Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Title: Auto Trailers
Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Theme: Phrases with car manufacturers hidden at the end.
  • SOLAR PLEXUS (18a: Abdominal network).

  • HELP ME RHONDA (24a: Song that knocked "Ticket to Ride" out of the #1 slot). Not my favorite Beach Boys tune (I'm kind of partial to "In My Room"), but nice fill.

  • ANNO DOMINI (35a: Words before a date)

  • LOSES A TURN (43a: Has to wait for the next round, perhaps). We love all things related to games and game shows. Very nice.

  • ANTONIO GAUDI (50a: Spanish architect who designed the unfinished Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona). Didn't know this one.

  • REGAL BEAGLE (62a: "Three's Company" hangout). This one's super! My favorite of the theme fills.

The strength of this theme is not so much in the concept, which is fine, but in the nice variety of colorful fill, which is quite excellent.

Sunny Spots:
  • 15a: A play might be seen better with this (SLO-MO). This shows up periodically, but it's a cool fill with a relatively unusual vowel pattern.

  • 47a: Weenies (TWERPS). Twerps is great word. I mean, just look at it.

  • 21d: Collectible paper items (EPHEMERA). Epherma comes from the Greek for "a day", and it's used to describe things that last, or were designed to last, a relatively short period of time. Great, descriptive word.

  • 27d: Base kid (ARMY BRAT). Excellent. I wonder if they're called that because of some particular family's kids that really were brats. (PB2, any comment here?)

  • 40d: Locker room shower? (ESPN). Very nice.

  • 65d: Gray head? (LEE). As in Robert E. LEE, head of the Confederate Army. Great clue.

  • 1a: Street cred (REP). I feel like "cred" has been showing a lot lately.

  • 4a: Stunned (AGASP). A had AGAPE to start.

  • 16a: National competitor (ALAMO). This one didn't fool me; I immediately thought rental car.

  • 17a: It holds the mayo (JAR).

  • 20a: It can be bid (ADIEU). I was hoping for a bridge fill here (A CLUB, perhaps? Or ONE NO), but it was not to be.

  • 22a: ___ noche (tonight, in Spanish) (ESTA).

  • 23a: Sheep's tail? (ISH). My first thought was PEE (last letter of "sheep"), but it's ISH (as in sheepish). Either way, it gets the crytic clue tag.

  • 28a: "Talk to ___" (HER). Am I missing something here? This feels like a really weak clue for HER. "Talk to the hand!", now that's a phrase worthy standing alone.

  • 29a: California's motto (EUREKA). I think I learned this back in high school when we studied Archimedes.

  • 33a: Band leader? (BEE). I was already in this mindset from the sheep clue, above, so this was easy. Another cryptic clue.

  • 39a: Rap (BLAME). Rap as a noun. Very nice.

  • 42a: Religious group (SYNOD).

  • 46a: Quinella, e.g. (BET). In horse racing, the quinella bet is for the top two horses in either order, as opposed to the perfecta where order matters.

  • 48a: Compass creation: Abbr. (CIR). The circle-drawing compass, not the navigational compass.

  • 60a: Arabian Peninsula coastal city (ADEN). It lies on the Gulf of Aden, too, so you may see it clued that way.

  • 66a: Land in the Seine (ILE). French for "island". This comes up a lot.

  • 67a: Teed off (ANGRY). This is notable because the 5-letter answer to this clue is much more typically IRATE.

  • 68a: Siouan-speaking Indians (OTOES). Another crossword staple.

  • 69a: NAFTA signer (CAN). It's either USA, CAN, or MEX.

  • 70a: Supply with fuel (STOKE). As in a campfire or coal stove.

  • 71a: Dos, e.g. (NOTES). As in do re mi.

  • 72a: Annapolis affirmative (AYE). Annapolis referring to the U.S. Naval Academy.

  • 1d: Indian prince (RAJAH). This shows up about equally with and without the trailing H.

  • 4d: Take on (ASSUME). As in resonsibility.

  • 5d: Day-___ (GLO). I like that this cross SLOMO. Would be nicer if the entire phrase were included. Day-Glo does not make a good fashion statement.

