Tore this one up. Even with several lost seconds at the end trying to figure out a mistake (note to self: it's LE MANS, not LE MONS), I still ended up with ... well, if it had been an NYT puzzle, it would have been a record time by Far. I don't yet have a good sense of how the difficulty levels progress in the LAT. Early-week puzzles seem comparable, but later-week puzzles in the LAT seem somewhat easier. At any rate, this one was enjoyable, though I never caught on to the theme. I sort of caught the clue for CAPE out of the corner of my eye as I blew through that section, but didn't take it all in — just enough to answer it. Like the shape of the grid. Felt as if there were lots of open spaces, lots of mid-length answers that livened up the grid (lots of 3- and 4-letter words = inevitably heavier reliance on crosswordese, which is why grid openness, from my perspective, is good). I got SEALAB (1A: Aquanaut's workplace) right off the bat and finished off the top in no time. Then ground to a halt. Couldn't work the back end of COD LIVER OIL, and couldn't round the bend at SACK (30A: Let go). Had to use A HORSE (31D: First words of the "Mr. Ed" theme) and HAI (38A: "Bali _____") and KISSES (33D: Bite-sized Hershey products) to get started again, and then had no problems until my minor final wreck at LE MANS.
- 20A: Cornucopia (HORN OF PLENTY)
- 34A: Supplement that some claim eases arthritis (COD LIVER OIL) — Never heard of this claim, and don't think of COD LIVER OIL as a "supplement." I think of it as some horrible elixir of dubious value that grandmas used to make kids take in the '50s.
- 43A: Texas governor before George W. Bush (ANN RICHARDS)
- 56A: 1973 Erica Jong novel ("FEAR OF FLYING")
- 17A: Pleasure dome site of verse (XANADU) — "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree..." Coleridge. That's about all I remember about that poem from my Romantic Literature seminar with Arden Reed in the spring of 1990. Hmmm, I am seeing a DOME-themed puzzle ... pleasure ... Thunder ... Astro ... Capitol ... Geodesic ...
- 45D: Lays into (RAILS AT) — I had RAILS ON. I think I was thinking WHALES ON.
- 61A: Crooner Julio (IGLESIAS) — great-looking answer. Suave. Debonair. Here is what I know about Julio IGLESIAS:
- 48D: "Pippin" Tony winner Ben (VEREEN) — I get him confused in my mind with Robert Guillaume, who played "BENson."
- 57D: Alaska's first governor (EGAN) — Weird. Just yesterday on my NYT site I mentioned some things you need to know about Alaska. In addition to NOME, I mentioned ALEUT and ATKA. I was going to mention EGAN, but I thought, "Nah, not common enough."
- 22D: Daisy Mae's creator (AL CAPP) — An oddly constant presence in crosswords. Daisy Mae is from "Li'l Abner." I am more familiar with a different comic Capp: "Andy Capp." It's about a barfly. My favorite quote about Andy Capp comes from Homer Simpson, who, while reading the comic, shakes his head in light-hearted amusement and says, "Oh, Andy Capp, you wife-beating drunk."
For immediate release
CROSSWORDS LA TOURNAMENT LAUNCHES
April 25 event to raise money for local non-profit
LOS ANGELES, CA – April 20, 2009 – Crosswords West today announced the launch of the first annual Crosswords LA Tournament. The event will bring together crossword enthusiasts from the Los Angeles area and elsewhere – all for the purpose of having fun and raising money to benefit a local non-profit organization (Reading to Kids). The puzzles will be provided by Will Shortz, Editor of The New York Times Puzzles and Games section.
Crossword puzzle tournaments have been around for more than 30 years, but have until recently taken place primarily on the East Coast. The largest tournament in the nation – the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament – is held annually in New York and has, since distribution of the 1996 documentary “WordPlay,” grown in popularity to involve roughly 700 competitors.
“Los Angeles is overdue for a similar crossword tradition,” said Elissa Grossman, tournament organizer and professor of management at Loyola Marymount University. “These events offer people a chance to get together and share something they enjoy, while at the same time, in this instance, helping Reading to Kids continue its wonderful work.”
The tournament will be held at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, April 25 (Hilton Center, Room 100). Online registration is available through April 23 at www.crosswordswest.com. On-site registration will be available on tournament day, through 10:50 AM (doors open at 10:00 AM). Prices vary from $10 - 30, depending on the time at which a person registers and the division in which the person participates. In an effort to make the tournament appropriate for a range of skill levels, there will be Regular, Expert, Student, and Spectator divisions. (Spectators can do the puzzles along with everyone else, but will not have those puzzles scored.) Competitors and spectators will be eligible for various tournament and raffle prizes. The prizes have been donated by St. Martin’s Press, Electronic Arts, Dell PennyPress, Pentel, Watson Adventures, Kustom Imprints, and Houdini, Inc.
