THURSDAY, June 24, 2010 — John Lampkin

Theme: C'est La Vie — Theme answers are song titles that end with the word life, but for some reason the word life isn't there.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Beatles classic (A DAY IN THE).
  • 24A: Stevie Wonder classic (FOR ONCE IN MY).
  • 37A: "Annie" classic (IT'S THE HARD-KNOCK).
  • 46A: "Dirty Dancing" classic (THE TIME OF MY).
  • 58A: Sinatra classic, and hint to what's missing from this puzzle's other classics (THAT'S LIFE).

What am I missing? The song titles are supposed to have the word life at the end but … they don't. And Frank Sinatra's "classic" "That's Life" is a hint. I guess what I'm saying is, this theme really doesn't do it for me. Because I had a hard time figuring out the theme, the fill gave me quite a bit of trouble too. That didn't bother me though — actually I kind of liked it for a change — but if I'm going to work hard I want a payoff. Two good long answers and a couple tricky clues aren't enough. In fact, the tricky clues mostly just got on my nerves. For example, ARF ARF (22A: Woofer's output?). Ugh. I think what I really needed was for the theme to rock and it just … didn't.

Talking Points:
  • 28A: Hot (IRED). This word just needs to go away.
  • 51A: Coming-out party? (DEB). A debutante is a party (person) at a coming-out party.
  • 57A: Two little words? (I LOVE). "I LOVE you" is sometimes referred to as "three little words."
  • 3D: Beating one won't get you anywhere (DEAD HORSE). This is a beautiful entry. Best thing in the grid by far.
  • 5D: Center opening? (EPI-). Both this and 7D: Centric opening (ETHNO-) are tricky, I guess. But why does one have a question mark and the other doesn't? I guess if you're going to put two prefixes so close together you should do something to try to make it interesting, but I don't think this does it.
  • 9D: Actress North, once touted as "the new Marilyn Monroe" (SHEREE). I guess that didn't work out so well for Miss SHEREE.
  • 24D: Bass or drum (FISH). This one goes in my "plus" column. Good use of misdirection.
  • 32D: James's creator (IAN). I saw 48D: Bond creator (EPOXY) before this entry and was trying to figure out how to fit FLEMING into five spaces but it just wasn't working. And then he pops up somewhere else.
  • 34D: News promo (SOUNDBITE). My second-favorite grid entry.
  • 39D: "High Noon" actress Jurado (KATY). Perhaps she was "the new Sheree North"?
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 19A: China's Zhou __ (ENLAI).
  • 23A: Code word (DAH).
  • 26A: Thor's father (ODIN).
  • 33A: Genesis twin (ESAU).
  • 45A: WWII gun (STEN).
  • 55A: Robert Morse title role (TRU).
  • 8D: At birth (NÉE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Chain of hills (RIDGE); 6A: Top rating (TEN); 9A: Startle (SCARE); 14A: Stay a step ahead of (ONE-UP); 15A: Tribe that fought the Navajo (UTE); 16A: Soaked (HOSED); 20A: Covers (LIDS); 21A: Very long time (EON); 26A: Thor's father (ODIN); 29A: What peddlers peddle (WARES); 31A: Bank leader? (CITI); 40A: Celebratory feeling (GLEE); 41A: Bit of naughtiness (NO-NO); 42A: Sharp (ACUTE); 43A: Dover domestic (CHAR); 54A: American elk (WAPITI); 56A: Efficient (ABLE); 60A: Snazzes (up) (SEXES); 61A: A-line line (HEM); 62A: Offer, as one's two cents (PUT IN); 63A: Hot meeting? (TRYST); 64A: Source of iron (ORE); 65A: Church closings (AMENS); 1D: "Fantastic Mr Fox" author Dahl (ROALD); 2D: Home to more than a billion (INDIA); 4D: Half a 1950 musical (GUYS); 6D: Teach privately (TUTOR); 8D: At birth (NÉE); 10D: Kind of man or game (CONFIDENCE); 11D: Narnia lion (ASLAN); 12D: Fix, as a slot machine? (REARM); 13D: Uplift (EDIFY); 18D: Night light (NEON); 22D: Astringent (ACRID); 25D: Blast cause, briefly (NITRO); 27D: Some cops (DETECTIVES); 29D: Rug (WIG); 30D: Ga. airport (ATL); 31D: Regular duty (CHORE); 35D: Take the stage (ACT); 36D: Mandolin kin (UKE); 38D: As a friend, to Fifi (EN AMI); 44D: Regular alternative, informally (HI-TEST); 45D: X-rated stuff (SMUT); 46D: Unexpected climax (TWIST); 47D: In better health (HALER); 49D: "... O, be some __ name": Juliet (OTHER); 50D: Bowler's division (FRAME); 52D: Puckish (ELFIN); 53D: Has-__ (BEENS); 56D: Astringent compound (ALUM); 58D: Nevertheless, briefly (THO); 59D: Baths (SPA).


Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning. This was a toughie for me. It took me quite a while to figure out the theme, partly because I thought the Annie song was "It's A Hard Knock Life", not "It's THE Hard Knock Life."

There were some good miscues. I especially liked the James's Creator / Bond Creator = IAN / EPOXY connection.

My favorite clues were Bass and Drum = FISH and Rug = WIG.

I got Offer, as in One's Two Cents through the perps, so when I saw the response as PUTIN, my first thought was Vladimir PUTIN instead of PUT IN.

Rex Parker said...

Didn't mind the theme, though the revealer really should have conveyed a sense of *loss*.

The general fill, however, was cringey. HITEST???? SHEREE??? Never heard of that KATY. Cluing on SPA (plural-looking) is :( Had to pull WAPITI from some back part of my brain. Also had IT'S *A* HARD KNOCK LIFE for many seconds, wondering what went wrong ...




This puzzle sure wasn't "la dolce vita" for me. Took me too long, wore out an eraser, and got stressed out.
But I eventually did finish with 100% correct.

I LOVE for "two little words"
Isn't it I LOVE YOU and 3 little words?
NONO for "bit of naughtiness"
Who the heck is SHEREE North?
IRED for "Hot"
"In better health" (HALER).
Being ABLE has nothing to do with being "Efficient".
THO for "Nevertheless".

Okay, now that I've whined a little, here's some things that were good---
Nice long fill words, like CONFIDENCE, SOUNDBITE, DETECTIVES, and DEADHORSE... this is quite unusual for a themed puzzle.

Good clues:
"Beating one won't get you anywhere" (DEAD HORSE).
"As a friend to Fifi" (EN AMI)
"...O, be some ___ name": Juliet (OTHER)
"Narnia lion" (ASLAN)... I LOVE that story.
"Woofer's output?" (ARF ARF)... now that's cute and goes right along with the "Annie" clue at 37A.

Learned about KATY Jurado, ODIN, and the WAPITI elk.

I remember so well, the movie "GUYS & Dolls"... I was 14 and a bunch of us guys went downtown on the subway train to the Chicago Theatre on New Years Eve.

Van55 said...

I'm with you guys. Not much of a payoff in the theme and not much sparkle otherwise. Just okay for me, dawg.

*David* said...

I enjoyed the off-beat theme and the trickiness of the cluing. I picked up the omission of LIFE quickly but not as quickly as I would have liked. Just had a puzzle this week from the Onion or Tausig with KATY Jurado. I give this one a thumbs-up.

Burner10 said...

A strange thing happened on my way to solving this puzzle - the bus got hit! In three years of bus riding I am amazed this was the first time. And I was happily puzzling - I love a theme with lots of songs that I know. And, unlike some silly puzzle a couple of weeks ago, I actually used the theme to help me complete the grid. So I vote yes for this Thursday- and by the way no-one hurt.

Tinbeni said...

Since I searched out the theme reveal,
THAT'S LIFE, got me going early.

Liked the James's & Bond creator clues leading to IAN & EPOXY.

HI-TEST, Regular alternative, informaly, for a type of gas was ACUTE clue. (Sorry 'bout that)
I LOVE, SEXES, TRYST (Hot meeting?), nice stack.
Throw in the NONO SMUT, was there an underlying theme?

Golfballman said...

I believe Katy Jurado had a brief fling with John Wayne if memory serves me correctly.

John Wolfenden said...

True dat, PG...I never want to see IRED again. And we've had it two days in a row now.

I really wanted "Hot meeting" to be PRESS for some reason (like an iron) which made the SW corner a mess.

Funny to have "Unexpected climax" after "X-rated stuff." Deliberate or no? Not quite sure I would describe a twist as a climax, though.

Jeff Chen said...

Ugh... I'm good with subpar fill if the theme is fantastic, but I didn't really understand why "THATS LIFE" was the theme revealer. Why not "LIFE"? Or "LIFELESS"? Neat that the revealer was also a song, but it detracted from the puzzle, IMO.

CrazyCat said...

Thought the puzzle was a little LIFEless today. I got the theme at A DAY IN THE - OK we're missing LIFE. FOR ONCE IN MY confirmed my suspicions. I also thought it was *A* HARD KNOCK LIFE. I liked the second Woofer Output 22A ARF ARF. Enjoyed seeing Dover domestic 43A. My mother used to complain that we kids thought she was just the CHARwoman. Hardest part for me was the cross of TWIST and WAPITI - WA what?? The clue for 46D Unexpected Climax had me worried what with I LOVE, SEXES and TRYST all in the same corner. Finally had to google the American Elk and was the ABLE to get TWIST. KATY and SHEREE were both unknowns, but got them through the crosses. Found no GLEE in HITEST. Ugh.

