03.09 Wed

March 9, 2011
Gareth Bain

Theme: Awesome Back-up Band — Theme answers are all people with the initials M.G.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Moscow park eponym (MAXIM GORKY).
  • 61A: *"What's Going On" singer (MARVIN GAYE).
  • 10D: *20th-century cartoonist who wrote "He Done Her Wrong," a 300-page pantomime tale (MILT GROSS).
  • 32D: *"Mad Max" star (MEL GIBSON).
  • 48D: Leader of the band with the 1962 hit "Green Onions" (BOOKER T).
  • 61D: With "the," 48-Down's band (which sounds as if it could have included the answers to starred clues) (MG'S).
Don't you totally want to see Booker T performing in front of a Pip-ified MAXIM GORKY, MARVIN GAYE, MEL GIBSON, and MILT GROSS? That's one funny-looking back-up band. I don't believe I've ever heard of MILT GROSS and I would never have been able to come up with GORKY's first name on my own, but this puzzle just seemed like fun to me. I think the thing I appreciated the most was the quirky cluing. Especially:
  • 10A: Hi sign nicknames (MOMS). It's not unusual for a televised crowd shot of a sporting event to catch someone with a sign that says "Hi, Mom." So I guess you could call those "Hi signs" (a play on the phrase "high signs").
  • 24A: Upside-down frown (SMILE). Who hasn't heard the phrase "Turn that frown upside-down"?
  • 65A: Kindergarten staple (GLUE). The use of the word "staple" in the clue really tickles me. It's meant in the sense of a supply that's constantly needed, but the word can also refer to something that attaches things together — just like GLUE!
Highlight entries for me today include:
  • 2D: Shortest book in the Hebrew Bible (OBADIAH). I would like to see a resurgence of this name. Unfortunately, I'm past my child-bearing years so it's up to one of you young women out there.
  • 34D: East African language (SWAHILI). I know it's not an uncommon entry, but I just love the way it sounds. The word, not the language. I don't actually know how the language sounds.
  • 41D: Burst (RUPTURE).
  • 44D: Vicks ointment (VAPORUB). As soon as you entered the word could you smell it?
  • 1A: Doughnut shape (TORUS). This is a word I learned from crosswords. I assume it's a word I learned back in a math class somewhere too, but I relearned it in the last couple years from crosswords.
  • 36A: Animals who often bear twins (EWES). Get out! Who knew? And don't tell me you did, because you didn't.
  • 43A: It's not known for MPG efficiency (SUV). Using MPG in the clue is a clever way of including a hint that the answer will be an abbreviation.
  • 51A: One of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" (MASHA). The other two are … just a minute …. Olya and Irina. Just so ya know.
  • 57A: Option for Hamlet (TO BE). Another good clue.
  • 66A: Courtroom demand (ORDER).
  • 69A: Burden bearer (BEAST). You know what's coming.

  • 5D: Mozart's "Jupiter," e.g.: Abbr. (SYM.). I actually entered SON. first thinking it was a sonata, but that's pretty dumb because (a) it's a horrible abbreviation that I'm sure is never used and (b) if the entry was actually SON, it wouldn't be clued that way (see (a)).
  • 6D: Noted composer of Études (CHOPIN). I remember being so shocked when I learned Chopin was Polish. I always assumed he was French.
  • 8D: Mork's planet (ORK). I'm seriously going to start a count of "Mork and Mindy" references.
  • 42D: Actor Banderas (ANTONIO). Sigh.
  • 50D: Impeccable service (ACE). Tennis!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 35A: Hops-drying oven (OAST).
  • 40A: Asian sea (ARAL).
  • 67A: Quite a long time (AEON).
  • 13D: Old JFK arrival (SST).
  • 25D: Sicilian mount (ETNA).
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Everything Else 6A: Doofus (CLOD); 14A: Furniture wood (EBONY); 15A: Circle dance (HORA); 16A: Does a bakery job (ICES); 19A: "__ we forget" (LEST); 20A: Palm Treos, e.g., briefly (PDA'S); 21A: Tailless primate (APE); 22A: School orgs. (PTA'S); 23A: Article for Adenauer (EIN); 26A: __ Dei (AGNUS); 28A: __ Andreas Fault (SAN); 29A: Bit of dogma (TENET); 30A: Poppycock (TRIPE); 31A: Opera setting, for short (THE MET); 33A: Outs partners (INS); 38A: Evokes wonder in (AWES); 45A: Soak up (ABSORB); 49A: Din in the library? (GUNGA); 53A: Big suit, briefly (CEO); 54A: About the eye (OPTIC); 55A: Elect to take part (OPT IN); 56A: Hoo-ha (ADO); 58A: Exxon Valdez cargo (OIL); 59A: Short run, for short (ONE K); 60A: Wimple wearers (NUNS); 64A: Élan (BRIO); 68A: Pair in bunk beds, perhaps (SIBS); 1D: Violent storm (TEMPEST); 3D: Steve Martin film based on "Cyrano de Bergerac" (ROXANNE); 4D: Colleges, to Aussies (UNIS); 7D: Rhine siren (LORELEI); 9D: "And God called the light __": Genesis (DAY); 11D: "1984" setting (OCEANIA); 12D: Goofs (MESS-UPS); 18D: Spermatozoa, e.g. (GAMETES); 22D: Frisk, with "down" (PAT); 24D: Crock-Pot potful (STEW); 27D: Collector's goal (SET); 37D: Sport for heavyweights (SUMO); 39D: Israeli diplomat Abba (EBAN); 40D: In days past (AGO); 46D: Anthem for "eh" sayers (O CANADA); 47D: Overnight flights (RED-EYES); 52D: "As I was going to __ ..." (ST. IVES); 59D: Fairy tale baddie (OGRE); 60D: Hoops org. (NBA); 62D: Poetic boxer (ALI); 63D: San Francisco's __ Hill (NOB).


