Exotic dancer executed in 1917 / WED 8-24-11 / Fester and Vanya / River to the Rhine / 1983 Mr. T comedy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Constructor: Kelsey Blakley

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Prepend-a-Vowel — Throw the vowels at the beginning of each of the longest entries in order. Beyond that, there's nothing that these phrases have in common as far as I can tell.



Word of the Day: LEAN ON ME (39D: 1989 movie featuring principal Joe 
Clark) —
Lean on Me is a 1989 dramatized biographical written by Michael Schiffer, directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Morgan Freeman.Lean on Me is loosely based on the story of Joe Louis Clark, a real life inner city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey, whose school is at risk of being taken over by the New Jersey state government unless students improve their test scores. This film's title refers to the 1972 Bill Withers song of the same name. (wikipedia)

• • •
Hello everyone - it's Neville here, visiting from my regular post over at Crossword Fiend. Like Rex said, you're in for a real treat over the few days. I'm personally excited for what's coming up on Sunday, but enough about Rex's vacation. Let's get to this puzzle!

I struggled to figure this theme out for the longest time. Right off the bat I was filling in wrong letters left and right. AIR BASES are (3D: Homes for drones), but hey, so are ant farms. I did really like that NW corner construction - X-RAY LABS and MATA HARI are both nice entries. The opposite corner has LEAN ON ME, which is fine, but the rest isn't quite as fun. It serves its purpose.

My slow movement through the theme entries due to a lack of a common thread beyond the added letter (though it's not listed on the BS theme list) was slightly alleviated by some familiar content. AOLERS was an unfortunate freebie to see, but AFL-CIO looks nice in the grid. EVADE and ELATE are very familiar five-letter entries. With those in place, I could get things like ARTIST from the not-too-specific clue of (12D: iTunes search category).


Theme answers:
  • ATROPHY CASE (17A: Physical therapist's assignment?)
  • EBONY FISH (24A: Blackened seafood?)
  • ISLANDER TRIAL (36A: Castaway's day in court?)
  • OLIVE BAIT (49A: Lure for Popeye's sweetie?)
  • UNIT PICKING (59A: Choosing between pounds and kilos?)

I've hinted at it, so how about I spit it out. The theme didn't do much for me. I got a smile out of 2 of the 5 theme entries. There was nothing pulling them together. Sometimes I thought it was fishing related (FISH & BAIT), other times I thought it was a legal theme (CASE & TRIAL). I want a tight theme when you're adding just a single letter, especially if each is a different vowel. It's not a bad theme, but it's not mind-blowingly awesome, either. Some of my disappointment comes from the fact that I can think of another way one might clue UNIT PICKING.

Bullets:
  • (11D: Wife of BrutusPORTIA — There's also a Portia in The Merchant of Venice - that's a different one. There's a girl on this season of Big Brother whose name I thought was Portia, but it's actually Porsche. I don't blame her - I blame her parents.
  • (52D: Med-alert bracelet, e.g.ID TAG — This fell easily with the D and T in place - clearly two words.
  • (20A: Gossip, to an AussieYABBER — Yammer + jabber = YABBER. No, it more likely comes from an Aboriginal language. Oh well. Sometimes made up etymologies can be more fun that the real ones.
  • (45D: Runt's groupLITTER — Yes, a litter is a group with a runt, but it feels weird saying that the litter is the runt's group, as though it has possession of the litter. Quite the opposite!
Signed, Neville, Prince of CrossWorld

77 comments:

syndy 12:27 AM  

This PORTIA was CATO's sister.Got through this in easy tuesday time!Is an EBONY FISH something you would eat? google does not seem to think so.Puzz was a little lean but nothing outright ugly -some yuck fill nothing out standing.oh well tommorrow is an other day!

The New Girl 12:29 AM  

Tougher than most Wednesdays for me.  Nice cluing. Something different here and there.  Didn't figure out the theme until I finished. I agree with Neville's write-up. AE IOU a tighter set of entries.  

