THEME: "I'll take 'Hockey Terms I Don't Know' for $1,000, please, Alex"—Four "blanking a blank" phrases begin with words that double as hockey no-nos
- 17A: Electrical worker's action (TRIPPING A SWITCH). This is a kind of icky theme entry, if you ask me. I just asked my husband what sort of "flipping" is a violation in hockey. I'm not an electrical worker, so "tripping a switch" feels like an awkward combination of words to me. I'm sure Dave, my electrician who looks just like Tim Russert, would tell me the phrase is super familiar. If the theme entries weren't all "blanking a blank," this could've been the Dave Matthews Band song "Tripping Billies":
- 24A: Discount retailer's action (SLASHING A PRICE). You know what? If they're slashing prices, maybe they weren't starting out at a discount price and don't deserve the moniker "discount retailer." Furthermore: They're only slashing the one price? Maybe it would have been better to do without the thematic consistency of the "blanking a blank" structure to allow a more natural-sounding phrase here.
- 41A: Feuder's action (HOLDING A GRUDGE). I like this one. I kept the first four letters blank for a while because it could've been NURSING A GRUDGE too. And yes, I'd like to see the hockey game in which the players wind up in the penalty box because they were nursing.
- 54A: Accused speeder's action (FIGHTING A TICKET).
- 47D: Place where the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers result in a penalty (RINK). Hockey rink, not a figure skating rink. Although I reckon the figure skating judges would not look kindly on any tripping, slashing, fighting action on the ice rink.
I have never seen Slap Shot, but it's a hockey classic. Now that I've watched this clip, I've seen two minutes and seven seconds of the movie. Looks funny. It's been in my Netflix queue for a long time, but we keep forgetting to ever watch Flight of the Conchords, Season 1, so we keep never getting the next movie. Procrastination! *shakes fist*
There's a word in this puzzle that I don't think I've ever seen before: NOVIA (27D: Spanish sweetheart). You guys know this word? I took German and French myself. The L.A. Times crossword does seem to include a few more Spanish-language entries than the East Coast–based puzzles.
The bottom corners of this grid seemed a tad clunky. The CN TOWER is a fantastic entry (50A: Toronto skyline landmark), but yeesh! WKLY and EEEE and RTES crossing ALEE and plural RYES? The southwest corner has a nice intersection between CRASHES and DASHES, plus the start of a theme entry and the capper, RINK, but there's also the possessive SKY'S crossing CFOS and an AGCY.
Oh, hello, BASEBALL! (9D: America's pastime.) Mr. Fiend is watching the Dodgers/Yankees game. My kid noticed that the on-screen scoreboard thingy has two double letters: NYY vs. LAA. Letter patterns! We'll make a crossworder out of him yet. Can't push it. He needs to come to it in his own time. He's only nine, so he could use a few more years to hone his spelling before he gets into crosswords.
Runners know the word SUPINATE (4D: Rotate face-up, as one's palm). I haven't much encountered this word in a hand setting. If your ankles tend to roll outward when you walk, you're a supinator; ankles rolling inward are pronating. The words are related, obviously, to supine and prone, the words for lying on your back and face down, respectively.
When they send the RADIO CAR (37D: Police cruiser) you can expect to see the COPSE (30D: Thicket), right? "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?"
Crosswordese 101: There are a zillion things that SNEE sounds like it could mean. A sneeze that gets stifled? An exclamation like "whee!"? Something those Monty Python knights might say? A variety of snow? It's none of those. It's a 49D: Dagger of yore. Your family of SNEE clues mostly circles around an old, bygone, or pirate's blade, dagger, or sticker, or possibly Ko-Ko's weapon in The Mikado. There's also the snick-or-SNEE/snick-a-SNEE alternative, which can also be spelled in a less crossword-friendly single word, snickersnee. That, too, is about cutting with a stabby little dagger. (Oh, yeah—there's also a football player for the N.Y. Giants named Chris Snee.)
Everything Else — 1A: Droops (SAGS); 5A: Benchwarmer (SCRUB); 10A: Dull (DRAB); 14A: Spiritual guide (GURU); 15A: Pageant trophy (TIARA); 16A: Tot's first word, often (MAMA); 17A: Electrical worker's action (TRIPPING A SWITCH); 20A: Stuff to capacity (SATIATE); 21A: Like the healthiest corned beef (LEANEST); 22A: White House advisory gp. (NSC); 23A: "Don't tase me, __!" (BRO); 24A: Discount retailer's action (SLASHING A PRICE); 32A: Virginia, for one (STATE); 33A: Sits on the sill, as a pie (COOLS); 34A: Absorb, with "up" (SOP); 35A: Exaggerated publicity (HYPE); 36A: Type of servant or engineer (CIVIL); 37A: Ready for picking (RIPE); 38A: "You __ here": mall map words (ARE); 39A: Arrested (RAN IN); 40A: Parson's home (MANSE); 41A: Feuder's action (HOLDING A GRUDGE); 44A: In the past (AGO); 45A: Actress MacGraw (ALI); 46A: Traffic jam causes (CRASHES); 50A: Toronto skyline landmark (CN TOWER); 54A: Accused speeder's action (FIGHTING A TICKET); 56A: On a single occasion (ONCE); 57A: Two-time U.S. Open winner Fraser (NEALE); 58A: Opposite of aweather (ALEE); 59A: "The __ the limit!" (SKY'S); 60A: Freezing cold (GELID); 61A: Bakery offerings (RYES); 1D: Bilko and York: Abbr. (SGTS.); 2D: Subtle emanation (AURA); 3D: "True __": John Wayne film (GRIT); 4D: Rotate face-up, as one's palm (SUPINATE); 5D: Pain in the side (STITCH); 6D: Movie (CINE); 7D: Tabloid (RAG); 8D: Russia's __ Mountains (URAL); 9D: America's pastime (BASEBALL); 10D: Key of Beethoven's Ninth (D MINOR); 11D: Distance divided by time (RATE); 12D: Gremlin and Pacer (AMCS); 13D: Capital of Thailand? (BAHT); 18D: Out of fashion (PASSE); 19D: Time irregularities, in sci-fi (WARPS); 24D: Prefix with foam (STYRO-); 25D: Boutonniere site (LAPEL); 26D: Cupcake topper (ICING); 27D: Spanish sweetheart (NOVIA); 28D: Continuing to operate (GOING); 29D: "Of Thee __" (I SING); 30D: Thicket (COPSE); 31D: Olympics sword (ÉPÉE); 32D: Peacock Throne occupant (SHAH); 36D: Challenging the rapids, maybe (CANOEING); 37D: Police cruiser (RADIO CAR); 39D: On the money (RIGHT); 40D: Poly- equivalent (MULTI-); 42D: Sprints (DASHES); 43D: Went on a tirade (RANTED); 46D: Corp. money bigwigs (CFOS); 47D: Place where the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers result in a penalty (RINK); 48D: Part of CIA: Abbr. (AGCY.); 49D: Dagger of yore (SNEE); 50D: Colombian cartel city (CALI); 51D: How many employees are pd. (WKLY.); 52D: Hard-to-find shoe width (EEEE); 53D: Numbered hwys. (RTES.); 55D: Word before Friday or pal (GAL).