Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Title: I/O Device
Author: Ogden Porter (Peter Gordon)
Theme: Two-word phrases where the second word replaces an I with an O.
  • 1a: Sound of hoofs on pavement (CLIP CLOP).

  • 9a: Rap music (HIP HOP). I'm no expert, but I was under the impression that there was a subtle difference between rap and hip hop. Or is one a sub-genre of the other? Not sure.

  • 74a: Highest point (TIP TOP).

  • 75a: Trifling talk (SLIP SLOP). This is not a phrase I'm familiar with.

  • 21d: Sudden policy reversal (FLIP FLOP). This has become a politically-charged term. When I was growing up, a flip-flop was a beach sandal.

  • 29d: 1970s Parker Brothers game (GNIP GNOP). This is PING PONG backwards, if you never noticed. I remember adds for this game, but I don't recall ever actually playing it. If I did, it was at someone else's house.

This theme is interesting in that all the theme answers run on the outside edge of the puzzle. If this is significant to the theme, I'm not sure why; but it's different anyway. Note also that this is a 15x16 puzzle. The theme itself seems kind of ho-hum for a Wednesday. Again, unless I'm missing an important aspect.

Everything at once:
  • 15a: Stubborn (OBDURATE). I always liked the word OBDURATE. Even though, or perhaps because, people don't use it much.

  • 17a: Neighbor of Eritrea (DJIBOUTI). DJIBOUTI is a cool-looking word, but it's pretty darned easy. How many countries can you name that start with Dj_?

  • 18a: "___ McNasty" (UPN TV series) (SHASTA). I never saw this show, but it sounds like a porn star name, doesn't it?.

  • 24a: Small diamond, say (THREE). This is the same kind of clue as "Yellow solid", which baffled me a while back. This time, we're dealing (no pun intended) with cards, not pool balls. The three of diamonds is a small diamond.

  • 30a: Philosopher credited with writing the "Tao Te Ching" (LAO TSE). Usually we get one half or the other. Kudos for using the whole name.

  • 32a: "A Crossword to Die For" author Blanc (NERO). Nero Blanc is actually a nom de plume of a husband-and-wife team of authors, Steve Zettler and Cordelia Frances Biddle. They explain the name as follows: "We chose our nom de plume, Nero Blanc, because NERO translates to black in Italian, and BLANC to white in French. The words are favorites with crossword constructors and solvers - providing us with a puzzling allusion in a name. The question as to which one of us is NERO and which BLANC is for you to guess..."

  • 34a: Ax (CAN). The verb.

  • 35a: Thirsty's wife in "Hi and Lois" (IRMA). I don't read this comic enough to have known this.

  • 39a: Prior works (POEMS). Matthew Prior was a British poet.

  • 41a: Tenet (CREDO). Not to be confused with GREEDO, who was a character in "Star Wars".

  • 44a: Former Renault hatchback (LE CAR).

  • 48a: Where Carmex is applied (LIP). It's a lip balm.

  • 51a: Azadi Stadium setting (IRAN). Obscure-ish Peter Gordon clue.

  • 53a: "Double Dare" host Summers (MARC). Thankfully, it's a common name.

  • 54a: Deep-fried pastry of Spain (CHURRO). I'm not a big deep-fried pastry fan, but these do look yummy.

  • 56a: Worldwide ___ (David Letterman production company) (PANTS). I've always assumed this name derived from Letterman's earlier outbursts of "I'm not wearing any pants!". Of course, I could be wrong.

  • 61a: Maidens' lack (WINS). I wasn't sure where this one was going...

  • 68a: Not vertical, maybe (ON A SLANT).

  • 72a: Sony subsidiary (ARISTA).

  • 73a: Mad pieces (PARODIES). Mad magazine.

  • 1d: Lutefisk base (COD).

  • 5d: Split personalities? (CROATS). This one feels like a deliberate stretch to me.

  • 6d: Easy victory (LAUGHER).

  • 7d: Lutrine creature (OTTER). According to my dictionary, lutrine means having qualities like an otter, so yeah, I guess an otter would have qualities like an otter. Otter is also the nickname of Eric Stratton in "Animal House".

  • 8d: Bank of China Tower architect (PEI). Name an architect in three letters.

  • 10d: Commemorating (IN HONOR OF).

  • 27d: Golden Arches dessert (MCFLURRY).

  • 28d: Fukushima farewell (SAYONARA).

  • 50d: Peter of "Bosom Buddies" (SCOLARI). Didn't we just have a Tom Hanks "Bosom Buddies" clue a couple of days ago?

  • 55d: Aromatic herb with blue flowers (HYSSOP).

  • 57d: Checker move (TWIST). Chubby Checker, not the game or the taxi cab.

  • 65d: Toonces, for one (CAT). From an "SNL" skit.

This puzzle took me a little longer than your average Wednesday, which is strange because the theme was pretty easy. Still, the middle was the last to fall and there were several spots where the answers were not at all obvious. Of course, that's what one wants in a mid-week puzzle, so I'm not complaining.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

i dug this puzzle. six theme answers, all along the outside of the grid, and all matching __IP__OP. plus, the actual theme answers themselves were very cool. admittedly i'm not familiar with SLIPSLOP or GNIPGNOP. (by the way, PINGPONG backwards is GNOPGNIP. i'm just sayin'.) the fill was really nice, too.

i didn't understand the CROATS clue until orange explained it. i still don't understand the WINS clue.

i'm always curious about answers like ENTRANCE. which unrelated homonym to pick? i've noticed that if there is a choice between a verb and a noun, most editors tend to pick the verb.

bosom buddies... apparently we're supposed to know about this. i only know SCOLARI as the world cup-winning coach of brazil in 2002 (and subsequent manager of portugal and now chelsea).

Anonymous said...


Maiden refers to a racehorse who has yet to win a race, hence . . .

Anonymous said...

In horse racing parlance, a maiden is a horse that has not yet won a race. Hence "Maidens' lack" is another terrific Peter Gordon clue for WINS.

Joon said...


ruy said...

While I was glad to see the theme entries in non-traditional locations, I read the title, filled in CLIPCLOP right away, and grasped the theme immediately. That gave me a few too many easy squares (though my first guess for SLIPSLOP was PISHPOSH). So it wasn't quite as satisfying a puzzle as I would have liked.

I don't think Bosom Buddies is too obscure a series to know, especially since Tom Hanks was in it. It beats all those clues about Alf or Mork or WKRP.

Austin said...

Via wikipedia:

The reason for Letterman using the word "pants" in his production company's name dates back to an early incident on Late Night. While playing a piece of stock film showing people's pants, Dave read a joke consisting of the line "Dr. Ruth has a new game show: Guess what's in my pants". However, when the piece aired that evening the NBC censors decided to mute the word "pants" from the punchline. Letterman, more amused than annoyed, talked extensively on-air about the absurdity of the word "pants" somehow being considered offensive or risqué. Letterman used pants humor extensively for two or more weeks; creating a hilarious footnote in censorship history.

randis71 said...

The problem with this puzzle was that each corner needed to be solved in isolation. There was very little solving flow from any quadrant to the middle or back out. This made an otherwise easy puzzle a bit of a slog. Just my $0.02.

Joon said...

ruy, i didn't have that issue at all, because i was in no way expecting 1A to be part of the theme. how often does that happen, anyway? essentially never.