Thurs, Apr. 12, 2007 - Jim Page

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Theme - see 36-Across.
Difficulty - Moderate for a Thursday, with a couple of sharp, pointy teeth.

Tonight we have a clever little theme, as hinted at by the appropriately located theme entry, COMEDY CENTRAL. What's that signify? Well, we've got four other theme entries, each with a 4-letter comedian sandwiched perfectly in the center:

Seems deceptively simple, and yet I'm still stumped as to how people come up with these themes. Just impressive.

Good stuff:
TUBAS as (Tornado clouds) - that's an unfamiliar clue to me. You may know it better as a 'funnel cloud'. Here we have an actual photo of a tornadic tuba, along with an amazingly accurate artist's depiction of one:

(take note of the crossword teeth)

In addition to the theme answers, there's unexpected puzzle goodness to be had in UMBILICAL, the becoming-more-common CNBC, TEENER, TENTHS, and a tough but interesting cinematic clue for SPARTA - (Mississippi town in "The Heat of the Night").
Best clue, by far: (The less you see of this person the better) for DIETER.

Update 4/12: Linda kindly alerted me to my omission of REX in the grid, sitting regally at 54-Down. Seems I never actually read that clue during the solve, and it flew under the radar in the post-game wrapup. Thanks for the heads-up. Were I authorized to hand out T-shirts, mugs, or new cars, I'd send one of those your way, Linda.

Tough stuff:
Well, yesterday the toughie was MAHARAYA, today it's NEOSHO. Learn something new every day here, I suppose. This was part of today's Nasty Crossing: HASHED(Fouled up)/NEOSHO(Kansas' ___ River). Not being from Kansas, this was another new one, and I can't for the life of me figure out HASHED from that clue. I guess it's another gap in the old noggin here. How nasty was this cross for me? Upon closer inspection, I noticed something interesting:

Proof positive that it is a nasty one indeed.

Also a mini-comics crosswordese theme, between (Prince Valiant's wife)ALETA and Hi & Lois' neigbor IRMA (seen to the right in a rare appearance):

So, what do you think of this puzzle? Don't be shy, c'mon.

Be sure to welcome back Rex upon his return, as I'm sure you all appreciate him that much more after my turn here.

Thanks, Rex, for letting me ramble in a public forum about a pastime I enjoy, and thanks to his great readers and posters for doing their part as well. Always fun. And with that, I leave you to your solving.

Happy puzzling,
Howard B.


Linda G 11:58 PM  

I can't believe both you and Orange failed to mention the appearance of REX in this puzzle. Call me slow, but I don't get the clue.

Well done, Howard.

Seven guest blogs down, one to go.

barrywep 1:07 AM  

Linda, Rex is King of the Mardis Gras as well as Crossworld:

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

Funny guy. That H eluded me as well, though when it came down to that, I couldn't see what else it might be.

Other letters that I had to make an uneducated guess about: 1) the B in CNBC and LIB. Once I has CN_C, I figgered it must be B, but don't know what a LIB is as an ad add-on. 2) The F in FLENSE and AFB. I suppose I've seen FLENSE before, having translated articles on whaling not so very long ago, but it's certainly not a term I come across every day, or even every year, and what's AFB? (oh, I just got that, 20 minutes later--Edwards Air Force Base). And perhaps 3) the N in ENGIO...C'mon. I'm sure I'm not the only one who pencilled in ETTE (Feminine name ending) and MOLTEN (Like lava)and left them there almost until the bitter end. Still, fewer wrong turns (and continuing down the path for a hundred yards before turning back) than yesterday.

DIETER was also a favorite of mine, but for another reason...When I finally pieced this together (the NW corner was the last to fall for me), I read...the name Dieter, as in the old Mike Meyers character on SNL.

The theme helped me to solve the puzzle when I had _Y__ALLON_ for 17A (the O being from TWO-night doubleheader, which makes no sense, I know, but if I've heard the term twi-night before, I don't remember it). Let's see, HOPE, ROCK, LENO...BALL?...Oh yeah...Waaaaaaah, Ricky!...That Ball! (I'm trying to think of the mad alto player who recorded "I Love Lucy!" probably in the late 1980s...IT'LL come to me later.)

All in all, I loved this puzzle, all the more so because I managed to fill the whole thing without googling--though I did have two or three letters that I wasn't sure about and...still had ENGIO!

Liked the musical clue that was not a musical clue (TUBA--a great word in my book...memories of the tuba players in high school marching band chanting "tu-ba, tu-ba..."...and did you know that the French word for snorkel is TUBA?)
I was also tickled by the clue to EEL. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

And I liked the musical clue that was a musical clue (they're shown by open ovals). Went from "huh?" to "oh, I see" very quickly.

