03.15 Tue

March 15, 2011
Gary Steinmehl

Theme: Hitting the Gym — The last word of each theme answer is (arguably) something you would do REPS of while exercising.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Last leg of a race (HOME STRETCH).
  • 27A: Chocolate bar with crisped rice (NESTLÉ CRUNCH).
  • 49A: Overseas news-gatherers (FOREIGN PRESS).
  • 59A: Very little, in slang (DIDDLY SQUAT).
  • 57D: PR specialists, and a word associated with the ends of 20-, 27-, 49- and 59-Across (REPS).
I have mixed feelings about this theme. The theme answers themselves are all colorful and the theme hangs together very well until … you get to the reveal. REPS? Do you really do REPS of STRETCHes? Um, no. No, you don't. You just STRETCH. And then (if you're motivated and you're at, say, a gym) you do the rest of the things mentioned. So, to me, THE GYM would have been a much better reveal. If I had seen that, I would have been all "Oh, right! These are all things you do at a gym!" With STRETCH as the first entry, I might have even thought they were in some kind of logical order. It all would have been very pleasant and right now I would be talking some more about how sparkly the theme entries are. Instead, though, right now I'm going: REPS? Really?!

If you're not a fan of foreign words in your puzzle, you were probably troubled by all the French in this grid:
  • 16A: Author Zola (ÉMILE). Which reminds me, if you haven't seen "Wordplay," you really should.
  • 23A: Nice season? (ÉTÉ). We've covered this in Crosswordese 101 — both the answer and the way it's clued.
  • 46A: Paris's __ la Paix (RUE DE). This one is not only French, it's also an ugly partial. Twofer!
  • 10D: Porthos, to Athos (AMI). French for "friend" (and previously covered in CW101).
  • 13D: Place for a beret (TÊTE). French for "head."
  • 35D: D-Day target city (ST.-LÔ). Another CW 101 alum.
You also might be able to include BEAU (15A: Steady fellow) in this list without getting into too much trouble. Speaking of CW 101, here are the other grid entries that we've already covered. Each answer word below is a link to the post where you'll find more details.
  • 18A: Elongated fish (EELS).
  • 39A: Sheltered Greek walkway (STOA).
  • 43A: IRS agent (T-MAN).
  • 66A: Cleveland's lake (ERIE).
So, what else? Well there are some nice Scrabbly entries in ZAGAT, ZEPHYRS, and SEQUIN (9A: Big name in restaurant guides / 9D: Gentle winds / 51D: Fashion sparkler). SEQUIN was actually hard for me to come up with because I had RHINESTONE in my head and couldn't shake it.

  • 19A: Turning point (PIVOT).

