SUNDAY, Sep. 23, 2007 - David Levinson Wilk

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Flip-Flops" - terms on either side of "FOR" in familiar phrases are switched to create new, silly phrases, which are clued

[updated 12:37 p.m.]

Despite an easyish theme, this was not a snap solving experience for me. The non-theme fill did not flow easily - but that's a good thing. I like to chew on the Sunday puzzle a little rather than just breeze through it. There were some odd phrases, or names I didn't know (or barely knew), so I never got in a groove. I don't really have a lot to say about this puzzle generally. It was fine. I'll dive right in. First...

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Rolled sixes while on Water Works, in Monopoly? (broke for Go) - does "broke for" mean "made a move for" here? Is Water Works twelve spaces from Go on a Monopoly board? Is that it? Just say 'yes' or 'no'
  • 28A: Doesn't throw away, as a stage prop? (keeps for play)
  • 35A: What a sushi chef loves to hear? (compliments for fish)
  • 48A: "8 Minute Abs," according to some? (the best for workout)
  • 69A: January 15? (a day for King)
  • 83A: Was late to an appointment at the cosmetician? (lost time for make-up) - I like this theme answer best
  • 95A: What scientists working for Gatorade have? (knowledge for thirst) - iffiest, though I had ADVENTURE FOR THIRST at first, which is even iffier
  • 108A: Dylan not liking Dell computers? (Apples for Bob) - OK, I changed my mind: this is the best theme answer
  • 115A: Like pro bono work? (all for free)
Here is something I know is going to screw people up: 19A: Good, to Guido. Of course "Guido" is Italian, but many people, like me, will enter the more familiar (albeit Spanish) BUENO instead of BUONO here, and then be completely flummoxed by the (very cool) Down clue 3D: A bird flying by on the right, to the Greeks when it seems to start with the prefix GEO-. That whole NW was actually a little tricky for me, as I had FBI instead of BBB (1D: Kicked off), FAIT instead of FINI (24D: Done, in Dijon), LOUP instead of ROUE (32D: Wolf), and I have only barely ever heard of BROMINE (31A: Element that's liquid at room temperature - most people are going to want MERCURY here; I know I did).

A number of high-end vocabulary words, both in the clues and in the answers:

  • 10D: Develop anacusis (go deaf)
  • 58A: Vatican emissary (Nuncio)
  • 88D: Rear seating section in a theater (parterre) - The PARTERRE is a bit hard for me to visualize, even after much Googling; when the word is used (rarely) it appears to be roughly synonymous with Orchestra seating in contemporary theater divisions, though there appears to be a more specialized meaning of the term related to the blocks of seats at the back of a theater - a meaning derived from PARTERRE in gardening.

As you all know, I am bad with royalty from the Middle East, so FAHD (109D: Late Saudi king) was something I had to get from crosses. Otherwise, there weren't many answers from outside my general body of knowledge. One more name I didn't know: 71D: Pulitzer-winning novelist Shirley Ann _____ (Grau). Oh, I forgot about 126D: Actress Graff (Ilene) - holy crap! She was the mom on "Mrs. Belvedere!" Now there's an 80's sitcom that time forgot. And yet it lasted for 117 episodes! I am soooo tempted to sing the theme song right now. One of Ms. Graff's latest projects appears to involve lesbian Catholic schoolgirls. Hmmm, that sounds ... educational. Netflix!

Sometimes short answers hold some interest for me. Today I wondered out loud why VON (92A: German name part) doesn't appear in the grid that often, while ELO (93A: "Shine a Little Love" grp.) won't go away. I know, I know, it's the "V," but still ... it seems unfair somehow. In addition to ELO, Today's puzzle featured two more three-letter answers from the realm of pop music, both of which look like someone was spelling on drugs. I mean, what business does Ringo have naming his kid ZAK ("it's spelled like YAK!") instead of ZACH (short for Zachary) (62D: Ringo's eldest)? And I thought the COO in "Hoochie COO" had an established "C"-spelling, but oh no, Rick Derringer likes to mix it up with the funky "K" (87D: "Rock and Roll, Hoochie _____") - wouldn't the puzzle normally include the artist in a clue like this? Is it that Rick Derringer is a total nobody and so no one would be helped by his inclusion? Is the phrase "Rock and Roll, Hoochie KOO" so ubiquitous that it no longer matters who used it first? Need answers.

I'll finish up with a mixed bag of answers ... who knows what I'll say?