Going to see Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers in concert tomorrow night. If you are a fan of bluegrass or banjo, I highly recommend the Rare Bird Alert CD. Steve Martin is one talented and crazy guy!

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

4 (small) pictures and the biggest one is of the guest blogger? bring rex back

santafefran 12:49 AM  

@Anonymous said--at least he puts his name right out there which is more than I can say for you.

I did not care for this puzzle. Maybe tomorrow...

CoffeeLvr 1:02 AM  

Thanks, Neville. Interesting article you linked from BEQ. And such an appetizing FISH picture, yum.

I was completely scratching my head trying to figure out what the "?" clue entries had in common. Then I saw that the last three started with I, O, and U, and made more sense without the initial letters. Filled in A and E off that and finally slogged through the top.

I wonder if the ATROPHY CASE is LAME? Like the theme of this puzzle.

My favorite entry is ALEUTIAN.

operapianist 1:12 AM  

Tried APIARIES for "Homes for Drones" and was impressed with myself til, of course, it wasn't right.

Finished the puzzle in pretty good time (5:30) and didn't get happy pencil, so I went (U)NIT-PICKING to find the culprit. Turns out ANITA is in fact *not* "Man's feminine side". Seemed oddly specific had it been right. C'est la vie!

Tobias Duncan 1:27 AM  

Sure wish I were going to see Steve Martin with The New Girl, I love his "Atheists Ain't Got No Songs" song.


Like @operapeanist, I had APIARIES and felt clever.Damn sure did not finish in five and a half minutes though...

shrub5 1:30 AM  

Thought this was a clever theme with adding the vowel and completely changing the meaning of the first word -- and in order A E I O U.

I put Mr. T's 1983 show in as ATEAM but soon realized a) the THE was missing and not part of the clue, b) it was not a comedy and c) it was wrong. Had to google for DCCAB mainly because I had errors preventing me from seeing ATROPHYCASE. I have no recollection of that show.

Also, had CLAP as thunder sound so figured the Aussie gossip was YABBLE. Like @operapianist, I thought of drone bees and apiaries before AIRBASES. All these goofs made the upper half pretty messy. Bottom half was better. I was able to put the O and the U in their places as I had seen the progression in the theme.

anima cardiac michaels 1:48 AM  

I too wanted a slightly more unifying theme, but there were five entries and the initial first letters REALLY changed the meanings of the words...
I mean, look closely at TROPHY vs ATROPHY or SLANDER vs ISLANDER.

I sorta wanted ATROPHY WIFE, that's a funny image, kind of.
But really, what seems slim is really a big change to a word, which is great!

Plus Kelsey Blake had SO many compound/double words right off the bat which made it very lively to me:
MATAHARI, XRAYLAB, AIRBASES, DCCAB, AFLCIO...right thru to IDTAG and LEANONME.

It feels almost like a theme idea: DCCAB, IDTAG (two initials and a word. Collaboration, Kelsey?)

Weird almost malapop... for 11D "Wife of Brutus" I had PO????? and thought POPEYE! And laughed at the weird homo-erotic undertone of that wrong answer, only to have OLIVE Oyl appear moments later!

Neville, great write-up, but I wish you hadn't linked to that "Bullshit theme list", (not JUST bec I'm guilty of most of them!)
Love BEQ as a person, tho I can't do his puzzles half the time...but ANY theme can be fun, good, not tired depending on the execution (he says as much but you have to dig for it).
When you publish that list, you give credence to non-constructors to be dismissive of 98% of puzzles.
I mean, if you don't like themes, don't do themes.
I weary of the themeless late-week constructors continual putdowns and minimizations of early week constructors.
As for solvers, I also can't stand when those who hate themes/miss them/dismiss them while going for landspeed records!
Don't be calling themes LAME when you are not a theme-loving person and don't always fully understand/appreciate what the constructor was going for or why it might be interesting to a vast majority of others.
The macho late-week posturing of late-week constructors and solvers is maddening!

