Scavenging Southern food fish / SUN 9-25-11 / Often-parched gully / Leonine movie star of old / Black Watch soldier's garb

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Constructor: Paul Hunsberger

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: "Entwisted" — familiar phrases have their N "twisted" to make a Z, creating wacky phrases, which are then clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: MUDCAT (33D: Scavenging Southern food fish) —
n
(Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Animals) any of several large North American catfish living in muddy rivers, esp in the Mississippi valley (Collins English Dictionary) (thefreedictionary.com)
• • •
Coincidentally, as I pasted in that definition of MUDCAT (a southern fish), "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" came on ...


This theme did next to nothing for me, though the grid offered up some amazing surprises along the way—I'm a particularly big fan of "IT'S ALL GOOD!" "WHAT THE HEY!" and GROUPIES. A rapper might have GROUPIES and a POSSE. KID ZAPPER would be a good rap name. Now Kenny Rogers's "Lady" is on


OK, I'm turning Spotify off now. I've see the N->Z puzzle done, and done much better, before. I found SEE JUSTICE DOZE to be, by far, the worst theme answer in the puzzle: both because the base phrase feels less solid than the others, and (more importantly) because of the vowel-sound change in the "Z" word. No other theme answer has that. I get that you're just tipping Ns on their sides, and nobody said sound was relevant, but nonetheless, as the only sound-changer, this one sticks out badly. Not surprisingly, the toughest part of the puzzle for me was everywhere around, and especially above, SEE JUSTICE DOZE. My last letter was at the MUDCAT (?) and MCM crossing. A HAM is a ham radio operator? That's what they call themselves? OK. I don't especially love the crossing of REEL and EELS, but I would watch an animated movie review show called "REEL EELS" where two cartoon EELS review the latest offerings from Hollywood and then give their take on some vintage film that has fallen off most people's radars—like, say, "Fatso" (1980), which just arrived for me today via Interlibrary Loan. I would pay to see those EELS review "Fatso."

Theme answers: 
  • 21A: Result of being badly beaned? (GREAT DAZE)
  •  23A: Scraping kitchen gadget with nothing in it? (EMPTY ZESTER) — since when does a zester Ever have anything "in it?" Awkward.
  • 45A: Pale yellow-shelled sea creature? (MAIZE LOBSTER)
  • 60A: View the effects of a big lunch in court? (SEE JUSTICE DOZE)
  • 67A: Fluorescent candy? (HIGHLIGHTER PEZ)
  • 92A: "Cheers" spinoff mania? ("FRASIER" CRAZE)
  • 113A: Hapless Roman ruler? (EMPEROR ZERO)
  • 115A: Taser for children? (KID ZAPPER)  
How is OLAV an alternative to Ole or Edvard? Like ... an alternative name you might give your child if he were Swedish? Very weird clue. Again, foam is the defining characteristic of a cappuccino, not so much of a LATTE. I've never heard of FREE-RUN chickens. In America, we call them "FREE-RANGE." NITE Owl is the name of one of the heroes in "Watchmen"—I don't remember the cafe from "L.A. Confidential," though it hardly matters as the answer was easy to infer.

Bullets:
  • 5A: Often-parched gully (WADI) — one of the sillier-sounding geographical words, but I still like it.
  • 9A: Goal of phishing (SCAM) — I wrote in SPAM, but that's more the phishing itself than the goal.
  • 19A: 1997 best seller subtitled "Her True Story" ("DIANA") — first guess: LEONA.
  • 41A: Leonine movie star of old (LAHR) — Cowardly Lion portrayer of crossword fame.
  • 64A: Land of King George Tupou V (TONGA) — Did you know that Tonga was named the sixth most corrupt country in the world by Forbes magazine in 2008. Wikipedia!
  • 10D: Polyphemus, to Odysseus (CAPTOR) — all I could think of was CYCLOPS, but I guess he was CYCLOPS to everybody, not just Odysseus.
  • 70D: Unemployed persons with full-time jobs (HOME MAKERS) — interesting clue.
    Kind of ingratiating clue. I half-expect it to be followed up with "... am I right, ladies?!?"
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. today is the 5th birthday of this blog. [noise maker sound]!

