W E D N E S D A Y   September 22, 2010
James Sajdak

Theme: Har-dee-har-har — Theme answers are props traditionally used in slapstick comedy routines.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Coconut dessert (CUSTARD PIE).
  • 23A: *Facetious name for a fund-raising circuit entrée (RUBBER CHICKEN).
  • 46A: *Mixer holder (SELTZER BOTTLE).
  • 57A: *Yellow slipper? (BANANA PEEL).
  • 36A: Where it's laughable to see the answers to starred clues (SLAPSTICK COMEDY).
I have to admit, I was a little distracted while I was solving this puzzle. I found out that I made a stupid mistake in my job interview and even though I'm likely to get an offer, it probably won't be at the salary I was hoping for. Oh well. Live and learn. In any case, it will be more than I'm making now (which is zero) so if I want to look at the bright side, there definitely is one to look at.

Although there isn't anything super exciting about this theme, it did bring to mind funny scenes of physical comedy that made me chuckle. Whenever I think about this kind of comedy I remember seeing Marlo Thomas on the Letterman show many years ago demonstrating a spit-take (which, of course, her dad was famous for). I've never been able to find the clip though. It was hilarious. This is about the closest thing I could find:

I had a little trouble up in the northeast corner because I misspelled ORECK as "Orick" (11D: Vacuum shown lifting a bowling ball in TV ads). With that I and the two Ns in place, I decided the 19A: State bordering eight others: Abbr. must be MINNesota. Which is a terrible, terrible answer for many reasons including the fact that it's not true. (Of course, the correct answer is TENNessee.)

  • 5A: Fall, as home prices (SLUMP). I usually think of SLUMP as a noun ("The housing market is in a slump") but I guess this works too.
  • 40A: Old curse word (POX). Okay, I know I say this all the time but seriously: This is an awesome word and we should all use it as often as possible. "A POX on both your houses!"
  • 53A: TV channels 2 to 13 (VHF). I can never remember the difference between UHF and VHF.
  • 56A: Lisa's title (MONA). Wait, what? MONA is a title? Hold on …. Sure enough! "Mona" is a "polite form of address" that comes from "madonna" which comes from the Italian "ma donna" ("my lady"). The things you learn!
  • 3D: "Don't worry about it!" ("JUST RELAX!").
  • 8D: Printemps month (MAI). French!
  • 10D: Like smart phones, e.g. (HI-TECH). PuzzleHusband recently purchased a Droid phone. It's a very very smart phone. As it happens, way too smart for PuzzleHusband.
  • 24D: Sch. near the Rio Grande (UTEP). University of Texas El Paso. Do you think this should go in CW101 someday? I never think of it as crosswordese because I lived near El Paso for several years. But I would imagine for people in the rest of the country it's not a real big-name college.
  • 26D: '50s Red Scare gp. (HUAC). House Un-American Activities Committee.
  • 32D: Assure victory in, slangily (ICE). I'm pretty sure I've never heard this particular usage.
  • 35D: Bridge assents (AYES). This clue refers to the bridge on a ship, not the card game or whatever other kind of bridge you might have been thinking about.
  • 39D: Keyboardist Saunders who collaborated with Jerry Garcia (MERL). Wow. Never heard of this guy! Got him totally through crosses.
Crosswordese 101: An AIT is exactly what today's clue says it is — a 4D: River isle. Typical clues for AIT include "Small island," "River islet," "Spot in a river," and "Island in the Thames."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 31A: Kuwaiti currency (DINAR).
  • 42A: Canal that Sal worked on, in song (ERIE).
  • 62A: Janis's comics mate (ARLO).
  • 38D: Container allowance (TARE).
  • 48D: Hawaii's Pineapple Island (LANAI).
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Everything Else — 1A: Cabo locale (BAJA); 10A: Havana howdy (HOLA); 14A: Distant start? (EQUI-); 15A: Insured patient's med cost (COPAY); 16A: Mideast nation (IRAN); 20A: Krazy of comics (KAT); 21A: Backsliding event? (LUGE); 22A: Tourist attraction (MECCA); 27A: Some campus sisters (THETAS); 29A: Big repair bill reaction (OUCH); 30A: "Hee Haw" prop (BALE); 33A: Fairy tale legume (PEA); 41A: Overhangs (EAVES); 43A: Stud farm stud (SIRE); 44A: Groundbreakers (FIRSTS); 51A: Mindful (AWARE); 52A: Rankles (IRKS); 60A: "Agreed!" ("OKAY!"); 61A: Put an __: stop (END TO); 63A: Sale caution (AS IS); 64A: County northeast of London (ESSEX); 65A: Oceanic flora (KELP); 1D: Eponymous German brewer Heinrich (BECK); 2D: Caribbean color (AQUA); 5D: Surgical coverage? (SCRUBS); 6D: Raccoon ___, "The Honeymooners" fraternal group (LODGE); 7D: Like some echelons (UPPER); 9D: Joe-__ weed: herbal remedy (PYE); 12D: Tilting pole (LANCE); 13D: 1997-2006 UN leader (ANNAN); 18D: Goya's "Duchess of __" (ALBA); 22D: Prefix with scope (MICRO-); 25D: Bops (CONKS); 27D: Kitchen meas. (TBSP.); 28D: Saintly circle (HALO); 31D: One going down (DIVER); 33D: Gut it out (PERSEVERE); 34D: Cut out, say (EDIT); 37D: Take by force (SEIZE); 43D: Range rovers? (STRAYS); 44D: Loc. with billions in bullion (FT. KNOX); 45D: "__ girl!" (IT'S A); 46D: Island where Robert Louis Stevenson died (SAMOA); 47D: Furry Endor inhabitants (EWOKS); 49D: Pickles (BINDS); 50D: Speak formally (ORATE); 54D: War, to Sherman (HELL); 55D: Hardly a big ticket-seller (FLOP); 57D: Sewing circle (BEE); 58D: T or F, on tests (ANS.); 59D: Karachi's country: Abbr. (PAK.).


