03.16 Wed

March 16, 2011
John Lampkin

Theme: Thinking Happy Thoughts — Theme answers are words that follows the word "positive" in familiar phrases.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Survey response (FEEDBACK).
  • 21A: *Trying to remember (THINKING).
  • 26A: *Prospects (OUTLOOK).
  • 48A: *Disposition (MINDSET).
  • 55A: *Cocky manner (ATTITUDE).
  • 63A: Word (suggested by the black shape in this grid's center) that can precede the answers to starred clues (POSITIVE).
I didn't catch onto the theme while I was solving, because I didn't get to the reveal until the end. Then I thought, "Okay, that's good." Then later when I was looking it over to do this write-up it occurred to me that POSITIVE THINKING, POSITIVE OUTLOOK, POSITIVE MINDSET, and POSITIVE ATTITUDE are all pretty closely related while POSITIVE FEEDBACK … isn't. But, you know what? I'm just going to stay POSITIVE today so I guess the puzzle rubbed off on me.

[Hey, that's Mr. Noodle!]

You know what you can expect from a John Lampkin puzzle? Music and nature, that's what. I had to piece together the first two musical entries, but didn't have any trouble with the staccato music notation:
  • 53A: Beethoven's only opera (FIDELIO).
  • 30D: 19th-century Italian violin virtuoso (PAGANINI).
  • 49D: Like staccato notes (DOTTED).
And, as for nature, it's all for the birds today:
  • 16A: Bird that hangs its nest from a branch (ORIOLE).
  • 60D: Brutus' bird (AVIS).
  • 61D: Eat like a bird (PECK).
As you may know, in addition to puzzles, John is interested in music and nature photography. In fact, that oriole over there? Yeah, John sent me that picture to use with the blog. If he hadn't sent it, you probably would have gotten Cal Ripken, so everybody say "Thank you, John!" (Not that there's anything wrong with Cal Ripken. Oh what the hell, here's Cal anyway.)

  • 20A: Juliet's volatile cousin (TYBALT). You'd think this would be easy for me, being that I majored in English and all. Well, you'd be wrong. I misspelled it TYBALD. D'oh!
  • 34A: Know-it-all (SMARTIE). Great word. When I got the SMART part in there, I wondered for a minute if we might be headed in a different — less appropriate — direction.
  • 40A: Push-up sound, perhaps (GRUNT). See also 46A: Push-up garment (BRA). Two totally different kinds of push-ups.
  • 5D: "Not to worry" ("THAT'S OK"). I'm a fan of the colloquial phrase!
  • 6D: Cristal maker (BIC). For some reason I thought this was alcohol-related. But I guess a "Cristal" is a type of pen. Huh.
  • 8D: Best-seller (HOT ITEM). Another sparkly entry.
  • 9D: Age opening? (IRON). The word IRON "opens" for the word "Age" in the phrase "IRON Age."
  • 11D: Like a rock (SOLID). Okay, the first song I thought of was Ashford & Simpson's "Solid as a Rock," but that song is, well, I liked it in the 80s but it doesn't seem to have aged very well. Then there's Bob Seger's "Like a Rock," but that got all commercialized a while back. So I just happened to come across an awesome cover of Paul Simon's "Loves Me Like a Rock" on YouTube that I've never seen before, but it's not embeddable. Here's a link if you want to head over to YouTube to see it. It's pretty funky.
  • 18D: "SportsCenter's Not Top Plays" videos, e.g. (BLOOPERS). Oh man. So hard to decide which BLOOPER to include. I think I'll have to go with a classic.

Crosswordese 101: There's not too much you need to know about ELENI for crossword puzzles. It's always clued as a Nicholas Gage book/memoir/best seller or as a 1985 John Malkovich/Kate Nelligan movie directed by Peter Yates.

