Mar 14, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008 Diane C. Baldwin

Theme: To Get What You Want

20A: Use one's influence: Pull Some Strings

37A: Ask nicely: Say Pretty Please

48A: Influence under the table: Grease a Few Palms

I screwed up the upper left corner again. Purely self-inflicted wounds. I mis-read Humdinger as Harbinger, so I was adamant about my OMEN fill. The fact that I could not dislodge ORAL from my dense brain this morning for _Roberts U only exasperated me further. I remember the improper use of fund scandal by Richard Roberts last year, but I just could not summon up his father's/his university's name.

I filled in "pretty" for the theme entry 37A very early on, and I had "some" already penned in for 20A, so naturally I wanted it to be "handsome", briefly flirting with the idea that the theme might be handsome -pretty-ravishing or something like that.

After a great "O" (I counted 11 O) feast, I managed to piece everything together in 30 minutes (including google). And it looked like a good puzzle, esp the crossing of 47A: FLU and 47D: FEVER. I start to appreciate this kind of effort the constructor puts in.

Across entries:

1A: Viscous clump: GLOB. Not a good image to evoke the first thing in the morning.

3A: Evil spell: CURSE

14A: Ambiance: AURA. I still insist that, oratory skill aside, Obama has the RFK (not JFK) aura. Have to disagree with Ted Sorensen.

16A: In seventh heaven: ON AIR

17A: Take-out side order: SLAW. 4-letter word, what else could it be?

18A: Indonesian island: BALI. Or Java sometimes.

19A: Fetch: BRING

24A: Jazz piece: RAG. Have no knowledge of jazz, don't know what exactly is a rag.

25A: River swirls: EDDIES. Could never fill in this word without thinking of Eddie Guardado.

29A: Gay Nineties and the like: ERAS.

31A: Jiffy: SEC. Could not recall if JIFF as a brand was ever clued in a TMS puzzle.

34A: Bakery come-on: AROMA. I can smell it.

35A: Course culmination: EXAM. Not fond of this clue.

36A: Paparazzi prey: STAR. Depending on what the meaning of "IS" is. OK, isn't Meryl Streep a bigger star than fame-craved Lindsey Lohan? Paparazzi never preys on her (Streep).

42A: Gutter side: EAVES. I was thinking of bowling.

43A: Novelist Deighton: LEN

44A: Work the soil: TILL. Interesting information: "Till" is also a popular song recorded by quite a few artist. Unknown to me. By the way, "Till" can also mean "unstratified, unsorted, glacial drift of clay, sand, boulders and gravel".

45A: Bear witness: ATTEST. Oh, "Kristen". I still could not understand how Eliot Spitzer tossed away his career just like that.

47A: Respiratory malady: FLU. I tend to associate "flu" with fever, headache, can not think of any respiratory involvement. "Asthma" is a big respiratory problem.

57A: English aristocrats: LORDS

58A: Classic Chevy model: NOVA. Got it from down clue. Unknown to me. Not a car fan.

59A: Fossil fuel: COAL

60A: Au revoir!: ADIEU. I hear "à bientôt" or "salut" more often. But I never lived in Paris before. Could not tell for sure.

61A: Low card: TREY. Learned from doing crossword. Never play any card game.

63A: Slow-witted: DENSE. Slower than that, it will be imbecilic.

64A: Otologist's focus: EAR. I like the clue, first time I saw "Otologist", tired of of Ear-related OTO though.

Down entries:

2D: Humdinger: LULU. Doozy.

6D: Crockett's last stand: ALAMO (Davy). Where have you been, crockett1947?

7D: Man or Dogs: ISLE. Never heard of Isle of Dogs. But I like the clue.

8D: Clark's gal: LOIS. Superman girl.

9D: Hooded vipers: COBRAS. Anyone read Michael Gordon's Cobra II? By the way, COPRA is coconut meat, dried.

10D: Take down the sails: UNRIG. I wanted DE RIG.

12D: Tell at: SING. Never knew that "Sing" can mean "to rat".

13D: Work units: ERGS. Here is the definition I lifted from the dictionary: "The unit of energy or work in the centimeter-gram-second system, equal to the force of one dyne over a distance of one centimeter. This unit has been mostly replaced by the joule."

