Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Title: Look Ma, No Hans!
Author: Randall J. Hartman
Theme: Removing HAN from phrases.

  • Hannah Montana => "NAH, MONTANA" (
  • 17a: "Ain't Helena the capital of Idaho?" reply?).

  • Hanover, Germany => OVER GERMANY (30a: Like a plane with a view of the Bavarian Alps?).

  • Handel's Messiah => DEL'S MESSIAH (48a: Deliverer of singer Shannon?).

  • Hangman's knots => G-MAN'S KNOTS (66a: Shoelace problems for an FBI agent?).

An awful lot of crossword themes involve the adding or removal of letters to phrases. Here we have an example of such that, frankly, didn't do much for me. Why? Because neither the original phrases nor the newly created ones had much zip to them. I found them to be kind of dull on both counts. Not that they were terrible or anything - they were perfectly serviceable entries. But compare this set with last Tuesday's for example, and I think you'll see what I mean. I do love the title, but that was kind of the high point of the theme.

Sunny Spots:

  • 10d: Divorce alternative (ANNULMENT).

  • 29d: Marriage alternative (CIVIL UNION). A nicely balanced pair of long down entries.

  • 2d: Webb address? (MA'AM). Excellent. Referring to Jack Webb of "Dragnet". Just the facts, ma'am.

  • 11d: Robin Hood's gal pal (MAID MARIAN). Easy, but good fill.


  • 14a: City that's home to the Dr Pepper Museum (WACO, Texas). Of course, it's also notorious for other reasons.

  • 16a: Crack investigator? (NARC). Good clue.

  • 21a: Super Bowl XXIX quarterback Humphries (STAN). This name was vaguely familiar to me.

  • 22a: Nagasaki noodles (UDON).

  • 23a: Beginning to decline? (DEE). Cryptic letter clue.

  • 27a: Bernie of "Ocean's Eleven" (MAC). I really enjoyed this remake. The sequels were okay, but didn't quite measure up to this one.

  • 38a: Player who scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series (ALOU). Once you saw we were talking baseball and 1990s, you should immediately have thought "Hmmm, SOSA or ALOU?"

  • 42a: Thing that sucks, informally (VAC). Good clue.

  • 43a: "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" novelist Loos (ANITA).

  • 45a: "Hedwig and the Angry ___" (INCH).

  • 47a: Hold hands? (TARS). Very nice clue, referencing seagoing deckhands. A bit tricky for a Tuesday, but quite excellent regardless.

  • 53a: Have an evening meal (SUP). I can't say I've ever used this as a verb, but that doesn't mean it was hard to figure.

  • 65a: Toeshoe wearer's bend (PLIÉ).

  • 68a: Product with a click wheel (IPOD). I use mine every day in the car to and from work. I don't know how I lived without one.

  • 69a: Country whose one-euro coin has a cross on it (MALTA).

  • 72a: "Little Miss Sunshine" Oscar winner (ARKIN). People loved this movie. I'm not sure why. I found it amusing in spots, but generally kind of stupid.

  • 73a: Mafia boss (CAPO).

  • 1d: Completely dominates (OWNS).

  • 6d: Part of BFA (ARTS). Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

  • 8d: Rival of Canisius in college sports (IONA).

  • 12d: First name in cubism? (ERNO). Erno Rubik, creator of the Rubik's Cube.

  • 18d: Fudgees brand (OREO).

  • 24d: L'OrĂ©al spokeswoman Longoria (EVA). She's also a celebrity poker player, of sorts.

  • 27d: Island rental (MOPED).

  • 31d: Figure skater Stojko (ELVIS). I remember him from the Calgary Olympics.

  • 33d: Parent company of Yves Saint Laurent (GUCCI).

  • 37d: Some bikes (TEN SPEEDS).

  • 46d: Word for tuning the third string of a ukulele (HAS). My dog has fleas. Is anyone besides Tiny Tim known for their ukelele playing? I can't think of any off-hand.

  • 49d: Puzzling person (ENIGMA).

  • 50d: Bruce Banner's alter ego, with "the" (HULK).

  • 56d: What some boxers eat (ALPO).

  • 60d: Prefix with knock or nuke (ANTI).

  • 64d: Winter Olympics host the year the Summer Games were in Helsinki (OSLO).

Suns of Bitches:

  • 19a: Foch of "Executive Suite" (NINA). Well, she's been in over a 150 films and shows, according to imdb.com, so I suppose I should know the name. But, this is a 1954 film and she's like the 10th person listed, so it's not like she starred in it or anything.

  • 58d: "The Wire" character Little who is murdered in the antepenultimate episode of the series (OMAR). Not a clue. Never saw the show; never heard of the character.

This was an okay Tuesday for me. Nothing terribly offensive, but nothing to write home about.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


ArtLvr said...

Impossible for me to come up with my last blank -- the H beginning HAS in "my dog has fleas" (uke tuning) crossing with the H ending of "Hedwig and the Angry INCH"! The former might have come to me eventually, never the latter!

Pete M said...

@artlvr: Even if you don't know it, there are not many words that fit INC_. I suppose it could be the Angry INCA, but AAS is pretty unlikely.

Joon said...

for whatever reason, NINA foch rang a bell. i'm not any sort of expert on old movies, though. wikipedia says she got a best supporting actress oscar nomination for executive suite, so the clue seems okay to me--she's not just cast filler.

the OMAR clue was essentially useless, but i like the word antepenultimate.

even after googling "my dog has fleas" + ukelele and watching this incomprehensible youtube video, i still don't understand why you would need those words to tune a ukelele.

Anonymous said...

First ukulele player that comes to mind: Don Ho. And if you can believe it, there's a whole list of ukulele players at Wikipedia at:


Most of the people on the list are not really known for playing the uke -- really, William H. Macy? Apart from Don Ho, the only one on the list that I really associate with the instrument is Arthur Godfrey, and he's been dead far longer than both Tiny Tim and Don Ho.

Anonymous said...

serviceable it was but nothing to grab you. First name in cubism was tricky becase i kept thinking of painters---As you said the theme answers were O.K.but not interesting,and the rest of the fill seemed rather flat.