  • 26A: Whirlpool alternative (Amana) - don't know why I'm amused by this misdirection; maybe because my first thoughts were SPA or SAUNA or STEAM BATH
  • 41A: "Say Say Say," say (duet) - another former Beatle in the puzzle, as well as a pre-freakshow Michael Jackson; as with the "Mr. Belvedere" theme song, I am tempted to sing ... this song was popular a couple years before "Mr. Belvedere" went on the air.
  • 17D: The Beatles arrive in New York in 1964 on this (Pan Am) - the third Beatles-related clue of the day. Subtheme!
  • 76A: Historical separation (Apartheid) - this separation was ... historical? In that ... it happened in history? I think my problem here was a I wanted a general word, not a specific "separation."
  • 106A: Three-day holiday (Tet) - again, thinking general term, getting specific answer
  • 103A: Some moonrocks (basalt) - my science knowledge is poor, but I pieced this together
  • 107A: Hero of Sophocles' "Electra" (Orestes) - if science is a weakness, Classics are a strength; this was a gimme (I talked about Orestes just last week in class)
  • 8D: Like Mozart's Symphony No. 10 (In G) - spent a while thinking "Mozart didn't write ten symphonies. He wrote nine." Then realized I was thinking of Beethoven. :(
  • 56D: Mitch Miller, e.g. (oboist) - wasn't he a gymnast too??? Whoops, nope, that was Mitch Gaylord, HA ha.
  • 63D: _____ newt (witches' brew ingredient) (eye of) - yesterday NEWT, today, a newt-related clue. Fantastic.
  • 66D: Hogwarts professor (Snape) - double magic clues! Reminds me of my daughter's Harry Potter-themed birthday party yesterday. SNAPE was one of the answers in the trivia game the teams played (after kids were sorted into teams by ... the sorting hat ... oh yeah, we went all out)
  • 86D: TV character from the planet Melmac (Alf) - like "Mr. Belvedere" (how many times can I mention that show today?), a paradigmatic 80's sitcom. A (to my mind, embarrassing) favorite of my best friend Andrew. [whoops, not his favorite - his dad's. My apologies]
  • 90D: B'way buys (tkts) - this killed me (slightly); the very last letter in the grid was this "K" - I tried all the vowels first. Didn't help that I couldn't fathom what was intended by the cross, 94A: Arcade (walk). Had WAL- and, imagining only a vowel could complete it, came up with nothing. "WALE ... isn't that something to do with corduroy?"

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

UPDATE - Announcement: If you live in the Cleveland area, there are two upcoming crossword events you might be interested in. First, there's "An Evening with the Puzzle Master" (that's Will Shortz, duh) to benefit the Cuyahoga County Public Library - info here; second, on Saturday, Sep. 29, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the "Inaugural Shaker Heights High School Latin Club Crossword Tournament" will take place in the Shaker Heights High School Cafeteria in Shaker Heights, OH - you can download an informational flier from here.


Spencer 11:26 PM  

yes (

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

Yes, Water Works is 12 spaces from GO.

blimey 12:32 AM  

When you land on water works, you have to pay an amount to the owner equal to the dice roll multiplied by some preset number (i forget at the moment). So it probably means that if you roll a 12, you have to pay a lot of money to the owner, so you are broke for the next turn.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

I think most of the theme answers were galumphy (if that's a word).

I didn't like the cosmetician clue - I got FOR MAKE UP fairly readily but I had a hard time getting LOST TIME out of being late.

My favorite theme answer was ALL FOR FREE ("Like pro bono work?")

sonofdad 1:00 AM  

I thought this was the easiest Sunday of the year, if not of ALL TIME. I rocked its casbah from 1A to numel(puzzle)A.

Anonymous 1:56 AM  

I think your puzzle has one error.

I got "uproot" for 60D (Displace), making 68A (Till) "upto".

But I guess your version works also, so . . .

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

I too got "uproot" and "upto" instead of "unto" and "unroot."

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

According to my OED, "unroot" is a word synonymouse with "uproot". So even though "uproot"/"upto" is most likely the official correct answer, "unroot"/"unto" would also technically work.


Doug 2:28 AM  

What racy grids this week. GROIN and STONED in addition to LSD and my mistaken ON A LAP instead of IN A LIE. Also forgot to mention a lovely initial mistake recently in which I answered SNORT for "Toot" instead of whatever the answer was!

Also had UPROOT/UNTO, funny that both work. I did the famous 1996 election puzzle with BOBDOLE/CLINTON yesterday, same sort of thing.

Anonymous 2:28 AM  

Clearly, however, Will Shortz et al want uproot, as that is what the applet accepts as a correct answer, not unroot.