21D: Promise solemnly: SWEAR

22D: Vagabond: TRAMP. Hobo. Could not see any beauty in those hobo bags.

25D: Art supporter: EASEL. I was on the wrong track, thinking of those Broadway backer angels and Art Gallery patrons.

26D: Mallard mister: DRAKE. Mallard is wild duck. Drake is a male duck. What is a female duck then, a hen?

27D: Group's senior member: DOYEN. Unknown to me. Got it from across clues. "T
he senior member, as in age, rank, or experience, of a group, class, profession, etc." French origin.

30D: Mantas: RAYS. The fish. No idea. In fact, I mis-read it as "Mantra", so I was chanting in my head.

31D: Barrel piece: STAVE

33D: Wave top: CREST

35D: List end, sometimes: ET AL. Abbreviation of 'et alii' (masculine plural) or 'et aliae' (feminine plural) or 'et alia' (neuter plural).

36D: Pants part: SEAT. I put SEAM first. Did not know Seat-of-the-Pants slang until this morning.

38D: Cream of the crop: ELITE. I toyed with A LIST for a brief second, then quickly dismissed it after filling in LIT for 46A: Brightened up.

39D: Abate: LET UP

44D: Paper hankie: TISSUE. Bounty, only Bounty.

45D: Without fail: ALWAYS

46D: Fills the hold: LADES

47D: Temperature: FEVER. Don't like this clue either.

50D: Celtic land: ERIN. Ireland. What distinguishes Erin from Eire? So confusing for me.

52D: Open discussions: FORA. Never knew that the plural for Forum is Fora.

53D: One litmus test conclusion: ACID

54D: Word with star or ranger: LONE. Lone Star yes, but isn't it "the Lone Ranger"?

55D: Either one of a pair: MATE

56D: Swine's supper: SLOP. This puzzle starts with GLOB, ends with SLOP. Perfect!

C. C.


Dennis said...

C.C., the "pretty please" one is another one of those sayings that those of us older than fluids remember; if someone had something you wanted that they were teasing you with, they'd make you say not just "please", but "pretty please" in order to get it. Again, the age thing helps.
Also agree on "fora" - never saw it before.
Smooth-flowing puzzle today.

Dick said...

Todays puzzle was not too bad. 12 minutes. Say pretty please, 37A, is a very old expression that I have known all my life. I guess it depends on where you were raised.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Good morning Dennis,

I think it's blog software problem. It happens several times before.

What is proper wording for the theme then? I still could not grasp it. Please, Pretty please?

C.C. Burnikel said...

I decided to put in "Improper Influence" as the theme.

Will change it if you and Dick and others come up with a better one.

Dennis said...

C.C., I think they're all consistent with 'getting what you want'. Is that what you're asking?

Dennis said...

I don't think any of the three necessarily imply impropriety.

C.C. Burnikel said...


20A & 48A seem to fit in "Getting what you want" well. You pull some strings, you grease a few palms, and you get what you want.

But 37A seems to come from a demander, others ask you to "say pretty please?"

A bit of inconsistency here, no?

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

Perhaps the theme could be something along the lines of "Common Sayings/Expressions"?

How many more times can we see SLAW (17A) and ET AL (or ETCETERA) (35D) as answers? Talk about repeat offenders! :o)

I have to agree with CC, I am not a big fan of FEVER (47A). At first glance I put in "degree". Ah well.

Otherwise, it wasn't a difficult one for me. Either I'm getting a little better (which would be great!) or the theory of these getting harder throughout the week is not applicable this week. Although, I must admit, this blog has definitely helped me out since I found it. I definitely pay more attention to the clues. Thanks CC!

Have a great Friday everyone.

C.C. Burnikel said...


I saw your point of "impropriety".

I changed the theme back to "to get what you want".

Thank you once again for the help.

To others,

I am sorry for the "flip-flop" this morning. I am one confused solver this morning.

Anonymous said...

I thought "pretty please" was the US. I've heard it from coast to coast and from north to south. But I'm older than dirt. I agree today's puzzle was an easy one, unlike most Friday's. I love this blog. Learn so the explanation of ERG. Thanks C.C.

C.C. Burnikel said...

By the way, I heard "older than dirt' often, but I never heard of "older than fluids". Is it another slang I am not aware of? Or is it simple Dennis-ism.

