Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Title: Loverly Lady
Author: Spencer & Eileen Pasero
Theme: Dropped H sounds (Cockney accents)
  • Hair-raising => AIR RAISING (16a: Lifting up of the atmosphere?). What a great segue from yesterday's Van de Graaff generator clue.

  • Over the hump => OVER THE UMP (57a: No longer enamored by a guy working at home?). A little extra twist here, with the question mark working overtime to indicate both a theme answer and a tricky definition ("a guy working at home?" for UMP).

  • Harbor seal => ARBOR SEAL (15d: Official stamp in a shady recess?).

  • Red herring => RED ERRING (27d: Skelton botching a joke?).

  • 28d: With 34-Across, fictional woman who's the inspiration for this puzzle's theme (ELIZA / DOOLITTLE). From "My Fair Lady".

Sunny Spots:
  • 40a: Moroccan city (FEZ). Also a hat. Also a great Steely Dan song, with "the". Also a character on "That 70s Show".

  • 2d: Camden Yards team (ORIOLES). We've got tix to see the BOSOX (6d: Big Papi's team) at Camden Yards this August, as it happens to coincide (well, okay, we're making it coincide) with dropping the kids at college.

  • 10d: Source of widespread devastation (SCOURGE). Great, descriptive word.

  • 11d: Innumerable (UMPTEEN). Umpteen is also a great fill word.

  • 42d: Middle Eastern salad (TABOULI). Good word; good food.

  • 54d: Dollars for quarters (RENT). Clever clue.


  • 1a: Expressed excitement (OOHED). I don't particulary mind seeing OOHED in a puzzle, but I prefer something a little meatier in the 1-Across slot.

  • 6a: Get a turkey, say (BOWL). A "turkey", in bowling, is three consecutive strikes.

  • 10a: Nonstarter (SUB). Not bad, but "Hero" would have made it a food clue.

  • 13a: Rage (CRAZE). Okay, I need another opinion on this one. For me, something is a craze, but (all) the rage. I find this bothersome. Is there another usage where they are actually interchangeable?

  • 14a: Village Voice award (OBIE). Not to be confused with ODIE ("Garfield" dog) or OPIE (Ron Howard, on "The Andy Griffith Show").

  • 15a: Summit (ACME). Got to be careful, because APEX is another common entry that fits.

  • 18a: Clue weapon (ROPE). For the record, the weapons in Clue are rope, pipe, wrench, candlestick, knife, and revolver.

  • 19a: She directed Tom and Meg in "You've Got Mail" (NORA Ephron).

  • 21a: Be tangent to (ABUT). Nice mathy clue.

  • 22a: Rap duo ___ & Gipp (ALI). Not to be confused with Ali G of "Da Ali G Show".

  • 26a: Big name in agribusiness (John DEERE).

  • 28a: Blows up (ENLARGES).

  • 30a: Fall flowers (ASTERS).

  • 32a: Cancer follower (LEO). This is a clue you won't find in the New York Times, which goes out of its way to avoid any hint of death or disease.

  • 33a: En route, in a way (SENT). Check's in the mail.

  • 37a: Archipelago part (ISLE). Straightforward clue, but I do like the word archipelago.

  • 41a: Gat (HEATER). Mob slang for gun.

  • 45a: "Candide," for one (OPERETTA).

  • 47a: "Run Runaway" band (SLADE). It took a minute to dredge this song from the foggy depths, and I couldn't recall who did it until I had most of the crossings.

  • 49a: Superfecta, e.g. (BET). A crazy bet. You gotta pick the top four finishers in correct order.

  • 51a: ___ Paese (Italian cheese) (BEL).

  • 55a: Distance runner Budd (ZOLA).

  • 56a: Aesir leader (ODIN).

  • 59a: Unable to reach a verdict (HUNG). Safe clue. We'll leave it at that.

  • 60a: Peddle (VEND).

  • 61a: Country album? (ATLAS). Cute.

  • 62a: CAFE concern (MPG). Corporate Average Fuel Economy.

  • 64a: Ship destroyed in Havana's waters in 1898 (MAINE). "Remember the Maine!" Precursor to the Spanish-American War.

  • 1d: It was composed by Calixa LavallĂ©e (O CANADA). Makes sense, in that the name looks Canadian, but if you're like me you're just looking for a (hopefully famous) song name that fits.

  • 3d: 2005 Supreme Court nominee Miers (HARRIET). Man, it's hard enough to remember the people who made it onto the Supreme Court. I couldn't pull this name from the quagmire that is my brain. Luckily, the crossings made it an easy guess.

  • 4d: 1963 Caldecott Medal winner ___ Jack Keats (EZRA). For the children's classic, "A Snowy Day".

  • 7d: Solemn column (OBIT). I prefer clever to rhyming, but okay.

  • 8d: They're worth two points in NHL standings (WINS).

  • 12d: Sacramento newspaper (BEE). That's kind of obscure outside of Northern California, isn't it?