  • 52A: Run or ruin (DASH). Great clue. Think "50-yard DASH" or having your hopes DASHed.
  • 67A: DDE's alma mater (USMA). Dwight D. Eisenhower's alma mater is the U.S. Military Academy.
  • 69A: Ole Miss rival (BAMA). When I was a kid, I thought Duke and Marquette were the coolest college names. I still think they're awesome, but I love BAMA too (even though it's obviously not the school's official name). I always hoped I'd graduate from a college with a cool name. But instead I ended up at … Maryland.
  • 11D: Abraham, to Lincoln (GIVEN NAME). I tried FIRST NAME first.
  • 26D: Bee or Em (AUNT). I think of Em as AUNTIE, but I see that's what she's called in the film but not in the books. AUNT Bee is from "The Andy Griffith Show" and, yes, that is how her name is spelled.
  • 28D: Fa follower (SOL). Do re mi fa SOL la ti do.
  • 34D: DoD fliers (USAF). The U.S. Air Force flies for the Department of Defense.
  • 50D: Letters under a 4 (G-H-I). Today's random letter string is clued in relation to the telephone keypad.
  • 55D: Cass and Michelle, famously (MAMAS). Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips were the MAMAS of the 1960s group, "The MAMAS and the Papas."
  • 62D: Bean town? (LIMA). Get it? 'Cuz the name of the town is also a type of bean. (Ugh.)
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Everything Else 1A: Cote bleats (BAAS); 5A: Further (ALSO); 14A: Flattop opposite (AFRO); 17A: Plane or sander (TOOL); 24A: Snail mail need (STAMP); 25A: Color in the four-color process (CYAN); 34A: Plug-and-play PC port (USB); 37A: Borat creator Sacha Baron __ (COHEN); 38A: Trapper's gear (SNARE); 41A: Number-guessing fund-raiser (LOTTO); 44A: False __ (ALARM); 48A: Ambulance initials (EMS); 53A: Times spent in prison or in office (TERMS); 57A: Dusting aid (RAG); 64A: Remove from the videotape (ERASE); 68A: Argentine grassland (PAMPA); 70A: Modern Roman, e.g.: Abbr. (ITAL.); 71A: Take badly? (STEAL); 72A: Disappearing slope apparatus (T-BAR); 73A: Big Board letters (NYSE); 1D: They're drawn in tubs (BATHS); 2D: In progress (AFOOT); 3D: Bakery quality (AROMA); 4D: Serious (SOLEMN); 5D: Aid's partner (ABET); 6D: Look that may be accompanied by a smirk (LEER); 7D: Shopping news (SALE); 8D: Bounce, as from a bar (OUST); 12D: Oodles (A LOT); 21D: Risky business, briefly (SPEC); 22D: Brutus' 300 (CCC); 29D: Rose feature (THORN); 30D: Rain more gently (LET UP); 31D: Rectangular computer key (ENTER); 32D: Stuff (into) (CRAM); 33D: Lady birds (HENS); 36D: Monopoly, for one (BOARD GAME); 40D: House painter's calculation (AREA); 42D: Dedicated verse (ODE); 45D: Card player's goof (MISDEAL); 47D: Ballpark figs. (ESTS.); 54D: Out of practice (RUSTY); 56D: Old hat (STALE); 58D: "I smell __!" (A RAT); 60D: Unpaid loan, e.g. (DEBT); 61D: Not bright at all (DRAB); 63D: Wine taster's guesstimate (YEAR); 65D: Healthful resort (SPA).


Sfingi said...

First again! Where is everybody?

Well, it was easy. I worked it top down and thought it would be something with CH at the ends.

Hubster and I always laugh at the exercise equipment ads in which, not only does the fellow develop "6-packs," but all his body hair mysteriously disappears.
It's finally warming up, today, so maybe he can get on his bike (bicycle - the other kind doesn't help). Maybe the snowmobile deaths will slow down, too.

If you haven't read Zola - well, he is depressing.RealEmile

Anonymous said...

DIDDLYSQUAT -- best entry of the year.

SethG said...

A lot of French, but it's all common puzzle French. PAMPA's the one I can never remember.

John Wolfenden said...

Liked "Risky business, briefly" for SPEC.

3 quibbles:

- Is an AFRO really the opposite of a flattop?
- I've never heard of anyone getting OUSTed from a bar
- As an avid skier I don't get TBAR. How is it a "disappearing slope apparatus" any more than any other type of lift?

Anonymous said...

have to agree never seen diddlysquat in a puzzle before. did not understand the answer sol for the clue after fa. I thought it was sew a needle pulling thread as in a musical note progression. liked the puzzle nice easy solve.

C said...

@Anon_8:43, SOL is the spelling for the note following FA in the musical scale. IIRC, I believe it is DO RE MI FA SOL LA TI There is some wiggle room on SOL, I think SO is acceptable as well, dunno for sure, not my gig. In the crossword puzzles, SOL is the way to go.

OK puzzle. I'm OK with REPS and STRETCH. I start my workouts with a set of stretches for various muscle groups that involve 3 reps of holding the stretch for 30 seconds.

sjok said...

Actually, the exercises in the puzzle can be done WITHOUT going to a gym.

JaxInL.A. said...

Solved and went (shrug) meh. I agree completely with PG that a better reveal would have greatly improved this puzzle.

I also think that this one suffers in comparison to the sparkling NYT puzzle today, for those who do both.

Anonymous said...

@John T-bars are being replaced by high speed chair lifts

Anonymous said...

@John W - While an AFRO may not be the opposite of a flat-top, it is the antithesis of a flat-top. Close enough for me.
I've not only heard of being OUSTED from a bar, I've been outsted from a bar.
Man, my capthca's so damned long I may not post this.

lit.doc said...

I thought this was a perfectly Tueday puzzle, and fun as well. Fine with the theme (though I'd frag it on Wednesday).

