F R I D A Y   September 24, 2010
Kelsey Blakley

Theme: Table Etiquette — Theme answers are two-word phrases, the second word of which can describe a type of knife. The phrase itself is a spoonerism.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Choose deli platter items? (PICK CHEESE). [chick peas]
  • 25A: Beef marinated in Jim's bourbon? (BEAM STEAK). [steam bake]
  • 34A: Rooster's spread? (COCK'S BUTTER). [box cutter]
  • 49A: "Casablanca" nightclub income? (RICK BREAD). [brick red]
  • 55A: Ironically, the 58-Acrosses in this puzzle end in types of them (KNIVES).
  • 58A: What each of the other four longest answers in this puzzle is (SPOONERISM).
Before we get started, I just want to give a warm welcome to Stephen W. Keys, the blog's 200th follower! Yee-haw! Stephen, I wish I had some kind of prize to send you but … I don't. You'll have to settle for a public declaration of my gratitude. And hey, while I'm at it, thanks to all of you for sticking around and making this blog a fun place to talk about puzzles. I appreciate all of you! Speaking of puzzles ….

We've got ourselves a clever (and complicated!) theme today. Sometimes the theme can be a real help in solving a puzzle, but I didn't find that to be true today. Wait that's not completely true. I could decipher one of the words in the theme phrase based on the clue, so I guess that's something. Actually, more than something. I totally take back what I said about the theme not helping. My brain could probably have come up with the complete phrase but I was sailing through with the crosses so didn't really need to stop and think about it. I guess I just have one question though: Cheese knife? I'm sure it's a thing, but it's not something you'll find in my low-class kitchen. In fact, the cheese we use most often here at the PuzzleHouse already comes in slices.

  • 1A: Elián Gonzalez's home (CUBA). I wonder how that kid's doing these days. I hope he's not scarred for life.
  • 19A: Jabber? (TINE). Tricky clue. Not "jabber" as in Mr. T's "jibber-jabber" but literally the act of jabbing something.
  • 30A: Shooting gadget (SYRINGE). I was trying to think of some sort of firearm attachment. And since I know absolutely nothing about firearms I wasn't having any luck.
  • 31A: Oklahoma tribe (KIOWA). This tribe isn't nearly as popular in CrossWorld as the ERIE, CREE, OTO, OTOE, and UTE, but it is one you'll want to remember.
  • 53A: Shih __ (TZU). My kids love saying this out loud. They really think they're getting away with something!
  • 54A: Light-headed flier? (MOTH). I get it — a flier that's headed toward the light. Clever!
  • 1D: "In Cold Blood" author (CAPOTE). I finallyread this book a couple years ago after having it on my list for a loooong time. It's terrifying.
  • 6D: It may be blonde or brown (ALE). Yep, firearms and ale. Possibly the two things I know the least about.
  • 7D: Volleyball star Gabrielle (REECE). She was in the puzzle not too long ago. Did you remember her?
  • 37D: Albania's capital (TIRANE). This particular capital doesn't appear in the puzzle very often. In fact, it's only been in the LA Times puzzle once before and that was in 2003. So don't feel bad if you had to use crosses to get it (like I did).
  • 39D: Home of Carefree Highway (ARIZONA). What an awesome name for a road! I know there's a town in Arizona called Carefree and, come to think of it, that's an awesome name for a town too! Do you think everybody who lives there is totally happy?
  • 42D: Chip maker (IBM). Couldn't get Intel out of my brain long enough to come up with anything else. I hate it when a wrong answer is stuck there preventing me from coming up with the right one.
  • 43D: Detroit suburb __ Pointe (GROSSE). Love the movie "Grosse Pointe Blank." Here's the thing about John Cusack. It's all about his delivery. He says things that really aren't all that funny on their face, but the way he says them makes them hilarious. Love that guy.
Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 8D: Ottoman lords (PASHAS).
  • 10D: Baseball's Master Melvin (OTT).
  • 47D: Discharges (EGESTS).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 5A: Legendary brothers in law (EARPS); 10A: Hogwarts messengers (OWLS); 14A: What the connected have (AN IN); 15A: Sole projection (CLEAT); 16A: Unconvincing (THIN); 20A: Opera set on Cyprus (OTELLO); 21A: Spiced 23-Across (CHAI); 23A: See 21-Across (TEA); 24A: Oater camp sight (TEPEE); 27A: Both Begleys (EDS); 28A: Chrysler division (RAM); 33A: Dutch physics Nobelist Simon van der __ (MEER); 38A: Shelled out (PAID); 40A: Rival of 2-Down (USAIR); 41A: Bring charges against (ARRAIGN); 45A: Stumble (ERR); 46A: Sagittarian's mo., probably (DEC.); 51A: Friend of Jesús (AMIGO); 56A: Pack member (WOLF); 60A: Subj. with skeletons in the closet?: Abbr. (ANAT.); 61A: Balm (SALVE); 62A: Within: Pref. (ENTO-); 63A: Place to keep stock? (YARD); 64A: Grammy winner Gormé (EYDIE); 65A: Mtg. (SESS.); 2D: Red Carpet Club flier (UNITED); 3D: Arm & Hammer logo feature (BICEPS); 4D: __ socks (ANKLE); 5D: Pilot's "E" (ECHO); 9D: Hot and heavy (STEAMY); 11D: Bleach (WHITENER); 12D: Roots (LINEAGE); 13D: British : trainer :: American : __ (SNEAKER); 18D: Ayatollah, e.g. (CLERIC); 22D: Camp David Accords signer: Abbr. (ISR.); 25D: Upscale imports (BMW'S); 26D: Source of ticking (TIMER); 29D: Verbal thumbs-up (A-OK); 31D: Maker of the FunSaver disposable camera (KODAK); 32D: __ Dhabi (ABU); 34D: Advertising notice (CIRCULAR); 35D: Recycled (USED); 36D: What many rural roads lack (TAR); 38D: Not completely (PARTWAY); 44D: Take-home (NET PAY); 46D: Like some wisdom (DIVINE); 48D: Carl Sagan PBS series (COSMOS); 50D: Get __ of: locate (A HOLD); 52D: Entangles (MIRES); 55D: Bouncing joint? (KNEE); 57D: Wire svc. involved in many arrangements (FTD); 59D: Egg opening (OVI-).