On the subject of REX...I can't believe people from New Orleans are referred to as New Orleanians. Seems like New Orleansians would be a lot easier to say. Or, for laissez-le-bon-temps-rouler Cajuns...néo-orléanais.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Yeah, I got bit by a couple of those pointy teeth too--I had an "M" where NEOS-O and -ASHED met, thinking of mashing one's finger when mishitting a nail with a hammer.

Also had trouble at the top--I had TONAGE for TOWAGE, so SPENED for "Like lava" didn't work. Also had ETTE for ETTA and struggled with the crossing bet. David EWEN and ANGIO.

And tomorrow's Friday the 13th!

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

mmpo, you and I stumbled in tandem. I was ruined by MOLTEN, had ETTE too, and honest to God, looked at DIETER and saw the same SNL character you did. I actually have a card depicting him here on my desk which says "you are deeply depressed and your every thought is of pain and sorrow," followed inside by "how I envy you!" (From a friend, long story ... )

Also ashamed to say I had ROI for REX for a bit before realizing my mistake. (No reflection on you, Rex, I swear!)

Early on I thought the cable channel in question was Home and Garden because I had the OME to start with, but at some point I saw that wasn't gonna work. Before I got the theme I failed to see how ORTHOPEDIC and DEFROCKING had one whit to do with COMEDY CENTRAL. Nice fakeout for a while. The last comedian to fall was BALL, too; I never saw that at all til I came here (I must be quite sexist since I wasn't considering women at all; I kept thinking, Monty HALL?, which is of course preposterous.)

How 'bout BACHELOR(s) two days in a row? Anyway, this one I enjoyed though it was many-fanged and rubbed raw my skin a rosy RED.

Howard B 8:09 AM  

You know, I actually missed REX in the solve - shame on me!
Sorry 'bout that.

ScottK 8:42 AM  

Certainly today's theme will (not for the first time) gladden the heart of Will Shortz' A-List buddy and Wordplay co-star Jon Stewart. . .

As a Wisconsonite I cheered for 13D, where the Lac du Flambeau Band of Chippewa run the Lake of the Torches Casino. Lots of classy French names in that part of the state: Lac Court d'Oreilles, Trempleau, Eau Claire, Prairie du Sac, and my favorite, Prairie du Chien, "Plain of the Dogs."

Orange 8:50 AM  

Terrific graphics, Howard!

I had ETTE too, until ENGIO (B-I-engio, B-I-engio, and Bingo was his name-O) amassed its wrongness.

Norrin2 8:53 AM  

Good job, Howard. Thanks for sharing those crossword teeth.

dfan 9:12 AM  

We were also working on ----ALLING and came up with HALL before BALL, but were thinking of Arsenio.

mmpo: "Ad add-on" is LIB because of "ad lib". I'm starting to get attuned to the signs that a clue is referring to a prefix or suffix (though here I was stuck on "adage" for a while).

Linda G 10:05 AM  

I can't believe I didn't know the the Rex/King connection. I mean, I know that our Rex is King of CrossWorld, but that's as far as it went.

I've learned as much in this blog as I learned in college.

I'm guessing that more of you didn't see REX because you actually knew 59A was REZA. I didn't, so I had to pay some attention to that corner on the downs.

Good job, all of you who cracked the theme.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Oh. More Latin and/or a musical/non-musical clue. I was stuck on ad being short for advertisement. Thank you, Dan.

As for Wendy's ROI...makes sense to me. (How do you say Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras in Latin?)
...Speaks Latin / My Satin Doll...

...There was a surgeon had a dog and Bingo was his name, oh...). That Orange. She don't say much, but what she says is pithy! That (if memory serves) is nearly a direct quote from the Girl who cain't say no, mentioned a few days back.

Oh, and if anyone cares, that name did indeed come to me (the alto player who recorded the theme from "I Love Lucy" was): Richie Cole.
I Love Lucy and she loves me,
We're as happy as two can be...(fade)

Alex S. 10:20 AM  

I found the grid as a whole relatively straightforward but finished without figuring out what the theme meant. Couldn't figure out what it meant afterward and then felt stupid when I read it here.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

I did not know that tornados were TUBAS! Tubal, yes, but tubas, no.

Howard, I loved your little devil drawing on square 51. Adorable and oh, so apt.

Dave Sullivan tomorrow and then the return of REX. Woohoo!

Orange 11:20 AM  

Tornados aren't tubas anymore. The American Meteorological Society's Glossary of Meteorology says "tuba" is an obsolete term for a funnel cloud.

If you were a tuba player in a tornado and you were lashing your instrument to something sturdy so it wouldn't blow away, would that be a tuba ligation?

Norrin2 11:51 AM  

A tuba ligation!
Now that's funny!