Other crosswordese in today's grid that we've already covered:
  • 24D: Pre-op test (EKG).
  • 26D: Play-of-color gem (OPAL).
  • 27D: Forearm bone (ULNA).
  • 37D: Pierre's state (ÉTAT).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Inedible Swiss cheese part? (HOLE); 5A: Sched. uncertainty letters (TBA); 8A: Greets the bad guy (HISSES); 14A: Bard's black (EBON); 15A: "__ Latest Flame": Presley hit (HIS); 19A: Rang (TOLLED); 23A: Suffer defeat (LOSE OUT); 25A: Cubic roller (DIE); 29A: Cartoon skunk Le Pew (PEPÉ); 32A: Mideast political gp. (PLO); 33A: UPS delivery (PKG.); 38A: "Tomorrow" musical (ANNIE); 41A: Longtime Dodgers manager (LASORDA); 44A: Org. with shrinks (APA); 47A: Software buyer (USER); 50A: Chinese menu general (TSO); 58A: Draw into wrongdoing (ENTRAP); 62A: __ Tomatoes: film review website (ROTTEN); 65A: "Wait!" ("ONE SEC!"); 66A: Calendar col. (THU.); 67A: Weighty production (EPIC); 68A: Oppressive boss (TYRANT); 69A: Short flight (HOP); 70A: Cubicle furnishing (DESK); 1D: Test the weight of (HEFT); 2D: Carry out (OBEY); 3D: Leopold's co-defendant (LOEB); 4D: Ultimate goal (END-ALL); 7D: Mail an invitation for, as a wedding (ASK TO); 10D: Hairlike corn feature (SILK); 12D: Nicholas Gage memoir (ELENI); 13D: Rushlike plant (SEDGE); 22D: Marching syllables (HUPS); 28D: Lots (TONS); 31D: Commit 18-Down (ERR); 35D: Old boats (TUBS); 36D: Memo "apropos of" (IN RE); 39D: Paper in a pot (IOU); 42D: Gone (DEFUNCT); 43D: Bone-dry (ARID); 44D: Pierre's soul (AME); 45D: More than fills the inbox (PILES UP); 50D: Medium's medium (TAROT); 51D: Expressionless (STONY); 52D: Playful swimmer (OTTER); 54D: Diver's concern (DEPTH); 56D: "__ girl!" (IT'S A); 57D: Former girls' magazine (TEEN); 59D: Ready to eat (RIPE); 64D: "Now I get it!" ("OHO!").


SethG said...

HOT ITEM seems arbitrary rather than sparkly to me. And the xKG abbreviation cross is terrible.

Started with RIND, and my solve didn't get much smoother. SDAK for ETAT, which is just good misdirection. AHA for OHO, because I've never heard anyone say OHO. Missteps everywhere.

ROTTEN next to POSITIVE is a nice touch. Add in HISSing and LOSE OUT and GRUNT and TYRANT, this puzzle has stuff for everyone!

CarolC said...

HOLE for inedible cheese part started the puzzle off on a sparkly note for me. I had trouble with the southwest corner when I put in ATTA girl and held on to it for too long. Similarly for the somewhat arbitrary "get it" moment I had AHA until the last solve. I did like the tie-in between the grid shape and the theme reveal. Other than that, it was solid yet not overly inspiring. I shall now take my POSITIVE ATTITUDE and go have a good workout using the reps from yesterday.

Captcha "pingesel" sounds like it could be the only opera from an unknown composer. . .

John Wolfenden said...

Good ol' Lampy brings it with a strong Hump Day effort. Nary a quibble from this puzzler. I really like themes that reference the structure, and this one was very well-executed.

My favorite sparkly clue was "Play-of-color gem' for OPAL.

I also was thinking vodka for "Cristal maker," although the vodka is actually Kristal. HUSK for SILK was the longest-lasting writeover. For a brief moment I thought "Diver's concern" might be DEATH, but I suppose if you really feared for your life while diving you wouldn't be doing it in the first place.

ELENI and AVIS were the WOTD for me.

Paganini was quite the rock star of his day. His Caprices are the classical equivalent of wailing Hendrix guitar solos. My favorite Paganini tidbit: he used to play with his back to the audience because he was paranoid that other violinists would learn his fingerings. Like a magician, he wanted them kept secret.

JaxInL.A. said...

I'm a big Bobby McFerrin fan, but I've never seen that video with Bill Irwin (possibly the most deeply talented clown of the last 30 years) and Robin Williams (also amazingly talented, if less disciplined than Irwin).

Top that off with Tim Conway and Carl Reiner (two more comic geniuses) and I have only POSITIVE FEEDBACK for the blog. Now I have a POSITIVE MINDSET to start the day. Hope I can keep it up in the face of the news from Japan and Libya.

I like the pair of ORIOLEs, too. Who knew they hang their nets? Well, presumably Ripken doesn't.

Thanks, P.G.!

*David* said...

I usually get a learning moment with Lampkin and today it was FIDELIO. I mucked up the SW corner a bit with STOIC and ATTA right next to each other but otherwise a pretty clean fill. I was happy to knock in TYBALT with one letter after seeing him a few times in other puzzles.

mac said...

Pretty solid theme, but it was a surprise that Tybalt, Paganini and Fidelio weren't part of a theme.

Funny write-over: Even I, for Eleni.

Tuttle said...

My USERS buy software? I thought they all just stole it from work and the internet.

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Had some issues remembering how to spell some Italian names and entering 'stoic' instead of STONY slowed me down a bit, but that's about it.

Anonymous said...

Although there is a vodka called Stockholm Krystal which I've never heard of, I'm sure the Cristal that everyone thought of is the champagne made by Louis Roederer. It used to be a favorite of rappers.

Vega said...

Really proud to have tossed in HOLE at 1A. I agree that *KG was ugly. Feel like we've been seeing a lot of HEFT lately. But maybe I'm thinking of other (non-LAT) puzzles. Generally, thought this was more OK than great.