Rex Parker said...

Pretty clever theme, though with No evident unifying principle for the theme answers (at first), entering them in the grid wasn't exactly fun. Also, COCK'S BUTTER ... yeah.

An entertaining puzzle nonetheless.


Rex Parker said...

OK, now that I've read PG's write-up, I thought I'd say ... just kidding.


Van55 said...

Awwww, you guys need to give JNH a break.

I totally didn't get the theme today until I read the write-up. I guess it's clever -- perhaps too clever by a half.

So I didn't need the theme as a solve aid. Struggled through to completion as if it was a themeless. Liked it very much as such. Not a clinker answer in the grid that I can see.

badrog said...

It wasn't until I'd filled in both 55A and 58A that the theme became clear, and I agree that it is both clever and complicated. And, even on a Friday, I might add challenging, or, if I'm in the right mood, perhaps stunning or masterful. Personally, I couldn't take 'bocks' to 'box' until I said it aloud. But, then, isn't that what Spoonerisms are all about? If I'm asked to quibble, I'd probably say: "I thought the name of the club was "Rick's", but since I don't know what Morocco's income tax laws were in the '30/'40s, I'd assume that club's income and clubowner's income are similar enough for CW purposes."

Last fill-ins: 30A, SYRINGE & 33A, MEER

SethG said...

Easy, but AOK took me a bit to accept. And RAM...didn't help. Odd to have STEAMY crossing the steam bake spoonerism.

TIRANE appears more often in the clues. It was there two weeks ago, just on one of the Sunday puzzles I don't do.

Too bad SHOWER PAIRING requires the extra i.

Anonymous said...

I guess you really need to know what a spoonerism is.

hazel said...

Welcome @Stephen W. Keys and @Jeffrey too!! I hope you start chiming in soon.

Not a fan of the puzzle. I thought it overthought itself. It was TOO convoluted in that: (1) you have to get the word spoonerism, which is (2) tied to another word, which is (3) linked to the ends of the theme words, which (4) are the basis for the spoonerisms. Rinse and repeat. Furthermore, (5) you had to have remembered the definition for spoonerism. And the spoonerisms, themselves, turn out to be just wacky phrases that aren't actually real spoonerisms - in the sense that people would ever say them. A house of cards. Too rococo. Too David Foster Wallace (RIP).

I applaud the constructor's ambition, however!! and like seeing CAPOTE (Gerald Clarke biography is fascinating, as is, of course Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal in the movie). Plus, the clue for BICEPS rocked - I had SICKLE at first - which fits if you think Elian's home is a casa and not CUBA.

RL said...

What a pleasant morning without @JNH's appearance. And no, Van55, I will not give him a break because he has received too many breaks and warnings already. Looks like he may have gone away in a snit, as he has many times before. I just hope he does not come back this time.


Thanks Van.
I'm in Springfield Illinois for the big Route 66 Convention (amongst 100,000 people), so I'm a little late at working on this puzzle, but am I glad I did... it's very entertaining!
As is Puzzlegirl's writeup and I just didn't catch onto the theme until I came here. WOW! I agree, I thought the theme was both clever and complicated.
And I also thought the clues were extra clever today.
Bravo, Kelsey!!

