01.28 Fri

F R I D A Y January 28, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: De-Ugh-ify — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letter string UGH removed, creating new wacky phrases, clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Where to sleep off a bender? (SOT SHELTER).
  • 24A: Anxious campus society? (FRAT WITH TENSION).
  • 38A: Hair styling prodigy? (DO BOY).
  • 46A: Talented jazzman? (CAT WITH THE GOODS).
  • 57A: "Airport music so early?" ("ENO ALREADY?").
Hey, everybody, sorry I missed you yesterday. Big thanks to Amy and Doug for stepping up in my hour of need. Our power flickered on and off most of the evening on Wednesday, and totally cut out at 10:00. So we got up this morning, took the food out of the fridge and put it on the porch, and went to work where we wouldn't freeze to death. The PuzzleKids joined me at my office, which was … interesting. Let's just say it wasn't my most productive day ever. It was a weird day anyway though: everybody was wearing jeans, coming in late, whining about the snow, oh and my kids weren't the only ones there, so it was all good. PuzzleDaughter ingratiated herself by making valentines for everybody. I got word from the neighbors that the power came back on around 2:00 this afternoon which was (obviously) welcome news. Now I'm back here at the house, warm and toasty with the internet fired up and everything is right with the world. So let's talk about this puzzle, shall we?

I'm not going to lie to you, this theme confused me while I was solving. I couldn't put any of the theme answers together with any certainty, but managed to figure out that one started with CAT and one started with FRAT, so I came to the reasonable conclusion that the starts of the other theme answers would rhyme as well. Not so! The next one to appear was SOT and then ENO and I thought to myself "This is a very strange and complicated theme. I hope I am smart enough to figure it out." And I did. Eventually. You see, the theme isn't built on the pronunciation aspect of these words but simply on the spelling. The letters UGH are removed from the first word of each phrase. The resulting first words looked to me like a real mishmash: SOT, FRAT, DO, CAT, ENO. And they are if you try to find a common thread, because there just isn't one. Two of them rhyme with each other, one is pronounced more or less the same as the base phrase, two of them have the UGH removed from the end, while the other base phrases remove the UGH before a terminal T. It just seems … messy to me. I don't believe there's anything fundamentally wrong with this theme. It just doesn't speak to me personally. Or maybe it's speaking to me but it sounds like jibberish.

  • 5A: Company whose name is quacked in ads (AFLAC). Man that duck gets on my nerves.
  • 28A: Yankee nickname (A-ROD). Alex Rodriguez. Perhaps you've heard of him.
  • 31A: 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate (BARR). It doesn't happen often, but Every Once In A While being a politics geek comes in handy.
  • 41A: Part of the dog days of Dijon (AOÛT). The French word for August.
  • 45A: Atterbury Street gallery (TATE). I didn't know for sure that the TATE gallery was on Atterbury Street, but I knew it was in London and thought Atterbury Street sounded quite British. Quite.
  • 56A: Frost, say (POET). Have you all seen the TV show "Chase"? The main character's name is Annie Frost and she Kicks Ass and never forgets to also Take Names.
  • 61A: Dino's love (AMORE).