CrazyCat said...

My FEEDBACK is POSITIVE even though I had TONS of write-overs. Her for HIS, Aha for OHO, Atta for ITS A, Called for TOLLED and Bends for DEPTH. On top of that I read the clue for 12D as Nicholas Cage memoir which is "Uncaged" and didn't fit. Thought Cristal was a kind of champagne, not a pen. FIDELIO and LOEB were my WOTDS. Lots of THINKING involved here, but all and all a fun and challenging Wednesday.

Love the Tim Conway/Harvey Korman BLOOPERS clip and John L's ORIOLE photo.

C said...

I am leaving POSITIVE FEEDBACK for this puzzle as well: A++++++ constructor, would solve from again!

A lot of misdirection in the cluing as people have brought up, made for a slower than usual Wednesday solve for this dude. Made me question if my brain was working today which is a good thing.

CrazyCat said...

@C Ha ha! Love the eBay reference. Good one!

StudioCitySteve said...

I really enjoyed this - I had quite a few do-overs (I lost count!), but learned FIDELIO, and I really must try and remember TSO - I always want to fill CHO, TAO or PAO.

I went for a number of Cristal options when I knew ROEDERER wasn't going to fit (not quite!) and I had the C, so tried ARC and ROC first - somewhere at the back of my mind I remembered glassmakers - certainly Cristal D'Arc, and ROC from somewhere.

Nice theme!

lit.doc said...

[2:25 CDT] I look forward to PG’s take on this one. Difficulty rating depended so much on “know-it-or-don’t” stuff, e.g. Paganini, Fidelio, Loeb, and how staccato is marked on a score.

16A made me wonder if there might be a Hornet Bird. No Orioles anywhere I’ve lived, so Fact O’the Day for me.

Was sooo glad that 33A wasn’t COD. Does anyone do that anymore?!

Stumbles were 56D “ATTA girl!” and 6D confusing Cristal with Crystal (I don’t waste money on cheap pens or cheap vodka).

Was inordinately delighted by 1D. Is that a great clue/answer, or am I really that easily amused?

John Lampkin said...

Thanks Puzzle Girl. That Bobby McFerrin clip is a hoot.

Puzzle Girl, you are even sharper than I thought. In the first draft of this puzzle, FEEDBACK was the final entry, clued as something like, "What others might give you regarding your {Positive frame of mind]". Rich wanted POSITIVE to be last though so that idea fell by the wayside though FEEDBACK the entry remained.

Best to all. Your comments are always helpful and appreciated.

Anonymous said...

So Paganini played with his back to the audience, I wonder if that's where Miles Davis got the idea?

Sfingi said...

Great theme. East solve.

Very strange puzzle, in that there was practically no factual stuff to hang me up. Or maybe I didn't notice facts that to me are obvious. Just watch. Tomorrow will have sports and French and I will notice that.

As Mercutio said to TYBALT, "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man." My son played Tybalt one summer in a park in Herkimer. The Mercutio is more fun for emoters.

@Anon105. "Mr. Paganini, play that rhapsody."
I once got a violinist mad at me when I asked him if he could play it behind his back.

Had caLLED before TOLLED.

Avg Joe said...

Roy Buchanan also had a reputation for playing with his back to the audience so the guitar players in the crowd couldn't pick up his technique.

John Wolfenden said...

So Paganini was the original cocky superstar musician. Thankfully Miles Davis and Roy Buchanan didn't have people accusing them of being possessed by the devil because they played so well.

Anonymous said...

Cant figure out how get to comments any other way than to use anon wnt to callmine cosmo so now I will just write it in been reading this for about and its a fun part of the day plus I learn alot and the banter is really funny sometimes fpr some reason I struggled today but eventially finished I had to stare at the grid for awhile to see the big plus sign staring at me duh

Laura said...

I hate you for putting the Bobby McFerrin clip... even without playing it, it's now in my brain!!! But in a fun way...brought a smile and it's fun to have a catchy tune running around in there. And, Crazy Cat Lady, I'm new here, I'm also a Sterotypical MiddleAged Cat Lady..I have 14 indoor cats, most people think I'm NUTS!!! They like to help me do puzzles.... Laura from Pomona CA.

CrazyCat said...

@Laura - Whoa! I thought I was living on the wild side with 3 cats. One lives in the garage. But, it's always fun to have new commenters joining in. Sending good kitty vibes to P-Town.

Anonymous said...

My paper left off the questions 60 through 64, so it was alittle tough to figure out the answers, had to wait for todays answers.

Anonymous said...

Deborah from Canada here,
That was Tim Conway with Harvey Korman, by the way ... not Carl Reiner.
Thank you the great memories and hardy laughs... loved watching those two play off each other.

Scout said...

Yay for English majors!