06.29 Wed

June 29, 2011
Jack McInturff

Theme: GEE WHIZ! — The first word of each theme answer can follow the letter G in a familiar phrase.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Fit perfectly (SUIT TO A TEE).
  • 23A: *Sexy beachwear (STRING BIKINI).
  • 50A: *Behavior made automatic from frequent repetition (FORCE OF HABIT).
  • 62A: *Superhero nickname (MAN OF STEEL).
  • 39A: "Gosh!" (or, based on the starts of starred answers, one who is expert at solving this puzzle's theme?) ("GEE WHIZ!").
I really flew through this one. I think it was easier for me than either Monday or Tuesday this week. I didn't catch onto the theme right away because the first two theme answers I got were FORCE OF HABIT and MAN OF STEEL. So I thought the theme was going to have to do with [something] OF [something]. But then I got to GEE WHIZ and it became clear. The theme is cute, with GEE WHIZ smack-dab in the middle and colorful theme phrases (except for SUIT TO A TEE, which is nothing to write home about). Seems like an awful lot of four-letter-starting-with-A entries today: AZOV, AMIS, ANON, ARON, ANEW, AROO, AM SO, AEON. Not sure how I feel about that. I also kind of wish that we didn't have both MR. ED and MR. HYDE in the grid, or at least to have them symmetrical so it looks like the duplication was done on purpose.

But there are some really nice entries, and the long downs are very nice. I like to look at them in symmetrical pairs (not sure what my deal is with symmetry, but for some reason it's important today): ONE FINE DAYNOSE AROUND / NABOKOVENCORES … even YERBAWORMS. Seems like there should be a type of WORM called a YERBA, doesn't it?

  • 1A: Sea of __: Black Sea arm (AZOV). Of all the four-letter-starts-with-A entries, this is definitely the most interesting. I guess a Z will just do that.
  • 19A: Veggie that may be black (BEAN). Are BEANs really veggies? Hmmm.
  • 26A: White Sox star who played in five decades (1949-1980) (MIÑOSO). The funny thing is that I was pretty sure I knew the name "Minnie MIÑOSO," only I was pronouncing it without the tilde and figured I was confused with Minnie the Moocher. In any case, I had no idea MIÑOSO was a baseball player. Fun facts: MIÑOSO is one of just two players in Major League history to play in five separate decades and his full name is Saturnino Orestes Armas Miñoso Arrieta. So now you know.
  • 31A: "A horse is a horse" horse (MR. ED). I swear to God with the RED in place I was all, "FRED? Is there a horse named FRED I should know?"
  • 66A: Gal who gets what she wants (LOLA). Wow. Didn't know this one At All. I thought maybe this was referring to lyrics from the Kinks song, but no. "Whatever Lola Wants" is a song from the musical "Damn Yankees." Take a listen:

