F R I D A Y   September 17, 2010
John Lampkin

Theme: A to I — Familiar phrases have a short A sound converted to a short I sound.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Ballet? (TIP DANCING).
  • 27A: Photo session with a klutz? (TRIP SHOOTING).
  • 47A: Part of a barber shop review? (SNIP JUDGMENT).
  • 62A: Christmas morning ritual? (RIP SESSION).
Wow. This theme did Nothing for me. The resulting phrases are boring and their cluing is abysmal. (Remember how I said I was going to use that word the other day? Well here's my chance.) So you change the A sound in TAP DANCING to an I sound (only not both A sounds, just the first one) and the resulting phrase is another type of dancing also described by the shoes. This is not wacky. It's nonsensical, yes, but it doesn't strike me as funny or clever or … anything. It just sits there. Ya know what would have been a better clue for TIP DANCING? "Strip club performance." Because then the TIP part is about money and not about the exact same thing it's about in the original phrase. I'm not going to go over each theme answer in this much detail. But I could! Because each one of them is awkward in its own way. Put them all together and what you've got is a Big Mess.

There is some nice fill, but nothing super long or super flashy. MENSCH (8D: Good guy)is probably the best word in the grid. BOTOX and ZIP CODES are also up there and they both had awesome clues as well — 55A: Shot to the face? / 38D: 60606 and 70707, e.g. Ya know what? Let's just go to bullets because there are a few other things to talk about.

