WEDNESDAY, June 16, 2010 — Pancho Harrison

Theme: You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish — Music puns!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Songs by German wolves? (LIEDER OF THE PACK).
  • 36A: Obvious melody? (AIR APPARENT).
  • 58A: Intonations from the monastery locker room? (CHANTS OF SHOWERS).
As far as puns go, this theme isn't half bad. I especially enjoyed CHANTS OF SHOWERS and the visual the clue supplied in my head. I know I keep saying this, but it just keeps on being true: With only three theme entries, I would think the grid had some room for some exciting entries. REVAMP (33A: Overhaul) is nice, and IN AND OUT has a great clue (11D: Hard to reach at the office, say). I probably would have enjoyed seeing the clue for SANDALS (22A: Huaraches, e.g.) if it hadn't bring back the unfortunate memory of how I learned what huaraches are. I learned it from "Surfin' USA" — which doesn't seem so bad until you find out that it was Leif Garrett's version.

Ya know, I think about my tween years (which, of course, weren't actually called "tween years" back then) and the music I was listening to — Donny Osmond, Sean Cassidy, Tony DeFranco (remember him???) — and I'm grateful there are girl singers for my daughter to be crazy about these days.

Anyhoo. The paired ENDED and LEFT (4D: Ran out / 7D: Ran out) add a little something to the puzzle. But other than the things I've mentioned, it was a pretty straightforward Wednesday that I solved methodically without causing too much trouble for my braincase.

  • 9A: Hold forth (OPINE). I wanted orate here.
  • 15A: Flash in the brainpan (IDEA). Never heard of the brainpan but I guess it's a real thing.
  • 57A: Haggard of country music (MERLE).

  • 63A: Horned goddess (ISIS). I never remember that Isis has horns. I just picture the actress from the old Saturday morning show. ("O mighty Isis!")
  • 12D: "Good shot!" ("NICE ONE!"). I do like the colloquial phrases and this one is clued perfectly.
  • 32D: Beer holders (CANS). Can't remember the last time I had beer in a can. Probably high school. Er... I mean college. (Hi, mom!)
  • 34D: Legal aides (PARAS). I've spent the majority of my professional career in law firms and have never heard paralegals referred to as PARAS.
  • 47D: Texas border city (DEL RIO). I've been there. I bet you haven't.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 35A: "The Clan of the Cave Bear" author (AUEL).
  • 39A: Exile isle (ELBA).
  • 66A: Plato's promenade (STOA).
  • 6D: Tokyo, before 1868 (EDO).
  • 33D: Narrow inlets (RIAS).
  • 39D: Roxy Music alum Brian (ENO).
  • 44D: Omar of "House" (EPPS).
  • 48D: Texas oil city (ODESSA).
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Everything Else — 1A: Glass in a frame (PANE); 5A: Motivation target, often (SELF); 14A: Site of a Biblical plot (EDEN); 16A: Like some ancient characters (RUNIC); 20A: Farther out? (ODDER); 21A: Like some highways (TWO-LANE); 25A: Stubborn one (ASS); 26A: Blunderer's cry (D'OH); 28A: Final conclusion? (-IST); 29A: Rational (SANE); 31A: Motion support (SECOND); 41A: Accent (STRESS); 42A: Loch legend nickname (NESSIE); 45A: Reb's opponent (YANK); 46A: Hoo-ha (ADO); 49A: Feedbag morsel (OAT); 50A: O'Neill's "The Hairy __" (APE); 52A: Wooden in manner (STILTED); 54A: Tread roughly (TRAMPLE); 61A: Right-hand page (RECTO); 62A: "An Essay on Man" poet Alexander (POPE); 64A: Big name in lawn care (ORTHO); 65A: Notable periods (ERAS); 1D: First female Speaker of the House (PELOSI); 2D: Reebok rival (ADIDAS); 3D: "You __ bother" (NEEDN'T); 5D: Anthony Hopkins, for one (SIR); 8D: Islamic decree (FATWA); 9D: Threat words (OR ELSE); 10D: Insect stage after larva (PUPA); 13D: Luther opponent Johann __ (ECK); 18D: Corrective tool (ERASER); 19D: Ben Cartwright's middle son (HOSS); 23D: Soap brand with pumice (LAVA); 24D: Goes nuts (SNAPS); 27D: "Good" cholesterol, for short (HDL); 30D: Totally drained (EMPTY); 36D: Like a Jackson Pollock painting (ABSTRACT); 37D: Temporary use fee (RENT); 38D: Inuit, once (ESKIMO); 40D: Elbow patch material (LEATHER); 43D: Words of agreement (I AM TOO); 46D: Not in motion (AT REST); 51D: Run off to join a union? (ELOPE); 53D: Jerry or Jerry Lee (LEWIS); 55D: Lit. compilation (ANTH.); 56D: __ effort (E FOR); 58D: Vel attachment? (-CRO); 59D: Relaxing retreat (SPA); 60D: Dudes (HES).



