10.06 Thu

October 6, 2011
Peter A. Collins

Theme: Surprise Elements — Elements hidden inside of theme answers.

Theme Entries:
  • 18A: Health enhancer, so it's said (APPLE A DAY).
  • 20A: It "is no problem. You just have to live long enough": Groucho Marx (GETTING OLDER).
  • 51A: "A Moon for the Misbegotten" playwright (EUGENE O'NEILL).
  • 56A: Longshoremen's aids (CARGO NETS).
  • 37A: Unexpected twist (and a hint to what's hidden inside 18-, 20-, 51-, and 56-Across) (SURPRISE ELEMENT).
Hey, puzzle fans. Doug here, filling in on a Thursday. PuzzleGirl is taking a well-deserved day off. Well, a day off from the blog. She's still got to be at work for eight hours. And then she'll come home and handle a myriad of household and PuzzleKid-related chores. What a slacker.

Peter A. Collins brings us a scientific theme today. I hope you were able to uncover all the elements. Two metals (lead & gold) on top and two nobles gases (neon & argon) on the bottom. I don't think there's any significance to those pairings, but I could be missing something. Mr. Collins is fond of putting easter eggs into his puzzles. Maybe he's got the chemical formula for Clamato running diagonally through the grid.

I appreciate the fact that every word in each theme entry is part of a hidden element. Hiding TIN in SET IN STONE wouldn't be as cool, because STONE doesn't contribute to the hidden word.

Before we get to the bullets, I want to give a huge shout-out to fellow cruciverbalist Joon Pahk. Joon won his third Jeopardy! match on Wednesday, and it was a nail-biter. Be sure to tune in Thursday. Joon rocks!

  • 6A: Slip a Mickey (DRUG). A Mickey Finn is an alcoholic drink laced with a drug that'll knock you unconscious. Wikipedia tells me that it's likely named for a notorious Chicago bartender, Michael "Mickey" Finn, who was accused of using knockout drops to incapacitate and rob some of his customers.
  • 22A: Pickup facilitator (LINE). At a singles bar. For the record, "Wanna see this crossword I made?" has proven to be a horrible pickup line.
  • 60A: Net reading (BLOG). I typed EMAG here first, and I was happy it was wrong, because BLOG is a much better answer. Mere seconds later...EMAG appeared at 1-Down. With the same clue! The life of a crossword blogger is never boring. 
  • 2A: "Writing on the wall" word (MENE). The phrase "the writing on the wall" originates in the book of Daniel. A disembodied hand appeared and wrote on the palace wall: "Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin," foretelling the demise of the Babylonian Empire. Hmmm, I always thought it was ""Klaatu, barada, nikto."
  • 3D: Michigan's Cereal City (BATTLE CREEK). Cool entry. That's where Kellogg's is headquartered. Do you think the whole city smells like Pop-Tarts?
  • 44D: French onion soup topping (CHEESE). Remember when they changed the name to "Freedom onion soup"? And forced chefs to make it with All-American American cheese slices.
  • 52D: Gov't. train wreck investigators (NTSB). National Transportation Safety Board. Yep, nothing funny to say about that.
  • 56D: "CSI: NY" airer (CBS). You know, I've never seen a single episode of any of the various CSI incarnations. But I have seen a lot of episodes of "Bewitched." (I had to figure out some way to use this Elizabeth Montgomery picture again.)
    I'm sure you'll all be happy to know that PuzzleGirl will be back tomorrow. Have a good one.