  • 1A: Bulldogs' home (YALE). Is the bulldog the mascot at Georgia too? Because all I could think of was Georgia.
  • 10A: Tevye's toast subject (LIFE). I got this totally through context and guessing. I believe Tevye refers to the main character in "Fiddler on the Roof," who is Jewish so his toast is probably the common Jewish toast "L'Chaim," which means "to life." This is all completely from the top of my head and the details may be wrong, but it brought me to the right answer so I'm totally okay with it.
  • 16A: Bridal gown shade (ECRU). I thought this would be ECRU, but I had already entered LOGO where ICON was supposed to go (11D: Macintosh's apple, e.g.) so I had a little trouble in this corner.
  • 21A: Au pair in a ring? (KTS.). Okay, here's why I hate this clue. It's trying really hard to be cute. Au is the symbol for gold. Pair = two. So we're supposed to think the ring is made of two-karat gold. Is that even a thing? I mean, I'm sure two-karat gold exists but would someone bother to make a ring out of it? Two-carat diamond? Yes. Two-karat gold? No. As a constructor friend of mine said, "First off, don't put KTS in your grid." That's good advice.
  • 28D: Ford muscle car, to devotees (STANG). Is this really something devotees say? Or is it like the "Frisco" thing Amy was talking about the other day?
  • 32A: Realtors' database: Abbr. (MLS). Multiple Listing Service. If you've ever bought or sold a home, you're probably familiar with this.
  • 58A: ESP, e.g. (PSI). I don't know what this means.
  • 64A: Area between gutters (LANE). I stupidly entered EAVE thinking about gutters on the roof instead of gutters in a bowling alley.
  • 65A: Come about (OCCUR). Tried ARISE here.
  • 69A: Blonde, at times (DYER). I've been a blonde all my life and for years I was up on my high horse, so superior to dyed blondes because it was natural for me. Then I got pregnant. Pregnancy does All Kinds of strange stuff to a woman's body. One of the things it did to me was darken my hair. So now I'm down here with everyone else.
  • 6D: English, maybe (BACKSPIN). "English" is a word for the spin you put on a ball. I've only ever heard it used in pool but it's probably used elsewhere.
  • 18D: Game company first called Syzygy (ATARI). Oh why couldn't they have kept that name?
  • 26D: What misters do (MOISTEN). My first thought? Misses. Totally inappropriate.
  • 29D: Lithographer James (IVES). This made me laugh. I'm all "I'm supposed to know lithographers now?!" And then it's our old friend from Currier & IVES, who I most certainly do know.
  • 33D: The Eagles' "__' Eyes" (LYIN). I'm not sure why the clue includes the apostrophe after the blank. Typically, the punctuation is left for the solver to figure out.
  • 40D: Proctor's announcement (TIME IS UP). Me: "Why isn't TIME'S UP fitting??"
Crosswordese 101:
  • 14A: Airline with a King David Lounge (EL AL).
  • 44A: Naldi of silents (NITA).
  • 1D: Elusive Himalayans (YETIS).
  • 18D: Game company first called Syzygy (ATARI).
  • 56D: Fire __ (OPAL).
  • 62D: Some eggs (ROE).
  • 63D: Long lead-in (ERE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: Controversial 2009 Nobelist (OBAMA); 15A: Drink disparaged by W.C. Fields (WATER); 19A: Iberian Peninsula invader (MOOR); 20A: Cartographic detail (INSET); 22A: Salsa instrument (BONGO); 23A: Can't commit (SEE-SAWS); 25A: "Don't gimme that!" ("C'MON!"); 35A: Abbr. part, often (INIT.); 36A: "The nerve!" ("I NEVER!"); 37A: Court cry (OYEZ); 39A: Airborne annoyances (GNATS); 41A: Dynamic opening? (AERO-); 42A: Gibbon, e.g. (SIMIAN); 46A: Use a seed drill (SOW); 50A: She played Elizabeth I in "Elizabeth" (CATE); 51A: Wrote a Dear John (ENDED IT); 60A: Predawn (EARLY); 61A: Pundit's piece (OP-ED); 66A: Further (ELSE); 67A: Line discontinued in 2004 (OLDS); 68A: Military camp (ETAPE); 2D: "Drop me __" (A LINE); 3D: Dropping the ball, so to speak (LAPSE); 4D: First arrival (ELDEST); 5D: MYOB part (OWN); 7D: Arguing (AT IT); 9D: Its mon. unit is the peso (ARG.); 10D: Throat-soothing brew (LEMON TEA); 12D: __ legs (FROG); 13D: Prefix with bond or dollar (EURO); 22D: Godsend (BOON); 24D: Hand-tightened fastener (WING NUT); 30D: Fabled fiddler (NERO); 31D: Generate interest (GROW); 32D: Damp area growth (MOSS); 34D: Big Mack (SEMI); 43D: "Iliad" hero (AJAX); 45D: Much of Chile (ANDES); 48D: Portray (DEPICT); 49D: Ribbed (TEASED); 52D: How deadpan humor is delivered (DRILY); 53D: Terse concession (I LOSE); 54D: Jazz pianist McCoy __ (TYNER); 55D: New Mexico's official neckwear (BOLO); 56D: Fire __ (OPAL); 57D: Be inclined (to) (TEND); 59D: Shelter org. (SPCA).



I think this puzzle will become one of my favorites of the John Lampkin works.
Any guy who can start a puzzle with YALE Bulldogs and end up with the amazing pianist, McCoy TYNER, must be a real MENSCH !
The theme was just another tit-for-tat thing… replacing the A with the I.
Ho-hum at best.

But going beyond that, this puzzle teems with wonderful clues and wordage: “Good guy” (MENSCH), “English” (BACKSPIN), STANG, LEMON TEA, BOTOX/AJAX cross, “proctor’s announcement” (TIME IS UP), and of course my old favorite crosswordese OYEZ, OYEZ, OYEZ !

Also liked the clue “Tevye’s toast subject” (LIFE)… l'chaim!
I kept thinking the entry word was WOLF, but Lazar WOLF was the future father-in-law who Tevye toasted LIFE with.

52D: Why did I think it was spelled DRYLY instead of DRILY?

OMG, I really did remember when ATARI was called Syzygy, which in astronomy means “Either of two points in the orbit of a celestial body where the body is in opposition to or in conjunction.” Makes sense, right? I like ATARI better. The company name ATARI came from the board game Go. It’s a Japanese word proclaiming to your opponent that his “stones” are vulnerable. It’s sort of like saying "check" in chess.