And yes, bring Rex back...but not quite yet! ;)

Anonymous 2:11 AM  

This Aussie has never heard 'yabber' used to mean gossip. I have always thought/used it interchangeably with jabber.
A funner Australian word is 'yabbie or yabby' a freshwater crayfish up to 8 inches long, often cooked on the barbeque or in a curry.

Erik 2:12 AM  

Coo coo ca cha! Coo coo ca cha!

jae 4:59 AM  

This was on the easy side for me. Got slightly hung up trying to figure out the URU. abbr., oh, and me too for APIARIES.

@Andrea -- I'm a big fan of themed puzzles. My local paper features a daily themeless which is mostly boring (computer generated?). I use it as a warm up for the more fun stuff. I mean I'm paying for the San Diego Union/Trib. so I kinda feel obligated to do the local puzzle. But, as you implied, some themes work better/are more clever than others. This one was was in the middle. for me--i.e. an OK Wed.

That said, I really look forward to BEQ's themeless Mon. puzzles because they push the boundaries of challenging.

jae 5:12 AM  

Please ignore the "." after middle. IPADs are tricky after midnight.

Anonymous 6:13 AM  

I've lived in Australia for 4 years now and never heard the word yabber used as gossip either!?!? But, yabbies are yummy!!!

Z 6:59 AM  

Hand up for ANItA.

I like themes and themeless. A little variety is a good thing.

Didn't like this one mostly because I didn't see the theme. Now that I see the theme, I like it better. Something more to unify the theme answers would be an improvement, but it is hard to blame the constructor for one's own blindness.

@Tobias, saw Martin et al. perform the "Athiests ain't got no songs" on a late night show (Colbert maybe). Outstanding.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

AWFUL!

K488 7:59 AM  

Re Portia/Porsche, (see Big Brother), don't forget Otto in A Fish Called Wanda wondering why Archie's daughter (Portia) had been named after a car ("Don't call me stupid!").

joho 8:29 AM  

I knew it had to be EBONYFISH, not an added "A" as in ATROPHYCASE, and a BONYFISH isn't necessarily blackened. So I was happy it was an added vowel to change it up more than just the same added letter, which, btw, is fine if the resulting answers are original and wacky. Here the answers just weren't wacky enough for me.

Even so, I enjoy themed puzzles and the effort it takes to create them. So, thank you, Kelsey!

exaudio 8:32 AM  

I thought the theme was clever and enjoyable. Even after I filled in "islander trial" I still didn't get it until I really moved my brain wheels, which I enjoy doing first thing in the a.m.

Basho 8:46 AM  

Easy for me-- but I paid no attention to possible themes, just filled in the squares. Question: Is finding a theme- before or after completing the puzzle-- an integral part of solving? Would you say a finished puzzle isn't ever really solved if the theme isn't identified?

jesser 8:47 AM  

One writeover at 9D, where I wanted hErbs, and that Did Not Work At All. Otherwise, this one fell smoothly. I solved top to bottom, left to right, and parsed the theme at ISLANDER TRIAL, which made the last two easier than I think they otherwise would have been.

Loved Andrea's spirited defense of theme execution, and I promise to be less judgmental of themes as a result.

But I can still be judgmental about other things. Such as: Steve Martin is my cousin. When I was a little boy, before he was famous, we used to flock to my Mom's hometown of Waco, TX, every XMAS. He would entertain us in his Mom's house with his banjo skills. After he became famous, he was booked for a concert in El Paso for the 'Let's Get Small' tour. My Mom bought tickets and called his Mom to tell him we were going and we'd love to see him either before or after the show. She told her our seat numbers. A man came out to see us and said to wait after the show. So we waited. And waited. And waited. The cleaning crews came out. Finally, someone told us that Steve had left the building. My mother cried all the way home. I have never forgiven him. He can take his banjo and, well, you know.

evil doug 9:11 AM  

I prefer Bluto to Brutus when it comes to my Popeye antagonists. Speaking of (another) Bluto:

Otter: "Let me give you a hint. She's got a couple of major-league yabbos."