70 comments:

syndy 12:21 AM  

Of course, nowadays, not all HOMEMAKERS are female.some are dudes.Its a sunday puzzle I don't expect much from sundays-as long as they don't outright annoy.only for some reason I had the hardest time dredging up A AND something rootbeer1 just blocked-I hate that!

CoffeeLvr 1:13 AM  

Happy Birthday to the blog! I won't sing, though.

WHATTHEHEY was my favorite answer. AGAZE for transfixed was my least.

But I got through it all right. Have a great Sunday, all.

acme 1:53 AM  

wow, five years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is amazing (amazizg?)
Happy blogday!

Anonymous 2:26 AM  

Crazy about the 5 yr anniversary! Congratulations, and thanks so much for keeping this blog going. It makes crossworld a way better place.

jae 3:38 AM  

This was about right for a Sun. So, Med. and, I liked it more than Rex.

Five years! This blog, which I found about 7 months after Rex launched it, convinced me that I should try the puzzle without "cheating." I was new to crosswords and thought looking stuff up was part of the process (which is how I found Rex.) Otherwise, why sell crossword dictionaries or have Google. Rex and the Wordplay movie made it clear (LIMPID) that me vs. the puzzle was the way to go. Thanks Rex for raising my personal bar.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:24 AM  

Happy Blogday!

One write-over today worth mentioning: 57 A, English weight, had STONE before TONNE.

JaxInL.A. 8:12 AM  

Putting my money where my heart is, I just made a blog birthday/anniversay contribution to support this space. You can, too, using a credit card or Paypal.  Or use the Donate button on Rex's homepage (which goes to the same place).

I have gained so much, from the blog directly and from you all as well, that I want to express my support for entertaining me, educating me, sharing with me, and making this space available to us all, everyday, for five years. I would miss it very much if it disappeared.  Thanks, Rex!

Oh, and I liked the 90a UNO clue in the puzzle as possibly the only way of making palatable the otherwise cringe-inducing REVERSER. 

Glimmerglass 8:27 AM  

Happy five, Rex. I was delighted to stumble on this blog a couple of years ago (I was Googling 1A -- after doing the puzzle, of course). I object to SEE JUSTICE DOZE, because the person would have an article and the abstract does not. I had trouble in the middle. WHAT THE something could be lots of things, but I didn't think HEY (the first thing I thought of) could be a real expression. Loved HIGHLIGHTER PEZ when I finally figured it out. I had a bit of trouble with LEVY and IAS, because I didn't trust UGLIES (like WTH). Keep up the good work.

Ted Cassidy 8:27 AM  

No Rules ?

Orange 8:44 AM  

Happy bloggiversary to you!

Brendan Emmett Quigley 8:53 AM  

I liked this theme so much, I accidentally made this puzzle twice on my blog: here and here.

Congrats on the anniversary.

jberg 9:24 AM  

Happy Birthday, Rex! Like others, I found you while searching for an answer with Google. Of course, if you came up first, that was a fail - but now I've raised my standards, so I try to do it unaided. I had to search for Ballesteros today, though, as I was too DIM to see that the cone in 121A was a volcano.

I also had ankLET for 87A at first, and shared Rex's view that OLAV was lame. On the other hand, 59D, which required you to know that Charles was French, rather than the perfectly valid two English kings of that name, was perhaps over-tough.

I guess BEQ is confirming Rex's point, that the theme has been done a lot, perhaps better.

joho 9:51 AM  

@Rex, "but I guess he was a CYCLOPS to everybody, not just Odysseus." LOL.

Congratulations!!! What would we all do without you?

We had a sort of carry over from yesterday with RUMPROASTS.

In the end, I wish I had liked this better than I did. But I did appreciate all the ZZZZZZZZZ.

mitchs 10:13 AM  

5 years! I came here about three years ago, and visit every day, often 3 or four times.