Sfingi said...

I really liked the theme, and wondered what the youngsters thought.

So many favories (except Mel).

"Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia."

Anonymous said...

I went wrong right off the bat when I put tornado in 1D. never thought of a tempest as all that violent since they usually fit in a teapot.

Once that was figured out it was a fun puzzle.

Virginia C

SethG said...

Tempest Bledsoe I know, Some of the people in this puzzle, not so much. But I like the word wimple, and I'm glad Roxanne was clued with the movie instead of the song.

hazel said...

Good one. Liked the way the puzzle reached far and wide. Never really thought of mom as a nickname, but I guess I don't know what else to call it.

Mel Gibson, though, good grief.

Anonymous said...

On your puzzle picture you have Ocanada words around fit.In your comment you have Oceania.What is wrong.The answer should be oceania

lit.doc said...

What a perfectly lovely hard-Tuesday / Easy Wednesday puzzle. One of those unusual days when there was really nothing not to like (excepting the Mel Meister, whose views are not the fault of the constructor).

*David* said...

I felt the upper right hand corner was a fail with UNIS and SYM crossing MAXIM. I had not heard of MILT GROSS which tied it up in a bow and made it a puzzle to forget.

*David* said...

I felt the upper right hand corner was a fail with UNIS and SYM crossing MAXIM. I had not heard of MILT GROSS which tied it up in a bow and made it a puzzle to forget.

Steve said...

I need an explanation for 49 Across: "Din in the library?"

What is a gunga? and how is it a din in the library?

Anonymous said...

@Steve Gunga Din from Kipling.
Tho' I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!"

Doug P said...

Steve, "Gunga Din" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling.

Joon said...

Animals who often bear twins (EWES). Get out! Who knew? And don't tell me you did, because you didn't.

i bet gareth knew, since he's studying veterinary science.

anon 8:11, both OCEANIA and O CANADA are grid entries.

Alexscott said...

I really liked the cluing in this puzzle (especially for "GUNGA Din" and "O CANADA") as well as the difficulty level for a Wednesday--not too hard, but I learned a few new words and what the shortest book of the Hebrew bible is (always good to know).

For the "Upside-down frown" clue, was anyone else reminded of the Simpsons episode when Lisa took tap lessons? Lisa's teacher tells her to turn her frown upside down, and when Lisa forces a smile, her teacher berates her with, "That's a smile, not an upside-down frown!" According to her, at least, there is a difference.

Anonymous said...

I did not like the lower left answer to "Quite a long time" because it's grammatically incorrect. Since the word begins with a vowel, it should be "an eon," unless there's an alternative spelling to eon that includes the "a" that I've not heard before.

sjok said...

This was a frustratong puzzle for me. I do not know the names of many musical groups let alone their songs or members.

Also, any wood can be used for furniture and ebony is one that should no longer be used because it is slow growing, over-harvested, and therefore a threatened plant.

"Mother" is a title, not a name and how does an "'eh' sayer" becone a canadian citizen. I suppose "eh" could be a canadian music group - I doubt it comes from the "eh group" a business consultant in Eclectic, Alabama.

And, as usual, there is something from NYC (the met) but I am perfectly happy to consign all opera performances to NYC - they put me to sleep.

Also, per german lore, Lorelei was falsly accused of luring men to their demise, so, technically, she was really not a siren.

mac said...

Fantastic puzzle with such a broad range of topics - Gareth must be a great reader and TV watcher. He just AWES me with his colloquial knowledge.

Didn't know some of the names, but in the end I got them through crosses. Pretty tough for me, though, but highly enjoyable.

Sfingi said...

@Sjok - Canadians always say "Eh?" instead of "Okay?" or "Huh?"