Evil

SteveMartin 9:21 AM  

A TIT? Really?

Bob Kerfuffle 9:21 AM  

I believe we are open for "Y" entries.

All I can come up with is YCLEPTOMANIAC, One who steals from ACME (var.)

Surely someone can devise something better!

John V 9:21 AM  

Re: Themes, for me, this is not the point. I have no need to understand WHY a puzzle is or is not fun any more than I need to know why a particular butterfly/woman/painting is beautiful. For me, this sort of dissection is better left to the biology lab. Some theme puzzles are fun, some not, some themeless are fun, some not. Most puzzles are simply fun, which is why I solve them.

Anyway, this played medium/challenging for me; started pulling out of Stamford, finished just as the train entered the Park Avenue tunnel, which is also well more than 5 minutes. North/North Central were sticky; CLAP for PEAL, ATEAM for DCCAB, 46D PIG for FOG, all kind of wrongness for 27A, facilities/LAV. YABBER? Huh?

Saw the theme at 59A and 36A, but still thought 17A, ATROPHYCASE was the hardest to get. Don't recall seeing ATROPHY in a Wednesday puzzle. Otherwise, nothing earth shaking today. Oh, wait, that way yesterday!

John V 9:27 AM  

Um, ".. that WAS yesterday." Fingers still shaking ;)

chefbea 9:33 AM  

So so puzzle today. Wednesday's are usually more fun.

Hand up for apiaries.

Look forward to the other guest leaders. and @Rex hope you are enjoying the state fair. Don't eat too many funnel cakes

M07S 9:51 AM  

3D. ANTFARMS, APIARIES, and throw in BEEHIVES for me. Weird aside...I was traveling from central PA to Richmond yesterday and was about 40 mi. from the quake's epicenter when it occurred. Since I was driving I never felt a thing and had no idea anything was up until I got to the hotel.

Cheerio 9:54 AM  

@SteveMartin

Maybe you are just poking fun, but if that was a question about the answer, then I think it was AT IT.

Pete 10:03 AM  

@Andrea - You're right about ATROPHYWIFE clued as "Bulimic second spouse" being a better entry, well, except for that whole laughing at sick people issue. That answer has the benifit of taking an existing phrase and, with the addition of the letter, making the wacky phrase both wacky and wacky in the same context. EBONYFISH is neither wacky, nor wacky in the same context.

So, yes it's possible to point out ways themes could be improved.

mac 10:12 AM  

Not a bad puzzle at all. I got the theme at Islander trial, and just because I was really looking for it. Helped me out with the unit picking. Now I would really like to know Neville's clue....

A few surprises: Bionic Woman only had a bionic ear? How come she ran so fast? Love wanton. Peal sounds so gentle for a thunder sound. Clap's more like it. Like the clue for 46A fog.

I noticed a subtheme in the two union clues.

Brian 10:20 AM  

I liked it well enough. The theme was simple, yes, but clever on the whole.

Loved the cluing for FOG ("It may come in a blanket") and laughed out loud when answering "Bionic part of the Bionic Woman" (EAR) because I remembered the way the show would do a close-up of Lindsay Wagner's ear and I could hear the sound effect that told you her bionic ear was kicking in! So funny.

Really liked XRAYLAB and MATAHARI and ALEUTIAN.

I liked it, Mr. Blakley. Thanks!

miriam b 10:24 AM  

Physical exam subtheme today, e. g., XRAYLAB, ATROPHY, LAME, CARDIAC, BONY, LEAN, A TIT, ACNE, EAR, TEETHE. Call the EMT.

John V 10:26 AM  

@miriam b: LOL!

Mel Ott 10:38 AM  

I thught the theme was kind of blah. I appreciated it more when I saw that AEIOU were in order - but not much.

@Andrea: I agree. ATROPHY WIFE would have livened this up.

I wanted a PIG in my blanket.

