.

Also Googled SARA - never knew the name of the tune or what they were saying; and LAD and DIXIT.

Misspelled SATIE and found out everyone seemed to draw a sketch of him.

Then the sports clues, including 2 I didn't know were sports. Norman athletes (Viking ax tossers?). No, that's OK. Montana rice? Got by crosses.
Memo to self: If the METS are baseball, the JETS are football. But at LSU, everything is a Tiger.

But, that's a lotta Googling.

Mini-theme - cars: OPEL, GHIA, MERC. We had two Karmann GHIAs, 1969, 1971, standard shifts, minimal heat. One was lt. blue with black interior and one was "British racing green" with tan interior. Had a special heater installed, but it only warmed the driver. Was in a dreadful snowstorm in ME with one of them, trying to get to a wedding.

Hope Fri is easier.

Joon said...

i'm open to the idea of this, but the grid really could have used circles. mine didn't have them, and i'm curious if they were there in the print edition. because these movies are not quite famous enough (or long enough) to be recognizable without them. i sort of figured out what was going on after completing the solve when i saw REDS, but after looking i couldn't find the others at all. i thought HERO might be one, but to me, that's a jet li short. never heard of the dustin hoffman HERO. or, for that matter, any of the four long movies.

Joon said...

oh, and LAD: some day, you will be grateful to know the terhune title lad, a dog because the (terrible) partial LAD A will show up in a crossword with a clue like {"___ Dog" (Terhune)}. it could also be clued as a russian car make, but editors like to mix things up.

Anonymous said...

Alan Alda feature, (movie) would be an adequate clue for CALIFORNIA SUITE.
Yes or No? I think yes.
The fact the Will Smith movie, ALI, is hidden (in plain sight) in the title does it need a question mark?
I don't think so.
Brit's john (implied question mark)
Wouldn't either

CrazyCat said...

Pretty much feel the same "mehness" as others about today's puzzle. Have never heard of NO MAN OF HER OWN, HERO, THE LADY VANISHES or SHE. Even the movies I have heard of ,with the exception of REDS, were not particularly memorable IMO. Agree with lit.doc about the clue Tired for LIMP. Not really the same thing. I'm going San Luis OBISPO (SLO) for the weekend. Always a good thing!
@SethG I think we had a discussion a while ago after Thomas Kinkade appeared in a puzzle. I read this morning in the paper that "The Painter of Light" was arrested on a DUI in Carmel, CA on Friday night. Ha!

CrazyCat said...

The puzzle in the paper had circles, the online version did not.

Tinbeni said...

I always solve the print version.
The circle were in my newspaper.
@Lit.doc. also mentioned he didn't have them, I believe he does it the LAT on-line.
Without the circles the four mini-titles would have been harder to get.

ALI & REDS are, I believe, famous enough. Dustin's HERO a bit obscure. SHE popped in by the downs.

Good catch on the car mini-theme.
I know you aren't a sport fan but you are getting better with the sport clues.

The puzzle has STDS, 'nough said.

lit.doc said...

@Tinbeni, right you are. Online whenever possible. Bigger, brighter, I type faster than I write/erase/rewrite, and the head position is better (I've had two cervical discs replaced).

@picker, your POTD (Phrase of the Day): "ironizing quotes"

*David* said...

The ? would make sense for the clues since it is not just the long answer in play, it is the understanding of what does it mean when it says in 17A, Will Smith short. That is the Aha moment and not easily recognizable until the answer has been revealed.

*David* said...

The ? would make sense for the clues since it is not just the long answer in play, it is the understanding of what does it mean when it says in 17A, Will Smith short. That is the Aha moment and not easily recognizable until the answer has been revealed.

Rube said...

Since I didn't know 3 of the 4 movies, this was a matter of filling in a lot of crosses for me. The only new things were "SARA Smile", LOCA, and LAD, although I knew Terhune was an author. I've already forgotten the first two.

Had 7 write-overs.

In other words, a blah puzzle.

Wasn't there a Smurf called Doc?

lit.doc said...

@Rube, there was, but I'm pretty sure I ran over him one night on the way home from a party.

shrub5 said...

Cute theme but some semi-obscure movies. "The Lady Vanishes" is an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Still enjoyed the journey and most everything that I didn't know, I got with the crosses. Had one goof/failure to proofread: I had OVO instead of OVI so that made the dance at a bar the LOMBO!! (d'oh)

I printed my puzzle from cruciverb.com and it had the circles.

Jeff Chen said...

Love the theme idea, but not the execution. Wow, tough one to complete today.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing you haven't watched the NFL in like, never.....Montana to Rice was, perhaps the greatest QB / Receiver combo in history. ....love your site

mac said...

The theme of this puzzle went right by me, but I filled in everything easily from crosses. No circles either.

Montana to rice: from which state do we get our wild rice again?

Enigma: do yourselves a favor and watch "Enigma" with Derek Jacobi. I think I stayed up 'til two to see it on TV in London. Was the most watched production on tv that year.

Joon: wasn't that Lada?

Another Churchill anecdote but couldn't confirm the lady's name:
On evening at a cocktail party Winston was approached by a well-known, beautiful actress who said to him: "Oh Winston, with my looks and your brains we could make a wonderful baby". Winston replied: "But what if it had my looks and your brain?"

Anonymous said...

Re: not needing to know of the story of Lad, A Dog. Pity. Ask your mom or dad. Before there were hundreds of TV channels, endless reruns, videos, games, personal computers etc, most of us filled the summer (after chores, swimming, baseball, biking, skating, playing tag) with our favorite books -- Black Beauty, Irish Red, Lad, A Dog, Lassie, Old Yeller, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys etc. You get the picture. Life in the 40s, 50s and 60s. Once upon a time, we had favorite animal stories which were reprinted many times for many generations to enjoy. You might like them!

Sfingi said...

@Joon - my newspaper, though unbelievably schmutzig and hard to read, had the circles. This did help me to know where Mr. Harris was going, since I knew the short-named movies, though only knew the Hitchcock among the long ones, and had to Google.

I have that LAD book somewhere, but prefer humans as the main characters. I did go through a horse period, as many girls do. They may be better than men, but that's another subject.

Speaking of living the vida LOCA, he came out on March 29, so he needn't be crazy any more.

@Mac - wild rice needs bogs - Great Lakes to New England. Montana has plains type stuff - wheat, alfalfa, etc. Wild rice is the other grain native to North America. It's MN state grain.