I had a little problem with the usage of blond versus blonde (as used in the clue for 6D "blonde or brown" (ALE). This clip either clarifies that or confuses that... you decide.

I learned something interesting about crosswords from my son (the Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpeter). He went to Eastman School of Music, one of the finest in the world. Then one year he worked for Disney World as a musician (and sometimes as Goofy, the character). He said that music school taught him all of the technicalities of music and how to play beautifully, but Disney taught him how to entertain and win over an audience. In crosswords it's much the same. There are constructors who can put together a puzzle and technically it's very accurate and it's tops in quality. However, the best consructors are those who can also entertain. Kelsey Blakley has done just that (as did James Sajdak last Wednesday). I think when we evaluate a puzzle, we need to also apply the "entertainment factor" to our judgements.

Have a sweet weekend y'all!

Margaret said...

The SF Chronicle printed different cluing for the reveals, which caused me a little problem. They printed:

55A: Ironically, what the 58-Acrosses all end in

58A: Ironically, the 58-Acrosses in this puzzle end in types of them

So that was weird.

We have several cheese knives at our house (they have a coating or ridge on one side so the slice of cheese doesn't stick), but I'm not at all familar with the term "steam bake." Steam bake? When/how would one do such a thing?

Sfingi said...

Like @Vans - didn't get the theme. Possibly because the capital of Albania is TIRANa not TIRANE? We just had that one spelled correctly.

And what does he mean by "the 58-Acrosses"? The long words? Could have been clued better, considering the difficulty. Does he really want people to miss how clever he was (trying to be)?

So, DNF the word SPOONERISM. And I've known the word for 45 years!

Googled for REECE (sports), MEER, ISR, OWL.
I'm glad she picked the OWL, since it is sacred to Athena. But I'm still not ready to read the books. Are there Cliff Notes?

AMIGO was clever. What a Friend We have in Jesus. (Consider that faint praise or feint praise or paint phrase.)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You are one smart cookie...Love your blog.

Sfingi said...

@Anon929 - We have Albanians (Gheg speakers, from Piana dei Greci, Sicily) in Utica and I've never heard of that, but it could be one explanation. Google says that's the name of the River.

@Margaret - you put your comment up the same time as mine, so I missed it. Apparently the Utica OD had the same weird cluing as the SF Chronicle.

In any case, the 2 things made the CW annoying.

SethG said...

According to the CIA World Factbook, Tirana is preferred, Tirane is acceptable. So maybe not ideal, but the answer is at least (and at most) accurate.

Van55 said...


While I sometimes find myself vexed at some of what JNH posts I refuse to let that (or anyone else's posts for that matter) ruin my enjoyment of this blog. I come here for education, entertainment and occasional camaraderie, not for sniping, backbiting and personal affronts. If there's a regular contributor who interferes with my enjoyment, I find it easy enough to decline to read what they post on any given day.

Just as you are, John is entitled to his opinion and to express it here unless and until he is barred from posting by our hostess.

My mother didn't coin the phrase, but she repeated it over and over and over: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything. While I don't always live by the adage, I think the blogosphere would be a better place if all of us would heed it.

Rube said...

Never heard of steam bake, but I guess that's what you might call it when you steam a plum pudding. We have a persimmon tree here so have persimmon pudding in this household.

Learned today that CHAI TEA is spiced tea. Always thought that CHAI was just a generic word for tea, in Hindi. Personally I have no use for spiced tea except when fighting a cold in midwinter.

Better get out of here before the cat fight really heats up.

CrazyCat said...

I had the same cluing in the LA Times version. 58A was Ironically, the 58 acrosses in this puzzle end in types of them. This totally confused me. I was like what 58 acrosses? Then I looked at the puzzle online and saw the different clue. I got the SPOONERISMS, except for box cutter. Even though I was thinking BOCKS CUTTER (huh)? STEAM BAKE,IMO, is not really a method most cooks would use. It is baking something in the oven by putting a pan inside another pan filed with water. As @Rube mentioned, you might use it to bake a pudding or custard. I think I used that method once to bake a butternut squash. Can't remember why. En papillote (in parchment) would be the more usual way to bake something using steam.

Thought the cluing for the most part was pretty clever and I'm glad I was able to finally figure out what was going on theme-wise. First mistake was Lab instead of ALE. Remembered REECE from last week or whenever. Yay!

@PG My sister-in-law got a puppy that is part Shih TZU and part Bichon Frise. They call it a Shih TZON : )
Great write-up today.

Captcha is chinglob ewwww..

C said...

My mind was not on this puzzle's wavelength. Worked hard to finish and this puzzle took me twice as long as a typical Friday.

No complaints about the puzzle, reminded me a bit of old school NYT puzzles. I appreciated the difficulty.

Good write-up today, @PG.

Tinbeni said...

