11.13.2009

FRIDAY, Nov. 13, 2009 — Dan Naddor




THEME: Passing Stranger — "R" added to end of phrase that end in "...GE," creating wacky phrases, etc.

Hey, who *doesn't* love a mess of -ER words in their puzzle!?

I have nothing to say about this puzzle that I haven't said in the past about puzzles of this type, except this seems the weakest example of "add-a-letter" I've seen in a while. RADAR and MERIT don't even work in the new phrases. Are they supposed to be adjectives? Love the phrase MERIT BADGER, but ... is that a BADGER who MERITs ... something? [Earn a burrowing critter] might have worked better. A RANGER with a RADAR is a RADAR RANGER. Yeah, OK. The whole concept is just so dreary. Would be nice if the theme answers popped. But no. Find simple wordplay gimmick, replicate 5 times regardless of snazziness of resulting answers, and done. Also, serious cheater square action (in middle, at top and bottom) makes for very black (40 squares) puzzle with abundance of short (ergo not too interesting) fill.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Park official who tickets speeding bears? (RADAR RANGER) — why are the "bears" speeding? Why are "bears" in this clue? To add "humor?"
  • 22A: Smallest allowable bet? (MINIMUM WAGER) — so straightforward that if it weren't for the "?" I wouldn't know there was anything Wacky about it.
  • 35A: Steals a plumbing supply? (TAKES THE PLUNGER)
  • 45A: San Fernando creator of fake van Goghs? (VALLEY FORGER) — for non-SoCal'ers (how's that for a roll-your-own word?) who don't know: The San Fernando Valley is just "The Valley" in California. It's the VALLEY in the concept / song / movie "VALLEY GIRL"


  • 53A: Burrowing critter cited for excellence? (MERIT BADGER)

Crosswordese 101: EROSE (47D: Irregularly notched) — despite its appearance, not a virtual flower such as you might send someone on his/her birthday. EROSE is used particularly in reference to leaves. Learned it from crosswords. Only ever seen it in crosswords. You will see it again. In terms of frequency, it's no ERASE (that's nearby: 52A: They help get the lead out => ERASERS), but it's definitely a repeater. File it away!

What else?

  • 3D: Stereotypical pratfall cause (BANANA SKIN) — source of almost 100% of the resistance in today's puzzle. Easily dropped in the more common and therefore better BANANA PEEL, and then had fits trying to get the West to work out. --PHY for 31A: Like some stockings!? WTF? (actual answer, MESHY ... meriting a slightly less outraged "WTF?")
  • 39A: Cubist Juan (GRIS) — part of that messed-up West. Wanted MIRO or SERT.
  • 23D: Sweet-talk (WHEEDLE) — LOVE the word WHEEDLE, but associate "sweet-talk" with courtship and other forms of affectionate persuasion, while I associate WHEEDLE with used-car selling/buying.
  • 46D: Hoods with safe jobs? (YEGGS) — damn, now I want to go back and make this my Crosswordese 101 entry. I know YEGG well from collecting old crime fiction. YEGGS are safecrackers.

See you Monday,

~RP

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

40 comments:

*David* said...

My resistance was also in the NW. From a difficulty standpoint, it felt more LAT Fridayish. Some of the cluing felt more sly then we typically have seen. All in all a solid puzzle, I enjoyed it.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

A pretty darn good puzzle, but IMO, far far too easy for a Friday.
But, that’s okay, I enjoy this kind of theme and the fill was quite refreshing too.
I did struggle a little with a few words, but eventually I got everything correct.

“Well. Kiss my grits”, Alice still works there! That is, at MELS Diner in St. Charles, Illinois. In fact, I think I‘ll go there this morning for my breakfast.
Maybe I can WEEDLE an extra piece of that yummy raisin toast.
ALICE

Now in Illinois, we don’t even know what that phrase is: “Smoking or NON?”, because it’s illegal to smoke anywhere in a public place (indoors or outdoors). A good law!

Some goodies:
HAIR = It’ll grow on you.
ERASERS = They help get the lead out.
‘Mazel TOV!”
REPO = Seized wheels.
BIC = Pen name.

Some problems for me:
Had COIL instead of LEAP (Spring).
Had BANANA PEEL instead of BANANA SKIN (Pratfall cause).
Had MOUSE instead of MODEM (Web surfing tool)
Had DATE instead of MTGS (PDA entries)
Had DASH instead of DART (Scurry)
Oiy!

Learned a new word: Cubist Juan GRIS. And I too, wanted to use MIRO.

Yeah, I agree with you, Rex, MESHY for "Like some stockings" is pretty messy!

(43a) “Parlsey relative”: This is the Umbelliferae family of which DILL, Parsley, Parsnips, Carrots, Anise, and Corriander belong to.