  • 45D: Former Jewish settlements (SHTETLS). If you're not familiar with this word, you should try to file it away somewhere. It doesn't come up often, but if you do crosswords regularly, you will certainly see it again.
  • 53D: Vietnam's capital (HANOI). I much prefer to clue for HANOI than the typical "Red River city," which I always think is going to be FARGO and never is.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 5A: Parisian pals (AMIS).
  • 25D: Don Juan's mother (INEZ).
  • 58D: Long, long time (AEON).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 9A: Light bite (NOSH); 13A: In-box note, perhaps (MEMO); 14A: Like candy near the register, maybe (MINTY); 16A: Hostile to (ANTI); 20A: Bone: Pref. (OSTEO-); 21A: Golda of Israel (MEIR); 22A: "The Wizard __": comic strip (OF ID); 29A: Shortly (ANON); 30A: Graceland middle name (ARON); 35A: Partner of each (EVERY); 38A: Seaman's "Help!" (SOS); 41A: __ volente: God willing (DEO); 42A: Prepare to be knighted (KNEEL); 44A: Composer Bartók (BELA); 45A: German coal region (SAAR); 46A: Once again (ANEW); 48A: Literary alter ego (MR. HYDE); 55A: Buck suffix (-AROO); 56A: Way to go (ROAD); 57A: Rosary units (BEADS); 61A: Unfocused photo, e.g. (BLUR); 64A: Single (LONE); 65A: Hill on Vail (SLOPE); 67A: Loose things to tie up (ENDS); 68A: Location (SITE); 69A: Barbershop sound (SNIP); 1D: Schoolyard retort (AM SO); 2D: Olympian bigwig (ZEUS); 3D: Cut out (OMIT); 4D: Decides via ballot (VOTES ON); 5D: Latin lover's word (AMO); 6D: Home of the Heat (MIAMI); 7D: One __: unlikely chance (IN TEN); 8D: "Shrek!" author William (STEIG); 9D: "Lolita" author (NABOKOV); 10D: Clooney/Pfeiffer comedy (ONE FINE DAY); 11D: Washday challenge (STAIN); 12D: Delhi language (HINDI); 15D: __ Buena, town that became San Francisco (YERBA); 18D: Little tykes (TOTS); 24D: "City of Seven Hills" (ROME); 26D: Halloween cover-up (MASK); 27D: Press (IRON); 28D: Act like a snoop (NOSE AROUND); 32D: Confederate (REB); 33D: Lady in the flock (EWE); 34D: UPS rival (DHL); 36D: Enjoy the library (READ); 37D: Time past (YORE); 39D: Elated feeling (GLEE); 40D: Foot in a poem (IAMB); 43D: Extras for a cheering crowd (ENCORES); 47D: Squirmy bait (WORMS); 49D: Barbecue fare (RIBS); 50D: Aesop work (FABLE); 51D: Sweater synthetic (ORLON); 52D: Stable newborns (FOALS); 54D: Take as one's own (ADOPT); 59D: Bagels and lox seller (DELI); 60D: Blow with a palm (SLAP); 63D: ATM charge (FEE).


Orange said...

Minnie MINOSO! He lives a few blocks away from me, in my cousin's building (which is a few blocks away from Wrigley Field, which is NOT where he played!). They have adjacent parking spots. He is mighty spry for a guy in his 80s.

Sfingi said...

Hubster saw MINOSO play in The City. Hubster's father assumed Minnie stood for Dominic. Guess not.

The puzzle was easy, easier than Mon. or Tues., but I still don't get the theme. Anyone?

SHTETLs are featured in 20th century Yiddish stories. Also in the musical, Fiddler of the Roof, which takes place in one.

Is that a favorite doggy's nose? How cute.

Sfingi said...

Oop - just got it. G-SUIT, G-STRING, G-FORCE, G-MAN.

Also liked Encore cross ANEW.

Anonymous said...

@Sfingi - G-Suit, G-String, G-Force, G-Man. Points off for the G in G-Suit and G-Force being the same G, i.e. Gravity. Otherwise, kind of what PG said. No, exactly what PG said.

Anon 6:49 said...

@Sfingi - Oops, kind of what you just said! No, exactly what you just said.

Nighthawk said...

Had similar experience to @PG. Faster than Mon or Tues and smooth as buttah. (Great clip of the incomparable Sarah Vaughn-Thanks @PG! I thought first of The Kinks, but like Dr. John said, it musta been the wrong song).

Not too much else to say. AZOV took some crosses and OMIT was the last to fall after correcting OSsEO.

What's with the ORLON frequency? No love for Dacron? Zytel? Must have been on the MR ED freq when initially thought 52D would be cOltS, but if a horse is a horse, of course FOALS are foals, WilBUUURR!

Didn't see the theme until I came here and read @PG's write up, but really not needed for the solve. Thought it had something to do with attire (SUIT, BIKINI (my fave of today's puz), HABIT) but that theory dashed by the MAN OF STEEL, though thought IRON MASK fit nicely. Liked the G theme though.

For those getting ready to travel, via con dios and be safe.

Tuttle said...

Yow. Very quick. Only niggling nits.

AMIS crossing AMO? That's like "leibe" crossing "lovers".

Speaking of German, the SAAR is a river. The area is the "Saarland", but it is often shortened. It is a mineral rich area, but coal mining in Germany is usually associated with the Ruhr Region in Westphalia (around Dortmund). In fact, at the moment there are eight working coal mines in Germany: Seven in Westphalia and one in Saarland.

Why do I know this? My favorite football team in the world is FC Schalke 04 from the Westphalian city of Gelsenkirchen. Their nickname is "Die Knappen", an archaic word for "coal miners".

