SUNDAY, Sep. 30, 2007 - Kelsey Blakley

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: AEIOU (17D: Fivesome seen in order in the answer to each starred clue) - in every theme answer, every vowel appears once, and in alphabetical order


I uncovered this theme very early - had GAME MISCONDUCT in place already when I hit 17D, and when I saw that the "fivesome" in question was A-I--, I took one look at GAME MISCONDUCT and knew instantly what I was dealing with. All theme answers were easy to get from there, sometimes with only a little help from crosses. The non-theme fill was a lot of fun- a lot of colorful, unusual words, but almost nothing that made me think "are you #$#%-ing kidding me?" Which is nice, because who really wants to be hurling profanity at the computer on the Lord's Day?

Theme answers:

  • 23A: *Ice hockey penalty (game misconduct)
  • 13D: *Professional courtesy in pricing (trade discount) - a new term for me
  • 34A: *Tongue-in-cheek (facetious)
  • 40A: *Somewhat in jest (half-seriously) - great phrase
  • 68A: *Sign of coming danger (gathering clouds) - kinda like the opposite of a bird flying by on the right (if you did last week's puzzle, you'll understand)
  • 94A: *Drifter (wandering soul) - reminds me of really bad half-hour series on HBO twenty years ago called "The Hitchhiker" - really poorly written serial about a laconic hitchhiker who gets in lots of R-rated-nudity situations somehow...
  • 102A: *What "dele" means (take it out) - love this one; reminds me of the great Franz Ferdinand single "Take Me Out" - that song is like two songs: starts one way, and then at the minute mark, totally segues into a different, but still awesome-sounding song. Where was I?
  • 119: *Barnyard fixture (watering trough)
  • 58D: *Time during a graveyard shift (late-night hour)

I am late this morning - spent my normal blog-writing time in Ithaca last night with my brilliant writing group - so I am going to do a fifty-yard dash of a write-up this morning, starting, of course with ...

57D: Poet who wrote "The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on" (Omar) - OMARR, OMARR ... OMAR? When I said OMARR needs to go away, I did not mean that he should get a haircut, put on a fake mustache, and then try to sneak back in. I need a break from all look-alikes and near-homonyms: no OMARS, no O'MARAs ... just recede into the past for a while, OK? Good. (see Fri. and Sat. puzzles if you have no idea what I'm talking about)

2D: Silas of Continental Congress (Deane)
104D: "The Family Circus" cartoonist (Keane)

They rhyme. Further, "THE Family Circus?" I had no idea about the definite article. I wonder if that comic is popular at THE Ohio State University?

16D: Maker of Bug-B-Gon (Ortho) - wanted ORKIN
12D: City of New Orleans operator (Amtrak) - I did not get this until the song drifted through my head just this second:

"Good morning America, how are ya?
I said 'Don't you know me, I'm your native son.
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans.
I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done."

8D: Derisive gesture (snook) - ??? If Shrek had a cousin, this would be his name.

20: Footballer-turned-politician Swann (Lynn) - great wide receiver for the Steelers in the 70s. Lost race for governor of Pennsylvania recently.

1D: Annual literary award (Edgar) - that's for mysteries, in case you didn't know

9D: Periods in prison, e.g. (ordeals) - mine was not, btw

5D: Jewish crepe (blintze) - no idea these were Jewish. Jewish food? at IHOP? OY(S)! (6D: Exclamations of exasperation)

24D: Biotite and Phlogopite (micas) - I can tell that that clue's going to get serious Google traction

98A: Colorless, flammable gas (ethylene) - more science I don't really know

79D: _____ nitrate (amyl) - and still more (though I have heard of this...)

117A: Tin: Prefix (stanno-)
122A: New Hampshire senator John (Sununu)

I would like to suggest we coin the word STANNOSUNUNU. I am open to suggestions as to what it should mean.

55A: Patron saint of metalworkers (Eloi) - hands up if you know ELOI only as a ["Time Machine" race].

45D: Development sites (uteri) - hellish clue. Had it ending in "S" forever and wondered, aloud, "What the hell are UTERS?"

41D: English playwright Ayckbourn (Alan) - me and my English Ph.D. never heard of this guy.

102D: Italian poet Torquato _____ (Tasso) - me and my English Ph.D. nailed this guy.

25D: Home of "The Diane Rehm" show (NPR) - never heard it

34D: Christopher Morley novel "Kitty _____" ("Foyle") - vintage paperback collecting comes in handy...