Not a great puzzle IMO. The corny musical theme evoked lots of crappy fill and left us with nothing new to learn. Well maybe we did learn something about Texas geography with DEL RIO and ODESSA, but other than that, nothing was new to me.

And what’s ODDER than “Huaraches”? They can be worn on your feet (SANDALS) or eaten (Mexican dish). Sort of reminds me of Charlie Chaplin.

Hmmm! 18D, ERASER, a tool used a lot by this “DOH” solver.

HOSS Cartwright was very endearing to everyone. He was a delightful character in Bonaza who had a soft heart for those in need of a helping hand. "Gentle Giant" is a term that seems to fit him pretty well. No one else could have played Hoss like the Texan, Dan Blocker. We need more of his ilk in today’s TV series.

Have a wonderful day today, y’all.


Puzzlegirl, your writeup was far far more entertaining than this puzzle.

Anonymous said...

To me, CHANTS OF SHOWERS was a real groaner, and AIR APPARENT was merely OK.

But LIEDER OF THE PACK was *LOL* brilliant! I'm trying, and failing utterly, to imagine Schubert as produced by Phil Spector :-) (Never mind that "Leader of the Pack" wasn't, it turns out, one of Spector's).

Keeping with the musical theme:

> Texas border city (DEL RIO). I've been there. I bet you haven't.

No, but I've got CDs with contributions by synth player Len DEL RIO, who I bet you've never heard of :-) Including one called "Sphynx", which has a song "ISIS and Nepthys". I love intersections like that (one might call them "conceptual crosses"). To look back at the puzzle and see that it's a *word* cross as well, is just way, way too cool!

shrub5 said...

Chuckled at the theme answers. I saw the puns but didn't get the music association until I came here! Smooth solve, no need for my ERASER on this one. I didn't know FATWA but it was easily filled in by the crosses.

IN AND OUT Burger, yum.

NICE ONE, Mr. Harrison!

Tinbeni said...

NICE ONE was the Laker game last night.

Beer CANS, great for when I drag my ASS down to the pool, otherwise I prefer it in bottles or on tap.

YANK three days in-a-row, yuck!

Themes, a bit thin, expect @REX to say they are the best ever.

Puzzlegirl, I agree with @JNH, you're write-up was better than the grid.

*David* said...

These puns were better then most since I didn't hate them. Good luck on finding a TWO LANE highway in LA more like four or five lane.

John Wolfenden said...

Smooth and quick, except mistakenly wanting "TRAIPSE" instead of "TRAMPLE."

"E is for effort" is a bit of a stretch for me.

Puzzle highlight: "Run off and join a union" for ELOPE.

John Wolfenden said...

Sorry, "E for effort." I came across this explanation. Never heard of it:

E for Effort: as in ESU=Effort, Satisifactory, Unsatisfactory

Sfingi said...