50A baffled me, CATE Blanchett of the film “Elizabeth” made in 1998 … I wanted to make it Helen Mirren from the 2005 version, but that wouldn‘t fit in 4 letters.

PG, I sure am glad you explained the 21A: Au pair in a ring? (KTS) thing.

It’s really chilly here in Chicagoland this morning (46 degrees). Brrr! Fall is acomin!
Time for some nice hot oatmeal laced with cherry-raisins and brown sugar… yum!

Have a super weekend y’all !

badrog said...

Last blank filled: The L at the MLS/LYIN cross, and that was the only one needing Google. Should've figured out MLS on my own, but I wouldn't know an Eagles' title from an NFL player.

Were NITA NALDI and Pola Negri ever in the same film? Sure hope they never show up in the same CW!

If one sees the theme as replacing A with I only when followed by P, DANCING wouldn't become dIncing. But I suppose the theme itself could still be described as "abysmal". Personally, I prefer themes that can't be used as a crutch for solving other problem areas quite so easily.

Overall, it seemed too easy for a Friday, or maybe just too blah.

SethG said...

Wow, I totally know like everyone in that picture. Tomorrow night, I will be at a party with them.

You're right about LIFE, and here's a recent wedding toast you might enjoy. You're also right about the theme.

Sfingi said...

"Bulldog, bulldog, Eli YALE."

Did not know ETAPE, TYNER, CATE, Tevye's toast. Googled a little. Didn't understand PSI.
Why is a blonde a DYER rather than DYEd? So that TYNER works?
60606 (Chicago) and 70707 (Gonzales, AZ) are also palindromic. Anyway, I finished.

Tinbeni said...

The 2005 version with Helen Mirren was about Elizabeth II (the current Queen).

PuzzleGirl and I must be on the same wavelength. I was not impressed with the change the 'A' to an 'I' themes.
The rest of the puzzle did have the John Lampkin KTS.

Maybe it's just me, but I have never heard anyone who was a Mustang WINGNUT refer to his car as a STANG.

Was thinking the Bridal gown shade was going to be White not ECRU (thought about drawing an extra box there).

And of course my first thought for Throat-soothing brew, LEMON TEA, was something a whole lot stronger than flavored WATER.

*David* said...

It's a Friday and guess what let's change a letter and make a new whacky phrase. I found this one easier then most as I went straight down the puzzle with no hopping around.

My last section to fill in was the SW where I put EAVE in for LANE, Once I got BOTOX I realized I had a problem otherwise easier then yesterday's. Classic crosswordese with ETAPE and NITA.

Tuttle said...

PSI was proposed in 1942 as a general parasychological term to encompass both ESP and psychokinesis. It's derived from the first greek letter in 'psyche'. The word 'psionics' is back-formed from PSI. It's generally a science-fiction/fantasy term.

Seeing as how www.stangnet.com is the premier board for Mustang enthusiasts I'd say it is a rather common term among enthusiasts of the car. For those of us who are not the preferred term is 'Rustang'.

I used to play soccer with an Englishman who found the term "putting english on the ball" to be absolutely hilarious.

Every time I see a picture of Gregory Hinds dancing I think of the following exchange from History of the World Part 1:

Auctioneer: What country are you from?
Josephus: Ethiopia.
Auctioneer: What part?
Josephus: 125th Street!

rhymer said...

tip, trip, snip, rip.

Rube said...

Thanks @Tuttle, I think most of us were wondering about PSI, I know I was.

I'll go PG one step further and call this theme just plain dumb. If you didn't know McCoy TYNER, that last letter could have been S or D, and my guess was either.

Didn't know ETAPE so the first E was my last letter => WOTD.

Anonymous said...

[Blonde, at times] could not be DYES. DYED maybe, though it's a stretch. But not DYES.

Anonymous said...

@PG Atari wanted to keep the name but wouldn't pay my asking price.

Nice write up.
Mihaly Syzygy

SidDawgone said...

I didn't care for dyer, as I believe dye to be the adding of color, whereas a blonde should a taking of color, a bleacher perhaps. Oh well, fitting for an overall iffy Friday grid. My last was ETAPE.