Margaret said...

Got the NW corner fairly easily but then I thought the theme was going to be some life/death combination, which threw me off.

Also, I was so certain that the Stevie Wonder song was going to be some variation of You are the Sunshine of My Life, it took me a second to recognize the real song once I filled it in. For a split second I tried to make FORONCE rhyme with Beyonce! That was scary.

Its A hard knock puzzle said...

I have only one comment...ARFARF!!!! This puzzle was for the dogs.

Sfingi said...

Mon,Tue, Wed. - EZ and cute.
Google Thurs. And not worth the candle.

Of course, I'm still nauseated and cranky from the toof episode, so it might just be my attitude. A friend sent me an ad for a gun cleaning station, because I always say I'm going to clean the gun if I get to 85. If I was told I had to be nauseated the rest of my life, same solution.

I Googled all the songs but Sinatra. Note: not all Beatle's songs are classics.

Sheree lacked 2 things to make her the next Marilyn. And they're both the same.

KATY Jurado is dead, too. She had her own unusual look and didn't need to be the next anything. Won awards only in Mexico.

Unexpected climax - the firST one.
But, I kinda new it wouldn't be that despite the sexy clues in the SW. John Lampkin was talking Drama. What critic had a list of plot twists including "twisteroos" and "snappers"?

Also, I hated that movie Dirty Dancing. Same reason I hate Doonesbury. The nose thing.

I can never remember how to spell ROALD or ASLAN. Two more Googles.

@PG - you're right about DEB.
And CHAR without woman? That's really cold. Makes me want to call in the Marxists.

And for newbies: In the CW world, an ape IS a parrot, a salt IS a tar, a piece IS a rug. Boy. I'm cranky, crankier, crankiest.

@Burner10 - Glad you're OK. I once lent a car to a friend and a city bus totaled it ('73 Chevy Vega). In the late '60s I saw a fatal accident from a bus in NYC, wherein another bus hit a guy on a motorcycle. I was shocked it wasn't in the news, but someone said it was in the Knickerbocker. (I was a rube.)
I had forgotten both those things. Haven't been on a bus since the '80s.

Sorry, Mr. Lampkin, you hit me on a bad day.

Anonymous said...

I agree this puzzle stunk.

Here's an interesting factoid about Sheree North, from Wikipedia:

In the 1990s, she appeared as Kramer's mother, Babs Kramer, in two episodes of the TV series Seinfeld.

C said...

I liked the puzzle, different type of theme, different cluing. A solvable challenge, not bad for a Thursday.

I just assume IRE(-S -D) is going to be in a puzzle somewhere so it's inclusion doesn't irk, rile or rankle me in any form.

WAPITI is something I recalled from working old NYT Sunday puzzles. Tough to use in everyday conversation unless you are at the zoo or a BPOE function.


We say that if a word, like IRED, is in the dictionary, then it's okay to use in a puzzle construction; but I sometimes wonder if some words get into the dictionary just because they've been used in CWPs. Chicken or egg thing. Who the heck ever uses IRED in their vocabulary?

That's interesting, I just noticed all those raunchy words in the "underlaying theme". No wait, underlaying is my theme.

I agree... thought LIFELESS would have been a much better description of the theme.

Omigosh, you just solved a huge mystery for me. When I did my 100 day Route 66 trip, I stayed at the magnificent La Posada Hotel in Winslow Arizona... IN JOHN WAYNE'S BEDROOM! There was a photograph in the room of a mystery woman... a somewhat unusual looking woman. My friend, Sandy and I tried to do some research on her... WHO WAS SHE? Not a wife or one of his known girlfriends (the Duke liked Mexican women). We were stumped. Now I know who she was...it was Katy Jurado!
Thanks for the tip.

HUTCH said...

I owe the key to this puzzle to Ogden Nash scipts in The Saturday Evening Post-" Here"s to the Wapiti. It Goes Hippity Hoppity!"[ Ogden Nash].

NJ Irish said...

Hand up for "A" hard knock life. I'm not very good at lyrics so this was a tuffy but enjoyable challenge for a Thursday.

@Tinbeni & @JNH by the time I filled in tryst I just knew you two would be having some fun with a sub-theme, cute!

@PG great write as usual.

Anonymous said...

Ksty Jurado - married to Ernest Borgnine at one time.

Also Sheree North not an unknown, everyone the next Marilyn ie Diana Dors.

Did not know the song from Annie, never heard of it or seen the musical.

CrazyCat said...

@Hutch - WAPITI is my new WOTD. Thanks for the Nash cross reference.
@Anon 7:37 "The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow? " I love you Sandy." "Arf, Arf."

CrazyCat said...

I@Anon 7:37 I'm sorry, "The sun will come OUT tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar on it."

Anonymous said...

how does baths clue spa??

what does hitest mean?? is this an abbreviation?