05.05 Thu

May 5, 2011
Julian Lim

Theme: At the Drop of a Hat — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase with the word HAT "dropped" from the end.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: "Don't tell a soul!" (KEEP IT UNDER YOUR).
  • 31A: Spout nonsense (TALK THROUGH ONE'S).
  • 41A: Moonlight, say (WEAR MORE THAN ONE).
  • 60A: Instantly ... or how this puzzle's other three longest answers came about? (AT THE DROP OF A HAT).
Very nice theme today — I enjoyed this one a lot. I used the theme to help me piece the grid together, but even knowing what I was trying to do, I had a lot of trouble parsing WEAR MORE THAN ONE. I was stuck on the actual moon and just wasn't able to shift to the definition of "moonlight" I needed. Now that I'm thinking about it more closely, I think part of the problem is that I don't think of "moonlighting" as wearing more than one hat. I think of "moonlighting" as having more than one job. To me, wearing more than one hat is playing more than one role within a job (or relationship or family or whatever). I'm not saying this is wrong. I'm just saying that to me there's a subtlety that's lost here and that might have been part of my problem. I'm sure it won't be the last time that happens!

Not a lot of what I would call super sparkly fill today, probably because I'm usually drawn to the longer answers and this grid just doesn't have any — the longest answers other than the theme answers are seven letters. I guess the standout entry is HAN SOLO (43D: His co-pilot was a Wookiee). Maybe because I just noticed the spelling of "Wookiee" for the first time and maybe because it makes me think of this video, which cracks me up every time I watch it. (Just skip it if you're sick of it. I know I've posted it here more than once.)

The only thing I just flat-out didn't know and had to get completely from crosses was SILESIA (22A: Wroclaw's region). I figured it had to be Poland (Wroclaw just sounds Polish) but I pretty much don't know anything about Poland so didn't spend too much time fretting about it. I also didn't know that [38A: Carl's sweetheart, in "Up"] is named ELLIE, but that was easy enough to guess with a couple letters in place. Same for GERRY (50D: Elbridge __, governor famous for redistricting). I'm all "Seriously? A famous governor? I can think of a few, but none are named Elbridge. Oh wait, a minute … redistricting … hmm, gerrymandering …"

  • 15A: Of words (LEXICAL). This seems like a good word for a crossword puzzle, doesn't it?
  • 46A: "The Island of the Day Before" author (ECO). I know of Umberto ECO, but don't think I know this title.
  • 49A: Event with a queen (PAGEANT). This reminds me that it's been a while since I've watched my latest guilty pleasure, "Toddlers & Tiaras." Moving and working really does eat into the TV time, doesn't it?
  • 53A: Entre __ (NOUS). French! See also 5D: Here, in Haiti (ICI) and 46D: As a friend, in Marseilles (EN AMI).
  • 66A: "Listen to Your Heart" pop duo (ROXETTE). Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce … your earworm of the day.
  • 8D: Range along the Ring of Fire (ANDES). I thought about using a Johnny Cash video here (obviously), but honestly, the first thing I thought of was this kick-ass song that includes a reference to "Ring of Fire." Turn it up!

  • 12D: It barely gets beyond the infield (BLOOP). This is a baseball term (in case that wasn't obvious). I was trying to figure out how to describe it and it turns out I have a question: Is a BLOOP necessarily a pop-up? Joon?
  • 14D: __ con pollo (ARROZ). Spanish for "rice with chicken."
  • 26D: "The Handmaid's __": Atwood novel (TALE). Lo-o-ove this book. Read it in college and it might be time for a re-read, seeing as how that was a hundred years ago.
  • 56D: Far from titillating (TAME). Anyone else try LAME first?
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 18D: Science educator Bill (NYE).
  • 32D: Capek play (RUR).
  • 36D: Author Buchanan (EDNA).
  • 59D: Eyelid nuisance (STYE).
  • 61D: Japanese capital of yore (EDO).
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Everything Else 1A: Some graphic works (EROTICA); 8A: It often involves x's (ALGEBRA); 16A: One doing a lot of riding (NEEDLER); 19A: Phishing targets: Abbr. (SSN'S); 20A: Handbill (FLYER); 21A: Nothing special (SO-SO); 24A: Refillable candy (PEZ); 25A: Equilibrium (STASIS); 29A: 34-Down degree (NTH); 39A: Double-slash container (URL); 40A: Deteriorate slowly (ERODE); 44A: Black and __: two-beer drink (TAN); 45A: Pugilism venues (ARENAS); 55A: Tanager homes (NESTS); 56A: Impatient sounds (TSKS); 63A: Cape user (MATADOR); 64A: Ex claim (ALIMONY); 65A: Suffering terribly (IN AGONY); 1D: Horned game (ELKS); 2D: "Cheers" actor Roger (REES); 3D: Paddy animals (OXEN); 4D: Inside information (TIPS); 6D: Cajun entrée (CATFISH); 7D: __ in the conversation (A LULL); 9D: Wolf's activity (LEERING); 10D: Lux. neighbor (GER.); 11D: Breyers alternative (EDY'S); 13D: Conserve, in a way (REUSE); 22D: Display of links (SITE MAP); 23D: Really (AT HEART); 25D: Worry (STEW); 27D: __ puttanesca: with a spicy tomato sauce (ALLA); 28D: Avoid (SKIRT); 30D: Mezzo Marilyn (HORNE); 33D: Refinable rock (ORE); 34D: Like z: Abbr. (ULT.); 35D: When two hands meet? (NOON); 37D: Dates (SEES); 42D: With no end in sight (ON AND ON); 47D: Trig function (COTAN); 48D: "__ sight!" (OUTTA); 51D: Peruvian pronoun (ESO); 52D: How some stocks are sold (AT PAR); 54D: Woolly rug (SHAG); 57D: Recorded on film (SHOT); 58D: Key figure in epistemology (KANT); 62D: Quandary (FIX).