KJGooster said...

Agree that this was easier than Mon/Tues.

There was a very similar theme in the NYT earlier this year, although the "G" was included in the theme answers:


That puzzle also had GEEWHIZ right in the center, clued as "Beaver Cleaver expletive ... or what you might need to be to answer 18-, 23-, 51- and 60-Across?"

Mokus said...

Easier than Mon/Tue but still enjoyable. LOLA will always make me smile because of Gwen Verdon's performance in Damn Yankees. My favorite clue is 43D which, of course, had me thinking of movie extras. Did the downs in the middle and then wondered what an MRED was, half of a valentine M&M? PG, thanks for explaining the theme since I'm no "expert."

Anonymous said...

So who's correct?

Wikipedia (with two 'A's)
Elvis Aaron Presley

Puzzle Constructors (1 'A'):
Elvis Aron Presley

KJGooster said...

@Anon 10:23: Both!

From Wikipedia:

The correct spelling of his middle name has long been a matter of debate. The physician who delivered him wrote "Elvis Aaron Presley" in his ledger.[353] The state-issued birth certificate reads "Elvis Aron Presley". The name was chosen after the Presleys' friend and fellow congregation member Aaron Kennedy, though a single-A spelling was probably intended by Presley's parents in order to parallel the middle name of Presley's stillborn brother, Jesse Garon.[138] It reads Aron on most official documents produced during his lifetime, including his high school diploma, RCA record contract, and marriage license, and this was generally taken to be the proper spelling.[354] In 1966, Presley expressed the desire to his father that the more traditional biblical rendering, Aaron, be used henceforth, "especially on legal documents."[353] Five years later, the Jaycees citation honoring him as one of the country's Outstanding Young Men used Aaron. Late in his life, he sought to officially change the spelling to Aaron and discovered that state records already listed it that way. Knowing his wishes for his middle name, Aaron is the spelling his father chose for Presley's tombstone, and it is the spelling his estate has designated as official.[354]

C said...

Pretty easy puzzle today, easier than M/T puzzle, IMO.

For some reason, my mind went straight to the Lola from "Damn Yankees", a musical I have never seen and only know about from cross words. I guess my mind will always drift towards sports (Yankees) over *song spoiler alert* cross dressers */song spoiler alert*

CP said...

MINTY was best one today (wasn't cheap gummy stale sweet or chewy ) . Had Ruhr instaed of SAAR at first. Somehow remembered YERBA.
Let's see what tomorrow brings....

Rube said...

Like others, found this easier than M/T. Had one writeover, MINTY/MINTs. Wanted RUHR when I read the clue, but already had _AAR so SAAR it was. Still, doubted it, and reading @Tuttle's discussion, feel better about my inclination.

SHTETLS is my WOTD, but added INEZ, the oft forgotten Mother of Don Juan, to my XWordese list. Good puzzle, IMO.

Alexscott said...

Good puzzle, smoothest one this week, though I couldn't figure out what a G-suit was until reading one of the comments above.

And to answer your question, PG, beans are not veggies. They're fruit . . . the musical fruit. Everyone knows that.

Puzzle Mom said...

I've never heard Minnie's name pronounced with an ñ, and I don't recall ever having seen it written, so that's a new one on me. Nice catch, PG.

Easy puzzle today, though I'll confess to "mints" and that I never even looked at "Serba" (aka Yerba) because it was all filled in with the crosses.

I'll also confess, I have no idea what that pendant represents. Do tell.

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

Fairly easy solve but thought it pretty clever.
PG you have always struck me as pretty "sportsy".....ESPECIALLY when it comes to wrestling. I'd highly recommend the Damn Yankees movie with Tab Hunter as Joe Hardy who is enticed by a (pre My Favorite Martian) Ray Walston as the devil. Basically, in a life-pact to come back as a young player to rescue his lowly Washington Senators. Walston is fantastic as beelzebub. It used to come on annualy during the summer (ala Wizard of Oz) and somehow my buddies and I who were definite baseball fans actually would make a point of watching a (gasp) musical. It is truly fun watching!

Anonymous said...

Always a pleasure to hear Sarah Vaughn, I also enjoyed trying to identify all the people in the various pictures that flashed by.