(29d) OLEG Cassini was Jackie Kennedy’s clothing designer and she always looked classy.

Next time a prayer is ended in church, I’ll say “Right on!” instead of AMEN (49d).

Can anyone explain (51d) DRIP for “Crashing bore”?

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@rex
Well now that you mention it, I do see a lot of "cheater squares", but then what would the alternative be? Just pluralize a bunch of words? That's not too cool either. A few cheater squares really doesn't bother me much.

GLowe said...

Scratched my head at RAD ARRANGER for a while.

MERIT BADGER is kinda funny, but I agree what is it? I vote for LUGGAGE TAGGER, [Travelling graffiti artist].

DRIP is [used to be] a general put-down, ala "Loser", never knew it was so specific.

Sfingi said...

I got the theme (yes!) from plunger. I took a little more time for some names, but they came to me when I turned the news off. New technique.

This was a good one for Sr. Citizenesses and non-sportsters. (Me)

A Radar Range is an original 1947 microwave oven. My first micro I won in the late '70s from Alcoa. It was valued at $500 and I had to pay $100 tax. I still use it. Only had to change a bulb.

I actually knew 34A SULU, thanx to you all.

New to me - 46D YEGGS and 6D LTR, a valid abbrev.

In NYS, there are no longer Smoking Sections. There is #Smoking" or You're Being Allowed to Live." I quit Aug. '94. I remember a booth in W. Schuyler, NY that was half and half.

I imagined minimum betting windows - "$10" "$2" "Souls." I don't bet. Don't know how. I watch horsies cuz I like 'em.

@Rex - I actually like any word you can add "iest" to - meshiest. Yumm. I know Rex isn't your real name, but we have a very old toy of my mother's, a bulldog of thin plastic in a wooden doghouse to which you yell, "Here, Rex," and he comes out of the doghouse.

@John - Juan Gris (not his real name) - the other guy is Joan with an o. He's not really a Cubist, but more of a Surrealist. His images are not angular, to boot. One of my sisters is an art prof and the other is a jeweler. I got the OCD gene, instead (actually, they did too.)

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Another good CW101 word is CRENATED, also means EROSE.
Us botanists use EROSE quite a bit in describing leaf margins.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Sfingi
Actually, Joan Miró IS considered to be an artist in the cubism school... he has a very prominent example of that in a sculpture he did especially for the City of Chicago.
Miró's Chicago (originally called The Sun, the Moon and One Star), is a sculpture by Joan Miró. It is 39 feet tall, and is made of steel, bronze, wire mesh, concrete, and ceramic tile.

shrub5 said...

I slipped on the BANANA PEEL/SKIN, too. Had some trouble at GRAMMYS - thought it wasn't spelled correctly so was trying to think of something else. The crosses eventually put it there. According to my desktop dictionary, GRAMMYS and Grammies are both acceptable.

This puzzle had a lot of Gs. I counted 12. Two of them were in YEGGS, a word I didn't know. Dictionary says it is of unknown origin.

Liked the clever clues for ERASERS and LUGGAGE TAG. I've seen EROSE before but never seem to recall it when needed. Have similar trouble with other botanical terms.

@JNH: a DRIP is a person who is (per my thesaurus) a bore, ninny, milksop, namby-pamby, creep, wimp, sissy, wuss, candy-ass, pantywaist. LOL at this list - hope you get the idea!! IMO, bore is not the best term; I think of a drip as an undesirable person, a total zero, mildly obnoxious.

As I reviewed my comment, I see @GLowe nailed it with drip = loser.

CFKAHT said...

Bad

ddbmc said...

@JNH, Erose by any other name....
For some reason, SW got me today--AMEN, which is something my lovely father in law used to say, along with "Right on" when he was of right mind!

I think of "wheedle" as when my kids used to try to "wheedle" a few extra Nintendo games or Airheads (disgusting version of Bonamo's Turkish taffy-"Smack it to crack it!" (I'm sure the sharp shards were a CPSC's worst nightmare!)

Radar Range made by Amana a subsidiary of Raytheon, was discovered as an "accidental by-product of WWII. Speeding bears? They DART fairly quickly and are making many inroads here in NJ--next they'll be taking the trains to NYC!

@Sfingi, they still allow smoking in Vegas and AC, in the casinos. I'll pass! I don't know if its changed in CN, but a couple hockey rinks also allowed smoking--around all those young athletes! That may have been in another ERA.

HILL and VALLEYforger crossed. Just had a banana and peel comes to mind more often with pratfalls. If you fell on one, would you hurt your YEGG?