  • 6d: Surfing fan, perhaps (AOLER).

  • 8d: ___-Novo (capital of Benin) (PORTO). Didn't know this one off the top, but it was pretty easy to figure with a couple of crossings.

  • 9d: Hootenanny lass (GAL). Props for using the great word "hootenanny".

  • 10d: "___ ELO" (hit album of 1976) (OLÉ). The hit you'll remember from this is "Evil Woman".

  • 11d: Move toward the airstrip (TAXI).

  • Howard SternDon Imus
  • 12d: Stern contemporary (Don IMUS). Contemporary of, but not equal to, Howard Stern.

  • 13d: Bite (NOSH). NOSH is another great word. I have to start using it more in everyday conversation.

  • 19d: Like French doors (PANED.)

  • 25d: A one-two-three inning makes it go down (ERA). Earned Run Average, for a baseball pitcher.

  • 26d: The Blues Brothers and Indigo Girls, e.g. (DUOS). Nice clue.

  • 30d: Article in Der Spiegel (EINE). Probably the most common German word in crossword puzzles.

  • 31d: It may be hard to undo (KNOT). I was hoping for something cool and edgy when I read this clue, like ZIPPER or BRA STRAP or BAD PERM, but not this time.

  • 33d: Leave, in slang (BLOW). As in "Let's blow this joint!", which, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with Spike Lee movies.

  • 36d: Louis Armstrong Stadium divider (NET). Next to Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the U.S. Open of tennis is played.

  • 37d: Kimmel Center sch. (NYU). We have to remember that the Sun is a local NYC newspaper. I'm sure this clue is a piece of cake if you're from around there.

  • 38d: Poetic preposition (O'ER)

  • 39d: Tref 'wich (BLT). Tref means non-kosher. I learned this recently from puzzles. And hey, it's a food clue.

  • 45d: One with a chevron: Abbr. (NCO). Non-commissioned officer. I don't know my insignias, so I count on crossings. The clue may as well be "Name a military rank: Abbr.".

  • 49d: "Um ... OK" (I GUESS). Nice phrase.

  • 51d: Ancient Greek theater (ODEON). This shows up a lot.

  • 52d: "That's swell!" (NEATO). Golly gee, that's peachy keen.

  • 53d: Heavy metal bar, maybe (INGOT). Good clue surface reading.

  • 54d: Seat of New York's Oneida County (UTICA).

  • 57d: They're often rolled over (IRAS). Cute.

  • 59d: Brand in the freezer (EGGO). Leggo my Eggo! More food.

  • 64d: Caustic stuff (LYE)

Suns of Bitches:
  • 41a: Macula's locale (EYE). Didn't know this one; got it from crossings.

  • 56d: "Brave ___" (William Steig children's book) (IRENE). Ditto.

I didn't think this puzzle was particularly difficult for a Friday, but it was very enjoyable. Nice theme entries and decent fill, with enough things I didn't know off the top that made sense once I got them from the crossings to keep me interested. Good job.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Orange said...

Pete, Talk to Her is a Pedro Almodovar movie. Its screenplay won an Oscar—the movie's about two men standing vigil over two comatose women in the same clinic.

Pete M said...

@orange: Thanks for clarifying. Usually there's some parenthetical comment for books or movies, so I was looking for a spoken phrase rather than a title. Not that it would have helped me in this case, but at least I would have known what I had when I was done. Now that you mention it, it does sound vaguely familiar. 25 bonus points for setting me straight.

Bill from NJ said...

As a former Base kid - of the Air Force variety - it is a derogatory term used by the Base commanders to refer to the children of the on-base personnel for whom they had to make accommodations.

In the mid 50s, my father was part of the Occupation Forces in Japan and my family was one of the first to join him at the base. This created all kinds of problems that the power structure had never been called upon to address. A bunch of screaming children and home sick wives? No wonder we were called BRATS!!!

Bill D said...

Only missed the "P" in PORTO Novo - should have realized "agast" is supposed to have a "H" in it!