Eric said...

L'Chaim is one of Fiddler on the Roof's big production numbers.

CrazyCat said...

Thought this was pretty easy for a Friday and it sure didn't knock my socks off as far as the theme went. ETATE and TYNER were my only two unknowns. Had no idea what BACKSPIN had to do with English. Thanks @Tuttle for the PSI explanation.

My son was given a red Mustang convertible as a rental car. He referred to it all week as "The Stang."

@SethG - thanks for the Toast link! Very cute.
@Eric - see the Toast link in SethG's post.
@PG Thanks for another great week of entertaining and enlightening write-ups.

C said...

Hmmm, today's puzzle wasn't that much fun for me. Theme wasn't all that nor even a bag of chips. TYNER crossed by DYER didn't leave a good taste.

Dragged to Fiddler on the Roof as a kid so that is coming back to help me, if I only knew then the usefulness I would have achieved from sitting through that musical, I might have pouted for a minute less.

shrub5 said...

Finished, but with one error DYEs/TYNEs.

Thanks, @Tuttle for 'splaining PSI. Got ETAPE but had to look it up afterwards to be sure it was a word. Looks like one of those E words everyone 'likes' such as e-tail or e-cash. Like @PG, I give KTS a Bronx cheer.

@rhymer: thanks for pointing out the rhyming aspect which was lost on me.

Favorite clue: Drink disparaged by WC Fields. "I never drink water; that's the thing that rusts pipes."
"Start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

Anonymous said...

Yes, I guess you could describe etape as "one of the e-words ... such as e-tail or e-cash" or email or emag. But I'd bet it's more of the English vis a vis French kind of e-word, such as school/ecole or state/etat.

If thefreedictionary.com's definitions are accurate (and I haven't been able to find anything better), I suppose you could say it probably came from French, and the "true" English equivalent might be "staple" as in potatoes, rice, bread and beans. Or, if you prefer the bicycling usage in French, maybe the English equivalent would be "step" as in step 1, step 2 etc.

Now, has anyone got a link to a photo of a military camp or public storehouse with a sign saying "Etape #xxx"?

Or maybe somebody can look it up in the OED.

Sfingi said...

I can't leave this alone - What did W.C. Fields have against water? I quote, "Fish ---- in it."

@Anon1222 - This is the best I could do - most images are of some darn bicycle race in Provence.Staff at the ETAPE inspection department division of the independent 13th division at Alexandrovsk

Anonymous said...

Per "thefreedictionary.com", definition #3 is: "In Russia, a prison or stockade for the confinement of prisoners in transit".

Ah ... a "step" on the way to the gulag.

gary said...

OT: Help please! In June or July 2010 there was a clue "cool" meaning chilly, or cold.

I am positive the answer was "altrid". But now I cannot find altrid in any dictionary. The clue was in the upper left corner, I think.

Does anyone remember the answer to the clue "cool"? The reason for my question is silly, but I would still appreciate your help. Thanx!

Doug P said...

@gary - I'd guess the word you're looking for is ALGID.

This comment has been removed by the author.


gary said...

doug and john, yes, algid! that's it! many, many thanks! now i can sleep tonite.

you all are great - i've been lurking here for quite awhile and really enjoy your comments.

my wife and i like to make up sentences with xword words: i asked my USGS neighbor if it's true that there is a lot of scree at the bottom of a tor - he blinked and said definitely.

today i think that the troops make their etape in their salient. (ok, ok, salient isnt a puzzle word, but im reading MacArthur's biography and he took many a salient in WWI.)

thanks again! gary

The Real McCoy said...

Some love for McCoy TYNER:

McCoy Tyner was the pianist in JOHN COLTRANE'S "Great Quartet" of the early 60's. He performed on "A Love Supreme" (1964), a touchstone of modern jazz.
"My Favorite Things" (1961) was very popular.
McCoy TYNER is one of the most influential pianists of the 20th century. His own album "The Real McCoy" opens with "Passion Dance". His solo there is a force of nature.
Drummer ELVIN JONES was equally influential.