  • 62A: Lhasa __ (APSO). This is a type of dog, right? I can never remember if it's APSO or IPSO. I guess I always get "ipso facto" in my head and then can's remember if the dog is different than the Latin phrase or the same. But I know it's one of those two.
  • 64A: Mearth's mother, in a '70s-'80s sitcom (MINDY). Okay, it looks like we are going to have to start counting Mork & Mindy references. This is like the third one this year, right?
  • 9D: Frequent Martha's Vineyard arrival (CAR FERRY). Because "rich a**hole" doesn't fit. Kidding! I'm sure Martha's Vineyard is full of lovely, lovely people. In fact, I'm a little ashamed of myself for implying otherwise.
  • 10D: Is, when simplified (BOILS DOWN TO). This is a great grid entry, but I'm not crazy about the clue.
  • 13D: Singer/songwriter born Robert Zimmerman (DYLAN). Gimme!
  • 18D: Spoke uncertainly (HAWED). Second time this week for HAW. Did it come to you right away this time? I sure didn't hesitate long.
  • 29D: MS. enclosure (SAE). We covered the SASE in a previous Crosswordese 101 lesson. I guess it's not too hard to figure that that the SAE is the same as the SASE. But without the S[tamp].
  • 34D: Incriminating record, maybe (VIDEOTAPE). I solved this one from the bottom up and was going to be all kindsa freaked out if SEX TAPE was in the puzzle.
  • 36D: Kareem, at UCLA (LEW). Before he changed his name, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was known as Lew Alcindor.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 20A: Aurora's counterpart (EOS).
  • 43A: Friend of Dalí (SERT).
  • 53A: Dag Hammarskjöld's successor (U THANT).
  • 12D: Olds that replaced the Achieva (ALERO).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Plain type? (JANE); 10A: Finishing nail (BRAD); 14A: Work (OPUS); 15A: Sporty Mazda (MIATA); 16A: Slick (OILY); 19A: Atl. republic since 1944 (ICEL.); 21A: Smart guy? (ALEC); 22A: Pivoting points (FULCRA); 27A: La __ Tar Pits (BREA); 29A: Worked with horses, in a way (SHOED); 33A: Like some rugs (OVAL); 37A: Pool shade (AQUA); 39A: Off the mark (WIDE); 40A: Abbr. followed by a year (ESTD.); 42A: Fund (ENDOW); 54A: Cramming method (ROTE); 55A: Disturb, as the balance (TIP); 60A: Regarding (IN RE); 63A: Headlights starer (DEER); 65A: Flunky (PEON); 1D: Pianist Hofmann (JOSEF); 2D: "I'm just __ wayfaring stranger": song lyric (A POOR); 3D: More than just into (NUTS ABOUT); 4D: Indirect route (ESS); 5D: Earhart of the air (AMELIA); 6D: Sole order (FILET); 7D: Door fastener (LATCH); 8D: Scarfed up (ATE); 11D: "Sleepy Hollow" actress (RICCI); 23D: Card game with a pre-victory warning (UNO); 25D: Stays afloat, in a way (TREADS WATER); 26D: Fateful card (TAROT); 30D: Operations ctrs. (HQ'S); 31D: Diner option (BOOTH); 32D: __ Dhabi (ABU); 35D: Foofaraw (ADO); 38D: Competitive missile hurlers (DART TEAM); 42D: More than ready (EAGER); 44D: German article (EIN); 45D: Big name in tea (TETLEY); 46D: Missile-shooting god (CUPID); 47D: Make restitution (ATONE); 48D: "Ta-da!" ("THERE!"); 49D: Town on the Firth of Clyde (TROON); 50D: Emulate Scrooge (HOARD); 51D: Playground retort (DID SO); 52D: Watch from the trees, say (SPY ON); 58D: Feature of a two-ltr. monogram (NMI); 59D: "The Gold-Bug" monogram (EAP).



I often use "UGH" when commenting on a corny theme. Well today I can do that with much aplomb. UGH!
SOT to sought
FRAT to fraught
DO to dough
CAT to caught
ENO to enough

Pretty clever, except I cringed a little when I saw two theme flaws:
Firstly, they all don't rhyme (no big deal there), but ...
Secondly, the variable word lengths and positionings weren't consistent.
But, I've got to forgive Don on that because the puzzle is so darn good otherwise.


For me a great puzzle has to teach me something. Well, I learned about a couple of new things today: Mearth was the child of Mork and MINDY (he was in later episodes that I had forgotten about) and also another wonderful pianist, JOSEF Hofmann, here playing Chopin's Nocturne in C-minor OPUS 48, No. 1.

The only thing that I take exception to is SAE instead of SASE in 29D.

IMO, this was a very well constructed dense puzzle and I enjoyed solving it.

Time to scarf up some oatmeal and have my first cup of java.
Ta ta and happy Friday to you all !
And enjoy the snow, Puzzlegirl, and thanks for the nice writeup and the Dean Martin "That's AMORE" clip.