Katherine said...

Today's was easy for me. I could not get the "f" in 52 down, but it would have been so obvious with 48 across. I think it took me 10 minutes this morning. I don't usually have a lot of time to spend in the morning, so when my time is up, I come in here to the computer and click on your site to get the answers and read the comments. Love all of it.

Dennis said...

Dennis-ism. Not sure which is older, but whichever it is, I'm there...

Dick said...

"Improper Influence" I like that.

Anonymous said...

I had a problem with"one litmus test conclusion" and "fossil fuel".
It must have been simple...neither one was mentioned in the solution!????

Crockett1947 said...

Hi c.c. I'm here. Just seems that most of the comments I want to make are already there by the time I get to the blog. I timed myself this morning: 9 minutes 6 seconds. Don't know that I'll keep doing that -- I felt rushed. Loved 6D. My wife and I are headed to San Antonio in the morning for my first visit to The Alamo! Perhaps an auspicious start to the trip. Looks like I'll have to find one of the Abilene papers to get my daily crossword fix. I generally solve top left corner across, checking and filling in the downs as I go to the right. Sometimes, when it's more difficult, I'll take what I can get and then in-fill. (I also had SEAM for 36D at first. PANT for 1D and EXALT for 29D had to be revised when the across answers didn't fit.) I nominate SLAW to the repeat offenders list! Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

When my siblings and I forgot to say please we had to say pretty please with sugar on it.

MH said...

This was a very easy puzzle for me today. I zoomed through starting at top left, then top middle and diagonally down to the left, then top right and diagonally down to the left, etc. The only word I really didn't know was 52D (fora) but I got it from the across words and then recognized it as the plural of forum. Took about 10 minutes.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Anonymous at 9:03am,

I've added those 2 into today's blog.

No excuse, just plain lazy.


Good to see you again.

I don't know how "SLAW' slipped away from my watch. Will put him in the list later.

Have a good trip to the Alamo.

MH said...

Also I've heard "older than baseball", which was actually possible up until a few years ago.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Never heard of "older than baseball".

But exactly how old is Baseball?

Do you count from 1869 when the Reds play its first game, or do you count from 1901 when the American League was established?

Anonymous said...

I, too, did this one quickly & without the help of google! I am so proud, I think I shall frame it. I can feel my crossword muscle strengthening.

Unknown said...

you didn't mention 27D but i've never heard the word "doyen"....googled it and sure 'nuff it means what the clue describes. oh, and learn. I enjoy your blog!

C.C. Burnikel said...


I've just added DOYEN. Thanks. I totally forgot about it this morning.

Now I understand why people call the White House Heckler-in-Chief Helen Thomas as the Doyenne of the Press Corps.



NYTAnonimo said...

More info on DOYEN and here.

Solved the puzzle online today at the link given by tim yesterday (thanks tim!). Took me a little under 12 minutes as the grid works differently than others I've used. The NYT puzzles from today and yesterday were bears. I had to give up and go to the blogs so it was nice to be able to solve this one! That was an intersting note about the Isle of Dogs c.c.-had no idea it was former island in the east end of London.

Anonymous said...

I find one word that I am absolutely certain is correct and from that point I begin and work the clues both across and down. When I get stuck, I look for another word I am sure of and work the clues around it.

feste said...

Crocket1947. Two papers in Abilene. The Reporter News which carries the TMS crossword, and USA Today...if you can find one on weekends. It appears to me that
48A and its answer contradict one another.

sallyjane said...


I did time myself this morning and I did this puzzle in under 5 minutes. No complaints today, other than this: ... what happened to our usually fairly challenging Friday puzzle? Methinks Mssr. Williams is really trying to make a point about them not becoming harder as the week wears on.

See you tomorrow!



C.C. Burnikel said...


48A and its answer do not contradict each other. They all means bride somebody.

Unless you are thinking of elbow grease?


One word: Random.

Impressive time!

Anonymous said...

My thinking is thus: "grease a few palms" implies receiving favors or services in exchange for money, and usually illegal.
"Influence under the table" implies signaling one's partner in a game of cards by touching with one's foot. A common way of cheating in cards, by the way.
For some reason Google refuses to accept my name and password, so I sign in as Mr.Anonymous, otherwise aka Feste