The tournament will culminate in a playoff that pits the top three finishers overall – head to head to head – in a puzzle completed in front of an audience. Accompanying this race to complete the final puzzle will be live play-by-play and color commentary (as in a televised sporting event) by Tyler Hinman and Michael Colton. Tyler is a crossword constructor and the five-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion. Michael is a panelist on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and “I Love the 80s” and writes for the new comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up” (on Fox).
All event profits will be donated to Reading to Kids (www.readingtokids.org) – a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for success in the future. On the second Saturday of every month, Reading to Kids gathers together an average of 1,130 children and 460 volunteers for elementary school reading clubs.
For more information, please contact the tournament organizer:
Everything Else — 1A: Aquanaut's workplace (SEALAB); 7A: Arabic for "son of" (IBN); 10A: Software prototype (BETA); 14A: "1984" author (ORWELL); 15A: Teachers' org. (NEA); 16A: Campground arrival, briefly (RVER); 17A: Pleasure dome site of verse (XANADU); 18A: Most energetic (PEPPIEST); 20A: Cornucopia (HORNOFPLENTY); 22A: Baba of fiction (ALI); 25A: Via (BYWAYOF); 26A: Hermit (LONER); 29A: Poivre partner (SEL); 30A: Let go (SACK); 34A: Supplement that some claim eases arthritis (CODLIVEROIL); 38A: "Bali __" (HAI); 39A: Italian cheese (ASIAGO); 40A: Tender poultry (CAPONS); 42A: Stereotypical pirate leg (PEG); 43A: Texas governor before George W. Bush (ANNRICHARDS); 47A: Ont. or Que. (PROV); 49A: Feedbag morsel (OAT); 50A: Former big name on "The View" (ROSIE); 51A: Snob (ELITIST); 55A: Mag. employees (EDS); 56A: 1973 Erica Jong novel (FEAROFFLYING); 61A: Crooner Julio (IGLESIAS); 62A: What pupils do in the dark (DILATE); 66A: Action hero's garb, and what each first word in this puzzle's four longest answers is (CAPE); 67A: Lunes, por ejemplo (DIA); 68A: Squirrel's stash (ACORNS); 69A: Prolific auth.? (ANON); 70A: Morsel (ORT); 71A: Grand Prix site (LEMANS); 1D: White __ (SOX); 2D: Pitching stat (ERA); 3D: Barley bristle (AWN); 4D: Sister of Rachel (LEAH); 5D: Actor __ Ray of "Battle Cry" (ALDO); 6D: Book jacket promo (BLURB); 7D: Running the country (INPOWER); 8D: Hybrid meat (BEEFALO); 9D: Dover diaper (NAPPY); 10D: Boxers' alternatives (BRIEFS); 11D: Like 2 or 4, e.g. (EVEN); 12D: Sample (TEST); 13D: Pseudo-sophisticated (ARTY); 19D: Gp. once headed by Arafat (PLO); 21D: Org. at 11 Wall St. (NYSE); 22D: Daisy Mae's creator (ALCAPP); 23D: Not as tight (LOOSER); 24D: Spectrum color (INDIGO); 27D: She, in Lisbon (ELA); 28D: Latvian capital (RIGA); 31D: First words of the "Mr. Ed" theme (AHORSE); 32D: "__ Camera" (CANDID); 33D: Bite-sized Hershey products (KISSES); 35D: From, in German names (VON); 36D: Former transp. regulator (ICC); 37D: Cowardly Lion portrayer (LAHR); 41D: Kung __ chicken (PAO); 44D: "You cheated!" (NOTFAIR); 45D: Lays into (RAILSAT); 46D: __-bitsy (ITSY); 48D: "Pippin" Tony winner Ben (VEREEN); 52D: __ Angeles (LOS); 53D: "Don't mind __" (IFIDO); 54D: Kind of wave or pool (TIDAL); 56D: Pay stub abbr. (FICA); 57D: Alaska's first governor (EGAN); 58D: Brand for Fido (ALPO); 59D: Pleasant (NICE); 60D: Get hold of, with "onto" (GLOM); 63D: Altar in the sky (ARA); 64D: Former Opry network (TNN); 65D: Alpine curve (ESS).