06.23 Thu

June 23, 2011
Bill Thompson

Theme: "Don't worry dear, I'm sure it's just a big ape" — The letter string YETI is hidden in each theme answer.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: When to say night-night (BEDDY-BYE TIME).
  • 28A: Ohio Stadium purchase (BUCKEYE TICKETS).
  • 42A: Advance sale teaser line (NOT YET IN STORES).
  • 47A: Dubious Himalayan headlineóand phenomenon in 20-, 28- and 42-Across (YETI SIGHTING).
Good Thursday morning, everybody. Before we get started, I just want to put in another plug for Lollapuzzoola 4, which will take place in New York on Saturday, August 6. It's an annual tournament that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and is sillier and wackier than your typical crossword puzzle tournament (which, admittedly, doesn't take much). I've heard rumors that Rex Parker and Doug Peterson and even Andrea Carla Michaels (!) will be there. (Amy: Are you coming this year?) You should definitely pop right over to the registration page and sign yourself up. Now for the puzzle.

Looks like we're just barreling through this week with relatively uninspired theme concepts executed solidly. The ramp up of the degree of difficulty seems to be progressing smoothly as well. Today we're seeing less crosswordese (good) and some trickier cluing (also good). I have a feeling some people are not going to be particularly happy about BUCKEYE TICKETS as a theme answer. It's obviously not a common phrase, but it sure looks legit to me. They're pretty into football in Ohio, so I can imagine this phrase being used. My biggest beef with the phrase is that it starts with BUCK and not HAWK. But that U makes UPPITY possible, which is actually one of my favorite words in the grid, so maybe I'll get over it.

  • 1A: Improvise at the jazz club (VAMP). Read this clue and had to move right along. Wanted RIFF, which obviously wasn't going to work with the crosses, and couldn't get my brain to think of anything else.
  • 9A: Oncle's spouse (TANTE). French! (See also NEUF (64A: Pont __: Paris bridge)).
  • 14A: River to the Fulda (EDER). One of these days I swear to God I'm gonna learn my rivers.
  • 24A: Author of the Yiddish memoir "And the World Remained Silent" (WIESEL). We usually see his first name (ELIE) in the grid, which as I'm sure you know is pretty standard crosswordese.
  • 35A: Chinese tea (CHA). Huh? This is a new one on me.
  • 37A: Georgia of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (ENGEL). She played Ted Baxter's girlfriend, Georgette, who was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, to put it mildly.

  • 38A: "Cinque, dieci, venti, trenta" in "The Marriage of Figaro," e.g. (DUET). You are forgiven for plopping in ARIA without really thinking.
  • 54A: Peer in a box (JUROR). Anytime I see a "___ in a box" phrase, I can only think of Justin Timberlake on SNL. I would tell you why, but it would be totally inappropriate. You can Google it if your interested.
  • 33D: Magician's secret cohort (PLANT). This is the kind of late-week tricky cluing I was talking about. Think of all the various ways you can clue PLANT. This one is great.
  • 43D: He has a cello named Petunia (YO-YO MA). Awwww.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 23A: Former Mideast org. (UAR).
  • 58A: Golfer Aoki (ISAO).
  • 61A: Sommelier's prefix (OENO-).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 5A: Butt (in) (HORN); 15A: Its French name means "high wood" (OBOE); 16A: Sun Valley locale (IDAHO); 17A: Move, briefly (RELO); 18A: Monument Valley sight (MESA); 19A: Many a Justin Bieber fan (TWEEN); 33A: Swiss Guard charges (POPES); 34A: Quick (AGILE); 36A: Prunes (LOPS); 39A: Yellowfin tuna (AHI); 40A: Estate home (MANOR); 41A: Sounds content (PURRS); 45A: "I love what you do for me" automaker (TOYOTA); 46A: Big-house link (AS A); 57A: Relinquish (CEDE); 59A: Japanese art genre (ANIME); 60A: Oregon Trail team (OXEN); 62A: Lose it (GO MAD); 63A: Distance swimmer Diana (NYAD); 1D: 3-Down, e.g. (VERB); 2D: "Zip-__-Doo-Dah" (A-DEE); 3D: Blend (MELD); 4D: Yields (PRODUCES); 5D: Man of La Mancha (HOMBRE); 6D: Mind (OBEY); 7D: See 12-Down (ROSE); 8D: Bourbon order (NEAT); 9D: They may be tufted (TITMICE); 10D: Magazine that highlights Clio winners (ADWEEK); 11D: "Sorry, laddie" ("NAE"); 12D: With 7-Down, Bette Midler classic (THE); 13D: Quite a span (EON); 21D: Goes on and on (YAKS); 22D: Volunteer's offer (I WILL); 25D: Like an encrypted transmission, in theory (SECURE); 26D: Old anesthetics (ETHERS); 27D: Future J.D.s' exams (LSAT'S); 28D: Melodramatic cry (BOO-HOO); 29D: Haughty (UPPITY); 30D: Greek New Ager (YANNI); 31D: Goad (EGG ON); 32D: Feature of some fancy cakes (TIERS); 37D: Really worry (EAT AT); 38D: Term (DURATION); 40D: Like some mail (METERED); 41D: Sumptuous (POSH); 44D: Remnant (TAG END); 48D: Tiny trash can, e.g. (ICON); 49D: Hot (SEXY); 50D: Thought (IDEA); 51D: "Mm-hmm" ("I SEE"); 52D: Half a sitcom sign-off (NANU); 53D: Flub (GOOF); 54D: Spree (JAG); 55D: The loneliest numero? (UNO); 56D: Drum edge (RIM).