115A: Actress/spokeswoman Belafonte (Shari) - her dad was in the puzzle recently, for "The Banana Boat song," I think. Day O!

32A: Surgically excise (resect) - gross

116A: Ancient Greeks region (Aeolia) - 5/6 vowels! Beat that.

89A: Roman historian (Livy) - more ancient greatness

114A: Israeli statesman Barak (Ehud) - heard the name a lot. Never seen it written out, I don't think.

88A: Dan _____, former N.B.A. star and coach (Issel) - big white guy, played for the Nuggets. Love the throwback basketball clues. Speaking of Denver...

52A: Rocky Mtn. highs? (elevs.) - had ELEWS because at that "W" cross I had the sensible WINES for 54D: Chiantis, e.g. (vinos)

84D: Nielsens (TV ratings) - looks good in the grid

71D: Role in "The Color Purple" (Celie) - never saw it. This role was played by Whoopi.

82D: Lick again (rewet) - Gross. And, not a word!

93D: Saint-_____, capital of France's Loire department (Etienne) - also, a band.

I'm out of steam, and can't concentrate 'cause daughter is coughing like a consumptive. Must go.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


QP 9:43 AM  

I think BLINTZES are more like turnovers, rather than crepes

wendy 10:12 AM  

//Further, "THE Family Circus?" I had no idea about the definite article. I wonder if that comic is popular at THE Ohio State University?//

Oh, absolutely. In fact, it's the state comic strip ;)

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I got Eloi without looking it up but I'd never heard of him either. Apparently it's the French name for St. Eligius.
I'd have thought snook was some made up word, too, but apparently it's not. Huh.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

There were a lot of good clues. I liked 'frog's place' and 'wraps on stage'. I was glad to see the gimme for the NPR show 'Diane Rehm', a Washington political talk show. She has some voice problems, and occasionally sounds like there is a frog in her throat.

The Family Circus was not very popular at The Ohio State University when I was there; however, it is popular in Scottsdale AZ, where it is supposedly set.

Happy Banned Books Week.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Chiantis is not a good clue for vinos...the plural in Italian is vini. Riojas would have been a better clue.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


SNOOK is "derisive" rather than "defensive"...

PuzzleGirl 10:54 AM  

I can understand you not having seen "The Color Purple" but certainly you and your English Ph.D. have read it???

Alex S. 11:07 AM  

My first progress with the theme words was getting WANDERING SOUL and the GATHERING part of GATHERING CLOUDS (I really wanted "gathering storm").

So I was thrown off for a bit by them both having ERING. So I was trying to think of some kind of significant E RING (maybe like the o-ring that doomed the Challenger).

Interesting choice to clue AMYL via a relatively unheard of chemical that is amyl nitrate rather than the much more famous amyl nitrate, the illegal drug (aka poppers) used as a sex enhancer.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Enjoyed this one but it was medium to hard for me. A lot stuff I didn't know (e.g. TASSO, STANNO, ANCHORITE, ISSEL, EHUD and more). Got the theme early and it helped. I'm not a hockey fan so the NW took some doing, plus I've always spelled BLINTZE without the E. I also wanted SNEER for SNOOK which I only know as a fish. Hopefully someone will explain how SNOOK is a derisive gesture?

Anonymous 11:55 AM  


Blinmtzes are crepes. My Mom still makes them. The word is Yiddish derived from the Russian Blini, which is also a form of crepe. Blintzes traditionally are filled with farmer's cheese or sweetened cottage cheese, sometimes with fruit added. Although there are also potato blintzes which is filled with mashed potatos and onions.

Orange 11:58 AM  

Hmm, I think many people assume that completing a Ph.D. in an English program means you'll have read the entire canon. But isn't there typically a ton of specialization? E.g., a medievalist will focus on that era and read precious little in the way of Dickens, 20th century American lit, Sterne, etc. And someone writing a dissertation on Ford Madox Ford will have little use for Milton, Shakespeare, or Alice Walker.

Jae, SNOOK is in the dictionary as both a fish and a derisive gesture.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Here's a secondary definition (after the fish) for snook:

1. a gesture of defiance, disrespect, or derision.
2. cock a snook or cock one's snook, to thumb the nose: a painter who cocks a snook at traditional techniques.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Nice puzzle with nine theme entries - I like that.

However, could have gotten away from the "gathering clouds" format and would have loved alternatives to "wandering soul" and "watering trough".

