by Randolph Ross
edited by Mike Shenk
October 2, 2009
Full answers available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page (currently mistitled with a repeat of September 25's title but the answers are for October 2) or with the following week's puzzle on WSJ's online Lifestyle page.
Theme: Phrases containing 5 Os
SHOOP SHOOP SONG (24A Tune also known as “It's in His Kiss” (with “The”))
BOOK OF MORMON (32A Sacred text first published in 1830)
HOOK OR CROOK (66A Any means)
GO ON TOO LONG (74A Overstay one's welcome at the podium)
NOT FOOLPROOF (106A Flawed, as a plan)
BLOODY GOOD SHOW (116A Compliment from a West End critic)
BOWL OF DOG FOOD (3D Feast for Fido)
DOOR TO DOOR (46D One way to sell)
VOODOO DOLL (41D Perilous pincushion)
BOY OH BOY OH BOY (60D Excited exclamation)
After the plenitude of Ps last week, we now have oodles of Os. In addition to the 44 Os of the theme answers (6 overlaps), 17 other Os, including NOISOME (22A Highly obnoxious).
Cool Crosses: 1, mostly it was about the Os. The BOOK/KOOK cross – (32A partial) crossing (33D Wackos) - oriented me on the theme.
Nomination for Word of the Week: INFO (38A Poop)
It's all in the cluing. A four-letter word for poop seems obvious but not possible. Of course it was a mislead. Is it me or was there a similar idea in TATA[s] (75D “See ya!”)? Either way, the two clues opened up a space in my brain for blameless clue/word combos that could be misread: athletic supporter –> fan, intercourse –> talk, threesome -> trio, and so on.
News To Me (I got 'em but I didn't get 'em): 4
AMBITS (7A Spheres of influence) - Mysteries of the brain. When it dredged up AMBIT, I said, Oh sure - but what's an AMBIT?
ANOUILH (13D “Antigone” playwright) – Vowel soup with consonants tossed in for garnish.
PETARD (42D Noisy explosive) – The Hamlet phrase apparently means being blown-up by your own prematurely exploding bomb. I had heretofore imagined it as a belt or suspender that got caught on rigging, a pre-modern nautical wedgie.
MOOT (94D Debatable) – One of those words that can mean its own opposite. The point has been mooted vs. the point is moot. OR Subject to discussion/Of no practical importance.
Opportunities To Learn New Things
& Admissions of Defeat: 6/2
A right swiss-cheeser that could have gone either way. I was stumped by 6 holes resulting from crossings of proper nouns. Having decided it is nobler to guess and be wrong that use “performance-enhancing reference works”*, I wrote my choices in the margins. Four fell my way, two did not.
BARRIE/MAHER (21A Pan man) crossing (8D “Real Time” host Bill). As in Peter Pan, as in the man who wrote. Duh. Maher has been permanently misfiled as M(O/A?)HER.
ADL/SARABI (26A Jewish rights org. [Anti-Defamation League]) crossing (1D Simba's mother, in “The Lion King”)
SOLTI/KLO (72A Georg who won more Grammys than anyone else) crossing (67D Nickname of 1957 home run leader Ted). Helps if you know his last name was Kluszewski and not The Burglar who Traded Ted Williams by Lawrence Block.
BOCELLI/TLC/IAGO (86A Tenor with four multiplatinum records) crossing (82D “No Scrubs” group) & (87D Scheming ensign of drama). Iago is a go-to crossword name but ensign had me out to sea, again. Apparently ensign can be a standard-bearer in the army as well as a midshipman in the navy.
AYLA/LOUISE (101A Jean Auel heroine) crossing (102D Charpentier opera)
News To Me & Admissions of Defeat: 2
REBBES (88A Synagogue scholars) - Yiddish for the Hasidic 'Rabbi'. I missed on AGER (78D Stress, for one) but was sure enough that R?BB? was in the ballpark that I never went back to commit to the vowels. More of an oversight than error, but still points off under ACPT rules. One source has spells the word as Rebe while another says it's all a best guess anyway.
NONPROS (35D Olympics athletes, traditionally) – The ancient Greek Olympians were handsomely rewarded, “The word athlete is an ancient Greek word that means 'one who competes for a prize'.” They drew no distinction between amateur & professional. Coubertin was either influenced by the idea of the Noble Amateur or deliberately included it in the modern Olympics to bring in the British. The 19th century upper-class British had developed the idea of the amateur to exclude anyone “who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer, or engaged in any menial duty.” You know - Not Our Kind, Dear.
The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica [athlete link above] is often seen as the greatest encyclopedia as it was the last time western society in general & encyclopedia makers in specific felt that everything could be known. This belief was shattered once WWI crashed down on everyone's heads. One wonders what the 1911 folks would think of the Internet. It's all there but in an ever-morphing, out-of-control, quatum form.
And finally, EWE (4D She sheep) – Minutes before seeing this clue, I had been reading Stanley Newman's Cruciverbalism: A Crossword Fanatic's Guide to Life in the Grid. In defense of puns, he says, “Don't be ashamed, don't be a sheep – the crossword world will accept ewe.” [p63]
8 hours ago