Fun and clever puzzle, considering I didn't see the theme until I got here. Another famous architect this week, this time one of my real favorites, GAUDI - from who's name our word "gaudy" is derived. The fabulous La Sagrada Família ("The Sacred Family") has been under construction in Barcelona for more than 125 years. You can take a tour of it even as the construction continues. His mosaics, especially the lizard fountain, at Parc Güell and the free-form Casa Milà are a few of other GAUDI highlights in his hometown.

It's been a good week here! Thanks, Pete!

Joon said...

yes! count me as another ANTONIOGAUDI fan. love his stuff. definitely like him better than mies van DER rohe, although mies is no slouch.

i did pretty well on most of this puzzle, but i was definitely playing guess-the-vowel at the crossing of LE_ and NOT_S. i thought [Dos, e.g.] looked sufficiently foreign-language that NOTAS or NOTOS or even NOTIS might be something, and i found all kinds of justification for LEA, LEI, and LEO for [Gray head]. LEA shows up in the first couplet of thomas grey (i know, not grAy)'s "elegy written in a country churchyard," and maybe there is a famous LEO gray that i don't know, or LEI... hmm, that one was tougher to justify, since those are anything but gray.

high degree of constructorial difficulty here, with six relatively long theme answers and a whole bunch of downs that cross more than one of them (including EPHEMERA and ARMYBRAT). given that, i can forgive the use of crappy fill like OER and OTOES and CIR and NCO, as well as the closed-off feeling in the middle of the grid.

by the way, pete, no matter how wide or narrow i make my browser window, IMUS and stern are always showing up side-by-side so i can't read the text next to them. (firefox 2.0 on a mac, if you want to know.)

Deciminyan said...

37d: The Kimmel Center is an entertainment venue here in Philadelphia, so I had a mental block against puting NYU in, but the "Y" in the center forced me to succumb!

Anonymous said...

One more theme answer... 43A Loses a turn/Saturn.

And speaking of cars, I don't think Alamo and National are true competitors as they are both owned by the same company (Enterprise).

And um, what's a BEEband?

Bill D said...

nit - BEE is the first letter (spelled out) in BAND, a rather common, if lame, crossword cluing gambit.

Anonymous said...

@bill d



Bill D said...

I attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the early '70s. Over at Rex Parker today I gave my Alma Mater's derivation of KNURD (= DRUNK backwards, the way we spell NERD). Here, I will give our origin of TWIRP (the way we spell it, with a "I" and not an "E") which was part of a sort of Sadie Hawkins event on campus known as "TWIRP Week". It is an acronym of The Woman Is Required to Pay. As with Knurd, RPI alums claim to have invented the word.

embien said...

TWIRP is always spelled with an "I" around here, as well, but I see it's spelled both ways at

I didn't get the theme until coming here to the blog, but the "SATURN" in LOSES A TURN got me chuckling out loud once I saw it for what it was.

Never heard of ANTONIO GAUDI--got it entirely from the crosses.

Anyone else notice the nearly anagrammatical OTOES and NOTES next to each other?

Anonymous said...

@Bill D

The word "gaudy" has been around since long,long before Antonio Gaudi began to enliven the architectural scene. It derives from the Latin for "joy" (noun: gaudium) and "rejoice" (verb: gaudere).

Interesting usage: "Gaudy Night" is the title of a Dorothy Sayers detective story about Lord Peter Wimsey. Gaudy is used as a noun, meaning a university celebration. Think of the medieval students' ditty "Gaudeamus igitur," the melody of which forms the finale of Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture."

Marxo Grouch said...

Just pulled this one from a pile of recent puzzles, and I'm still confounded by the convergence of 61A and 55D. 61A, 'Say,' would most assuredly seem to be 'UTTER,' but that would make 55D, 'Procrastinate,' 'DELLY.' Now, I've heard of 'dilly' and 'dally' (and even 'dilly-dally' for that matter), but never 'delly.' Is this merely a gap in my education?

Pete M said...

@marxo grouch: Check your answer to 69a: NAFTA signer. It's not CLN.