jazz said...

ICE as in "Nursing a 7 point lead, the team lined up for a last-minute field goal that would ice the game."

Probably short for "put on ice", which is what happens after game, or fish (or vegetables?) are killed and put away for storage. They're dead, the contest is over.


Hola, everybody!

Mr. Sajdak has given us a fun puzzle to cheer us up on this gloomy Chicago day… thank you, James. All his themes were designed to make us laugh.

More laughable stuff: The famous Goya painting of the “Duchess of ALBA” (don’t worry, PG, it’s not the nude!).
The creator of KRAZY KAT, George Herriman.
BALE of hay and The Buck Owens & Roy Clark TV Show, HEE HAW
Even the name “Joe-PYE weed“ gets some chuckles.

There’s a conspiracy theory that says there really is no gold in FT. KNOX… what do you think?
BTW, years ago (out of curiosity) I drove a little too close to FT. KNOX and it tested out their security system. It was awesome!

SethG said...

Not sure I fully understand how STRAYS are [Range rovers]. On the range, doesn't the pack rove, too?

I'm totally gonna call you Mona PuzzleGirl now. Nyuk. Nyuk.

Van55 said...

I liked the puzzle a lot. No quibbles again today.

shrub5 said...

Thought the puzzle was relatively easy for a Wednesday but looking back over my grid, I see a lot of write-overs.

Spelled SEIZE wrong initially (apparently doesn't follow the I before E rule) and STEERS before STRAYS for the range rovers. Also thought Janis's mate was ARBY for awhile.

Favorite clue/answer: Backsliding event? LUGE

SELTZER BOTTLE reminded me of the "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." At his funeral, we are told Chuckles the Clown's philosophy of life: "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants." Good words to live by.

C said...

Fun Wednesday puzzle, good solid entry. Not a spectacular week for the LAT but a very solid one.

@SethG, best I can come up with in regards to the STRAYS answer for Range Rovers is wrt to cattle herding and cows separated from the herd. Enough for me to not grouse about the answer but ymmv.

Anonymous said...

I love puzzles that include every letter of the alphabet in the grid.

Tinbeni said...

WOW, I can't remember the last time we had SOOOOO many fresh clues and answers.

More like a Thursday difficulty level but a FUN solve.

Worked from the south to the north.
BANANA PEEL revealed the theme.
Maybe it is 'low-brow' humor but I have always enjoyed well done SLAP-STICK COMEDY.

Just once I would rather see the clue be IRKS for the answer RANKLES. Irks in the grid always irks me. (We do see it way too often).

Liked the HOLA / HALO answer echo.
Also AQUA crossing EQUI.

Learning moments ALBA, MONA as a title and MERL Saunder. Always a plus.