My St.Pete Times had those same two clues.
I guess I'm "pit nicking" but ironically I found nothing ironic about this theme. (And I hate being in an Alanis Morissette song).

TIRANE was a gimmie since I've been there. Glad it was a business trip, not one of my "bucket list" destinations.

As to that CHAI TEA ... I hate, (YES HATE!) these type of clues at 21A & 23A. First, it gives you nothing, then it indicates they are related.

Not sure, but I thought IBM got out of the chip making biz years ago.

Eye ball.

vwgary said...

With the clueing problem in the LAT and not knowing what a Spoonerism is, you'd think I'd have had a harder time. Felt like a hard Wednesday to me. Not sure what it means to "follow", but I'm lurking here most days.

JIMMIE said...

For what it is worth:

My Hammond World Atlas has Tirane with the umlaut over the e.

I had steam baked clams last nite, aka steamers.

I typically enjoy JNH's comments.

I invariably enjoy PG's write-ups.

JIMMIE said...

@Margaret and Tinbini.

The paper LAT also had those same funny clues.

Anonymous said...

JNH, I admire your complete lack of pride or shame.

CrazyCat said...

So there are KNIVES, and SPOONerismS and a TINE. Is this the irony? Sounds like flatware to me.

Ol' Man Keith said...

I liked this one.

I truly didn't have a feeling for the theme until I deciphered SPOONERISM, and then it all made sense - sort of. I understood Chick Peas and Box Cutter right away. But I'm still working on making Steam Beak sound like Steam Bake & Brick Read sound like Brick Red.

I guess I shouldn't be hung up on the corrected spelling, but just echo the original sounds.

Margaret said...

I don't know if I feel better or worse that the SF Chronicle (or, The Comicle, as it is often referred to around here) isn't the only one to mess up the clues!

Long ago I learned the term bain marie (water bath) to describe the technique of baking custard etc in a larger pan of hot water in the oven; on the stove-top one would use a double-boiler. Never heard STEAM BAKE. Maybe it's regional.

Sfingi said...

@The CW is clever on second thought, but it takes the joy out when it takes too long. What were the improved clues? Perhaps he meant to change them up and forgot.

@Tinbeni - what was Tirana/Tirane, Albania like? What sort of business were you on there?

Take a look at johnsneverhome photostream on www.flickr.com/photos/
Pretty nice!
While you're at it, check out dedreedrees, same place - my sister, art prof, Fulbright Scholar (the rest of us are, of course, Half-bright).

John Wolfenden said...

Wow. I feel like one of the Gumbies from Monty Python...MY BRAIN HURTS!

Stuff like ENTO instead of ENDO went one step too far for me. Undeniably smart cluing, though.

cosmo said...

i read these blogs every day and it can be entertaining especially when the banter starts getting nasty this was a hard puzzle for me spoonering is a new word for and with no theme to go by only sundays offer one and since i do my puzzles at work with no computer to use i have to work on them all day long

Tinbeni said...

re: Tirane/Tirana
It was 5 years ago when I was the COO/CFO for Deloitte, Adriatic Region. I was checking out the local Office's HR systems. So I was there for a week.

I guess you could say it is a nice enough city. The people were friendly and there was a lot of construction / modernization going on.

Thing I noticed the most were the "pill-boxes" all over the countryside when I was flying in and out from Zagreb. (From the day when Albania was cozy with Red China during the Cold War).

There are probably 100 other cities and villages in Europe I would rather visit/re-visit. JMHO

mac said...

This one was pretty tough for me, because I did not know the meaning of "spoonerism". Thought I did, but that was sort of sexual...

Even without getting the theme, this was a smart, interesting puzzle with good clues.

CrazyCat said...

@Margaret: You're right. Bain-marie is the name I know for that method too. STEAM BAKE pops up on google so I guess someone uses that term. I've never heard of it either. The clues in my paper were messed up also.

Anonymous said...

Bain-marie is a stove-top method. Steam-baking takes place in the oven.

CrazyCat said...

@Anon 6:59 Read pages 1013-1014 in "The Joy of Cooking." Generally on the range it's called a double boiler. All of the above mentioned terms serve the same purpose - to cook or bake something gently in a water bath.

Over my comments.

Anonymous said...

Steam oven

Shaniam said...

Whee! Just finished the puzzle without any look-ups until I finished, just to confirm. (I know, I have way too much fun on Friday nights). I couldn't remember the definition for spoonerism so looked it up, and guess what? There is also such a thing as a "kniferism." It's the interchanging of nuclei (the central part) of syllables, most commonly vowels. Example: The Duck and Doochess of Windsor. These puzzle constructors work in mysterious and wonderful ways!
PS: There's also such a thing as a "forkism" but I think I should just leave it at that.

Shaniam said...

Sorry . . . should read "forkerism."