Anonymous 4:23 AM  

I finished it before rex posted, A personal best.


Rick 6:44 AM  

D'oh! I mixed up my languages and had BUENO instead of BUONO, which gave me GEODOMEN instead of GOODOMEN at 3D. I just figured that a geodomen was yet another Greek term that I didn't know and would never remember.

I also had UNROOT/UNTO and was feeling a little snarky over the inelegance of the crosses both beginning with UN-. I like UPROOT/UPTO much better.

DONALD 7:19 AM  

Broke for GO -- a roll of dice equaling 12, when the player situated on Water Works, would allow him to move 12 spaces on the board, landing on GO (the distance of 12 spaces from Water Works) -- bonus points -- good roll of the dice.

Rex Parker 7:40 AM  

Error in grid now fixed. Sorry about that.


Anonymous 8:30 AM  

I hated the lower part of this puzzle.

There is an operia VERIA as well as an opera SERIA but I guessed BAVTA would not be correct.

I thought BAJA meant lower while BAJO meant low but I have been AXED and never OXED.

I have never heard of NOVA LOX which I got (not very easily) from the crosses. I had to google it afterward.

I also have never seen or heard the word PARTERRE.

Despite my difficulties in the area APPLES FOR BOB was my favorite fill.

ScottK 8:36 AM  

So, when did Mitch Miller drop the oboe and start waving his arms around in front of a male glee club?

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

I left bromide instead of BROMINE.

I liked the APARTHEID clue, I remember having (ineffective seeming) protests about that on campus. I agree, we need more VONs in the crossword.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Chalk up one more for UNROOT and UNTO, but I like the corrected version better.

What killed me was the WALK and TKT section. Otherwise it was a "just right" Sunday puzzle - Not too easy - but not one that ends up spilling over into the morning dog walk hour.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I couldn't shake "mais oui" (but yes) from my brain for the answer to 45D until I had no other choice, because, well, nothing else but "ouioui" fit.

"Mais oui!" for "But of course!" is closer to the meaning, IMHO.

Never heard of parterre either.

I still don't know what 110D means.


Orange 10:26 AM  

The O'Jays! A soul group from the '70s.

Rex, I must express my gratitude for the Mitch Gaylord shoutout. He was such a cutie in his Olympic days, and then the movie thing happened, and...oy. Good for a laugh, though!

barrywep 11:32 AM  

UNROOT works but is UNTO really till?
UP TO clearly is.
GEODOMEM/BUENO instead of the elegant GOODOMEN/BUONO did me in.
AMANA for Whirlpool was a gimmee for me. That means I have been doing too many puzzles. Very Petergordonesque.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

PARTREE ?= Par Terre = 'on ground' in French?

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

I can't stare at 51D anymore. It may be obvious later, but would someone explain?

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Poster: There is no such word as "veria." It's "opera buffa" (comic opera) or "opera seria" (dramatic opera). There is, however, e.g., "Don Giovanni," which is called by its librettist un "dramma giocoso," or "humorous drama," a mixture of comic and serious. There is also "verismo" or "realistic" opera, such as the works of Puccini, which often had realistic, contemporary plots and settings.

In another area, remember the famous Chas. Addams cartoon with the witches test-tasting their brew? One of them tells the other: "You forgot the eye of newt."

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

TKTS is a booth in Times Square where you can get discounted Broadway tickets just before the shows. The nearby theaters release unsold tickets, since obviously it's better to fill a seat at a lower price than not to fill it at all. For those willing to be flexible it can be a good deal. The booth is within a stone's throw of the NYT headquarters (but this summer the throw got slightly longer when the newspaper moved west into an elegant new building on 8th Avenue).

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

51D: A tenoner makes tenons, which fit into mortises.

The RHUD supports both unroot and unto as clued, making the crossing officially ambiguous.

Rex Parker 12:30 PM  

Well as long as it's official!

Now I don't feel so bad.


Anonymous 12:42 PM  

To jordanthejust: I had the same problem and finally resorted to Google to find out that (a) tenoner IS a legitimate word; and (b) in all the references I saw (I did not do an exhaustive search), the word always means a machine, one that cuts tenons, not a person. Now, I agree that people can be named after the thing they make (as in roof/roofer), but that doesn't always work (I don't think that a cornerer makes corners). So, is anybody out there who can confirm that in a workshop a guy who makes tenons or operates a tenoner is referred to by the same name?