    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 34A: 1965 NCAA tennis champ (ASHE).
    • 47A: Bit of code (DAH).
    • 61A: "Tiger in your tank" company (ESSO).
    • 10D: Pre-Communism leader (CZAR).
    • 19D: Slippery swimmer (EEL).
    • 39D: Dawn goddess (EOS).
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    Everything - 1A: Smoldering bit (EMBER); 6A: Slip a Mickey (DRUG); 10A: It may have all the answers (CRIB); 14A: Stiller's partner (MEARA); 15A: High rollers' destination (RENO); 16A: Half of 10? (ZERO); 17A: Speed skater Apolo __ Ohno (ANTON); 18A: Health enhancer, so it's said (APPLE A DAY); 20A: It "is no problem. You just have to live long enough": Groucho Marx (GETTING OLDER); 22A: Pickup facilitator (LINE); 23A: "Friendly skies" co. (UAL); 24A: __ center (REC); 27A: PC time meas. (MSEC); 29A: Performed, in a way (SANG); 32A: Band that performed "Whip It" (DEVO); 33A: Bars in stores (UPC); 34A: 1965 NCAA tennis champ (ASHE); 35A: Aaron's team for 21 seasons (BRAVES); 37A: Unexpected twist (and a hint to what's hidden inside 18-, 20-, 51- and 56-Across) (SURPRISE ELEMENT); 40A: Make (CREATE); 41A: Gloom mate (DOOM); 42A: Rural stretch (LEA); 43A: "... two fives for __?" (A TEN); 44A: Skin malady, perhaps (CYST); 45A: What crews use (OARS); 46A: Expression of disappointment (TSK); 47A: Bit of code (DAH); 49A: Hair care purchase (TINT); 51A: "A Moon for the Misbegotten" playwright (EUGENE O'NEILL); 56A: Longshoremen's aids (CARGO NETS); 59A: Baggy (LOOSE); 60A: Net reading (BLOG); 61A: "Tiger in your tank" company (ESSO); 62A: Ban's predecessor at the U.N. (ANNAN); 63A: Bastes, e.g. (SEWS); 64A: Attic constructions (WEBS); 65A: Bridge seats (WESTS); 1D: Net reading (E-MAG); 2D: "Writing on the wall" word (MENE); 3D: Michigan's Cereal City (BATTLE CREEK); 4D: Steamy (EROTIC); 5D: Arrested (RAN IN); 6D: Bore (DRAG); 7D: Bank takeback, briefly (REPO); 8D: Deprive of juice? (UNPLUG); 9D: Israel's Meir (GOLDA); 10D: Pre-Communism leader (CZAR); 11D: Thing to stop on (RED); 12D: Savings for later yrs. (IRA); 13D: When repeated with "oh" in between, "Wow!" (BOY); 19D: Slippery swimmer (EEL); 21D: Mythical beast, to locals (NESSIE); 24D: Epiphanies (REVELATIONS); 25D: Score-tying shot (EVENER); 26D: Olympics broadcaster Bob (COSTAS); 27D: Mideast capital (MUSCAT); 28D: Last lap efforts (SPURTS); 30D: Spa sounds (AHS); 31D: Indigent (NEEDY); 32D: Lake creator (DAM); 34D: Interior decorator's concern (ART); 35D: Juiced (BLOTTO); 36D: Sleep acronym (REM); 38D: Cooking utensil (PAN); 39D: Dawn goddess (EOS); 44D: French onion soup topping (CHEESE); 45D: Numbers after nine, often (ONE ONE); 47D: Sam & Dave, e.g. (DUO); 48D: Nixon's first veep (AGNEW); 50D: Union acquisition? (INLAW); 51D: Vandalizes, in a way (EGGS); 52D: Gov't. train wreck investigators (NTSB); 53D: Those, to Pedro (ESOS); 54D: Future atty.'s hurdle (LSAT); 55D: Eye part (LENS); 56D: "CSI: NY" airer (CBS); 57D: Microbrewery buy (ALE); 58D: Altercation (ROW).


    Sfingi said...

    A lotta work for a meh theme. If all the elements were of a type,well, maybe.

    Had SURPRISE Endings and it made no sense. Googled for COSTAS and NTSB, and saw the theme.

    Is BAN his first or last name? If his first, the return should have been Kofi, not ANNAN.

    Thought to myself, tennis - is it going to be ASHE, no matter what? Google 1965 NVSS champ and got JDMorgan. I never understand these sports' categories. I'll just fill in ORR, OTT and ASHE. Or, MR ASHE or whatever makes it fit.

    Gareth Bain said...

    Sfingi: Koreans, like Pakistanis write their names the opposite way to us.

    Very clever theme revealer! Lots of possible answers, could even have been a Sunday? Enjoyed the puzzle a lot more than Mr Collins last NYT outing

    studying meat hygiene today: "Can i rod your weasand?" a far worse pick-up line on so many levels.

    Matthew said...

    Nice puzzle, and good write-up. On the bad pick-up lines topic -- as a lawyer, I have never used "hey, wanna see my briefs?", but I don't imagine it would be any more successful than the others already mentioned.

    Anonymous said...

    Go Joon-we'll all be rooting for you

    VirginiaC said...

    Am I still asleep or is 6D in the wrong tense. "Bore" means "drag"? Thought it should be drug, then the same word would be coming off the same D which would have been cool.

    And to get picky, I think the soup topper is actually a large crouton with cheese.