I even started doing the M-W puzzles so I could see the reactions here. I simply can't say enough about the contribution this blog makes to my day.

I'm also a regular (small) contributor. I encourage all to take this opportunity to pony up!

Lindsay 10:20 AM  

Like @BobK I had the stoNE >> TONNE writeover. Otherwise no problems, though had to squint to pull HIGHLIGHTER PEZ into focus.

Off to a pirate-themed regatta. "Yarrr" according to the press release. Take that Will Shortz. You skipped the "y" on Talk Like A Pirate Day.

DBGeezer 10:35 AM  

Please explain to this naive fan of Rex's blog, what the costs are of running a blog?

jackj 10:36 AM  

A rather familiar, if mundane theme, with EMPTYZESTER seeming to be the best of the tired bunch.

One theme answer, MAIZELOBSTER, doesn’t need to be included as an “entwisted” entry. All summer long, New England lobstermen have been catching blue lobsters, red ones, white ones, even maize colored lobsters. Think of that, you can now order color-coordinated “surf and turf”.

Of the fill, WHATTHEHEY looked like the constructor’s top seed, with some of the other unique answers like RUMPROASTS, DISAGREE, HOMEMAKERS and MUDCAT also deserving of note.

“Charles, e.g.” for ROI seemed a cute bit of wordplay, though, when I looked it up on Jim Horne’s XWordInfo, a similar bit of cluing had already been used 70 times; no matter, it was still fun.

The strangest entry was one we might expect to see as a clue, not an answer and that was POORPEOPLE. It wasn’t a jarring entry it just seemed rather awkward.

So, (holding my fire on ATTA), it was still a mildly enjoyable Sunday solve.

Happy anni to Rex; glad to see you approached it in your usual “bah humbug” fashion, while creating your own noisemaking (raspberries, of course).

It’s what we expect and (mostly) enjoy.

600 10:56 AM  

Happy Birthday Five to number 31! I found NYTimes crosswords frustrating when I first started doing them; too many times I'd have an answer that was correct, but not know why. Then I discovered this blog, probably like others because I was googling an answer. In any case, a big thank you goes along with the celebratory wish.

Also, because of this blog, I go into the archives to do old crosswords sometimes--but the oldest ones I do are from five years ago. I'm sure there were probably other resources to help with the prickly questions, but I never found them, and five years' worth of NYTimes crosswords has, so far, been enough.

Yet I've never contributed. Thanks, JaxinLA, for the link.

Now, a late word: @LR--your answer to my yesterday question about JILT (end it with suddenly) was most appreciated. I just wasn't parsing the words properly. Thank you.

As for today, I quite enjoyed it. My favorite answer was CAPTOR for Polyphemus, to Odysseus. I had the C, couldn't fit CYCLOPS, knew COUSIN wasn't right--and loved the aha when CAPTOR came to mind. My time was right in the average Sunday for me, so I was gratified Rex rated the puzzle medium. I hate it when I struggle and Rex rates it easy, even though I know all of this is subjective.

Hands up for STONE before TONNE.

But I do have a question--how is "tipping point" JAR? I know there's a reason I'm just not seeing--help, anyone?

Kathy Smith 11:05 AM  

It's the place to leave your tip as when saying what the hey, I'll spend $6 on a latte.
Happy anniversary & thanks.

Crosscan 11:08 AM  

Happy anniversary. A major cost of running a blog is the enormous fees paid to guest bloggers.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

bartenders have tip jars.

600 11:13 AM  

Thank you, @Kathy Smith! Of course!

And @Crosscan--good one.

(Is there some reason for the @ before names of bloggers referred to here? I feel stupid typing them, but see most others, maybe all, do. I neither twitter nor blog anywhere else, so really, what's the etiquette here? I promise this will be my last question of the day.)

chefbea 11:18 AM  

Happy fifth anniversary. I believe the gift for the fifth year of xword blogging is Beets. So I will send along a buch along with my donation.

