THURSDAY, July 29, 2010
Doug Peterson and John Doppler Schiff

Theme: Strange Competitions — Familiar two-word types of competitions are clued as if the first word means something else.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Competition for witches? (SPELLING BEE).
  • 27A: Competition for entomologists? (CRICKET MATCH).
  • 43A: Competition for pastors? (STEEPLE CHASE).
  • 58A: Competition for painters? (ROLLER DERBY).
A big thanks to Rex Parker for sitting in for me yesterday. I was, um, well ... I had something personal to do. It wasn't a secret spy mission! What would make you think it was a secret spy mission?! It just some regular old thing that had nothing to do with secrets or spies or missions. Glad we got that settled.

A nice smooth Thursday puzzle this week. It skewed a little more difficult than I was expecting, but that's a good thing. The theme is clever, but I really like the fill on this one. We've got the high-brow EPIGRAM and ALLEGORY (41D: Bon mot / 37D: "The Tortoise and the Hare," for one) in the same grid with "DIBS!" and SORTA (31D: "Mine!" / 49D: To some extent, colloquially), which is fun. And the Scrabbly factor rose dramatically with ZONK OUT, WIDE AWAKE, and X'S and O'S (55A: Nod off, in slang / 33D: Not nodding / 42D: Playbook symbols). Who doesn't love seeing ZONK OUT in the grid? It's awesome!

  • 20A: Churl (PEASANT). I always thought "churl" meant more like "cad" or "rogue." Hmmm … Merriam-Webster online says "churl" is a synonym for "jerk," but the PEASANT definition comes before "rude ill-bred person" in its main entry so okay. Learn something new every day.
  • 23A: Prêt-à-porter monogram (YSL). Yves Saint Laurent.
  • 31A: Churchill __ (DOWNS). I was all proud of myself for knowing this racetrack off the top of my head and then realized it's where the Kentucky Derby is run, so probably everyone else knew it right away too.
  • 35A: "What have we here?!" ("OHO!"). Seems like we're seeing a lot of OHO lately. In fact, I think OHO has over-stayed its welcome at this point.
  • 40A: Bridge turn (BID). This one tricked me. I was thinking like a bridge that goes over water, not bridge the card game.

  • 52A: Bodybuilder's breakfast, maybe (RAW EGGS). Someone mentioned "Caddyshack" the other day and I was trying to think of what other old movies I'd like to see again. Rocky's definitely in there.
  • 61A: Typeface type (ARIAL). Mmmmm, typefaces.
  • 64A: Some are urban (MYTHS). I'm sure you all know about Snopes.com, but here's a link just in case you don't. I can spend hours on that site and I pretty much never leave the "What's New" section.
  • 3D: Hollywood dad or his acting daughter (O'NEAL). I can never remember how Ryan and Tatum spell their last name. I know that it's either (a) the same as Shaq or (b) different than Shaq — but I can never remember which one.
  • 9D: Not a good shot (ONE IN TEN). I was tricked by this one too! I thought the answer would be a word describing someone who can't shoot a gun accurately. I'm going "One … eyed?"
  • 11D: Pre-railroad transport (CONESTOGA). Ah, we meet again, CONESTOGA. In case you're wondering, this is absolutely without a doubt a shout-out to me. And if anyone tells you different, they're lying.
  • 25D: Aspen rooftop sight (SKI RACK). I assume this means car roof? Or do skiers put skis on the rooves (rooves? roofs?) of their houses too? Probably not.
  • 30D: Big bikes (HOGS). Love this nickname for Harleys.
  • 45D: Shrubs with edible nuts (HAZELS). Who knew?
  • 50D: Hexahedral puzzle inventor (RUBIK). Hexahedral? Now you're just showing off.
Overall I'd say this is pretty much what we've come to expect from Doug and it's a very nice debut for John. Good job, guys!