Pete said...

@PG - Yes, all BLOOPS are popups.

The EROTICA/LEXICAL/KEEPITUNDER.. stack led me to "mattress?, everyting in your underwear drawer?.." memories of my youth, had me wondering about the poor youth of today, who never had to hide such things, as the internet hides them for one.

Orange said...

TALK THROUGH ONE'S hat? Is that like talking out of your ass? I can't say the hat-through-talking phrase is familiar to me. Back in my corporate days, I did once have an executive VP tell me to keep what he had told me under my hat, and I was delighted to be on the receiving end of that phrase.

PG, I need to reread "Handmaid's Tale" too. I'm pretty sure it will seem less crazy-dystopian and more frighteningly realistic now than it did when it first came out.

VirginiaC said...

Talking through ones has is a phrase my parens used, long long ago so that wasn't a problem for me, but since when does the plural of elk have an S??

Anonymous said...

I did not care for this puzzle. OK theme, some decent misdirection, but too many foreign words, and what I consider to be unforgiveable, "foreign crosses." For example nous (and eco) v. enami; stasis v. alla.

I know that I play by a different set of rules than most, and I'll let you have a few foreign words per puzzle, but crossing them with other foreign words is a no-no.

Also, isn't "alimony" an antiquated term? I thought it was now called spousal support.

*David* said...

I started at the bottom with ROXETTE (had to start there) so got the theme immediately which helped, me move quicker through the puzzle. Still had a difficult time in the SW, was pretty certain about ECO and would that be NOUS or VOUS?

Got to love SILESIA, kind of like Bohemia a place you hear about but can't place on a map. ELKS AND REES in the NW were a bit difficult to fill in. I had never heard the phrase TALK THROUGH ONES HAT, there's usually one phrase in these types of puzzles that I don't recognize.

Anonymous said...

@VirginiaC - Collective nouns such as ELK have the plural ELKS when talking about different collection of ELKS. ELKS comprise 10 different species, each of which are game animals to those who take glee in killing things for no good reason.

Pete said...

This shouldn't be an addendum, but it is.

I found this to be a very nice puzzle, a theme with a purpose, lots of crunch to in, and the first and probably last instance in the world where KANT crosses ROXETTE in any context.

Well done Julian, good choice Rich.

Tuttle said...

I agree with Anon, ENAMI crossing NOUS is unforgivable in an English puzzle.

But STASIS crossing ALLA? Perfectly fine. STASIS is common English from medical Latin and ALLA is about the most common Romance word you'll hear as it's used so often in cuisine and music.

And ECO is a world famous author who does write in Italian but has had all of his works translated into English. It's not ECO that complicates that corner further, it's an odd abbrev for 'cotangent' (I always used CoT) and a piece of slang (OUTTA) along with the French cross that irritated the hell out of me.

Now about that ALLA; puttanesca means "in the style of whores"! I need to serve some with my famous Batons de Maquerioux ("pimp sticks"; pork involtini in a sherry sauce).

C said...

I liked the puzzle, good challenge to it and it put up more fight than a normal Thursday. I liked the theme as well, different and different is good.

I ran into the same moonlight-ing issue as @PG. Completely racked my brain trying to recall phrases that involved the moon and a hat which got me to a cow jumping over a moon and a cat playing a fiddle but no hat. The OTHER meaning of "moonlight" kicked in and the story has a happy ending as the solver and his hand painted volleyball were successfully rescued from the nursery rhyme deserted island that he had crashed landed onto and returned safely home to successfully solved puzzle land.

Brian said...

@ VirginiaC- The only time I've ever seen an S at the end of elk is when referring to the Elk lodge members.
This reminds me of a guy I know who hunts and thinks the plural of beer is beer.

Joon said...

i think i'd categorize BLOOPs and pop-ups separately. a bloop does indeed have to go up in the air, but it doesn't go high enough for a fielder to get under it before it lands, whereas a pop-up does.

as for foreign crossing words: unforgiveable, really? i'd agree that it's inelegant, but it's not like anybody cast an imperius curse here.

i liked this puzzle quite a lot. very clever theme. only thing that rubbed me the wrong way about it was WEAR MORE THAN ONE (HAT), which seems like it's not really its own phrase. yes, "hat" can metaphorically mean job or role, but you are not going to find wear more than one hat in an dictionary, even a dictionary of idioms. instead you'll find it as one of the definitions of hat itself.