I happen to like Brian ENO music, even if it is considered "Airport music". The graphics on this Youtube clip are quite fascinating. I've always wanted to do that kind of seasonal time-lapse photography myself.

SethG said...

Yup, I agree. With PuzzleGirl. Except that I understood the theme while solving and still found it confusing.

Bryce Percival Persoss said...

@PG - We "rich a**hole[s]" arrive by private jet, not the car ferry. We have our servants come over on the car ferry prior to our arrival, then drive to meet us at the airport. We then make them walk, or the well prepared ones, cycle, back to the cottage.

CFXK said...

As to the rich a**holes...
Martha's Vineyard is a collection of solidly middle class towns. Summer visitors who arrive by ferry are also middle class folks who stay at very middle class inns, hotels/motels and simple rental properties. The rich a**holes are rarely seen and certainly aren't Massachusetts natives; they fly in from New York on private jets and go directly to their private enclaves. They are also Yankee fans (another reason they dare not show their faces in public on the Vineyard).

Rex Parker said...

Ouch. How you make this puzzle and *fail* to put UGH in the grid, I don't know. It was kind of hurty all over. V. confusing, with no consistency besides the simple letter string removal.

Finished without understanding that DOBOY was a theme answer... there are DART TEAMs??? "NMI" is a "feature?" TROON? I lived in Scotland, and ??? (fewer than 15K people?? Even for a U.S. town, I'd say 'too small').


Avg Joe said...

I gotta go against the flow today. I thought this was a hilarious theme. Self effacing to the max! Do agree with Rex though. One of the clues/answers should have been "Typical reaction to theme answers./UGH!"

Glad you're back in "power" PG.

Captcha: bagged. I'm serious as a train wreck.

Avg Joe said...

Oh. Forgot something.

Today's Pearls Before Swine is a great tie in to the center theme answer. :-)

*David* said...

Oh DOBOY was part of the theme, I didn't get that either. Was looking at that trying to figure out how that made sense. I got the theme but I still found it confusing. This was pretty bad overall, ENO ALREADY was a fitting last fill to this puzzle.

Mokus said...

It seemed like a pleasant Friday puzzle to me with just the right amount of challenge. Even though I've not been to Scotland and don't golf I know that TROON is a famous town regardless of its size. Although the theme eluded me I enjoyed the clues and answers. Rather clever IMO. In the military if you didn't have a middle name they always put NMI on the form (Ulysses NMI Grant for example). I thought the clue was clever. Thanks for the James Spader clip, PG.

lit.doc said...

@PG, thanks ever so for figuring out the theme device. Even after I'd finished the puzzle, I was still trying the apparently unsound sound-shift idea. Sheesh.

And I totally agree with @Rex that the inclusion of UGH would have been a big improvement.


Sfingi said...


Also, what is NMI?

Vega said...

Hm, I thot it was kind of adorable. But I'm completely embarrassed at how long I stared at CARFER__ and had no idea. I was looking for a name, like "Kennedy" or something, and convinced myself it was someone I'd never heard of -- like, for example, Bob BARR. I console myself with the fact that I picked up the theme after SOT and FRAT.

Glad your electricity's back, PG. No such luck for my in-laws in Rockville. Pepco bites, and lord I'm tired of winter.

Doug P said...


NMI = No Middle Initial

C said...

I was struggling with this puzzle until I realized the theme was removing UGH and, voila, the ugh was removed from the puzzle and the answers flowed. Caught up by my lack of French and obscure political candidate knowledge but I worked through it.

Got Troon from golf, as my other geography mnemonic, soccer club's locations, failed me. I feel kind of icky for resorting to golf for an answer, I do not like golf.

imsdave said...

Count me with Avg Joe - liked it a lot. Got the theme immediately and went to work trying to get those answers with minimal crosses. Not sure if TROON would've worked better clued to the Open, but that's definitely how I got it.

Captcha - venti (you want me to drink more of this overroasted and overcooked crap?)

Rube said...

Kinda got the theme early on with FRATWITH__ and CATWITH___, but wondered why the downs didn't have a missing 'ugh' also. Ended up in the NW when finally accepted SOT__. Personally, just because you go on an occasional bender doesn't necessarily mean you're a "sot".