Loved the theme and of course empty zester and leftover rump roast

Z 11:20 AM  

How could I not like a puzzle so centered around Z?

Found KIDZAPPER just a little disturbing, but I'm a little sensitive in the area of children and discipline.

Had lots of trouble around SEEJUSTICE DONE, probably spent as much time on that area as the rest of the puzzle.

@DBGeezer - Time is money.

Happy birthday RP.

janie 11:35 AM  

wow -- happy blogiversary indeed. five years already?! recall those early months fondly. ;-)

took **far** more delight solving this than you did, but WHAT THE HEY? that's what keeps things lively!

congrats, r.p. -- and here's to the future!

;-)

GenJoneser 11:45 AM  

Congrats on your 5th Anniversary, Rex! A real achievement. Thanks for all the help along the way...you've made me smarter...well at least a better puzzle solver! Keep it going as long as you can.

Mel Ott 11:56 AM  

WHAT THE HEY made me think of Uncle Miltie. If he didn't coin the phrase he certainly popularized it.

I liked EMPEROR ZERO.

Happy Birthday, Blog. ITS ALL GOOD.

Stan 12:38 PM  

EMPTY ZESTER and KID ZAPPER worked the best for me as wacky phrases. You could almost hear the rimshots.

Yikes, is that what eels look like in the water??

Happy fifth, blog!

Beadola 12:44 PM  

Happy Blogiversary. The critiques on this blog add so much to my enjoyment once the puzzle is done! I recommend the blog to everyone, and tell them if you ever have trouble parsing a clue or answer, you will most likely find your answer within the blog or comments. Love and thanks...off to donate.

Lewis 12:51 PM  

@rex -- congrats, I'm getting near my one year anniversary with you. Please keep it up!

@ted cassidy -- I don't get the connection with this puzzle, but thanks for the classic link.

Beadola 12:54 PM  

@Lewis - no rules in the fight. See 42D

Yogeshvara 1:26 PM  

I liked care takers for 72 down and trying to make it work made that the last section of the puzzle for me. Kudos to everyone with the aged and infirm or young and needy at home. And Kudos to this blog, which I particularly like for the tips on dog care.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Does no one else object to Garrison Keillor as being described as garrulous? My dictionary has it as "excessively talkative" and specifies it as having a a negative connotation.

archaeoprof 1:34 PM  

Happy blogiversary, Rex! You da man. Five more years!

All the same, I really enjoyed this puzzle, especially SEEJUSTICEDOZE.

5A WADI is Arabic for a dry river bed. In the Middle East sometimes one has to go "up the wadi", which just sounds bad.

Evan K. 1:35 PM  

My favorite part of the grid was the set of unique long downs. I can't believe how many original entries there were in this grid! (I believe 20 non-theme alone, according to xwordinfo.)

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

please someone explain 46 across "ias"???

syndy 2:16 PM  

WOW I missed the birthday announcement while wondering about the birthday song-but it wasreally late and I was going to bed and HAPPY BLOGDAY REX SHARP!

Clark 2:23 PM  

Anon 2:07: You mean 86 across. It's "I as in ink."

chefbea 2:23 PM  

@anonymous 2:07 It's 86A I as in Ink. Ink starts with an I.

600 2:28 PM  

Okay, you cleared up where IAS came from--what on earth did @Yogeshvara mean he wanted care takers for 72 D? Is this another joke I'm too late for?

Rube 2:30 PM  

Happy B-Day, Rex. Thought this was an enjoyable B-Day present. Took me a long time to see the theme. Should have read the title first. When I got EMPEROR ZERO couldn't decide whether it was for Nero or Zero Mostel.