John Wolfenden said...

Plenty to chew on for a Thursday, almost felt like a Friday. Loved:

"One doing a lot of riding" for NEEDLER
"Ex claim" for ALIMONY
"Wolf's activity" for LEERING

I liked learning about GERRYmandering, and I know I've heard TALK THROUGH ONE'S HAT but like Orange I much prefer KEEP IT UNDER YOUR HAT.

Tuttle, nice info about alla puttanesca. Considering what "putta" means it's funny to think that there are some many profanity-laden menus out there in Italian restaurants everywhere.

I don't think of TSKS as the sound you make when you're impatient. Anyone disagree?

Dennis the Menace said...

@John Wolfden - My mother used to TSK TSK me when she was impatient with my foolish antics.

Alexscott said...

I think of a bloop as a short pop-up, one that usually (but not always) falls in for a hit. High pop-ups are a lot easier to catch, as you have plenty of time to get under them. But a bloop can be caught, too. A seeing-eye ground ball, however, is a ground ball that helps vision-impaired people get around.

I liked this puzzle. I'm old enough to have heard the phrase "talk through one's hat," and I studied French in college so that I'd be able to do crosswords (and converse at court in St. Petersburg).

Rod Carew said...

A bloop is a weakly hit ball that just lands between the outfield and the infield as a hit. Hence the reference bloop single not a bloop out. A pop up is a hit that should be caught hence synonyms such as pop out or fly out. A pop up that is not caught would typically be an error.

Any questions on stealing home, I'm here for you.

John Wolfenden said...

Dennis, I guess it's a nitpick but it seems like there's a difference between impatience and disapproval.

Kurisu said...

I've never heard of talking through one's hat either. I think that "us kids" tend to substitute phrases with profanity for older phrases that didn't have them.

Didn't know SILESIA, HORNE, or EDNA. Lots of foreign words in the puzzle -- ENAMI, NOUS, ESO, ARROZ, ALLA, ICI...a few are all right but this is a bit too much I think.

I do like the 4 answers spanning the grid.

I don't understand ULT as "like z" -- does that stand for ultimate? I took a lot of math in college and I'm still not sure what this refers to.

CoffeeLvr said...

Nice to see the shout-out to Bill NYE; this was one of the few kid's shows I made an effort to schedule around, as I loved watching it with my son.

This solve seemed to go ON AND ON, but not to the point I was IN AGONY. Did not get the theme until the reveal, who could? Once I saw it with TALK THROUGH ONES, it really helped with the other two. Thought SILESIA was SIbErIA from the crosses, for a while. Took forever to find my typo at EbO, strictly a fat finger, but still hard to find on the next to the bottom row. However, my issues with solving the puzzle should not distract from the merits of the grid/clues. A lot to like here, but I will simply say I agree with many of the points noted above.

I don't think of CATFISH as particularly Cajun; wanted to fit etouffee in there as I had the F from FLYER right there.

REUSE is the best way to conserve.

CoffeeLvr said...

I think I was distracted with the need to get out of the house before it rains. My solving bungles should not detract from the merit of the puzzle.

HUTCH said...

Got most of the puzzle but 1.[ googled-a LOT] 2.[Osama bin laden was unarmed and shot dead! No apologies for one or two above.

HUTCH said...

Got most of the puzzle but 1.[ googled-a LOT] 2.[Osama bin laden was unarmed and shot dead! No apologies for one or two above.

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love baseball discussions. There is no official height def. for a pop-up, a bloop, a flyball, or a line drive, but I think you guys got it mostly right. A pop-up isn't always caught but is generally the highest of fly balls, it can be on the infield, to the outfield or foul. A pop-up can fall for a hit especially on a windy day, usually if no one gets a glove on it they'll give the batter a hit although if it falls at the fielders feet and could have been caught with an ordinary effort I've seen errors given. It was correctly pointed out that the most common reference to a bloop is "bloop hit" however if it is caught it becomes a blooper that almost dropped in for a hit. It is a softly hit low fly ball with a shallow arc. I'm getting to the age when I might need to get one of those "seeing eye ground balls".

tutu said...

Great puzzle! I love those that make me think versus the ones I just fill in a square. @P.G., If you haven't yet, Google Tom Hanks toddlers and tiaras. Too.darn.funny.

Anonymous said...

@PG - It's in this very second, and it's Jami Gertz who is the woman who "'couldn't spare a square". Just in case you haven't been able to sleep for the past several days.

Tuttle said...

"unforgiveable, really? i'd agree that it's inelegant, but it's not like anybody cast an imperius curse here."

I find no excuse for crossing two French words in an English puzzle and I will not renounce that opinion.

That is, by definition, unforgiving. Unforgiving of inelegance and bad form rather than heinous acts, sure, but unforgiving nonetheless.