03.08 Tue

March 8, 2011
Robert Fisher

Theme: Head Start — The word "head" can follow the last word of each theme answer in a familiar put-down.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Not-so-humorous humerus spot (FUNNY BONE).
  • 23A: Exam taker's dread (MENTAL BLOCK).
  • 39A: Daydreams (CASTLES IN THE AIR).
  • 49A: Devoid of niceties, as some politics (BARE KNUCKLE).
  • 61A: Racer's edge, or the ends of 17-, 23-, 39- and 49-Across, unflatteringly (HEAD START).
I got through this one without too much trouble. Fun theme. I got to the third theme answer before I had caught on and entered CASTLES IN THE SKY, which I think is how I've heard it before. But CASTLES IN THE AIR sounds good too, and the phrases result in about the same number of Google hits, so I assume they're equally common. Along the same lines, I thought our [9D: 41st president, affectionately] was POPPY BUSH, not PAPA BUSH, but it looks like both variations of this nickname are legit.

Other than that, there were only a few spots that gave me a frowny-face. Tacking an "S" onto the end of a famous person's name always bothers me unless the family itself is well-known. So, yeah, for ORR there's "Hockey legend Bobby," but not so much with the "et al." (Examples of plural famous names that would not bother me a bit: EWINGS ("Dallas"), O'NEALS (Ryan and Tatum), and OSMONDS (Osmonds). But mostly, this was just a smooth solve that felt pretty much perfect for a Tuesday.

  • 9A: Trees along tropical beaches (PALMS). Or possibly in Wisconsin, depending on which cable news channel you're watching.
  • 25A: Grubs and maggots (LARVAE). Eww. I seriously do not want to be thinking about grubs and maggots when I'm solving a crossword puzzle. Again, eww.
  • 34A: Annual parade celeb (ST. PAT). When I lived in New York, St. Patrick's Day seemed like a great day to just stay inside. Lots of drunk people everywhere is what I'm saying.
  • 42A: Joe Cocker's "You __ Beautiful" (ARE SO). My favorite Joe Cocker clip, with captions in case you don't understand what the heck he's singing.

  • 45A: Slangy "No reason" ('CUZ). I do like seeing the slang in my puzzle.
  • 47A: "Amen to that!" ("I'LL SAY!"). Also the colloquial phrase.
  • 67A: 1/30 of abril (DIA). "Abril" is the Spanish word for "April," which has 30 days. "DIA" is the Spanish word for "day." So a DIA is 1/30 of abril (in Spanish, the names of months aren't capitalized).
  • 8D: Tropical cyclone center (EYE). Which, as some of us recently learned, is surrounded by an EYEWALL.
  • 25D: Crazy, in a Ricky Martin song (LOCA). I will now have "Livin' the Vida Loca" stuck in my head all day. Would you like to join me?