All-in-all this was one of the best puzzles I have ever enjoyed.

Tuttle said...

Wanted PENN instead of TENN since I hate the term HITECH (hoping it was hip-something) but that's only seven states (if you count Ontario). Virginia's only like 20 miles away but, alas, West Virginia and Maryland are in the way. Odd thing is I'm from Tennessee. Never really knew it bordered eight different states. We try and pretend Alabama doesn't exist.

Rube said...

Although I'm not a fan of SLAPSTICKCOMEDY, I did enjoy this puzzle. Only writeovers were Storm/SEIgE/SEIZE and aTtA/ITSA. Wait, did also have pENN before TENN. Pennsylvania borders 6 states.

MONA is a title?! Thx @PG for looking that up.

AIT is on my crosswordese list, but like many of those entries, totally forgot it.

About the only weak spot is ENDTO. Furshlinger partials!

What's up with RP? Is he taking the day off?

Rube said...

That's "furshlugginer".

CrazyCat said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle and loved the SLAPSTICK COMEDY theme. My main write over/mess up was that I had ATTA girl for 45D instead of ITSA which caused me to put in FAULTS (as in San Andreas) instead of FIRSTS at 44A Groundbreakers.

I have a HIGH TECH Droid phone which often IRKS me. I put a POX on it daily.
@Seth G Range Rovers STRAYS could also be *mavericks*. You gotta hope they don't go *rogue* ; )
@Tinbeni IRKS or IRES seem to be in just about every puzzle. I agree it is irksome.

Sfingi said...

Never heard of:
Janis and Arlo (Googled for)
UTEP - University of TExas at El Paso
MERL Saunders (Googled)

Another one who didn't know MONA was a title. What does it mean? From a monastery?

Had Dyson before ORECK (has a ball, doesn't pick one up);
urGE before LUGE.
Wanted SituaTIonCOMEDY. Somehow, I think the goofy SLAPSTICK stuff would be even funnier since they would be more out of place.

Nice theme, clever and cute. Wanted whoopie cushion, though.

Captcha -woomen - Like Willie or Julio singing "To all the girls I've loved before."

hazel said...

Loved this puzzle, and I don't even like slapstick. Just loved seeing all those props. And the rest of the grid was v. spunky. Where are you @Zeke?

Am definitely going to start using the word POX.

chefbea said...

Haven't done the LA puzzle for a while but had time today...had workmen here from Granite Transformation re-doing my kitchen.Looks great BTW

Fun puzzle and a bit harder than the NYT

John Wolfenden said...

Hang in there, PG.

Fun theme. I liked "War, to Sherman" for HELL.

Larry S said...

Thought this puzzle was especially fresh, original and fun.

Sfingi said...

@Chef Bea - They took if for granite, in New Hampshire, until they found out it was Vermont marble.
(Seriously - what color?)

@Hazel & CrazyCat - A great round by the Elizabethan composer, Henry Purcell:
"(Belch) Pox on you! (repeat}
For a fop, your stomach's too queasy.
Cannot I belch, cannopt I belch and f--t, you coxscomb, too ease me?
Cannot I let fly in your face, and 'twillt please ye?"

Enough - let the Dante Ferrara Consort sing it.

By the way, the pox referred to was syphilis.

chefbea said...

@sfingi the color is a brownish tannish whitish. E-mail me and I'll tell you all about it

mac said...

Excellent puzzle! Had one write-over, I had "miner" for "diver".

If there is gold in Ft. Knox, it is worth $ 1,300/oz today! Go sell your old jewelry, you'll be amazed how much you get for it!

@ChefBea: always so much fun to redo a kitchen.... What kind of granite?

hazel said...

@sfingi, ewwww. i just took pox out of my vocabulary. hard to glibly wish horrendous diseases on anyone.

Wanda Woman said...

My fave: yellow slipper = banana peel.

I loved this puzzle! It was the first non-Monday LAT puzzle I solved completely on my own without the assistance of Mr. Google.

For that, I'm giving myself an ATTA girl and I'm not writing over it.

Anonymous said...

Other than the school of Tiny Archibald, UTEP is probably most famous for once being named Texas Western University which upset Kentucky in the '65 or '66 mens NCAA basketball championship game.

Anonymous said...

A "POX" was something such as Smallpox etc that could kill.
Not nice to wish it on anyone.