Didn't know Brian Eno's music was considered airport "Musak". Troon seemed acceptable from within some deep recess of my memory.

After finishing & before coming here, questioned DO(ugh)BOY. WWI soldier? Pillsbury spokesdough? A kind of Page Boy? Must be some girly thing! (Being "hair challenged" personally, I'm not going to pursue this.)

Fun, doable puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

"Ambient 1: Music for Aiports" is the name of an ENO album (1978).


Anonymous said...

Isn't Mork technically Mearth's mother...? Didn't the male Orkians give birth, or lay the egg, or something...?

Rube said...

Thx Rex for pointing me in the right direction. I looked up "Ambient I" by Eno and apologize for calling it Muzak. It's nothing of the sort.

CrazyCat said...

I got the theme at FRAT WITH TENSION, but the puzzle irritated me. There were so many answers I just didn't like - DID SO, SPY ON, ESS, DART TEAM and CAR FERRY, to name a few. The last time I went to Martha's Vineyard (27 years ago and poor), the FERRY carried people and CARs. Some people had no CARS. It was just called the FERRY. Missed DO BOY as a theme answer. Didn't seem to fit in with the others. IMHO this puzzle gets a blah/UGH rating.
@PG glad your power is back.

Jess Sayin said...

If you're going to name your album "Ambient 1", you can't complain that people call it Muzak, because that's what ambient music is.

imsdave said...

What did Kenny G say when he got on the elevator?

"Whoa, this music rocks"

Anonymous said...

I'd have liked to have seen UGH as an answer somewhere in the grid.
Otherwise a worthy friday offering.

Ruth said...

My goodness, James Spader was pretty. Jerry Lewis was not.

John Wolfenden said...

I really liked this theme. Perfect difficulty for a Friday I thought.

2 very obscure references: Brian Eno's "Music for Airports" and "The Gold-Bug" monogram. Wow! UTHANT is no walk in the park either.

I was excited to see EARHART because yesterday a friend of mine posted a vintage ad
on Facebook for Amelia Earhart luggage. That's right, in the days before modern marketing, they tried to sell you suitcases named after a pilot who disappeared over the Atlantic, presumed dead.

CrazyCat said...

@JohnW LOL My parents gave me a set of AMELIA Earhart luggage for my high school graduation. They were a freaky pond scum green color.
@Ruth Agree about James Spader

Avg Joe said...

@John Wolfenden, I'd agree that UTHANT was way back in the archives. (To brag a bit, I got it with only the U:-). ENO, not so much. You see that name a lot in CW's. So it's almost as easy to guess as ENYA. I've also seen lot's of clues regarding Poe that mentioned The Gold Bug. Being an Alan Parsons fan doesn't hurt either.

@Ruth, James Spader was good looking back then. And talented! I remember seeing S,L&VT and thinking: "We'll hear a lot more from this guy!" Never really happened. The only other time I got that feeling when watching a first movie for a rising star was when I saw "Yanks" with Richard Gere. He never reached the heights I expected, but did a lot better than Spader.

John Wolfenden said...

RP pointed out something that bothered me about the theme...either you highlight all the theme answers with an asterisk, or they (and only they) all have question marks. This puzzle didn't do either, so you're left wondering which ones are theme answers and which aren't.


John, my newspaper (The Chicago Tribune) had question marks on each and every theme clue.

Anonymous said...

John, read what John wrote. 1A, for example, had a question mark. 1A was not a theme answer.

mac said...

So the guy without a shirt is James Spader? Who dat?

I guess it's always ok to de-ugh anything at all. I didn't get that, or, more accurately, I didn't try to get that. Got all the squares right, though! That's good enough for a Friday.

Mork and Mindy had a baby???

I don't mind the duck, but I like the gecko better.

Sfingi said...

@Doug P - that's what I was afraid of. Thanx, anyway.

@Mac - Glad to change the subject. Nice movie, Sex. Lies and Videotape. Also, on TV - Boston Legal. Yummy, huh?