Gareth Bain said...

Me, i jammed scat at 1A. Pretty sure bet in a crossword i thought!

Anonymous said...

I got stuck for the longest time on 46A ("Big-house link"). I had the "s" in the middle, and kept wanting to put in "ass", which is a phrase I've certainly used before, but could not imagine would be in the puzzle. Once I was able to let that go, that quadrant became much easier to finish.

Conrad said...

I woke up with a little hangover today, so when I started this puzzle nothing was making sense. It was like everything was in Russian or something. I came back to it later, after I'd regained some semblance of consciousness, and everything flowed smoothly. Be warned: whiskey is the nemesis of intelligence.

@PuzzleGirl - CHA is the Mandarin Chinese word for "tea". Either green (lu CHA), black (hong CHA) or oolong (oolong CHA).

@Gareth - I know, right? I was sure scat was a sure thing; it made that top-left corner impossible.

Anonymous said...

Georgette might not have been the sharpest knife in the drawer, but she was the sharper knife in the relationship.

Sticking with SHILL instead of PLANT @33D slowed me down quite a bit.

I tried "GAME-USED MEMORIABILIA SIGNED BY TERRELLE PRYOR" for way too long @28A. Did me in just as it did him in.

hazel said...

VAMP would NOT go in, even when it was the only possible sol'n. Sonny and Cher introduced that word to my vocabulary and I knew of no other usages. She was a scamp, a camp, a bit of a tramp. she was a V- A -M- P, VAMP.

Theme struck me as odd, not necessarily in a bad way, but just odd. Don't think I've heard BOOHOO cried melodramatically, sarcastically maybe. had YOOHOO at first.

cw stewart said...

I liked this theme because it was satisfying "sighting" a yeti in each of the entries. Lots of good fill, too.

C said...

Nice difficulty bite for a Thursday puzzle. I had a massive struggle at the HOMBRE/HORN/OBOE/MESA section. Filling that section in took as long as the rest of the puzzle for me. Sometimes, my brain just wants to make things harder than they actually are.

Rube said...

I only knew VAMP to mean a "seductive woman". Just googled it and found 4 other meanings, including "improvisation". That's what makes a good puzzle.

Then again, Diana NYAD seems awfully obscure -- 'tho easily gettable from crosses.

Re TITMOUSE, I've always wondered why it's name. I quote: "The word titmouse descends from the Old English terms, tit (any small animal or object) and mase (small bird), essentially meaning one small, small bird." [From 1000birds.com]

A most enjoyable Thursday puzzle despite having my most hated xwordese, EATAT.