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Getting the theme early helped with the solve. Comments and guest host are more entertaing than the puzzle today.
Like @ John V I had a pig in a blanket for a bit. And like @ mac I was shocked at the bionic ear. I never saw the show but that little item of trivia seems odd. Was that her only bionic part?
The other answer that got me thinking was anima. I have never heard it used in that context.
@ jesser, Did Steve ever give you an excuse or apology?

David 11:11 AM  

I really liked this theme, though UNITPICKING was perhaps the weakest of the 5 answers. It hung together nicely for me, esp. in that I got the vowel progression from the 1st 2 clues. I also wrote in ATEAM reflexively and had no idea Mr. T was in DCCAB. Thought the 7 and 8 letter Down sections in the NW and SE were very solid.

And I for one am very happy to see Neville guest-blogging with a picture of himself. I chatted with him briefly at Lollapuzzoola during a break and am still in awe of his brilliant between-round puzzlefest group game. Thanks, Neville!

jesser 11:20 AM  

@TwoPonies: He never did.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Nice write-up Neville! I almost thought you were Rex as your style is similar but not nearly as acid-tongued. So I crown you Rex-Lite.

I think is enough that the vowels were in order for the theme. It's almost like a Sunday but not quite so I dub this puzzle Sunday-Lite.

If the world did not have Anonymous, thre wouldd be no anonymous.

Two Ponies 11:51 AM  

@ jesser, What a shame.

An alternate clue for unit picking
Condo shopping?

jackj 11:53 AM  

Greatly enjoyed the puzzle, even without knowing what the theme was until I had finished and reviewed what Kelsey had created.

After seeing the A, E, I, O, U combine, like Bob Kerfuffle, my first thought was how about "sometimes Y".

My best idea was, "Prince Rainier's favorite nibble?" as a clue for YEAROFGRACE. But, since EAR is a stand alone answer in the puzzle, maybe it would need an alternate clue and answer.

YEARLONG for "Dumbo trait?" or "What West-siders fear after crossing 5th Ave.?" for YEASTINFECTION. or, certainly, Bob's YCLEPTOMANIAC is terrific.

In any event, how can we not like (U)NITPICKING when so many of us delight in doing just that, every day, on this blog.

jberg 12:07 PM  

I got AIRBASES first try, but had LOO at 27A - thought "shouldn't that be clued as foreign?" but put it in anyway.

ACME sort of convinces me that the theme wasn't as weak as I thought at first - it's just that it could have been better. EBONY FISH kind of bothered me, both because no one would call a blackened dish ebony, and because bonefish is a real name, while bony fish is just an adjective in front of a noun. So it was sort of middling.

OLIVE BAIT, on the other hand, is outstanding!

Masked and Anonymous 12:17 PM  

Well, U NIT PICKING is one of my fave activities. It's what us U SAGES are just compelled to do. ;)

Nice puz, really. No complaints. Got the high-scrabble count letter in there and out of the way early, huh, Kelsey?

Speaking of BEQ, he just had a new addition to the family, announced at his site in puz form. Congrats, dude!

@31: Have a mighty good R and R.

retired_chemist 12:21 PM  

@ Bob K -

Clue: necessity for breadmaking in paradise...

Ans: ?

Moonchild 12:34 PM  

Yeast of Eden!

retired_chemist 12:35 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle. Liked EBONY FISH least among the theme answers - bony fish isn’t in the language as much as the others. Them, I liked.

I presume AAS (26A) refers to batteries - a little off IMO, albeit technically correct. Power supplies, to most of us, are basically transformers/converters. I was hoping it might refer to Administrative Assistants, who supply power to many, many academic departments. Probably not.....

Thanks. Mr. Blakley.

Neville 12:44 PM  

I'm glad that my stay here has been (mostly well received), and I humbly accept the title of Rex-Lite, Anonymous.

These wordplay themes seem to usually get mixed reactions; unfortunately, most of the entries just didn't tickle me right. I'd also have preferred ATROPHY WIFE. And for those still wondering about what I thought of for UNIT PICKING, I'll just say that 'unit' has an alternate meaning that one might find at the Urban Dictionary. I won't elaborate here.

