10.02 Sun

October 2, 2011
Jim Leeds

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme: "Vintage Humor" — Wine-inspired puns. *hic*

Theme Entries:
  • 24A: Wearing a suit made of white-wine labels? (CHABLIS DRESSED).
  • 39A: Traditional time to bottle wine? (WHEN THE VAT LADY SINGS).
  • 66A: Present from a winery? (THE GIFT OF CAB).
  • 72A: Listing on a winery inventory? (SIXTEEN TUNS).
  • 75A: French wineries' regulations to assure quality? (CRUS' CONTROLS).
  • 100A: Reds handed down from winery founder? (THE ZINS OF OUR FATHERS).
  • 118A: Winery owner's autobiography? (ME AND MY CHATEAU).
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here. I had a long day today, so this might be an abbreviated post. We'll see how long I can stay awake. And no, I'm not drinking any wine.

OK, with a punny theme, there are going to be some entries that you love, and some that you don't love. I didn't love WHEN THE VAT LADY SINGS. It sounds funny, but I'm not sure it makes any sense. And CRUS' CONTROLS feels off, because I never see the base phrase, CRUISE CONTROL, as a plural. (A "cru" is a French vineyard, by the way.)

On the plus side, I thought THE GIFT OF CAB & ME AND MY CHATEAU were clever, even though it took me a while to figure out that the last one is a pun on ME AND MY SHADOW. And CHABLIS DRESSED is a fun take-off on SHABBILY DRESSED. I hope a couple of these struck your fancy.

  • 60A: Prefix with culture (API). Apiculture, which is the raising and care of bees. To paraphrase a line from Raiders of the Lost Ark: "Bees! Why'd it have to be bees?" My usual reaction when a bee flies too close to me.
  • 63A: Post-Thanksgiving Muzak fare (CAROL). I love this clue. They start the Christmas push earlier and earlier every year. Halloween too. I saw costumes and candy at Target in mid-August.
  • 64A: Neo- ending (PHYTE). The first rule of Phyte Club is don't put "phyte" in your crossword grid.
  • 91A: "Griffin & __": 1991 best-seller (SABINE). Tough one for me. Never heard of it, so let's check Wikipedia: "Griffin and Sabine is an epistolary novel by Nick Bantock. It is the first novel in The Griffin and Sabine Trilogy and was a bestseller in 1991. The story is told through a series of removable letters and postcards between the two main characters and is intended for an adult audience, as some sources describe the artwork as disturbing." So you can actually remove the letters and postcards from the book? I find this confusing, so let's move on...
  • 3D: Relaxed, upscale restaurant (BRASSERIE). If you move the "I" backwards two places, it spells BRASSIERE. Interesting.
  • 18D: Where the Styx flows (HADES). The Styx flows on this blog too.

    Sorry for the short post. I'll be back with the usual amount of nonsense next Sunday.


        Paul Radelat said...

        Once I got into the "vintage" pun mode, I found this puzzle to be rather easy for a Sunday morning. Strictly speaking, I don't think the river Styx flows through Hades. Rather is is a border that must be crossed in order to enter Hades.

        Orange said...

        Phyte Club! Well played, Doug.

        Yes, the "Griffin & Sabine" books were sort of like pop-up books with all the pouch-and-envelope-and-letter-and-postcard action. I think it'd be fun to find someone with the full set of books and mix up all the removable pieces, putting everything in the wrong place.

        CoffeeLvr said...

        Just got to this puzzle, and it was just okay. @Doug, thanks for resolving my mental block on Me and My Shadow. Even though I solved the squares in the grid, I couldn't quite get the pun; I was in snit because I knew I know it.

        I much prefer to solve the Sunday LAT on paper; it runs in "The Star Magazine," a local supplement to the Sunday Kansas City Star. But I no longer subscribe and I wasn't sufficiently ENERGIZED to get out of the house and fetch it. For some reason, I cannot print from the LAT Puzzles & Games page. I find doing a 21x21 grid on that interface a real struggle. This is a long way around to say I don't know how much of this frustration has colored my view of the puzzle itself.

        I really must memorize the full Greek alphabet in order - I knew 32A had to be chI, PhI, or PSI, but not which. Of course, I started with chI.

        As I look back over the grid now, it looks better and better. The interface and my own fatigue must be the source of my jaundiced experience. Thanks, @Doug and Mr. Leeds.

        Anonymous said...

        The Romanian Rhapsodies author's name was Enescu, not Enesco, which didn't help.