Anoa Bob said...

CHA at 35A is also green tea in Japan, although they use the honorific "o" in front (they use it in front of almost everything) giving "ocha" (constructor alert).

Isn't there just one "ether" (ETHERS, 26D)? I'm trying to imagine how the plural could be used in a sentence.

I thought 9A "Oncle's spouse" would be "femme" and that TANTE would be "m/pere's" sister.

CP said...

Nicely constructed. Loved this puzzle!! Great YETI Theme, filler, etc...made me work just enough. Wrestled with VAMP, VERB corner, but worked it out. Perfect Thursday fare!! Who could forget Georgia Engel. She was also on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Anonymous said...

I doth protest - VAMP? That is not improvising - improvising is jamming. Really threw me for a loop. Got the rest of it relatively easy.

Lex I. Con said...

From dictionary.com:

VAMP – verb - (Jazz) to improvise an accompaniment, tune, etc.

Steve said...

@Anon 7:12 "GAME-USED ..." Hilarious. COTW (comment of the week) for me :)

Never heard of "HORN IN" and could not see hOmBRE for ages, then it fell into place - HOM was my last fill.

Now - OBOE - let's talk about this one. I went through BOIS, HAUTE, then started thinking about different kinds of wood in French, then I got the BOE from crosses and realized that it had to be OBOE. OBOE does not "mean" high wood in French, it's a close-but-not-quite homophone for HAUTE BOIS in French. I appreciate the desire to clue a common crossword fill differently, but I think this missed the mark.

Other than that - great Thursday, had me scratching my head all the way through. Very much liked the theme.

@Conrad - I hope you got "Bourbon order" without wincing too much :)

Tuttle said...

Ack. I put in the slightly better known Oder, which forms most of the border between Germany and Poland, instead of the tiny tributary of a tributary in the ass end of Westphalia that is the river EDER.

Anoa Bob; ether is an entire class of organic compounds. There are many, many ETHERS. The old anesthetic was usually diethyl ether. Polyethelene ether is still found in a whole host of products from skin creams to antifreeze.

Steve said...

@Tuttle - isn't there a bigger EDER in the Ruhr Valley? (I'm just assuming the Eder Dam of WWII infamy was damming the Eder river?)

CoffeeLvr said...

I had never seen TAG END before, but it was easy enough to suss out with the crosses, and the END part made complete sense to me.

Like the cluing of "Night, night" BEDDYBYE.

It took me a while to piece together VAMP, too, in part because I was looking for a synonym for MELD, not a part of speech, for VERB.

Good enough for a Thursday.

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

DNK that YOYOMA had named his cello and find it hilarious to see such a reknowned artist (in a pretty serious field I might add) should have such a sense of humor. Looked it up and found the following answer as to why:

--->I was doing a class in Salt Lake City, and a high school student asked if I had a nickname for my cello. I said, "No, but if I play for you, will you name it?" She chose Petunia, and it stuck.<---

I bet that classmate feels pretty special these days!

About average for a Thursday. Anon @ 7:12...totally agree with you about the IQ level of the two. But what a perfect (and fun to watch) couple!
TAGEND seems more the tail/conclusion of something then a remanant.

chefwen said...

@Dave In Bend - That YOYOMA story was adorable.

@PG - Tiberlake video had me in tears, I was laughing that hard.

Thought this was a great Thursday puzzle, only two write-overs shot before NEAT with the Bourbon order and snooty before UPPITY.

Thank you Mr. Thompson for a fun puzzle and thank you Puzzle Girl for a great laugh!

Anonymous said...

In jazz to improvise is to scat, riff, or jam. Vamping is improvisation of a sort, but is used to describe more of a filler of time rather than an artistic improv. If you ask the piano player to "vamp" you are asking him to just noodle around until every one is ready to go.

mac said...

Yes, I wanted scat as well, then thought jam was with a b....

Nyad? Really? She sounds like a nymph or a mermaid.

Nice Thursday, though. Forgot to look for the theme, had to come here it was about Yeti sightings.