  • 38D: Projector's slide holder (TRAY). For all you youngsters out there, "slides" used to be actual physical objects, not just computer-generated components of a PowerPoint presentation.
  • 40D: Rigidly inflexible process (LOCKSTEP). My favorite entry.
  • 50D: Lincoln Center's __ Fisher Hall (AVERY). Clever how Mr. Fisher got his name in the clue.
  • 62D: Casual top (TEE). I created one this morning just for fun. I know Rex Parker wants one.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 21A: Hockey legend Bobby et al. (ORRS).
  • 30A: "Garfield" pooch (ODIE).
  • 63A: Mountain ridge (ARETE).
  • 3D: It's near the 17-Across (ULNA).
  • 26D: Month after Shevat (ADAR).
  • 37D: Verdi opera (AIDA).
  • 49D: Rum-soaked cakes (BABAS).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Pert (SAUCY); 6A: Top grade, in slang (ACE); 14A: Aptly named cooler brand (IGLOO); 15A: Small island (CAY); 16A: Perpendicular to the keel (ABEAM); 19A: Tri- plus bi- (PENTA-); 20A: Drink from leaves (TEA); 21A: Hockey legend Bobby et al. (ORRS); 22A: Sea north of Poland (BALTIC); 29A: Manhattan sch. (NYU); 31A: Fan mag (ZINE); 43A: Formal coiffure (UPDO); 44A: Alan of "The Aviator" (ALDA); 55A: Disinclined (AVERSE); 56A: Works a tough row? (HOES); 57A: "The Amazing Race" airer (CBS); 60A: Prove apt for (BEFIT); 64A: www address (URL); 65A: Otherworldly (EERIE); 66A: IHOP condiment (SYRUP); 68A: Seed anew (RESOW); 1D: Sort through, as for clues (SIFT); 2D: Fit of fever (AGUE); 4D: Put one over on (CON); 5D: Cellist with 16 Grammys (YO-YO MA); 6D: Item in a fall stash (ACORN); 7D: Art able to (CANST); 10D: Clear as __ (A BELL); 11D: Slowly, in music (LENTO); 12D: "It slices! It dices!" gadget Veg-O-__ (MATIC); 13D: Wallop (SMACK); 18D: Zephyr (BREEZE); 22D: Journalist Nellie (BLY); 24D: What all good things come to (AN END); 27D: Increase (RISE); 28D: November honorees (VETS); 32D: Liar Joe in old TV car ads (ISUZU); 33D: Hip flask quickie (NIP); 35D: Greenish blue (TEAL); 36D: Sidekicks (PALS); 41D: Worked arduously (TOILED); 46D: Arles article (UNE); 48D: Like the preferable evil (LESSER); 51D: Allude (to) (REFER); 52D: Verdi aria that means "It was you" (ERITU); 53D: Strasbourg sweetheart (CHERI); 54D: Eucalyptus muncher (KOALA); 57D: Jaguar and Impala (CARS); 58D: Verve (BRIO); 59D: Hearty entrée (STEW); 61D: 1963 Paul Newman film (HUD).


Orange said...

The elder Bush relocated himself to Texas, so we should think of him as "Papi Bush."

Pete said...

I spent about half my actual thinking time convincing myself it wasn't CASTLES IN THE SKY. I'm always amazed when things like this occur, that there's a legitimate variant out there that I've never, ever, heard of. I'm beginning to believe I just ignore such things, just because I believe them to be wrong.

hazel said...

there's only one Papi. He's big and he plays for the Red Sox!

Puzzle was right over the Tuesday plate.

Tuttle said...

Is Saint Patrick really a "celebrity"? I guess so, but not what I usually think of.

Man, there's a lot of not-English in this puzzle. Two Spanish, two French, two Italian and one Hebrew answer. Not counting Middle English or medical Latin.

lit.doc said...

Yes, a perfectly Tuesdayish puzzle. Got a moment of ironic humor from the comments about "Castle in the ___", as I've never, ever heard it any way but "...in the air". Regionalisms?

Had a write-over, as I reflexively jotted SASSY at 1A. Solving dead-tree this morning, so fixed in like five seconds (I work section-by-section in pencil, instead of run the Acrosses then run the Downs like in Across Lite).

Since I was working NW to SE, didn't see the theme-reveal till all the theme answers were filled and, unlike @PG, had no clue what the theme could possibly be. Nice one, in retrospect.

Alexscott said...

@Tuttle, I don't think celeb was short for "celebrity," but "celebration." At least, that's all I could figure, since it doesn't make sense the other way. Of course, I would argue that celeb is only an abbreviation for celebrity, not celebration, but it wouldn't be the first time I argued in vain with a crossword puzzle clue.

sjok said...

I despise this type of crossword primarily because it uses too much from non-english. In what language does "art able to" become "canst"??? Archaic english? Galic?. A Spanish word crossing a French word - ugh. A word from an opera song? "Zine" is basically a foreign word because it defines really crappy subculture publications. "Isuzu Joe"?? are there people who actually know what is in TV ads?? And also, the name of a Lincoln center hall? Most crosswords take way too much from "New York Cityeeze" which is in many ways a foreign language to those of us who consider east of the Mississippi river to be a strange land. Also, "allude" is a tacit thing, refer is explicit.

StudioCitySteve said...

Agree a little with sjok, certainly with the CANST clue.

No-one seems bothered about UPDO, but I am - I've never, ever heard anyone saying that they need an updo because they're going to a formal party. Put their hair up, sure, but updo?

The theme was nice, and I've also never heard "Castles in the Sky" - it's always been "Air" for me.

I think I'd better start learning my Hebrew months, they always have me needing to solve the crosses.

Favorite clue was for LESSER - thought that was very cute.

Bill Withers said...

@All - If you've really never heard of the phrase Castles in the Sky you should really, really get out more.

St Pat said...

Well, I'm the celebrity in that one time and place. I'm the one they named the damned parade after.

Freud said...

At what point to you move from dislike into despising a crossword puzzle? I am intrigued that a puzzle can evoke such strong feelings.

C said...

Good puzzle for a Tuesday. I can understand the too much foreign language criticisms, I'm OK with the amount, just my opinion.

Thanks @Bill Withers, I was about to point the exact same thing out but for some reason, my mind grabbed onto "Islands in the stream" and wouldn't let go. I think my mind implemented a subliminal ear worm protection against "La Vida Loca" and instead of subliminally choosing the LESSER of two evils, my mind wen for the GREATER and the Dolly Parton song. Need to disinfect brain ...

SethG said...

But Terry Jack sang Seasons in the Sun, and the sky rockets are in flight. There are car ads, and there are CARS. I'LL SAY sounds almost as old as CANST.

Anoa Bob said...

I have it from a reliable source that 7D CANST was originally clued as part of a Biblical quote. But it was a long clue and there's an upper limit for the editor to deal with when it comes to the total number of clue characters that can fit into the overall puzzle space and this may be a case where clue brevity came into play and a clue that would have taken three lines was changed to a three-word one.

I was a bit put off by "maggots" as part of the clue for 25A LARVAE. It was not quite "gross enough to gag a maggot" but it was moving in that direction. But maybe this is just another case of biobigotry. A maggot is a living organism and part of nature so why shouldn't it be in crosswords? Shouldn't all of nature's creatures be equal in the sight of constructors, editors and solvers?

Anonymous said...

Pie in the sky - castles in the air! C'mon - what other version is there?

Had no problem with the puzzle or the foreign languages. Interesting that we got babas after baba au rhum last week in whichever puzzle.

Enjoyed it

Sidnee said...

See, the thing is SKY rhymes a lot better than AIR so it gets used in songs and poems.

Anonymous said...

This was a great tuesday puzzle being a hairstylist for over thirty years updo is a very apt term for a formal hairstyle and as for archaic words look at the oed then you canst say it doesnt make sense

John Wolfenden said...

I appreciated BAREKNUCKLE and LOCKSTEP. I knew there would be complaining about CANST but I kinda liked it.

I second PG's dislike of ORRS, as well as PAPA BUSH and CASTLES IN THE AIR (My daughters just watched the Miyazaki movie "Castle in the Sky" the other day). Never like seeing ARETE, and I'm sure an UPDO is a real thing but have never heard it used.

Julie said...

Loved the Joe cocker clip -- too funny!! Btw it's Joe Isuzu not Isuzu Joe. Those were funny commercials with David Leisure.

Avg Joe said...

Yeah, the Joe Cocker clip was worth the price of admission alone. Absolutely Hilarious!! I've sent that on to several friends today. :-)

Oh yeah. The puzzle...OK I guess. A clever theme, but like a joke, any time a theme has to be explained I think it loses something. The reveal was there, but it was also necessary.

Larry Sittig said...

Re CANST, this year is the 400th anniversary of the King James version of the Bible, a good year to read a good book. Shakespeare would agree.

All I could think of was, "And so CASTLES made of sand fall in the sea eventually." I wish YO YO MA could do one of his duets with Jimi Hendrix.
Anybody willing to write a quick note about how you make a hyperlink happen in your notes?

CrazyCat said...

