Jumat, 01 Oktober 2010

F R I D A Y   October 1, 2010 Scott Atkinson

Theme: Ho! Ho! Ho! — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letter string HO removed (i.e., "heaved"), creating new wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

[If the significance of the highlighted entry
has you scratching your head, you're not alone.
It's the number one most Frequently Asked Question.]

Theme answers:
  • 18A: *Ancient Chinese cote occupant? (MING PIGEON). [homing pigeon]
  • 25A: *Observation after a Bush walk? (W'S ON FIRST). [Who's on first]
  • 36A: *Nickname for a so-so Navy officer? (CAPTAIN OK). [Captain Hook]
  • 50A: *Habitually drunk panda? (BAMBOO SOT). [bamboo shoot]
  • 57A: *Kenyan healthcare worker? (RN OF AFRICA). [Horn of Africa]
  • 42D: Dismissal, and a hint to how the answers to starred clues were derived (HEAVE-HO).
Happy October, everybody! And TGIF! It's been many years since I've T'd GIF, but I am definitely T'ing GIF today! This working full-time thing is wearing me out!

I had some trouble with this puzzle today. Not NYT-Friday type trouble, but more than the other puzzles we've seen this week in the LAT. I tried to start in the northwest corner and couldn't come up with Anything there. Moved onto the northeast corner where I got the MING part of the theme answer, but couldn't figure out the rest because I was so focused on the words "vase" and "dynasty" that I just couldn't see anything else. And I couldn't get it through the downs because I didn't yet have enough acrosses to see AFEARED (11D: Lackin' gumption) and FOOTSIE (12D: Under-the-table diversion), what with SHAFT (9A: Treat meanly) just sitting there taunting me. I also couldn't remember who was in "Platoon" besides … Charlie Sheen? Was he in that? Man, I was going to be So Embarrassed if he wasn't, but he was — whew! (His 16A: "Platoon" co-star was, of course, Willem DAFOE, who has been a topic of CW101 here recently.)

So, I'll talk about the rest of the puzzle in the bullets, but let's get back to that NW corner. In generally, I really don't think of myself as a person who would complain about a four-block of Zs. I mean, I like my Scrabbliness as much as the next crossword solver, and those Zs are awfully pretty right there, I'll give you that. But. (You knew there was a "but.") … SOZZLED? That means 3D: Drunk, in slang? Look, I don't mean to brag, but I am probably as well-acquainted with drunkenness as anyone you're going to meet and I've Ne-Ever heard that word before. SOZZLED! I actually kind of like the sound of it so … should we give it a pass?

Here were the missteps that really slowed me down:
  • 1A: Aloe target (RASH). Wanted BURN, which is generally the target of the PuzzleHouse's aloe supply. We are a fair-skinned bunch!
  • 5A: Indian royal (RAJA). Tried RANI first. Both RAJA and RANI were covered in CW101 almost six months ago.
  • 20A: Tasseled toppers (FEZZES). Wanted CORNSTALK first (that's the Iowa in me peeking out) and when that wouldn't fit, I switched over to the correct category (hats) but tried the wrong type (BERETS).
  • 56A: "All in the Family" family name (STIVIC). If I'm the only one who entered BUNKER with no crosses and no thought whatsoever, I'll eat my FEZ.
  • 1D: Picaresque (RAFFISH). This is the most embarrassing misstep I made. I totally read this as "Picturesque," and was soooo proud of myself for thinking of BUCOLIC, which is a word that always stumps me because to me it seems like it should mean the opposite of what it actually does mean. Plus it fit and everything! Argh!
  • 14A: 1990s Expos manager (ALOU). Of course I know the ALOUs, they're standard crosswordese, but I've never paid attention to what teams they are associated with (sorry, Crosscan).
  • 41A: "Even Napoleon had his Watergate" speaker (YOGI). I don't recall hearing this particular quote, but it was pretty clearly a Yogi-ism.
  • 42A: I followers? (HOP). The letters H-O-P follow the letter I in Rex's favorite breakfast spot, the International House Of Pancakes.
  • 53A: Sheikdom of song (ARABY). Off the top of my head, I don't know what this clue refers to. I'm guessing that when I hear the song I'll recognize it. I'm also guessing someone will link to it in the comments so I won't have to.
  • 61A: Genesis brother (SETH). Hi, SethG!
  • 7D/56D: Eponymous bacteriologist (JONAS / SALK).
  • 29D: Good name, briefly (REP). As in REPutation.
  • 43D: Traveled from point A to point A? (ORBITED). I don't know if this is an original clue but it sure is clever!
  • 48D: Former RFK Stadium NLer (NAT). When I moved away from the D.C. area in 2003, there was no baseball team. When I moved back in 2008, the NATionals were here. (I'm all, "There sure are a lot of Wisconsin fans here on the East Coast!") So, the "former" part tricked me. I thought it must be referring to the area's previous team, the Senators. But, as it turns out, the "former" refers to the stadium and not the team. The NATs used to play in RFK Stadium but now they play … somewhere else. Their own stadium. I don't know what it's called.
  • 58D: Old cry of disgust (FIE). Let's bring this back, shall we?
  • 59D: Rose of rock (AXL). There are bands I love to hate and then there are bands like Guns 'n' Roses, which I hate to love.
  • 60D: Prez, to GIs (CIC). Commander In Chief.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 6D: Paul's "Exodus" role (ARI).
  • 38D: Peeples of "Fame" (NIA).
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Everything Else — 15A: Approach shot club (IRON); 17A: Bubbles (FIZZ); 22A: Happy hour order (ALE); 23A: Partook of (ATE); 24A: Bit of dental work (INLAY); 28A: "Hold on!" ("SEE HERE!"); 30A: Japanese-American (NISEI); 31A: "If __ only listened!" (HE'D); 32A: Shade sources (ELMS); 35A: Florida's __ City (DADE); 39A: Lead player (STAR); 45A: Stoop (PORCH); 47A: Dry cleaner's supply (HANGERS); 54A: Carpenter __ (ANT); 55A: Exxon Valdez cargo (OIL); 62A: Many a dance club tune (REMIX); 63A: Fiendish (EVIL); 64A: The old you (THEE); 65A: '50s flop (EDSEL); 66A: Guitar's fingerboard (NECK); 67A: Repairs, as a green (SODS); 2D: Property recipient (ALIENEE); 4D: Old-fashioned "Way to go!" ("HUZZAH!"); 5D: Wheel parts (RIMS); 8D: Saxon opening (ANGLO-); 9D: Star Wars letters (SDI); 10D: Witchy woman (HAG); 13D: Article of faith (TENET); 19D: Keystone State founder (PENN); 21D: It may be evil (EYE); 25D: "The Optimist's Daughter" writer (WELTY); 26D: Generic pooch (FIDO); 27D: "Out of Africa" author Dinesen (ISAK); 33D: He said "Learn from the masses, and then teach them" (MAO); 34D: Common sense? (SIGHT); 36D: Atkins diet no-no (CARB); 37D: Gas brand seen at ampm stores (ARCO); 39D: Reached across (SPANNED); 40D: Powwow communication source (TOMTOMS); 44D: Analysts' concerns (PSYCHES); 46D: Clopper (HOOF); 49D: Mill inputs (GRISTS); 50D: Ballet rail (BARRE); 51D: Fire indicator, perhaps (SIREN); 52D: Green shade (OLIVE).

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