Favorite answer was LIMPID... a great word. Knew Edvard Grieg was Norwegian making Olav an educated guess, but questioned the spelling of Ole... I've always seen it as Ollie. Have this vague rememberance of someone called Ollie Olafson. I think he had an early Saturday morning kids' radio show in the 40's.

hazel 2:34 PM  

not a wowzer for me. did like SEEJUSTICEDOZING and EMPERORZERO. never heard of a FREERUN chicken. - they're called free range here, but sadly, that only means (in Georgia) that the door to their coop is open, and they have "access" to the outdoors. Since their breasts are generally so overdeveloped (not a peep, @evild!) they have trouble walking so its not like they're really running around carefree - you have to do a bit more due diligence around here if you really want something that would pass a reasonable wo/man test for a " free range" bird.

@archeoprof - my husband just got back from going "up the wadi" in Turkey, although he just described it as driving a tractor up a dry river bed (looking for leucocytic basalt outcrops, I believe).

@Braves, go! c'mon already!

@rex - thanks for all you do, even if I get irritated from time to time. The check's in the mail!

edmcan 2:36 PM  

I know, I know, I'm stupid, but 'Jar' for 'Tipping Point'?! Hated it, but love the blog Rex. Congratulations!

SethG 3:34 PM  

My next to last letter was the MUDCAT/MCM crossing. My last was the LIMPID/MCM crossing.

Too many of the theme answers essentially incorporate pieces of their base phrases. The PEZ one makes as little sense as the ZESTER or DOZE ones. This was still one of my quickest solves ever.

Congrats on a fine run!

Teresa in Detroit 4:20 PM  

I finish with limpid. Such a treat to find a great word show up in the spot I'd been staring at for too long.

@Rex - I laughed out loud at Reel Eels. What a great idea! Just one of the many great things you've given us these past 5 years! Happy Blogday!

CoolPapaD 6:05 PM  

Anyone remember MUDCAT Grant?? C'mon Tribe fans - where are you??

This started out slowly and ended a bit quicker - took a long time for me to understand how turning an N into a Z was Entwisted, but I figured it out before coming here!

I had I TINA and IVANA before DIANA!

Happy Birthday/Anniversary!

mo pie 6:21 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle but hated the Uno clue. There is no "R card"; the card is called Reverse. So REVERSER was just a huge stretch.

Love this blog and the comments!

archaeoprof 6:23 PM  

@CoolPapaD: yes, I thought of MUDCAT Grant when I wrote in that answer. Pretty good pitcher, wasn't he.

Crosscan 6:36 PM  

Mudcat Grant was the starting pitcher in the very first Expos game in 1969.

foodie 6:46 PM  

I've been gone for a bit because of a work-related deadline. I'm so glad I came back in time to join the Happy Blogisvary chorus!

I know how much I missed Rexville over the last couple of weeks. It's made me realize what a part of my life this place is. Rex, you rock!

mac 7:56 PM  

Happy anniversary and thank you so much! I'm sure a lot of people agree that our days wouldn't be the same without you. Hope you and Sandy will have a nice dinner to celebrate!

I thought this was a decent Sunday puzzle with a lot of stuff that was up my alley. Had a hard time figuring out the theme, though, I was all over the place for a while. Finding it helped a lot.

I also thought "poor people" startling. Sorry, but my favorite is "see justice doze", with "kid zapper" a close zecond.

skua76 9:23 PM  

Rex, Happy anniversary from this corner too! Thanks for doing it Nice to be able to come here all the time, I found this blog a couple years ago while at the South Pole, there is internet access less than half the time.

Great picture of eels!

chefwen 10:14 PM  

Late to the party, busy entertaining guests and watching the Pack rack up another win. It wasn't a real pretty game but a win is a win and we'll take it.

I usually contribute to the blog around Rex's birthday in November but I will follow form with JaxInL.A. and chip in early.

Caught on to the theme early and it did help. Frasier craze was my favorite along with Highlighter Pez.

All excited about Amazing Race tonight, a sweetheart of a friend is going to be on it, Andy Finch, if anyone watches, cheer him on.