    For some reason, I did not like this puzzle but managed tomslog through, seemed to take forever!

    Anonymous said...

    @VirginiaC - "Bore" and "drag" are both nouns that can describe someone who's dull & tedious.

    Ron Worden said...

    Todays puzzle was enjoyable and made me think a little bit. Thanks to Doug for a great write-up. I had a chuckle or two over the french onion soup and bewitched references. Had to go to you tube to see Devo just for another chuckle or two. Lots of props to Joon for a great run on Jeapordy keep it going and make us all proud.

    *David* said...

    Pretty easy puzzle, no? Didn't feel very Thursdayish to me. How many people put in TSAR? The long downs were quite easy which is what broke this puzzle open.

    Marc said...

    63A Bastes = Sews? That one was new to me. Also, since when do high rollers go to Reno? Did Vegas shut down?

    Dotty said...

    Thought the 'writing on the wall' clue was beyond obtuse. And I couldn't remember if Apolo Ohno's middle name was Aston, Anton or Alton! Fun puzzle!

    KJGooster said...

    Didn't really like SURPRISE ELEMENT as the theme revealer, since the phrase is "Element of surprise," but OK.

    @Sfingi: JD Morgan was the tennis coach at UCLA, which won the team championship in 1965. Ashe (who played at UCLA) won the men's individual title -- you just needed to look a bit further down the Wikipedia entry. And I am a sports fan, but would have never known this one either; like you I just guessed ASHE.

    BTW, I was on Jeopardy! back in 1997, but unlike Joon (who is just awesome) I was one and out. To my credit, I was in the lead at the end of the first board, but ended up finishing second. Tremendous experience, though.

    Misty said...

    @Marc 'Baste' refers to putting loose stitches in a piece of cloth before you sew it permanently.

    We visited some friends in Incline Village, Nevada, a few years ago and discovered that Reno has lots of cool casinos. So a lot of high-rollers probably hang out there.

    hazel said...

    cool puzzle - agree with @kjgooster "element of surprise" is what you hear - but i think SURPRISE ELEMENT works if you think of ELEMENT as just a noun like the surprise in a box of Crackerjack. Kind of makes it a little nerdier/funnier to think that elements are fun little surprises we get to unwrap in these words.

    MENE was a new one - thanks for explaining, @dougP - great job pinch-hitting!! the Braves could have used you this year. sigh.

    @pg - hope you enjoyed your day off! kidding! i don't see how you do it all every day.

    also, @joon , speaking of high rollers..... you are one cool cucumber. congratulations on your success!

    CrazyCat said...

    Kind of a fun puzzle, that seemed easy for Thursday, but that's okay with me. Had a few little sticky spots. The cross of MENE and ANTON was a lucky guess. Didn't know M SEC and had PUC instead of UPC, but once I had SCAT in place I was able to figure out MUSCAT. Love those kinds of REVELATIONS.

    Really wanted to top the French onion soup with Gruyere, but it didn't fit.

    Hand up for TSAR before CZAR.

    Great job Joon! Go for it!

    Steve said...

    @David - Hand up for CSAR first.

    @Marc - ditto for RENO vs Vegas. I'd think a better clue would have been "Low rollers ..."

    @CrazyCat - it's funny that the classic cheese for the soup is Gruyere, because Gruyere is Swiss, and we all know how sniffy the French are about anyone else's food. I looked to see what Larousse Gastronomique had to say on the subject, and oddly Larousse just calls for "grated cheese" and doesn't specify which one.

    As De Gaulle once famously said - "How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?"

    If I was trying to be strictly French with the soup-making, I'd probably use Tomme, which is similar to Gruyere and comes from the Haute Savoir region in the Alps, close to the Swiss border.

    Now I'm hungry.

    Go Joon 4!

    Joon said...

    thanks everybody! just catching up on the last 2 days' worth of puzzles. it's been an incredible ride.

    i liked today's puzzle, because it reminded me of the "metals" category that was very good to me in the single jeopardy round of tuesday's game :)

    JudyXof said...

    Really? I'm the only one that tried to make EUREKA-something fit for 24D-Epiphanies? Also I am making French onion soup for supper and dutifully purchased Gruyere cheese which I was sure would fit if I spelled it right! CHEESE didn't even occur to me until I had all the crosses! Go Joon!

    shrub5 said...

    Thanks for the humorous write-up, Doug P.

    Went through tsar and tzar on the way to CZAR. LOL'd at IN-LAW for union acquisition.