@John - Charlie Chaplin eating his shoes was a great IDEA for huaraches.
My uncle wore them in the '40s. But he was a good-looking fly-boy who set styles rather than worried about them. Most of us wouldn't be seen dead.

I loved groaning over the puns.
Speaking of Lieder - are there any German fests in the US that are not just oom-pa-pa and beer? Seriously, I'd like to go some time.

Never can remember which is the gooder cholesterol.

Had Deere before ORTHO.

Mini-theme - Ran Out, 4 and 7 down.

@Shrub5 - Remember the FATWA against Salman Rushdie? and Theo Van Gogh? Van Gogh was killed. Scary.

I felt creepy about Jerry Lee LEWIS marrying his child cousin. But, my husband's paternal mother married at 14, had her first child at 15 and was considered beautiful when she got fat. So I guess it's cultural. She was also a "kidnapping" which is often a staged ELOPEment to avoid a promised union. Oh, and she was "kidnapped" from a nunnery. And she was a wet-nurse. I better stop. This only gets weirder.

Rube said...

A pleasant puzzle with some good and some not-so-good fill. Pelosi, fatwa, & Eck are good common knowledge words. Eden, Elba, and oat are threadbare and worn out xwordese.

Never heard of Huaraches. Apparently a hole in my education.

Liked all of the theme answers.

CrazyCat said...

Finished this puzzle pretty fast and didn't even see a lot of the answers. Liked CHANTS OF SHOWERS. The rest was OK. Second day in a row for STILTED. Like my IN AND OUT burger "Protein Style." Thought Puzzle Girl's write up and @Sfingi's story about her husband's grandmother were better than the puzzle.
@Sfingi HDL=Happy cholesterol LDL=Lousy cholesterol. That's my scientific method for remembering.

KJGooster said...

LIEDEROFTHEPACK looks familiar to me. I didn't check the database, but maybe it was in the NYT in the past couple years?

EFOR Effort is just Terrible.

I just finished reading Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger, set in ODESSA, Texas. An excellent read even if you're not a sports fan. The television series is also one of the best out there, again, even if you're not a football fan.

Van55 said...

I liked the bad puns a lot. Didn't mind the fill, either. Got to wondering if Pancho is a Texan with DELRIO abutting ODESSA. I hope that isn't some kind of politically incorrect profiling on my part.

FATWA, RUNIC and PELOSI seemed fresh to me.

Vel attachment????

Rex Parker said...

LIEDER OF THE PACK = gold. The others are just OK. Pancho has done better work, but overall I still liked this puzzle. 74 words, *and* clean (PARAS notwithstanding). If only the NYT could say the same.

lit.doc said...

Late to the conversation, and it’s a good one (spent the day at school doing b.s. curriculum planning).

@Puzzle Girl, I totally agree with @JNH and @Tinbeni that your write-up was better than the puzzle, as so often is the case. Love the aside to your mom re canned beverages.

Being both easily amused and a hobbyist musician, I really enjoyed the theme answers, but of course wished there had been a couple more. Didn’t realize at first that I was dealing with musicology puns. When I got LIEDER OF THE PACK, I thought “Hmmm, a puzzle about the Hitler Youth?!”

Just kidding.

“E for effort” is a very common snide remark. Really. Kind of like giving a student a zero plus.

And today I learned how to spell a word I’ve known since I first heard “Surfin’ USA”—HUARACHES. Hope I never have to spell it again.

@CCL, thanks for the terrific cholesterol mnemonic. I’ve always had a hard time remembering which is which.

mac said...

Agree with Rex, Lieder of the pack was fantastic. I also wanted orate for opine, and was surprised when the sandals showed up.

All in all, I liked this puzzle.

C said...

I like puns ergo I like da puzzle. Good stuff.

Sfingi said...

@Vans - right on as usual.

@CrazyCat - I was hoping for a mnemonic!