But hey, nine theme entries, with two down-ers crossing two other theme entries is quite a construction.

I remain,

a Nitpicker

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Thanks Orange and anon 11:58, my American Heritage Dict. only had the fish definition.

Orange 2:49 PM  

Hey! Guess what I found via a Google image search! Here's how to cock a snook derisively. It's a hand gesture.

And here is "Popular Newfoundland comedian and actor, Snook."

Michael Chibnik 2:55 PM  

I was stuck on 5D for a while. I kept thinking "blintz" but didn't know that "blintze" was an alternative spelling.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Ordinarily I don't think the sequence of solving matters much, but it was much more fun to flesh out the theme answers once I had the vowel sequence from 17D. Without that tip, the answers seemed random.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

I'm totally with anonymous re. vinos--it's not Italian, it's Spanish. I don't think you can just slap an s on the end of a foreign singular and think you have a legitimate plural. I DID swear at the puzzle at this point.

Campesite 4:49 PM  

That AEOLIA sure looks strange in the grid. Probably a good one to remember.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

I was ever so happy that "Frog's place" turned out to not be FRANCE. I was already imaging what the blog would have to say about that.

I had "darkening clouds" instead of gathering for quite awhile.

Other than that, really nothing to add except that this puzzle capped off an enjoyable week.

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

37D ... thought this should be Bouquet holder, not Banquet holder. What I am missing?

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

For the record, I've seen some of Alan Ayckbourns stuff. He can be pretty funny; it's a lot of drawing room farce and not the stuff of PhD's.

From the website Alan Ayckbourn is one of the most prolific and widely performed of English language playwrights and a highly regarded theatre director. He is the artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, where he premieres the majority of his work - predominantly in the world-famous Round auditorium.
Alan Ayckbourn has written 70 full length plays, more than half of which have gone on to London's West End.

wendy 6:39 PM  

anonymous 6:12 - URN is a common answer to this clue, referring to the fact that banquet-style setups dispense coffee and hot water for tea in large ones.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

@ wendy - [smacks forehead] of course! thank you.

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

Like Alex, I was chasing ERING as the string. Got as far as wondering if the E in ERING was the same as in EBOAT. Once I got to 17d (AEIOU) I was OK. Didn't think to look in 17d...isn't the clue usually in the middle or the farthest SE?

Slowed up by the STANNO KEANE crossing, wanted STORMS for CLOUDS, and not noticing the "?" in the "Not skip a beat?" clue left me thinking inside the crate for too long.

Pretty fun, but I was sure having to slog my way through -- compared to Rex's Easy-Medium rating.

PuzzleGirl 9:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PuzzleGirl 9:47 PM  

orange: Of course you're right and I would even go a step farther and argue that defining "the canon" can be tricky. I often describe myself as the least well-read English major I know. I enjoy contemporary women writers and was fortunate to be able to beef up my coursework with plenty of women's literature classes. I don't believe I was ever required to read, for example, Faulkner. No, scratch that. I did read "As I Lay Dying" and recall it was hilarious. But very little Hemingway, Joyce, James, and the rest of the gang. It tickles me when Rex admits to not knowing something literature-related. Him and his English Ph.D. and all....

Orange 10:45 PM  

Puzzlegirl, I majored in English too. I lay claim to having read Joyce's Ulysses—but it was a senior seminar devoting weeks to the book, class met on Tuesday and Thursday, and with all my other coursework, I didn't always find the time to read all the chapters assigned for Thursday. So sue me. I did have one insight that impressed the class...but not much to say about the chapters I didn't quite finish. Art is lovely, yes, but it's not like I can't get work as a medical editor without having read all of the canon.

Sorry for straying off-topic, Rex Ph.D.

Anonymous 11:24 PM  

While I understand that a Ph.D. is not the same kind of doctor as an M.D., I don't understand all this squeamishness with regard to medical clues. I mean "gross" for the word RESECT? Yes, it's a descriptive medical word, but i has also has mathematical meanings.

By the way, having INTERNS be the answer to "Future residents" hasn't been correct for years. Nowadays, interns are current residents, i.e., first year residents. Medical students are future residents.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Rex, I love your reference to the old HBO show "The Hitchhiker," but I have to correct you on one count. The Hitchhiker himself never got into steamy R-rated nudity scenes, he just recounted "Twilight Zone" type stories involving people who did. (He was sort of the Rod Serling, introducing each week's tale...)

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