MESHY? Mesh, fishnet, textured, seamless nylons, LEGGS. I guess, whatever fits.

Got the "GER" first in the NE corner and filled it in first, worked the rest from there.

I'm not as persnickety as @REX about my puzzles, but then I am not the expert. Certainly, coming here is making us all more aware of puzzle nuances.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Obviously I haven't played with the grid as much as Dan must have, but it seems like at least the center cheaters were necessitated by theme/block placement. Having W__E__E as the center down pretty much commits you to a vowel in the block east of the H, which forces the AARP and the cheaters. Seems like there might have been a way to avoid the triple theme-crosser and save some blocks.

GLowe said...

@ddb - the world needs more EROSE.

And in internet vernacular, DRIP would be = "Looser".

Werd up.

John said...

For some reason, I went through this puzzle fast. Like, really fast. Surprised myself, actually.
Unfortunately, this left me with time to wonder why bagging on rap would bother RP. ? It's very clearly not music,, that's differentiable. So WTF, RP?

John said...

Also, two commas are what the cool kids are doing these days.

imsdave said...

Living in a casino state (CT), minimum wager is a real term and that took a little bit away from the theme for me.

@Sfingi - being (ashamedly), a cigar smoker, your comment reminded me of the saying:

"a non-smoking section in a restaurant is kind of like the non-peeing section of the pool"

PJB-Chicago said...

Howdy: What subject at school was I supposed to learn about YEGGS in. Sounds like a breakfast product. (No need to answer, I google-ated). I too fell into the grand old "peel" versus "skin" debate, and lost. Much tougher than the "zest" versus "pith" debate. (Please note I was channeling Sfingi there!).

The ESO/ESA (Spanish "this") and the Spanish/Italian UNO/UNA (One) are tough little vocabs because you have to rely on crosses to know if it's masc. or fem. In the real world, it's more likely to be O than A, but I suspect that in puzzledom A may be more common than O. Anyone?

Maybe the UN~ and ES~ dilemma was already covered in CW101. Have read most of those pages but not all. Great resource. You host-bloggers should read it in on YouTube, like the Electric Company videos in the 70s! Just a thought! Maybe they will extend the GRAMMY categories to include that under the 'Spoken Word.' category. We can say "Hey, we KNOW those people." Kinda cool, eh?

I'm pretty much an average solver, so I enjoyed the theme, but understand Rex's beefs, too. I always wonder which parts of any given puzzle (clues and/or fill) are changed by the editor. (I "know" the general answer, but not the specifics.
"Crashing bore" is a great descriptive clue. I plan on using it in conversation today, along with "wheedle." Anything I can do to promote verbal sparkle, in Chicago I'm up for!

C said...

Not a hard puzzle but I did enjoy the banana skin answer as it proved to be a real banana peel for the speed solvers. Somewhere a constructor is smiling.

tinbeni said...

Paraskevidekatriaphobia for the third time this year !!!!

IMHO today's cluing was a mixed bag between very cleaver or totally obtuse.

Got it done in my normal time, one cup of coffee (in the Smoking section) but ...
42A SSN saved me from the Banana PEEL, so I gave in and put SKIN.
Like @ddbmc I had the GER in the NE corner first which led me to the theme. But thought 17A use of "bears" in the clue to be humorless (stupid).
31A MESHY ... never a way I would describe stockings. Mesh or meshed, OK. Meshy seems to be a weak attempt to be "zippier"
But 62A GES was a very adroit way to tie-up the themes.

Yeggs and Erose I learned from former CW's, nice to come across their usage again. ERA, ERR, ASP & SSN need to 'take-a-break."

LOL when IMAGES finally popped up and Ranger Smith in RP's write-up.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

I like a puzzle that's a real challenge to solve... I'm sure most of you do too. That's why I used to skip the Mon.-Wed. puzzles. But ever since I started blogging, I've returned to those easy early-week puzzles, just to be apart of the blog-society. Then I found out that the LAT was not always consistent with that gradient system thoughout the week. On some of those "too easy" puzzles I would tear off all the down clues and solve them with just the across clues. But wait, it ceases to be a CROSSword puzzle... it is now merely a quiz, and that's no fun. Had enough of those in my college days. I often think that a great adjunct to this blog would be the provision of another set of alternate (harder) clues for the same grid. It sure would spice up the blogs and comments. I've noticed that some of you more creative types like to offer a "better" clue. Anyone willing to undertake doing that for a complete puzzle?

Just a hare-brained JNH-thought.

Anonymous said...

@Johns: Where is your blog? I'd love to read it.

Carol said...

I enjoyed today's puzzle & comments. Thanks to all of you.

Anonymous said...

Radar Range-R
Take the Plunge-R
Valley Forge-R
Merit Badge-R

JIMMIE said...