Also, I do believe that it is Ms., not Mr. Blakley, based on the first name, but I may be wrong.

Who will be the mystery guest blogger tomorrow? Wait and see!

chefbea 12:53 PM  

Love Yeast of Eden!!! and all the others

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

There is no area in radiology referred to a "lab"

Entrap Vapor 1:16 PM  

If it was just "drop the first letter" we could have had MASSPICKING.

Rob 1:29 PM  

45D tricked me at first. Legend has it that "Runt" was a nickname Patti Smith gave Todd Rundgren -- whose later group was UTOPIA.

Entrap Vapor 1:34 PM  

That's some obscure s---, Rob! Think of how many confused people there would be if that was the answer. So funny.

Rube 1:38 PM  

Like many, had piG/FOG and ANItA/ANIMA, although really wanted eNate for that last one. But, waited for a cross confirmation that never came

Saw the theme with EIO and filled in the A and U, making the puzzle considerably easier. Did I like the them answers? Not really, except for OLIVEBAIT. Just got back from 2 wks at Lake Powell where the fishing was terrible. Maybe I should have used some "live bait".

Since no-one's made any positive comments, I assume that DCCAB and LEANONME are not worth NetFlicking. Never heard of either one.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

FWIW: In elementary school I remember the teacher telling me that the vowels were AEIOU and sometimes Y and W. Google yields some hits saying that W can in fact be considered a vowel at times. So we need another phrase for W, which I'm not nearly clever enough to come up with.

miriam b 1:44 PM  

@Anon 12:54: Wouldn't plates be developed in an XRAYLAB? Just wondering.

Marcus Wellington 1:49 PM  

Have you guys ever seen that show "Pawn Stars"? I guess they had some kind of "Pawn Stars" marathon on the other day because every time I walked through the living room it was on. There was one guy who came in with a collection of Pez dispensers and was completely disgusted that he couldn't get as much as he wanted for them. They were pretty cool.

www.delld620.com

atrophy casea michaels 2:06 PM  

@Moonchild
Love YEASTOFEDEN! That's the spirit!

@Jackj
you have the theme slightly backwards...EARLONG or EASTINFECTION would have to be stand alone phrases.
But you DO have the basis for a DROP the vowel/letter theme...go for it! EASTINFECTION seems like a good start to something, tho conjuring up yeast infections would be a bit icky, but maybe we could drink some good cranberry juice while we solved!

@pete
yes, I think the dissatisfaction may have been that neither BONYFISH or EBONYFISH jumps off the plate as fun...
and I'm not trying to force (feed) someone to enjoy what they didn't genuinely enjoy...just wanted some deeper appreciation of what went into the "recipe" of the meal.

And yes, I too believe Kelsey is a woman, tho her pic does not appear in the database...and I also liked seeing Neville's pic in the blog so we could put more faces to names.

Plus congrats to BEQ and his wife Liz on their new baby girl, whom I hope one day will be a female version of her papa and make puzzles that will knock our socks off in a girly sort of way!

chefbea 2:09 PM  

@marcus wellington. yes have seen that show

But now we have on the weather channel all day to see when Irene is coming. They just had a segment on how people in Natick, Mass are getting ready for the hurricane!!!!

archaeoprof 2:44 PM  

The crossing of XMAS/XRAYLAB impressed me.

As does "Yeast of Eden."

@jesser: now we know where Steve Martin got his great sense of humor ... from his cousin!

Moonchild 3:03 PM  

@ Andrea,
I cannot take credit for that little gem. I only solved the riddle that @retired_chemist posed.

@archaeoprof, Good one re: @jesser!

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 12:09, 11:51, 1.03, 62%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:19, 5:51, 1.08, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

Would love if somebody could explain the ANITA answer for me...

Rosemary 4:21 PM  

Good puzzle.
Good job covering for Rex, Neville! (BTW I love your name as I am a Harry Potter fan :])
I hate banana flavored candy, too! LOL

jackj 4:36 PM  

@atrophy casea michaels said "you have the theme slightly backwards".