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Alex I'm with you. Solved the puzzle but couldn't connect orthopedic, etc, to comedy central. And since I'm "out" as a Kansan, I'll admit it helped with Neosho but.....not with "tuba."
Trish in OP

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

...perhaps, but does it pass the breakfast table tuba test?...
And when the tuba player refuses to have his or her tuba pressed into service as a punch bowl and goes off in a huff threatening to sue over the public humiliation, this might lead to tuba libation litigation.
And here's a little known fact: The first-chair tuba player in the Ankara philharmonic is often referred to (behind his back) as the Oompah-pah Pasha. Seriously. It's true. I have a friend who plays thumb cymbals in the orchestra who heard it from the çigirtma player who sits right in front of the tuba section...

Howard B 1:33 PM  

Quick notes:
- Ouch, but too funny, Orange.

- If I ever see 'çigirtma' in a puzzle, I'll know at least one person who'll be thrilled.

- Lesson learned today: Giving me 10 minutes with a graphic editing program is the online equivalent of giving your car keys to a precocious 3-year-old.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  


Shrove tuesday in Latin is carne vale (carnival) which means good bye meat. I had a hard time with the puzzle.

Wendy's roi/rex dillema, I too was not sure for a moment but remembered Rex and thought of "Oedipus Rex" the play not our crossword king.


Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Wow, I'm glad I asked. That (carne vale) is one delightful tidbit. Thank you, professor Phil!

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

mmpo - I thought the first-chair tuba player in the Ankara philharmonic was the oompah-pah-pah Poobah.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

That's very close to what might be called 'tuballiteration'.

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

I also suffered a few "bites" in working the puzzle. And also managed to finish it without getting the theme. Thanks, Howard! I really liked your commentary and laughed out loud at " Rexico" and your comment about "computer graphics etc, handing the car keys to a 3-year old."

Thanks to all of you who have been been sitting in this week. It would have been a loooooooong week otherwise.

Looking forward to Dave's write up tomorrow.

Anonymous 5:59 PM  

at the risk of being labeled stupid, will someone please tell me what the heck "cas" in charlie means?

Anonymous 6:33 PM  

Dear Anon,

You are most certainly not stupid - this kind of clue fools even the best sometimes.

C as in Charlie, like when you're trying to spell something over the phone...

I didn't get CAS. I got all the acrosses. Only then did I "get" CAS.

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

P.S. Loved all the tuba improvs on the blog commentary today!

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

thank you ultra saved my sanity, at least what's left of it.

Jeffrey 9:23 PM  

Oy... this puzzle caused me pain. I've done three cryptic crosswords this week, but after an hour, I couldn't get the theme.

I'd feel stupid about it, but I don't associate Leno with being funny. And since Leno, Hope, or Ball never did Saturday Night Live, South Park, or the Daily Show, I'd never associate them with Comedy Central.

danielp 9:27 PM  

lord God, i do love crossword puzzles

Anonymous 10:42 PM  


Oy, indeed. I was miffed about the Comedy Central reference, too, until Howard B pointed out that all the 4-letter comic names were in the "center" of the 10-letter answer.

Pretty obscure, but pretty central.


So do I! Let's see if we can get through the Friday!

Anonymous 10:45 PM  

Forgot to wish Dave the best in his guest-blogging venture tomorrow. left that out of my original writeup as well.

Ah well, better very late than very never.

Thanks for the kind words, people :).
I'm off to tackle the Friday Times, then off to bed.

Orange 11:45 PM  

Yes! Leno = not funny.

Rex Parker 3:31 PM  

OK, this is days late, but I just had to say, yes: Leno = NOT FUNNY. Rich, famous, but not funny.

DONALD 8:46 AM  


Hallaig 9:26 AM  

I liked the Addams family connection - Gomez and Morticia together with Gomez's real-life sons Sean and MacKenzie Astin.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Hi All, I am running out of ways to say "checking in from 6 weeks in the past"

This puzzle was a three cupper. Lots of fill before the first long clue emerged. I was starting to panic when I got DEFROCKING. HASHED was pretty easy for me, remembering the HASH-UP I had made of yesterdays puzzle.

COMEDY CENTRAL jumped out at me, and once I got ORTHOPEDIC, the theme became clear. Like mmpo and Wendy, Lucille BALL was the last comic standing.

After yesterday's debacle, I carefully checked the puzzle before coming here, so I did notice REX holding court in the S/W, and I caught the "A" in ETTA.

My red herrings were IN ON for ON TO, (37d) and HAGS for TRIO (43a)

After finishing, I passed the puzzle to Hanne with the question, "Why would it be better to see less of this german person?" She caught it right away. Sort of like the famous clue: "African flower" (NILE)

I had no quibbles, and my favorite clue was 26d, "Carrier of leaves for the dining table" - TEACART

Since I can't think of another TUBA pun, I think I'll go and find some work to do.

Anonymous 4:44 AM  

Leno = agreed, not funny
Letterman = funny, but not as funny as he used to be
Ferguson = the funniest since maybe Steve Allen and funnier than Carson

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP