7.23.2009

THURSDAY, July 23, 2009—Dan Naddor



This puzzle might be smack dab in the middle of the Thursday difficulty level, or it might be a little tougher. It seemed Fridayish to me, but when you're doing the puzzle and blogging Wednesday night with a pinot grigio handicap, it's hard to express any degree of certainty.

THEME: "Take That—Somewhere"—Six theme entries are all clued as take + a preposition, with the prepositions paired logically (on/off, up/down, in/out). This is one of those flip-flop puzzles where the theme entries are the sorts of phrases we might expect to see in the clues in a typical puzzle.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Take on (GO UP AGAINST).
  • 23A: Takeoff (AIR DEPARTURE). Boring phrase, no? By the way, if you are wondering where PuzzleGirl is, she had an AIR DEPARTURE from D.C. to Houston to Costa Rica, so I'm filling in today. She'll be back Sunday, blogging from Central America.
  • 32A: Take up (BEGIN LEARNING). See what I mean? BEGIN LEARNING is not the sort of phrase that normally passes muster as a crossword entry, because it could be "begin anything." That's why I called it a flip-flop theme.
  • 41A: Takedown (WRESTLING MOVE). Oh, man, PuzzleGirl is a huge Iowa wrestling fan. If you would be bored by a wrestling video, you're in luck! I have zero interest in wrestling.
  • 48A: Take in (PUT ONE OVER ON). Solid entry, with or without a flip-flop theme. I hope you haven't been taken in lately—certainly not by this clue, which could also have to do with the sort of "taking in" that a tailor does.
  • 57A: Takeout (HOT FOOD TO GO). Meh. Your takeout order might be a salad or a bowl of gazpacho. Also? "Hot food to go" is not remotely an in-the-language phrase in and of itself.


Crosswordese 101: Dang, PuzzleGirl already covered ETON, so that leaves APSE as the obvious choice. Today's clue is 12D: It adjoins the altar. The key words to look out for are church/cathedral/basilica recess/area/section, or possible the nave neighbor. The NAVE is the other church section that gets a lot of play in crosswords.

...And now I'm thinking about Planet of the Apse.

Atypical grumbling: Dan Naddor's one of the most talented crossword constructors working in the L.A. Times today. It's challenging to squeeze six theme entries (occupying a whopping 72 squares) into a daily-sized crossword. But there are often compromises when a puzzle includes so much thematic material.

3D: Peel out (BURN RUBBER) is awesome—both the answer and its clue are delightfully fresh and slangy language—but there are more than the usual amount of clunkers in a Naddor puzzle:
  • Awkward abbreviations! ALC. is clued as 44A: DUI's excess, and it's simply not an abbreviation we encounter often. RAL., short for Raleigh, is 26D: N.C.'s capital, but I've never seen this abbreviation before.
  • Obscure words! PRILL is 24D: Dry residue from molten liquid, and I honestly don't think this counts as crosswordese because I don't recall seeing it in crosswords (or anywhere else) before. ARMCO is clued as 35D: AK Steel Holding Corp., formerly. This, too, is madly unfamiliar to me, and I've been doing crosswords for three decades.
  • Authorial initials! We have a smattering of writers' initials that show up periodically in the puzzle. RLS is Robert Louis Stevenson, TSE is T.S. Eliot, GBS is George Bernard Shaw, EAP is Edgar Allan Poe. But RWE, or Ralph Waldo Emerson, is not among the usual suspects. He's clue with 38D: "Nature" author's monogram.
  • Weird prefix! PETR- is clued as 13D: Rock: Pref. My dictionary gives as an abbreviation for petrology and petro- as the combining form for rocks.
  • Foreign words! If not for these other pesky entries, a couple foreign words would pose no trouble on a Thursday—but with 'em, they further complicate matters for some solvers. DER is German for the male version of "the" and it completes the title in 17A: Strauss's "__ Rosenkavalier". Crossing the border to France, we have SEL, 67A: Cannes condiment, or "salt."
  • A multi-word partial! Honestly, such answers don't bother me as long as they're few and far between, but the most elegant crosswords won't have any of these so-called partials, which do look goofy in the grid. IT GO fills in the blank in 45A: "Make __ Away": Sheryl Crow song. My husband has a Sheryl Crow CD or two, but even he has not heard of this song.


Here are a few more clues and answers:
  • 62A: Union founded by Samuel Gompers, for short (A.F. OF L.). That's an unusual crossword answer. We see AFL and we see CIO, but hardly ever does the AF OF L pop up.
  • 64A: Kenan's TV pal (KEL). This is outdated Nickelodeoniana from before my son was old enough to watch Nickelodeon. As I recall from my sister, Kenan and Kel were teenage boys working at a place called Goodburger. Or else that was an entirely unrelated movie they were in. Kenan Thompson, I believe, is the one who went on to become a Saturday Night Live cast member.
  • 1D: Unfair judgment, slangily (BAD RAP). I put in BAD RAP. Then I changed it to BUM RAP. Then I changed it back to BAD RAP. I kinda wish it were BUM RAP instead.
  • 19D: Bearded grazer (GNU). Pretty much any time you need a three-letter bearded animal, you want the GNU...
  • ...which is not to be confused with a bearded human. 46D: Colonel Sanders trademark (GOATEE)? That's altogether different, even if Colonel Sanders and the average GNU did go to the same barber.

    Everything Else — 1A: Spill catcher (BIB); 4A: Cornered (AT BAY); 9A: A pump lacks one (STRAP); 14A: Sun Devils' sch. (ASU); 15A: Cry of innocence (NOT ME); 16A: Hogwash (TRIPE); 20A: __ artery, which supplies the kidneys (RENAL); 22A: Tee-hee (SNICKER); 27A: Expectoration sound (PTUI); 28A: River inlet (RIA); 29A: Bando of the 1960s-'70s Athletics (SAL); 38A: Like some auto engines (REBUILT); 40A: Daughter of King Minos (ARIADNE); 43A: Place for a stud (EAR); 53A: Big name in art glass (STEUBEN); 56A: Sci-fi writer Asimov (ISAAC); 61A: Windy City transportation gp. (CTA); 62A: Union founded by Samuel Gompers, for short (A.F. OF L.); 63A: Y, sometimes (VOWEL); 65A: Kirsten of "Spider-Man" (DUNST); 66A: Land formation named for its usual shape (DELTA); 1D: Unfair judgment, slangily (BAD RAP); 2D: "Thar she blows!" ("I SEE IT!"); 4D: Perspective (ANGLE); 5D: Overly (TOO); 6D: HVAC measure (BTU); 7D: Band aid? (AMP); 8D: Brewer's ingredient (YEAST); 9D: Flight segment (STAIR); 10D: Very short time (TRICE); 11D: Lemieux's milieu (RINK); 21D: Parting words (ADIEUS); 25D: "__ a stinker?": Bugs Bunny line (AIN'T I); 29D: Gets off the point (SIDE TRACKS); 30D: First name in advice (ANN); 31D: Bigger than med. (LGE.); 33D: "Skedaddle!" ("GIT!"); 34D: Birdie beater (EAGLE); 36D: __ Grande (RIO); 37D: Marine combatants (NAVIES); 39D: Diamond stat (ERA); 42D: Indian bread (NAN); 47D: Prepared to be summoned (ON CALL); 48D: Light, filled pastries (PUFFS); 49D: Letter-shaped fastener (U-BOLT); 50D: Fabi of racing (TEO); 51D: Available from Netflix, say (ON DVD); 52D: String quartet member (VIOLA); 53D: River herring (SHAD); 54D: Vegan staple (TOFU); 55D: Orwell's alma mater (ETON); 58D: Water tester (TOE); 59D: Barn bird (OWL); 60D: Comprehend (GET).

42 comments:

ArtLvr said...

PRILL was new to me, for sure. PETR made me think of Petrify, so I thought it was okay without an O. RWE another first for me, and I also had to get names from crosses, like KEL, TEO, DUNST...

Lots to like in this one, besides the tight theme. I wouldn't quibble over the HOT with FOOD TO GO, since it allows for STEUBEN art glass. And the look of GOUP AGAINST made me SNICKER. PTUI too. Very enjoyable.

Gareth Bain said...

Hmm... Unusual that I didn't enjoy a Dan Naddor... There was some icky stuff, fair enough, there's 72 theme letters, something's gotta give, but some of those 72 letters were more than just meh, as you pointed out, Orange. I did really like the idea of the theme though...

Them 2 you mentioned: Alc., and Ral. (Guessing you might see it in a weather report...) - WT_. And "Petr" is one of those things in dictionaries that make you go "huh," and me refuse to put it in even when I knew in my heart of hearts it was right. PRILL is new to me as well. Not so ARMCO, though it did take a while to come. Never seen it in a crossword, but the barriers in Formula 1 are (or actually were) called Armco barriers, I'm guessing ARMCO used to make them.
Oh and me, I started at BUMRAP, and then took the longest time ever to give it up... Did the same at SNICKER (put down SNIGGER)

I think I'm gonna get myself a gnu someday, call him Colonel Sanders...

Eddie Q said...

Misread big name in art glass as art Class and put Bob Ross. Now I'm sad because I loved his show. :( Fun puzzle though!!

Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

Gotta agree with you. Dan Naddor is showing some major talent and I usually love seeing his name on puzzles. This one wasn't a favorite, but hey, you can't win 'em all. His next one will probably rule.