Yegg seems to be from the German Jager (umlaut over the a), meaning hunter, because a yegg isn't just a safecracker, but a burglar in general.

Fun CW.

obertb said...

Pretty much agree with everything RP said about this one. MESHY? Come on. Just seems a little lame and about a Monday level of difficulty. I did like the slight bit of misdirection in [46D Hoods with safe jobs] = YEGGS. And EROSE is almost always a gimme for me (depending on how it's clued, of course). Think I first ran across it in mushroom books, my sole foray into botany.

Still wishing the LA Times CR would man up a little.

ddbmc said...

Speaking of YEGGS, watched "To Catch a Thief" this AM with the debonaire Cary Grant and the exquisite Grace Kelly. Catch this Hitchcock film if you haven't already! Funny, cool, beautiful scenery, great dialogue....

chefwen said...

Slipped on that damned banana peel too and had dash before DART.

I always think of a steak knife when I see EROSE, I know they are referred to as serrated, I just like the word erose.

mac said...

Easy Friday, where I also slipped on the peel and the mouse....
I sort of liked the theme, and radar ranger and valley forger are my favorites.

Whitney said...

I realize it's been said, but, MESHY?! Ugg. I tried to rework it quickly and I realize it's not a quick fix but I would work for like five days before putting MESHY in a puzzle. I'm not sure why it bothers me but it's like fingernails on blackboard. Meshy. Shiver.

Sfingi said...

@John - I just remembered people can smoke in the local Indian Casino, which is in Oneida county. Won't mention the tribe.

I'm going to attempt to embed. I just tried and lost all when I tested it in preview and killed the picture.



Chick in a car and the car won't go. That's the way Miro spells Chicago.
After checking all over Google, it seems he was a Cubist until about 1925 when he was trapped by the war on a farm. He then emerged as a Surrealist. This drawring, Farm, is the transitional moment



Tell me if it works.

Charles Bogle said...

i'm w tinbeni-cluing struck me as mixed bag of very clever and awfully obtuse. But let's note an accomplishment-this was tougher than Friday lat's of late. I side w Rex's write-up, but I did love coming here and finding out what YEGGS means. I put it down as a wild guess because that's what my summer camp has been calling campers and alum for 60 years!

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi, By jove, I think you've got it!

Sfingi said...

Next time I'll do a smaller remark between the two <>s.

I'm glad it worked, and you should expect more, hahaha.

Since someone mentioned Princess Grace, she was engaged to Oleg Cassini, who had been married three times, including to Gene Tierney. She called it off to marry the prince. The handsome, suave, talented Cassini was always philandering. And, no, he wasn't gay.

@Jimmie - thanx for info.

@Anaon 10:56 - This is John's blog. As Sid Caesar said, "He has his own show - on my show."

@Whitney - I'm sorry. My OCD makes me compare to see which is meshier of 2 items and what is meshiest of 3+.

@imsdave - funny! Funnier than the alphabet sign by the pool with the
missing letter p, etc.

@tinbeni - Do you have a universal calendar? There are only 14 possible calendar combinations, 2 for each day of the week a year starts, the first being leap, the other non-leap. Once you get one of each, you never have to buy another! Within that, if there's a Fri 13th in Jan., Feb. or Sept. you must have another that year.

shrub5 said...

@Sfingi: It worked! Beautiful! That's the longest underlined area to click on that I've ever seen!

A tip: I often copy a comment containing an embed onto my clipboard so I can recover if it vaporizes (i.e., paste it back.) I've lost more comments (for one reason or another) than I care to remember.

tinbeni said...

@Whitney
re:MESHY - yours was the best description of how I felt when I entered in this answer: like fingernails on a blackboard!!!

@sfingi
re: Friday the 13th phobia.
Don't have the Universal calendar, but I do know that in 2009 when we had a Friday the 13th in February we also had one in March. And today's in November made 3 for the year.

Also, Loved your embed, he was a great artist. Its beautiful.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Charles
If you know about F Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby, then you'll know what YEGG is.

@sfingi
Nice embed of the Miró painting... Enjoyed seeing that, but then I guess I just have a surrealist brain.

Whew!!! Friday the 13th is almost over and I made it!
I'm not sure whether I have triskaidekaphobia or paraskavedekatriaphobia.

tinbeni said...

@JNH
Well it is quite simple, the former has to do with the fear of the Number 13, the later is the phobia regarding the day of the month if the 13th falls on a Friday.
News reporters have been getting this incorrect for years ... after all, paraskavedekatriaphobis is a bit harder to pronounce.

And like Dreadno(a)ught yesterday, after the 'V' it can be either (E) or (I) ....

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