I had to learn to sing(!) Die Lorelei by Heine, music by Friedrich Silcher. It is of the category of a story in a story. The writer describes a sad feeling he can't account for, then the weather ("Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten, dass ich so traurig bin"), and then enters into the fable.
Thus it can be compared to the great sonnet, Ozymandias by Percy Shelly ("I met a stranger from an antique land who said...") and enters into the description of the broken statue. On the statue is yet another "story." I don't know a tune for it.
Yet another is Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, wherein the mariner chews some wedding guest's ear off about his experience.
Of course it all goes back to Chaucer or the Decameron.
Class dismissed.

lit.doc said...

@Joon, my reaction too. I'd always thought that ewes had clones!

CrazyCat said...

Agree with PG and others that Gareth's puzzle was a really fun solve with some enjoyable, quirky cluing. My favorite was Din in the Library? GUNGA. I'm wondering if TORUS should be given Crosswordese 101 status? It seems like it's been popping up a lot lately. I often get TORUS and TORII confused. Pretty dumb to confuse a doughnut with a temple, eh?

Probably almost every kid in the '60s who was in a garage band (think they were called combos back then) knew how to play "Green Onions" by BOOKER T and "Wipeout" by the Surfaris.

Avg Joe said...

I had my share of trouble with this one, but found my way through it. DNK Maxim Gorky at all, but the crosses got me there. Still, I had minor doubts cuz I wasn't absolutely certain that Steve Martin movie wasn't Rosanne.

CCL, combos would probably be more 50's than 60's. I can't believe no one has put up Green Onions yet.

C said...

I enjoyed today's puzzle. Hands down, the answer for me was GUNGA. The clue was awesome, the answer was awesome and it got me thinking about total consciousness on my deathbed ... so I got that going for me.

StudioCitySteve said...

Enjoyed this today, even with a later start than usual and a slight Fat Tuesday hangover due to an impromptu jambalaya party at my place last night.

Loved GUNGA and OCANADA. Thought MOMS was a bit of a stretch clued by "nickname", but not enough to make me grumpy.

My Dad had a first edition of Kipling's poems and I remember reading Gunga Din as a kid. I vividly remember the book as it had a swastika on the front cover - it was printed before WWII and the swastika is used in India as a peace symbol - I'm still mildly shocked when I see it on storefronts when I make periodic trips to Mumbai.

@PG - thanks for the Stones clip - time to crank up the iPod and blow the remnants of the hangover away.

Mokus said...

There was a lot to like today. The eponymous Gorky Park is also the name of a terrific mystery by Martin Cruz Smith. It was amusing to see EWES & AWES instead of the pedestrian OOHS & AAHS that we frequently get.

Over the years, when a friend did something special I would say,
"You're a better man than me, Gunga Din." Despite that I struggled because of the clue for ACE. I have never heard a sportscaster call a service ace "impeccable." Interesting that Adenauer was resurrected to clue the German article EIN. An enjoyable solve.

Rube said...

An easy Wednesday. My only writeover was starting to put down Oh_ foor O CANADA. Immediately thought better. Had BOO_ and knew who it was... good to be from that era.

Took forever to parse STIVES. Finally saw it, then came here.

Never heard of MILT GROSS. Anyone know if his opus is worth reading?

Tuttle said...

...it should be "an eon," unless there's an alternative spelling to eon that includes the "a" that I've not heard before.

Eon is the alternative, usually American English, spelling of the Latin loan-word AEON.

John Wolfenden said...

Never having constructed a puzzle myself, I imagine one of the most difficult aspects is keeping the obscurity level the same throughout. OBADIAH stuck out, as did MILT G ROSS, although in the latter's case I imagine Gareth ran out of well-known MGs.

sjok, interesting tidbit about LORELEI.

"Anthem for eh-sayers" made me laugh out loud.

Really, really wanted "Tailless primate" to be MAN. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

@sfingi- liked your post so much as ozymandias and the ancient mariner are two of my favorite poems and i like the idea of lorileis and also the word sounds beautiful to me.

solved the puzzle with the occasional aid of the red letters. enjoyed it.

HUTCH said...

had to google but solved.One mistake-for artcle for adenauer put in "der" for "der alte"had to erase for the prosaic "ein".

Anonymous said...

Re: 65A "GLUE"
The use of the word "staple" in the clue really tickles me too. My reasoning is a little different though. I thought of it as a kindergarten food "staple" i.e. Milk , eggs, bread, and glue! As a Canadian of course my fav is 46D.


Marshall said...

MG are my initials! woohoo

CrazyCat said...

@StudioCity I just now had a moment to find my in-law's 1911 copy of "The Collected Verse of Rudyard Kipling" in our library and there is, indeed, a swastika on the cover. It's a symbol of a person with symbols where his arms should be (one's an anchor) and the tiny head is a swastika. I never noticed that before. My parents had a much later edition which my brother glommed when they passed away.

Anonymous said...

I am new to crosswords and was able to solve this puzzle fairly easily. However, I had difficulty with the cluing for Obadiah. I was always taught that his book was PART of the larger book called the Twelve. Because of this, it took me quite awhile to figure it out. Really creative cluing otherwose