You're right; thematic dyslexia took over and wouldn't be denied the chance to throw in a couple of groaners, backwards or not.

Mea culpa.

AndyKingCreative 6:12 PM  

Is it not significant that a BONY FISH is in fact LIVE BAIT, and that a SLANDER TRIAL is a classic TROPHY-CASE (in the litigious sense)???

JenCT 8:33 PM  

@Anon 4:13 - did you mean ANIMA? See: anima

All the same mistakes mentioned above; didn't get the theme until I came here.

Beautiful day to be at Lake Compounce...

Lojman 9:23 PM  

Enjoyed it very much. My "Y" contribution: Migratory Duck, e.g.? YEARLY BIRD

mac 9:26 PM  

@Lojman: great find!

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

I am old enough to remember Eugene Maleska, the former NYT puzzle editor. While he didn't turn a clever phrase like Mr. Shortz, he was solid and never used a theme, that I can remember. Suited me just fine. I don't need no theme.

Stan 12:14 AM  

I liked this because of the sound changes. "Atrophy' and 'trophy' (etc.) are all so different.

Nice defense of themes, Andrea. I *knew* you would be Anima Cardiac today!

@Moonchild: Yeast of Eden is great! It's even 11 letters long. It would have to be worked in as a vertical, though.

nycscott 1:09 AM  

@SteveMartin and others:

"Wow, look at the t*ts! There must be 57 t*ts up there!

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Here's a Y's to the word list:

YMCA RECORDS
YEGG CARTONS
YEARLY RISER

Of course in none of these examples is Y used as a vowel, as Mr. Kerfuffle has managed to do.

Note, though, that of the two Y's in the grid, the one that appears in a theme answer is a vowel, both across and down. The other is a consonant in both directions.

Also, two Y's in constructor's name (both vowels).

Deb @ RoomscapesDecor.com 3:18 PM  

Bells PEAL; thunder CLAPS, dammit.

Dirigonzo 4:25 PM  

I love atrophy casea michaels dearly by any name but I really don't think I want to know about her yeast infections.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to shovelling snow (and some might say other materials, too) and DRIFTs are not what I consider a headache - that would be the snowplow that comes along right after I finish and fills the driveway back in as it goes by.

I'm with @Deb re thunder sound.

DJ Stone 4:28 PM  

Favorite clue was easily "Fester and Vanya". Talk about a culture clash. If only Mr. T had been Uncle T, Ms. Blakley could have hit the trifecta in one clue.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Gibber or Gabber not Yabber.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

Spacecraft here. Interesting discussion of theme vs. themeless. I for one cannot imagine how difficult it would be for me to construct any kind of crossword. But to make the longest entries conform to a single theme yet? That's unimaginable squared! My hat is off to anybody who can do that, so I appreciate the triumph of the constructor that much more. You might say I "owe" it to these people to enjoy their efforts. At any rate, I like both kinds if they're well done. They're different animals; thankfully we're free to like apples AND ORANGES.
The south for me was a near DNF. I'm not sure how I'd clue ANIMA--a word meaning soul--but "man's feminine side" does not cut it. I can't think of anything that has less to do with gender than ANIMA.
I agree with the earlier comment about 1d; there's no LAB in XRAY. Those are two separate departments to which new patients are often sent.
Despite PICKING these (u)NITS, I mostly enjoyed this one. We have the FOG DRIFTing into the center, and the right-hand column has two entries closely theme-related. One with the vowel at the end, TEETH-E, and the other in front: O-RANGES. (You might even add 43d, if you pronounce the former Houston NFL team the way a true native would: A-OLERS. Also liked the fresh clue for YEAR--whose truncated word, EAR, appears as well!
EVADE is sometimes not such a gimme for me; _V___ could easily be AVOID. Is a wound covering a SCAR or a SCAB? Occasionally, I hate this language! Mostly not, though.

another real-word captcha: undid.

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