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

My A to Z crossword dictionary also supports unto and unroot as correct. This felt about right for a Sunday and getting the theme early really helped the process. My only error was the unlucky guess of the day at the ORISON/NUNNIO crossing. Neither were familiar (I assume ORISON shows up in Xwords occasionally, I just haven't seen it or don't remember) so I put in an E at the of ORISON.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Nasty puzzle. I ran aground in the W, centering on MTOSSA, which I thought was unfair, particularly because PELION (which was what I had) fit the same space. Mitch Miller may have been an OBOIST at some time in his career, but he was known primarily as a conductor and arranger, and I thought his instrument was (French) horn. The theme answers were easy, but the fill was mostly awful.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I stand corrected (by Wikipedia). Mitch Miller *was* an oboist and player of the English horn, which of course isn't a horn at all, but another double-reed instrument. But many of his arrangements were heavy on horns, as I recall. The search brought up an (un)favorite of my youth, his arrangement (or maybe composition) of "Tzena, Tzena." Ick. Old-time popcult wasn't much good, either.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

I found this puzzle to be one of the most gettable Sundays in a while. Very little esoterica and very few mean ("Like llamas"?) crosses. Had the most trouble with 14A "Afternoon fare" because like yesterday's "Old Drive-in fare" (OATERS) I was wrongly thinking about food. I wanted it to be LUNCH.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

A question:
Does "Greek peak"/MTOSSA break the abbrev. rule since the abbrev. is in the answer but not the clue? Or does "Mt." fall under the rule of STPETER ("Figure in many jokes"), in that "St." is so common, cluing it is unneccesary?
Just wondering.

Liked 59A JUMBOSIZE/"Extra-large" (especially in all caps.

Did not like 22A TOTAL/"Unadulterated". Yuck.

wendy 3:23 PM  

Between yesterday's Newt at the urinal imagery and today's GROIN (really, Will?), I am officially grossed out over here in Northeast Ohio, home of the O'JAYS. Not to be confused with O.J., who I distance myself from at all costs.

It's been such a week for Harry Potter clues. I finally finished #7 yesterday so SNAPE was an interesting harmonic convergence of life and puzzling. As was ALF, I hate to admit, which someone at work brought in on dvd to show at lunchtime on Friday. I watched one ep. It was ... very dated, and not funny.

APPLES FOR BOB was definitely my favorite switcheroo.

APARTHEID means separation in Afrikaans. In case there was any uncertainty about that?

I found it interesting that I still have a vivid mental image of the plane on which the Beatles flew into NYC, and thus PAN AM was a gimme, along with ZAK. The things that imprint on the brain of an 11-year-old.

Loved ORISON. One of Hamlet's most moving moments is the speech in which he says to Ophelia, "Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered." Wouldn't have known that word but for my love of that play.

Fun puzzle overall.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

I actually had "Broke for Co" instead of broke for Go because I thought the amount you paid depended on your roll and if you rolled 2 sixes the roll broke for the water works COmpany and they got paid more. Plus I thought Mozarts symphony was INComplete. Amusing how far off base you can get when you take the wrong train on the wrong track!

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

I'm staring too. why is 'efs' 40% of 50?

Rex Parker 5:58 PM  

FIFTY is composed of five letters, 40% of which are EFS.


Anonymous 6:09 PM  

ah. silly me. I thought perhaps it was Armenian for 20, or something. thanks!

Daemmerung 6:42 PM  

English spelling "theatre" in the cryptic this week. grrr.

Michael Chibnik 10:07 PM  

An easy puzzle, but parterre and tenoner were new to me and only gettable via crosses. I thought there was a lot of crosswordese in this puzzle, but the theme was enjoyable.

fergus 1:35 AM  

Got more assistance from the theme today than in any other puzzle for quite some time. Actually did this puzzle with a friend, and it was a mostly harmonious experience, especially since she commanded the pen. Only twice did I get reprimanded for interrupting.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I thought the trouble in the west could partly be blamed on "till." Shouldn't it be "'til" or until?

Unknown 11:01 PM  

I agree with two wheeler re: "Till"
It made big problems for me as I started with PLOW. When I finally completed the west side, I was ready to declare an error in the definition... that is until I checked M-W dictionary and found the first listing (oldest etymology) for TILL is as clued.
(from the boonies, a week late)

Anonymous 6:21 PM  

have to say, you guys, I like this posting (even though, age-wise and time-solving wise, I don't fit the demographic). I'm getting into a routine of solving the puzzle sometime between Mon-Wed and then checking out the answers (esp. to themed words/phrases) here, and then reading all your comments. Feels like talking with friends about a common subject. Best part of it is, I don't have to clean up the house before you guys come over. I guess I'm learning to accept the virtual chat. Does that give a clue to my age?

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