Crosswordese 101: I'm not much of a religious person, so I'm going to quote from Wikipedia on this one: "INRI is an acronym of the Latin inscription IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDÆORVM (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum), which translates to English as 'Jesus the Nazarene (Galilean), King of the Jews (Judeans).' The Greek equivalent of this phrase … (Iesous ho Nazoraios ho Basileus ton Ioudaion), appears in the New Testament of the Christian Bible in the Gospel of John (19:19)." INRI is typically clued as "crucifix inscription," "Calvary inscription," "initials on a cross," or 18D: Cross letters.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 41A: "First Lady of Song" (ELLA).
  • 57A: She played Bea in "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 44D: Poetic preposition (ERE).
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Everything Else — 1A: Cry of feigned innocence (WHO ME?); 6A: Northwest Passage seeker (CABOT); 11A: Spy's eye, briefly (CAM); 14A: Ancient Greek dialect (IONIC); 15A: Sheepish? (OVINE); 16A: Carry a balance (OWE); 19A: "Move it!" ("NOW!"); 21A: Prove pleasing (SIT WELL); 24A: Nest egg segments, briefly (IRA'S); 26A: Not big bites (NIPS); 34A: Brand that may cause brain freeze (ICEE); 36A: Words while anteing (I'M IN); 37A: Brother of Moses (AARON); 39A: Awestruck (AGOG); 42A: Inside information? (X-RAYS); 47A: R&B singer India.__ (ARIE); 48A: __ Sutra (KAMA); 49A: Some H.S. students (SRS.); 60A: With 29-Down, cabbage variety (BOK); 62A: Agree to participate (OPT IN); 63A: __ out: barely manage (EKE); 65A: Vampire's concern (STAKE); 1D: Thin, as smoke (WISPY); 2D: Signs of optimism (HOPES); 4D: Thickness measures (MILS); 5D: Cream puffs (ECLAIRS); 6D: Source of cold comfort? (CONTAC); 7D: Batter's fig. (AVG.); 8D: They hang in seafood restaurants (BIBS); 10D: Links appointment (TEE TIME); 12D: Missing in the mil. (AWOL); 13D: Little cry (MEWL); 22D: New Deal prog. (WPA); 27D: 1980 Turner launch (CNN); 28D: Natural prefix (ECO-); 29D: See 60-Across (CHOY); 32D: Leave out (OMIT); 38D: Sam Adams, maybe (ALE); 39D: "We __ the Champions" (ARE); 46D: Latin love (AMOR); 51D: "Gypsy" composer (STYNE); 52D: Yahoo (RUBE); 53D: Bad way to run (AMOK); 54D: Thin opening (SLIT); 56D: Didn't surrender (KEPT); 59D: "Well, __-di-dah" (LAH).



Fun theme. On one hand I disliked some of the entry words, but on the other hand I really loved the cluing. Stuff like “Pret-a-porter monogram” (YSL), “Cross letters” (INRI), “Bon mot” (EPIGRAM), and “Playbook symbols” (X’S AND O’S), just to name a few.
Doug Peterson always provides great CW entertainment! Thanks, Doug.

Some write-overs:
I had ZONE OUT before ZONK OUT (55A).
SAM instead of CAM (11A).
TNN for 27D (CNN).
Thought AMIE instead of AMOR (46D).

I SORTA think “Bodybuilder’s breakfast” of RAW EGGS is one of those Urban MYTHS. That’s not a very healthy thing to do.
ICEE must be a regional thing, because I never see that brand around here.
Oh, we’ve had Sam Adams in the news a lot lately, and it wasn’t ALE… the famous dramatic attorney for “Our Blogo”.
Tatum O’NEAL …she’s super-talented and very beautiful, but oh what a sad little abused girl!

Well, I’m back on my Route 66 trek, so sometimes I’m extra early and sometimes I’m quite late with the puzzling.

Y’all have a super day!

Van55 said...

First rate Thursday for me. In the local paper the YSL clue was misspelled "prit-a-porter.". Drew a big OHO from me.

Tinbeni said...

After I got my newspaper, Mug of Joe, and turned on CNN, I perused the clues and my first entry was: Well, LAH-di-dah.

A few NIPS of java later, I was WIDE AWAKE and found our @RUBE & @HAZEL(S).

Looked at the themes (which were Excellent!) but nothing clicked at first. I thought WTF!
Then, bit-by bit it SORTA just fell into place.

Saw that I'M IN and CONESTOGA returned from yesterday and Monday.

Faves were the X'S AND O'S, the ONE-IN-TEN.

All-in-all (other than that OHO) this was probably the most FUN puzzle I can remember.

Anonymous said...

ICEE is not a regional brand. Blogo's lawyers are Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr.

Anonymous said...

got everything except for the NOW and MEWL cross. Even after I had it filled in had to do a doubletake to parse ONEINTEN and ONE-IN-TEN

Burner10 said...

Fun solve for me notwithstanding my wrong answer for sheepish - CLONE! Had to google churl - and found what PG described.

*David* said...

Nothing too difficult last letter to fill in was the X in XRAYS, couldn't parse XS AND OS. The theme was pretty intuitive which made for a fast solve, fav fill was EPIGRAM, can't believe CONESTOGA is already back.

Zeke said...

The steeple in STEEPLECHASE is precisely the steeple as in a church where the pastors worked. Steeplechasing began as a country affair, where two or more people had a spontaneous race on horseback. Since steeples were frequently the only things visible on the distant horizon, the race was "First one to the steeple wins". So, boo on STEEPLECHASING.

Doug P said...

CONESTOGA! You're all familiar with the "Rosebud" scene in "Citizen Kane." Well, PG is going to be on her deathbed (many, many years from now!) whispering "Conestoga" and no one's going to know what she's talking about. :)

Congrats to John on his debut! This was a theme I'd been thinking about for a couple of months, but I couldn't come up with enough theme entries. John came through with a couple of great ones, and the puzzle was born. Be on the lookout for a few solo puzzles by John in the coming months with fun & inventive themes.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I'm a dummy, but I'm still having trouble with SPELLINGBEE as a "Competition for witches?"
I get the other three, but that one confounds me. Can someone please essplain? Lucy?

C said...

Good puzzle for a Thursday. Some interesting new fill (XSANDOS)

I could dance to it, so I'll give it an 85.

Helpful Guy said...

@Anon 9:23 - Witches cast spells, so they might have contests in spelling.

Tuttle said...

1D is haunting me this week. Had "Wafty" for the longest time. Thought the witch thing would involve 'familiar', but I knew "aolic" was missing a letter.

Ol' Man Keith said...

The only tough one for me was CABOT. Too bad that both Lewis and Clark have five letters each, and that in any case I mixed up Zantac (for ulcers etc) with Contac!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Conestoga was back, I knew it immediately, BUT didn't remember the correct spelling. Oh, well. For some reason I have more trouble spelling up and down than across.

Eric said...

DNF: N and NE defeated me. How annoying that a few days ago CONESTOGA was a gimme for me, but today a *d'oh!* late in the game. Sigh.

I didn't know (or rather, had long forgotten) that CABOT was looking for the Northwest Passage, even though I have fond memories of Cape Breton Island's Cabot Trail.

ZONE OUT for ZONK OUT: Me too.
Also misspelled BOK CHOI [sic]. Combined with having _SAND_S but not having a clue which two letters are used in playbooks, I totally missed XRAYS.

RAW EGGS: Well, I've never seen Rocky, but I just saw Rocky Horror last week for the first time in 25-30 years:
    He ate nutritious High-Protein
    And swallowed raw eggs
    Tried to build up his shoulders,
    His chest, arms and legs
To me the songs and story have aged well, but the acting and direction, not so much; a quarter-century on, the campiness seems rather overexaggerated. But hey, it was fun back in the day...

YSL: Thanks for explaining. I had no idea what that was referring to. (Was going to say "no clue", but, well, I did have a clue :-) I could even translate it; I just didn't understand it in context.)

31A: "Churchill": Usually my mind goes to Sir Winston, seeing as (a) I'm a bit of a WWII buff and (b) my highschool was named for him; but somehow guessed DOWNS anyway. I had no idea why that particular racetrack was famous, only that it's a five-letter word.

61A: "Typeface type": My first guess was "serif", which I think fits the clue far better than does ARIAL. ARIAL would be better clued as "typeface family", or perhaps simply "typeface", depending on how typography-savvy one expects the audience to be. To me, "typeface type" means a broader class of typefaces than a single family: serif, sans-serif, modern, display, etc. Oh, and ARIAL itself? "r" is kerned too tightly on the right; "rn" is easily confused with "m", and "ri" almost as easily with "n".

@PG: 50D: "Hexahedral puzzle inventor": Well, if you're going to use RUBIK in a late-week grid, you have to do something to keep it from being a total giveaway...

Shout out to Robert Anton Wilson's "Masks of the Illuminati", which forever seared INRI into my brain.

CrazyCat said...

I thought this was such a fun puzzle. Great work Doug P. and John. Enjoyed the theme and creative cluing and fill. My WODs Churl for PEASANT and HAZELS. I had no idea that my beloved filberts grew on shrubs. CONESTOGA again! I guess PG's never going to get that one wrong again. The CONESTOGA wagon was introduced by the Pennsylvania Germans (my heritage on my father's side) in the 18th century.
@Fowler. I was trying for Lewis and Clark too. I always forget about John Cabot.

chefbea said...

Not a bad puzzle. Loved spelling bee (was that a shout out to moi) Or was the shout out Uma who was in Kill Bill.

Cream puffs are cream puffs - Eclairs are eclairs. They do have similar ingredients but are shaped differently. IMO

ddbmc said...

@PG, I think that one of your guest bloggers(Jeff?) postulated that you were on a Secret Mission or Mission Impossible, as to the reason he was filling in for you, thus the spy reference.

Didn't get to Tuesday's puzzle yet, so I guess CONESTOGA is one of the answers?????

Mis-read NorthWEST passage and was thinking EAST, so tried HUDSON. D'oh! Soon saw the error of my entry.

Have certainly heard the word churlish before, but have never seen it used as CHURL.

Fun and meaty puzzle, for a Thursday!

JohnDopp said...

I had a lot of fun constructing this puzzle with Doug... His strengths complement my newbie weaknesses nicely!

For example, I never would have thought of CONESTOGA... =D

I hope my future puzzles are as well-received!


It's pretty ironic... today was the day that a group of us botanists met at the Morton Arboretum to study and discuss Betulaceae, the family to which birches, alders, hornbeams, hop-hornbeams, and filberts belong. The HAZEL (Corylus americana), also called a filbert, is a very desireable shrub and is gaining lots of popularity with residential landscape designers. The filbert fruit (hazel nut) is quite unique looking and is very good to eat.

Sfingi said...

@John - "Friends, lovers no more, just friends, not like before." (Was it Spanky singing to Daria? Funnier than Ella.)
Hey - what do I do to keep my Rose of Sharon from kONKing OUT?
And, surprise, my trumpet vine just produced pods overnight. The invasion of the pods!
I should try that hazelnut, which I also did not know was a shrub. ZONEs 4-9. PS: "Unique" allows no modifier. However, just saw same today at the Erie Canal Museum. What's a retired teacher to do!

Anyway, I had to Google for CABOT. I knew it couldn't be roBOT, unless there was a new game called Northwest Passage. Hmm.
The medicine, CONTAC, did not come to mind, either

I had ZONeOUT, and don't know ZONKOUT; that combined with RUBIc killed the SE corner.

Didn't we just have CONESTOGA? And We're not supposed to believe in conspiracies. Just heard Hawaii was part of the Congo when Obama was born. Or was it Japan?
Spelled it right this time.

@Chefbea on goodies/dolci. You wouldn't want to see am IMP cry, wouldja?

YSL - I refuse to do someone else's ads for them.

Vans - Pret-a-port - ready to wear. You don't have to be French, just fashion knowledgeable. - Minus the accents.

NJ Irish said...

To John and Doug thanks for a great puzzle. Looking forward to many more.

Got the theme at 17A: Competition for witches? and filled the others in... nothing short of a miracle for me on any day..but on Thursday never!

Only one write over, had zone out B4 zonk out.

@PG I'm with you on the O'Neal's, can never remember who spells it how.

Didn't know Hazel nuts grow on shrubs. Wonder if they would in NJ?

Got the northeast across which gave me 13D Little cry MEWL my WOTD.

CrazyCat said...

@Eric "Let's Do The Time Warp Again." That's about all I remember from Rocky Horror and people in the audience throwing toast and toilet paper. Once was enough for me :>)