Rex Parker said...

This is subpar Naddor. Flip-floppers are always dangerous, because the "answers" are often either forced or dull. AIR DEPARTURE = [Flatulence].

ARMCO? PRILL?

AFOFL! I like a good AFOFL on pita with hummus and tahini. Nice.

rp

jOHN said...

The puzzle was all over the place.

Thought the ALC/ ARMCO crossing was a bit of a Natick. I had ALE/ARMEO. Never heard of either of them!

Overall, an OK puzzle.

Scott AnderBois said...

I actually liked this puzzle on the whole, though there were some assorted clunkers. I too loved burn rubber, that was awesome. I was especially baffled by PETR. One, it's not really a prefix since in a word like petrify it is the root. Any genuinely prefixal use I can come up with is PETRO. Also, there are better ways to clue that string in my opinion. "NHL's Sykora and Prucha", "Pierre in Moscow", etc.

Anonymous said...

27a PTUI reminds me of the joke about the tipsy man who while staggering home with his friend said he hoped he wouldn't have to call the Irishman. "What do you mean?" he was asked. "You know-- O'Roouurrke!" Probably too much pinot grigio.

Anonymous said...

What does 9a STRAP have to do with a pump? Got it but didn't get it.

Carol said...

Prill sounds like a word you might find in the game "Balderdash." Something so obscure that you could make up many meanings for it.
Such as "an exotic bird named for it's distinctive call" or "the linty stuff in the bottom of a pocket" or . . . well, you get the idea.

Carol said...

A pump can be a woman's dress shoe - it doesn't have a strap.

PurpleGuy said...

@Anonymous7:44-yhis pump is a woman's shoe.

After a really terrible NYT puzzle for today, this was a relief. Even with the few clunkers.

Great writeup Orange. Thanks for not including a wrestling video !

Anonymous said...

@Carol and Purple Guy -- Thanks! My male mind was thinking of generators, dynamos, bicycle tires, etc.

shrub5 said...

@ORANGE: Great write-up -- I'm still chuckling.

At the point I had G____E for Colonel Sanders trademark, I thought: aha, GREASE!

I completed this entertaining puzzle fairly smoothly. I googled once afterward to check the spelling of ARIADNE. Not familiar with her and it looked wrong, 'though I felt all the crosses were OK.

RAL, SAL, SEL, KEL, GIT, GET, NAN, ANN......and I prefer bumRAPs. Well, that's more than enough TRIPE from me.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the theme phrases!

hazel said...

I'm a geologist, and was sort of conflicted over PETR - (Clue: Rock: pref.). Petrology is the study of rocks. Similarities might be BI (Life: pref) or PSYC (Mind: pref). Seems like the O+Logy parsing could go either way. Prefix with/out the O makes more sense with some sciences than others. But to me this one works for petrology.

Never heard of PRILL, though - clue bears little to no relation to the definition in Dictionary.com. To me, that one's a foul. Also I fell into ALE/ARMEO trap. That ALC to me seemed deceptive since to me DUI is like NL in the language- doesn't automatically mean the answer will be abbreviated - so I thought that was tricky, but in a sloppy way.

I thought theme phrases were ho hum so In general, pretty joyless solve...

Anonymous said...

Aren't all liquids, by definition, molten? Water is molten ice. Not that I knew PRILL or anything, but why molten?

Anonymous said...

mmmm .... Kentucky fried Gnu ...

Ambitious theme, I thought he pulled it off pretty good.

AFOFL: A friend of the floor, laughing?

*David* said...

Not happy with the abbreviations, I got stuck in the SW corner and never got out with that AF OF L, PUFFS, and U-BOLT. Meh and PTUI!

jeff in chicago said...

I liked this. BURNRUBBER is, indeed, fabulous fill. I also liked PUFFS and BADRAP. Not so much AFOFL.

I would have liked the theme clues to all be two words. "Take off" instead of "Takeoff," etc., but it's hard to complain since each of the up/down, on/off pairs has one that's one word and one that's two. Having just written that sentence, maybe I'm more impressed that that we have the one-word/two-word mix!

Well done, Dan!

Anonymous said...

I had a Civics (does that date me?) teacher who always said "AFofL" so got that one easily. Didn't know TEO of racing. Cars? Horses?

Anonymous said...

Nice writeup Orange. You pretty much summed up what I liked/disliked about the puzzle. The abbreviations, in particular, were awful. Better theme answers would have helped since half of them were pretty weak. Anyway it left me feeling unsatisfied as I think the puzzle as a whole had much more potential.

Jimmie said...

I don't get NAN. My unabridged Webster doesn't have it. What's the connection?

29D's clue could be "Takes a diversion"

I liked it.

Anonymous said...

@Jimmie apparently it's a variant of Na'an, essentially an Indian Pita bread. I say apparently it's a variant, because the sources I've looked at spell it Na'an, so there has to be some excuse for NAN.

Thomas said...

That one isn't a trick, Jimmie, like [Italian bread] for LIRE. Nan, maybe more commonly spelled naan, is a flatbread served in India.

Dihu911 said...

Really wanted it to be Chihuly instead of Steuben. Knew it had to be Steuben from Shad but Chihuly would have been way more fun.
Didn't much like the puzzle today, good write up, thanks,

chefbea said...

Tougher than usual

Condiments are things that go along with different foods - Mayo, ketchup, mustard, relish etc. Salt is a seasoning.

jeff in chicago said...

I, too, wanted CHIHULY in the puzzle. Dale Chihuly had an exhibit in Chicago at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Some of his work was obvious; some blended in.

switters said...

Okay, that's 4 stinkers in a row.

And I'm with chefbea: salt is so not a condiment.

Other than that? I had to hold this one out the window on the way home. Geez!

Orange said...

Chefbea and switters, the dictionary says you're wrong. I was with you guys, but then I looked up "condiment" in the dictionary and it listed two examples: salt and ketchup. Who knew?

CHIHULY would be a great entry. I just got back from the Art Institute of Chicago's new Modern Wing, and now I want to see all those artists in the puzzle: MIRO, GRIS, and LEGER look grid-friendly but they don't show up nearly as often as Jean ARP.

switters said...

Whatever, Orange. I suppose that particular dictionary also says that "impact" can be a verb.

Whatever!

(I hope you know this is all in good fun, right?)

SethG said...

Is "contact" a verb?

mac said...

I'm with Orange all the way, liked what she liked, disliked what she did, even though my handicap is usually Cabernet. I like a lot of the shorter words, though, like tripe, trice, the clue and answer "strap", my favorite shad and puffs. Thought the plural of adieu would be adieux.

I love the afofl, but I've never seen it, so thank you for the crosses. Ptui I have only seen spelled out twice, and that in the last week, and Ariadne also made an appearance just a few days ago. Count me in the Chihuly corner, as well.

@Hazel: what do you mean with this DUI and NL not being abbr.? Couldn't follow you.

Anonymous said...

I may be too late with this as it has to do with Wednesday's puzzle (I was traveling) but ... can some please tell me how "sat" is a correct answer for "met" (61D).

More generally, I just discovered the blogspot and it has added a new level of interest and pleasure to my daily working the LA Times Crossword. Thanks

Orange said...

Anon. 4:38, skim through the comments on Wednesday's post—the sat/met issue was discussed/explained heatedly! (Just click the red COMMENTS link at the very end of the Wednesday post.)

Wayne said...

@Carol: Thanks for mentioning the pumps as shoes - that didn't even occur to me and I was indeed "puzzled" by it.

I have a HUGE Webster's Dictionary here a home and "prill" isn't even in it! In fact, spellcheck is not even recognizing it as I just typed it.

On Mino's daughter, I got tripped up because I had the "d" and I immediately went for Phaedra because I like the song by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, "Some Velvet Morning" from the 60's. Phaedra is the name mentioned in the song. In honor of my error I'm now listening to the song. Good memories.

hazel said...

@Mac - I was trying to say that there are certain abbreviations such as DUI (driving under the influence) and NL (National League) that are "words" to me - as such, when they're used in a clue, I'm not thinking, automatically anyway, that the answer needs to be abbreviated. E.g, NL Central team could be Cardinals, as opposed to the abbreviated STL or whatever.

So, for DUI excess - ALE made more sense to me than ALC. That's WAY too much explanation for the tiny point I was trying to make - so if its still clear as mud - never mind.....

mac said...

@hazel: it was a question from a person who was born in the NL.....
You confused me when DUI could have been Duitsland, the Dutch word for Germany.
We're thinking too hard.....

sfingi said...

Hated it.

But loved prill, to fill my science braincell.

Lovecraft in glass:
Chihuly
Cthulhu

PuzzleGirl said...

I really, really like these kind of themes. I know some people don't, but they are totally cool to me. Also, WRESTLING MOVE! Let me see if I can find a good video for you. Of course I'm kidding. In summary, (1) Dan Naddor is awesome, (2) this puzzle is not his best.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

This puzzle took me forever to finish, but I did.
I always feel better if I can finish something even if I'm wasting a lot of time... oh well, us old retirees have plenty of time. Just couldn't find the word PRILL (24d) anywhere. And, what the heck is "molten liquid"? I thought all liquids are molten anyways.
I'd give this puzzle a C+ at best.

Anonymous said...

Good puzzle overall, but I agree that 13-down was misclued: "petr" is a root, not a prefix. Hate to be picky and put puzzle-authors between a rock and a hard place, but sometimes it has to be done.