Evan 10:22 PM  

Today is the 5th anniversary of this blog's birth? Today is the 28th anniversary of my birth! I always knew we were kindred spirits, Rex.

potagiere 10:38 PM  

Annoying puzzle. Just not fun. The n/z resulted in stilted answers.
However, I liked STORK and MYTH. Made me think of how some marketing guy came up with a stork to sell pickles. Kind of like a gecko to sell insurance. Just not a skill set I have, but you can't argue with what works. Happy anniversary Rex.

Sparky 11:51 PM  

Haappy Fifth Blogaversary Rex. And many more to come. It has enriched my puzzling since June 2010. And Happy times to all Rexites.

This puzzle did not grab me. Since Friday DNFs. Today got EMPTYZESTER first. Liked FRASIERCRAZE best. SOLACED seems an odd word.

Here's to more fun for all of us.

Google ate my first comment and now sez I don't have a blog. Sigh.

Phone Sex 4:00 AM  

My dictionary has it as "excessively talkative" and specifies it as having a a negative connotation.

DONALD 5:11 AM  

Four and a half years, don't hold a grudge!

aspenrustic 11:06 AM  

Yes< was a stay at home dad for 6 years.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Can anyone shed light on HIKE for 29 Across "Cry after a series of numbers"? I got it through crosses but don't understand the reference.

TimJim 3:08 PM  

@anonymous1:18: The numbers are the signals a quarterback in football calls, after which he says "hike" --which is when the center hikes him the ball. (Although I don't think many quarterbacks actually say "hike" any more)

dherreid 7:21 PM  

Sorry I'm late! Only got to it today. Sorry to say I didn't like this puzzle a great deal, too many weak clues/answers, e.g., storks delivering babies is not a myth, it's a superstition. I put it in but I didn't like it.

dherreid 7:26 PM  

Forgot to say - I had a terrible time with "highlighterpez" I started it as "dayglow..." and was a mess by the time I got through...

erik g 1:42 AM  

what the fuck (who uses hey here ) is aandw?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

A and W Root Beer

Dirigonzo 1:56 PM  

From syndiland, where I would have had a much easier time spotting the puzzle's gimmick if I knew how to spell Haagen-DAZS (which tripped me up the last time it appeared, too - you'd think I would learn) and didn't think the Woody Allen film was sELIG. Finally spotted the KIDZAPPER down in the corner and clawed my way back up the grid.

106d left me wondering, though, might an obese man have a fat unit?

imism - LOL, WTF and the like?

Dirigonzo 2:44 PM  

P.S. - I hope everybody will leave a little something in that tip JAR right in the middle of the grid to show their appreciation to Rex for hosting this party and providing the entertainment every day.

Jas in TX 2:53 PM  

From Syndicated Land: Happy Blogday, Rex. Can't believe it's been 5 years already.

@erik g: A and W Root Beer.

Anonymous 12:34 AM  

Spacecraft here. Done, but not particularly enjoyed. There wasn't even much of an "aha" moment after the gimme at 7d--a partial, as were 1a and 114d. Partials are blights on the puzzle landscape--and "IAS in ink" is a downright junkyard. AGAZE? ARENO? ASOUR? ENLAI? C'mon, man.
Agreed that it's free range. FREERUN is what you give with runners on first and third, no outs, by deploying at double-play depth. I guess I can let TROU drop, er, go--but I really don't care to see ATTA in print. The near twins of HEARS and HEARST aren't pretty, either.
There's more, but let's just say that the whole thing is rather unlovely. Surprised Will couldn't find a better entry.
There's more, but I'll quit. It was just a junky, unlovely puzzle today. I think Will could've picked a better one.

Anonymous 2:34 AM  

Any puzzle with Willie Mays in it is a great one.

CoolPapaD 6:05 PM
I remember Mudcat from the A's. Unlike teammates Catfish Hunter and Blue Moon Odom (who were given their nicknames and the fake stories behind them by Charles O. Finley), Mudcat got his nickname the old fashioned way: his roomie Larry Doby called him "ugly as a Mississippi mudcat."

Favorite clue/answer is the one that put this song in my head.





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