Well, I guess I had a MENTAL BLOCK about CASTLES IN THE AIR, because I had sky first too. I think I got it mixed up with "Voices in the SKY" by the Moody Blues. Head SMACK. Had CAN DO before CANST. Other than that, I thought this was a BREEZE of a Tuesday puzzle. I know UP DO from my daughter's prom days. There was always the question of whether to get an UP DO, down DO or the in between DO (part up, part down).
Agree with PG about LARVAE. Ick.

@C Thanks a lot for the Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers ear worm!
@SethG Sky rockets in Flight is from "Afternoon Delight" a total maggot of an ear worm.

Anonymous said...

@Larry Sittig - PG's done it, item #2 in the FAQ.

StudioCitySteve said...

@Anonymous and @CCL - thanks for the UPDO clarification. Never had any daughters going to proms and I don't spend much time in hair salons discussing what "do" I'm going to get, so appreciate the edumation.

Avg Joe said...

@LarryS, As helpful guy pointed out to me when I asked the same question about posting hot links, read the FAQ's. It's the #2 item.

@CCL, You just couldn't leave it alone, could you?? I managed to avoid the Starland Vocal Band plague earlier, even though I recognized it. But now it firmly embedded. Thanks a lot!!

The Donald said...

Where does the "Over DO" fit into the up/down/do question? Because I'm starting to need one.

CrazyCat said...

@The Donald - You're right. Your DO is in big trouble.

@Avg Joe - A couple of weeks ago I was in Trader Joe's and "that song" was playing. When I got to the cashier all I could think to say was "I'm so sorry you have to hear this music." If it gets into your head it will kill brain cells.

lit.doc said...

@all, a similar question to @Larry Settig's that's not in the FAQ's. Anyone know the html tags to embed images in our posts? Or is that perhaps bad blog etiquette?

Anonymous said...

An updo is when the hair is parcialily or fully pinned to the head and yes after awhile it can hurt

Helpful Guy said...

@Lit.doc Change the use the same general structure
[open bracket]img src="the url"/[close bracket]
@Avg Joe - The baton has now been passed.

Avg Joe said...

@Helpful Guy, I wasn't looking for a job when I found my last one 18 some years ago and I'm damn sure not looking for this one. While I appreciate the offer of ungainful employment, I must respectfully decline. :-)

But I do have one suggestion for the keeper of the FAQ's: Add that instruction. T'would be useful it seems.

Oh! And as a footnote for PG. I was pleased to hear yesterday that Nebraska will continue their Black Friday tradition of network football coverage against none other than Iowa. Speaking for my state, we are happy to have this new "rivalry". It oughta be fun.

CrazyCat said...

@Avg Joe Just to further annoy you and everyone else ; )

Starland Vocal Band

mac said...

Thank you, SethG, for the Seasons in the Sun....

I thought this was a very lively Tuesday puzzle, easy and quick but with some great words (mental block, bare knuckle, lockstep, Yoyoma). The more I look at the filled-in grid, the better I like it.

Stan said...

I thought this breezy puzzle had verve. Burying the theme at the end of the answers worked for me -- knucklehead that I am, the reveal was a genuine surprise.

ORRS: Ben, Bobby, and that character in Catch-22.

Sfingi said...

Also had SKY before AIR. And AQUA before TEAL, EPI before EYE.

@Tuttle - agree. He's a Saint, so I can't even call him by the nickname.

Worst of all, though I got the theme words, I did not connect Racer's Edge to Head. Kept thinking "STP is the racer's edge." I'm brain-dead on sports. Sports always spoils it for me.

Sometimes I sign my e-mails to my son YO,YO MA.

Never heard of this Liar Joe fella.

UPDO - Think of Cinderella when she goes to the ball vs. sweeping.

The problem with Strasbourg is it's Alsatian, and depending on who wins what war determined if you spoke German or French.

Captcha - prolly - what we used to say instead of probably - in the '60s.

Vega said...

Hm...I'll see your Castles in the Sky and raise you Castles in the Air.

Greg said...

Can't believe no one has complained about NIP yet. NIP means a lot of different things, but "hip flask quickie" isn't one of them.

"__/Tuck" "__ in the bud" "small bit" "sharp cold" "dog bite" are way better clues.