  • 23d: The year that wasn't? (ZERO). Cute.

  • 24d: Terry, for example (CLOTH).

  • 31d: Pushover (SOFTY).

  • 35d: Pig tail? (LET). Cryptic suffix: Piglet.

  • 37d: Bicarbonate, e.g. (ION).

  • 50d: "Mangia!" (EAT).

  • 55d: Sixth Greek letter (ZETA).

  • 56d: Measure of reactance (OHM). From Wikipedia:
    Reactance is the imaginary part of electrical impedance, a measure of opposition to a sinusoidal alternating current. Reactance arises from the presence of inductance and capacitance within a circuit...
    Alllllrighty, then...

  • 57d: Haploid cells (OVA). Haploid means it has a single set of chromosomes.

  • 58d: Hokey player (HAM). Cute play on "hockey player".

Suns of Bitches:

  • 23a: Slate-cutting tool (ZAX). According to the Cruciverb database, this word has shown up in the NYS before, but I don't remember it.

  • 17d: Johnny Cash's "The Ballad of ___ Hayes" (IRA). I'm not a huge Johnny Cash fan; never heard of this one.

  • 43d: Character actor Herb (EDELMAN). He's been a guest star on just about every TV show ever made, but I didn't know him. Of course, I never watched "The Golden Girls", the show for which he is apparently best known. Hey, look, he was Epstein's uncle on "Welcome Back, Kotter".

I thought this puzzle was easier than your typical Thursday. The theme was fine, if not earth-shattering, the fill was decent, and the harder clues were all gettable without guessing. No raves, but no pan either. And if this is a debut puzzle from the Paseros (I don't see them anywhere in the database), then congratulations! Nice first effort.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Slade clip, which I believe I saw once about 25 years ago. I always liked that song. Viewed from 2008 and my present brain, the band's prancing and mugging and the random images of Scottish ... stuff ... are just goofy. No idea what statement they were trying to make.

I recall Herb Edelman from a very pleasant role on "St. Elsewhere."

Anonymous said...

Ah, Slade, I'd forgotten about them entirely. A much earlier song of theirs (Mama We're All Crazy Now) was on one of those K-Tel compilation albums from back in the 1970s, I think on the 1973 version. And I thought I'd locked up that mental file drawer forever...

Joon said...

ZAX! one of the best words ever. a gimme for any serious scrabble player, although in my younger days i used to confuse it with ADZ(E), since they're pretty darn similar. but the ZAX is for cutting shingles, and the ADZE for cutting wood.

liked this puzzle, but the SE blew me away. first of all, i had TABOOLI, which made UMP incredibly hard to suss out. (according to google, both are legit, but TABOULI seems to be about 10 times more common as a spelling.) second of all, never heard of EDELMAN or SLADE, and couldn't dredge up (that) ZOLA even off of ZO_A, so ... yeah. i must have stared at that corner for 3 of the 8 minutes it took me to do the entire puzzle, and i eventually guessed wrong on the D of SLADE/EDELMAN, although in retrospect, D looks better than any other choice.

reactance was pretty tricky for OHM, although it was going to be pretty easy to guess even for those who had no idea what reactance was--which would be pretty much everybody other than engineers and physicists. basically, there are three types of passive circuit components: resistors, capacitors, and inductors. resistors have resistance, which is measured in ohms. capacitors and inductors have something which acts like resistance in an AC circuit, but the value of the resistance depends on the frequency of the circuit, and furthermore the current and voltage are out of phase. it turns out you can describe all this pretty neatly by making a generalization of resistance to a complex number called impedance (with the same units). then the real part of impedance is resistance, and the imaginary part is called reactance.

i wonder what leonard bernstein would say about candide being labeled an OPERETTA. i think of it as just an opera, and a damn good one. probably the best opera ever in english, or maybe second to porgy & bess. OPERETTA makes me think of (only) gilbert & sullivan.

i don't think the NYT really avoids death, just disease. you often see slangy euphemisms for murder in the NYT, like ICE or DO IN or OFF, clued as such. and just last week we had the light-hearted ETHNIC CLEANSING, although that caused quite a stir.

much more normal clue for SENT today. the one from yesterday is a usage i've only ever seen in crosswords, and usually used to clue some form of ELATE.

no tennis players today? bummer. where's ARANTXA sanchez-vicario when you need her?

janie said...

candide has indeed made it into opera houses and concert halls, but it came into this world as a broadway musical and has received two b'way revivals. check 'em out:

the best of all possible...

and while this wiki article comes with the caveat that it needs some "cleaning up," the "defintition" section is not terrible:

not just g&s

loved not only all the theme clues/fill, but also enjoyed "the year that wasn't" for "zero" and "dollars for quarters" for "rent."


janie, about whom it can be said "you can take the girl outta baw'mer, but ya can't take the baw'mer outta the girl." for better or worse (and it's been a lotta the latter), still "love them o's!"