Mar 23, 2017

Thursday March 23 2017 Matthew Sewell

Theme: Bigger is Better? Augmented alternatives. Three options and then the fourth as the unifier.

17A. 7-Eleven's Big Gulp, for one : SUPER-SIZED DRINK. This one weighs in at 30oz of soda, the Super Big Gulp is 40oz and the Double Gulp is, weirdly, 50oz, considering the Gulp is 20oz. Whichever one you pick you've got way too much sugar. Yikes.

25A. It makes for easier reading : LARGE PRINT BOOK. I'm not sure one of these would help if I lose my glasses. You turn 40 - boom! Everything goes blurry.

46A. Teased style : BOUFFANT HAIRDO. Here's one of the most famous:

59A. What a deejay might do to create energy ... or a request that may lead to 17-, 25- and 46-Across : PUMP UP THE VOLUME. I just had my own personal volume-pump - Bob Dylan's "Blood on the Tracks" album just popped up on my iTunes. That will see me nicely through blog-duty. As a segue, here's a recording of a Bob Dylan song on the aforementioned album I hadn't heard until today.

Great theme - three variations on "volume" - the fluid ounces of a soda, the book-volume print size and the updo bouffi-ness of (e.g.) Marge's hair. Great fill too, I don't believe there was one "ugh" moment for me. Of course, your mileage may vary, so let's hear it in the comments.

Let's see what else:


1. Munro pen name : SAKI. Why do I always fill in TAKI and then take it out?

5. Fix, as faulty code : DEBUG. Yep. Many of these moments in my programming career. One in (something) lines of code contains a bug. I think I was one-in-ten. You'll be grateful I wasn't working on the Airbus fly-by-wire systems.

10. Shorten : CLIP

14. Scoundrel of "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" : ALEC. He was a dashed rotten cove. Great book, a Thomas Hardy classic.

15. One of Chekhov's "Three Sisters" : IRINA. I'll learn them all one day. I've seen the play, but I can't recall the character traits of any of the sisters.

16. Sharpen : HONE

20. Prepare to relax : SIT BACK. SIT DOWN didn't work. Eventually corrected.

21. "__ Pointe Blank": 1997 film : GROSSE

22. Shipping nickname : ARI. Aristotle Onassis. Still a popular crossword fill after all these years.

23. Marketing gimmick : TIE-IN

31. McKinley's first lady : IDA.

32. Like mud in election season : SLUNG. Plenty of that in 2016, and it hasn't really stopped since.

33. Serious violations : SINS. You get a pass on venial ones, if memory serves correctly, as long as you confess. Mortal ones not so much.

35. PC's spacebar neighbor : ALT. No-look answer, as befitting March Madness.

36. Mayor pro __ : TEM. For now. Don't get used to the seat.

37. Swallow : EAT. Be careful, otherwise there'll be Heimlich involved. Bite, chew, swallow.

40. Replayed service : LET. I used to want the job of the net umpire at Wimbledon. You've got the best seat in the house, you put your finger on the top of the net, call a "LET!" or not, then watch the rest of the rally. Rinse and repeat. Awesome.

41. Lay on the line : RISK

43. "The Haywain Triptych" painter : BOSCH. I think I knew this. I was more familiar with "The Haywain" by John Constable in the National Gallery in London. Crosses helped. Here's Constable's:

45. Keen perception : EAR

50. Many a "Call the Midwife" character : NURSE!

51. Part of FWIW : IT'S. Those pesky texters, extending the language! For What It's Worth.

52. Yak-like : SHAGGY

55. Honeymoon spots : RESORTS

62. Digital imaging brand : AGFA. Are these guys still around?

63. Lodging : ABODE

64. Highly prized : DEAR. Dear to my heart.

65. Exec's dispatch : MEMO. More likely an irate email blast nowadays, quickly regretted.

66. iPods since 2005 : NANOS. I had one, I think I lost it at a TSA checkpoint in Atlanta.

67. "The Facts of Life" mentor Garrett : EDNA. Thank you crosses, never saw the show.


1. Get fresh with : SASS

2. His, in Le Havre : A LUI "To him". You know the French still don't officially have email? "Courrier  Ã©lectronique", s'il vous plaît.

3. Didn't surrender : KEPT. Held onto.

4. Old-style hangover relief : ICE BAG. I'm pretty sure this never worked. Hydrate before you go to bed, get up with the sun and go hike up a big hill. Carbonated Coca Cola was invented by a desperate gentleman one morning in an Atlanta drugstore though, history has it. How big was the Gulp?

5. Devoted follower : DISCIPLE

6. He played Frank on "CHiPs" : ERIK. Estrada. He's not impressed one bit with the new WB movie reboot.

7. Commercial URL suffix : BIZ. Hand up for "COM". Was wrong.

8. French article : UNE

9. Many an infomercial offering : GADGET

10. Greek personification of time : CHRONOS

11. Lane often in distress : LOIS

12. Honeymoon options : INNS

13. Long-haired lap dog, familiarly : PEKE

18. Most interesting to a collector : RAREST

19. Minute amount : DRIB. Marginally smaller than a DRAB I'm told. Or largest.

23. Element in pewter : TIN, plus copper, antimony and lead. It was the lead that did for you when you used a pewter mug for your beer. It was that leaching thing, you know.

24. Swallow : INGEST

25. Accusatory retort : LIAR

26. Impulsive line : AD-LIB

27. "I'm walkin' here!" speaker of 1969 : RATSO. "Midnight Cowboy". Best Picture at the Oscar ceremony in 1970. Not an easy subject, but a great movie.

28. "Dancing With the Stars" dances : RUMBAS

29. Persian Gulf sight : OILER. Didn't we talk about these last week?

30. Massage : KNEAD

34. Texas ALer : 'STRO Houston, natch.

38. Pulls off : ACHIEVES

39. "Oh yeah?" : THAT SO?

42. Spicy Chinese dish : KUNG PAO. Now, this surprises me. This entry has only been used once before by Matt Skoczen in the LAT (last year) and never in the NYT. I did raise my eyebrows when I saw it - it's a preparation method for chicken, not a finished dish. Nevertheless, food!

44. A : ONE

47. Fish whose preparation is strictly regulated in Japan : FUGU. A slip with the knife during prep will make you definitely ill, if not being measured up for your funeral. However, just avoid the liver, ovaries and intestines and you're fine. Which is what I would probably avoid anyway. I'm trying to think if I've ever eaten a fish liver. I've had goose intestines in Hong Kong, but they were harmless enough. I wouldn't recognize a fish ovary if I tripped over it in the street, even if it came from a sturgeon.

48. Griddle alternative : FRY PAN. For my fugo. Sans liver, thank you.

49. Lover of Tristan : ISOLDE

52. Virtually bombard : SPAM. I read the clue as "Visually bombard". I told you I need reading glasses

53. Voluminous : HUGE

54. Switch on a radio : AM/FM

55. Modernize : REDO

56. Kicked oneself about : RUED

57. IRS agent : T-MAN. Don't mess with these people.

58. Vaccines : SERA

60. Placeholder abbr. : T.B.A. To Be Arranged. I'm having lunch with a gentleman today at a venue in Burbank T.B.A.

61. Sweetheart : HON

Well, after a little diversion due to the fugu discussion, here's the grid!


Notes from C.C.:

1) I agree with Steve on Kung Pao, but Wiki says "Versions commonly found in the west, called "Kung Pao chicken", "Kung Po"", or just "chicken chilli and garlic"..."  Do you call the dish "Kong Pao" alone?

2) PK asked me to thank all of you for your kind birthday wishes.