Only really accurate clue I've ever seen for T-BAR. I was, however, somewhat troubled by the presence of both T-BAR and T-MAN in the same puzzle, as I've been studying Patrick Berry's book on crossword construction. A "too-similar parts of short answers" issue.

@Sfingi, I didn't post at Rex's blog till almost 2 a.m., and sleep sounded like a good idea at the time. :)

Anonymous said...

Dont remember pampa or zaget but got them with crosses ill try to save them in my head for next time I do hair and if someone has an afro it would be hard to make a flattop out of it

CrazyCat said...

I like A LOT of French in my puzzles. I was in a big rush this morning since I had to DASH off to agility class (for my terrier) - talk about a workout! Threw in AWAY for 5A further and then slapped down WINK at 6D. Realized I was in a mess and finished the rest of the puzzle. Then revisited the N Central and all eventually worked out. DIDDLY SQUAT and FOREIGN PRESS were cool. NESTLE CRUNCH reminded me of yesterday's NTY. Liked the clue for LIMA, bean town.
Really like Glenn Campbell's outfit!

mac said...

Some nice words (diddley squat, zephyrs, cyan and sequin) but a lot of CW 101. Didn't like both the USAF and USMA, and the two Ts very much.

French is fine, especially with the foreign press

StudioCitySteve said...

Quibble - Cote bleats? I was wondering what the French word for BAAS was until I got all the crosses in place and saw - BAAS. I thought that you clue a foreign word answer with a foreign word, so that one is lost on me. Cote d'agneau would have made more sense, but still would have attracted a grump from me. Unless it's common knowledge that "cote" means "lamb" or "sheep".

OK, got that off my chest.

Methuselah said...

@StudioCitySteve - Dictionaries seem to confirm that COTE has, of late, wormed its way into the English language. Of course, for me, the past 1000 years is "of late". It's actually Old English dating from 1050.

CrazyCat said...

@StudioCitySteve- According to Mirriam Webster, a cote is a shed or coop for small domestic animals, especially pigeons. There's also dovecote.

Scout said...

Haha! I, too, thought of that particular clip from Friends right when I got PIVOT.

Anonymous said...

It always throws me how that Do, Re, Mi scale suddenly throws in a 3 letter Sol. Anyone who knows anything about "The Sound of Music" knows it's Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti Do. There are much better clues for SOL given its Latin meaning.

StudioCitySteve said...

@CCL and Methuselah - Thanks for the edification - I should have thought of dovecote. However, the next time I hear a pigeon go "BAA" I'll consider quitting drinking. Unless the sheep are cooing, of course.

Nighthawk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nighthawk said...

@StudioCitySteve - and if, on Thursday, the sheep was a ewe named Erin, would Erin go "BAA?"

Fun puzzle and went fairly smoothly, but had a few speedbumps with 60D and 63D when the only fill in that block was at 66A ERIE. I guess I just couldn't believe the marvelous DIDDLYSQUAT was really there so had a hard time arriving at DEBT and YEAR.

@Anon 7:15am, if that is the best entry of the year, this Billy Lee Riley tune, first recorded at Sun Records in 1957 has got to be the coolest song of the last century.

gespenst said...

I was thinking of "dovecote" and initially had "COOS" for 1A (though I thought "bleat" was a weird way to describe that particular sound). I tried to fit something with ANCHOR into the 20A spot, but that was a big fat FAIL.

I've always been bugged by 3-letter SOL in the middle of the 2-lettered scale. But on that note, have you heard this version?:
DO a beer, a pint of beer
RAY the guy behind the bar
ME the bloke (or bird) I buy beer for
FAR a long way to the bar
SO I think i'll have a beer
LA la la la la la la
TEA no thanks I'll have a beer that will bring us back to do do do do...

(yeah, I know, "do a beer" makes no sense, but it rhymes with deer)

PG - as Duke alum, thanks on the "cool name" pronouncement. Before I toured the college, I told my parents I didn't want to go to a college named after someone's dog ;) And Maryland may not be a cool name, but Terps are cool (fear the turtle!) LOL.

Anonymous said...


DOH! A beer, a pint of beer.... Homer Simpson style (of course it messes up the scale with 3 letters like today's puzzle).

All around fun, esp. 2 computer gimmies.

Anonymous said...

Too french for a Mardi