    Apolo Anton Ohno was the winner on Dancing with the Stars a few years ago. Nimble feet on the dance floor as well as the ice.

    Sam Donaldson said...

    Nice write-up, Doug! You're right, any attempt at a joke involving the clue for NTSB would be, well, a train wreck.

    NJ Irish said...

    Just watched Jeopardy, Joon you are amazing!

    I actually knew one answer he missed, punt was the currency of Ireland, and I spent quite
    a few of them while visiting there. :-)

    Best of luck for 5 in a row.

    backbiter said...

    $129,400.00 and counting.

    Ol' Man Keith said...

    It was through crosswords and only crosswords that I learned that the preferred spelling for the autocrat of all Russia is TSAR. That had never been part of my earlier education, but slowly, painfully, I learned the crosswordese lesson.
    And now, I'm expected to go back to CZAR??! What gives?!
    Where am I?

    Hello... ?

    backbiter said...

    When this is all over, I'd love to hear all the details as would we all. How many episodes were taped in a day. Winnings minus taxes. How long it took to pay you, etc. etc.

    Tonight was a nail biter. It comes on 7:30 pm Eastern here. GO JOON!



    hazel said...

    wow @backbiter - I think you're asking a bit too much! how much do you take home, by the way? ;~)

    any and all backstory re taping sked, whatever, OTOH, would be v. interesting!

    Sfingi said...

    Joon pulled it off at end-game. My first guess was Billy Budd. I thought he woulda wagered a tiny bit more.The girl was pretty good, though, and shouldn't have wagered so much. She woulda won if she wagered nothing.

    @Marc - you could baste your hem with chicken broth, but it would be a mess. It might stick together, though, until the first wash. (I just gave away my mother's cooking ans sewing books.)

    Anonymous said...

    How is half of 10 zero?

    Anonymous said...

    @anon - 10 includes one and zero.

    Avg Joe said...


    You're amazing. But I do have one bone to pick. You're messing with my schedule since I have to set aside the time to watch the show. Regardless, best of luck and I hope you set a lot of records.

    KJGooster said...

    @Anon6:11: 10 is made up of two numbers, "1" and "0". So one half of 10 is the number 0. The other half is the number 1.

    @backbiter: Back when I was on in '97, Jeopardy! taped 5 shows a day. They asked us to bring three changes of clothes in case we kept winning. I finished second, so no cash for me -- only the winner keeps what he/she earns. I won airfare/hotel to NYC for 7 nights and assorted other merchandise, all told about $3K, on which I had to pay 7% California income tax. Don't remember how long it was before I got the trip, though. My episode aired in December, and I think I went to NYC the next spring.

    mac said...

    Crunchy little puzzle, made me wonder here and there if I would finish it.... I did. I did not get the theme, though.

    @Steve: one of our favorite cheeses is Tomme des Pyrenees, de chevre. We were so impressed when a French friend recognized it immediately when we served it!
    Onion soup really needs a sweaty Gruyere, though.

    chefwen said...

    Hey, I'm three to six hours behind you all, a spoil alert would have been nice.

    Doug P said...

    Ditto chefwen. Try not to mention anything about Joon's Jeopardy results until the next day. We West Coast people don't see the show until 10 PM or so Eastern Time. Thanks!

    NJ Irish said...

    @chefwen & Doug P... so very sorry. Didn't realize it airs so late on the west cost.

    Stan said...

    Fun puzzle with a solid theme (though what's wrong with a gaseous theme when you think of it? -- anyway this had both).

    Proudly filled in GRAND RAPIDS for the Michigan city. My wife rolled her eyes and told me the real answer. Really liked 'Gloom mate,' 'Deprive of juice?' and 'Numbers after nine, often.'

    CrazyCat said...

    @mac and Steve - Sweaty Gruyere sounds good to me. I just read in the LA Times today that the French have banned ketchup from all school lunches unless it's served with "French" fries. Weird?

    So, it's 6:45 on the west coast - I'm in the middle of making a mustard-roasted fish, pureed butternut squash and braised kale. I'm waiting for the start of Jeopardy and my daughter calls. I hit the record button, talk to my kid for 45 minutes, finish dinner with CrazyCat husband and just now at 9:15 finished watching Joon on Jeopardy. I think he should change his name to Joonius. He has nerves of steel!

    Steve said...

    @Mac - Tomme de Pyrenees is a new one on me, and I'm a cheese freak - I'll look out for it - interesting it's a chevre when the Savoie version is cow's milk.