2.15.2010

MONDAY, February 15, 2010—Jack McInturff

Puzzle available for online solving and printing at the L.A. Times website, but not in Across Lite at the time of this writing.



THEME: "Brave New World"—The book title's words appear at the end of three unrelated phrases

Theme entries:
  • 20A: [Baseballer with a tomahawk on his jersey] (ATLANTA BRAVE).
  • 32A: ["Like I haven't heard that before"] clues "WHAT ELSE IS NEW?" My first guess was a sarcastic "WHAT A SURPRISE."
  • 39A: [4x platinum hit single co-written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie] ("WE ARE THE WORLD"). It's been rerecorded by an all-star troupe of singers including...actor Jeff Bridges? The money raised goes to Haiti earthquake relief. I'd happily buy the song from iTunes to help out, but so many people have mocked the new version. Better to just make a donation on my own, no? And we can enjoy the original '80s version.
  • 53A: [Author of the novel indicated by the ends of 20-, 32- and 39-Acros] (ALDOUS HUXLEY). This was required reading when I was in high school. Soma! Where can I score some soma? If I'm in the A Division at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (this week!!), does that make me an alpha? And the good folks in the E Division—are they gammas?




Speaking of the ACPT, if you've never attended a crossword tournament, you can get a taste of the experience (though not the social aspect) by solving by mail. For $20, the ACPT will mail you all the tournament puzzles about a week after the tournament. Work the puzzles (posted time limits range from 15 minutes for an easy 15x15 to 35-45 minutes for a Sunday-sized puzzle), jot down your solving time, and mail back your set of puzzles. Ace solver Ellen Ripstein will grade your papers and tell you where you would have ranked at the ACPT with your points total. And you get the graded puzzles back in the end.

Poor Rex: He sent PuzzleGirl and me a most piteous e-mail this morning. He's sick as a dog, absolutely miserable. PuzzleGirl was on the way to work (on a holiday! her employer just might be un-American), so you get me today.

Back to today's L.A. Times crossword. If, like me, you prefer to use Across Lite to solve or print out the puzzle, you're out of luck this morning as the puzzle hasn't been posted yet. I used the online version, where the computer keys you use to navigate the grid are different from Across Lite. A Monday puzzle should've taken me less than 3 minutes, but battling the online interface, it took me 4:27, probably 50% longer. Grr!

What all is in this puzzle? This:
  • 18A. [Office divider] (PARTITION). More of a cubicle divider within an office suite.
  • 23A. [Myrna of "The Thin Man"] (LOY). Entertainment Weekly spotlighted 20 stars who've never been nominated for an Oscar, but should have been. Myrna LOY was among them! Who knew this crosswordese legend had earned such (non-Oscar) respect? Not I. She was before my time.
  • 47A. [Diving seabird] (PETREL). Not to be confused with petrol, gasoline in England.
  • 57A. [Actor's asset] (GOOD LOOKS). Steve Buscemi gets by OK without 'em. A caricature of him (this one's by Vincent Altamore of altamore.com) is really scarcely different from a photo.
  • Festering subtheme: 35A: [Eyelid woe], 66A: [Painful spots] are STYE, SORES. Where's a carbuncle or a wart when you need one?
  • 10D. [Pontiac SUV named for an early Mexican] (AZTEK). Not only was this vehicle ugly, it's spelled goofy. Which aspect was responsible for its poor sales?
  • 19D. [Russian prince known as "Moneybag"] (IVAN I). Really? I did not know that. Why doesn't every clue for IVANI mention this Moneybag thing? I think that's his hip-hop name.



  • 27D. [Deviates from a course] (YAWS). This is a sailing thing, but I like to think of it as applying to people who walk crooked.
  • 29D. [Popped (out), as to the outfield] (FLIED). Not flew, FLIED. Gotta love baseball terminology.
  • 42D. [Promise in court] (OLEO). No, it's not OLEO! It's a sworn OATH. Promise is a brand of margarine not commonly encountered in court. I read the clue as a verb phrase rather than a noun.
  • 54D. ["Return of the Jedi" dancer] (OOLA). Not a significant character, commenter Gareth was just telling me.

Crosswordese 101: I can't believe 61A: ELBA hasn't been covered here already. Napoleon's [Exile isle] is located off the west coast of Italy—near Corsica and off Tuscany, according to other common ELBA clues—and he was sent there in 1814-1815. There's a famous palindrome, "Able was I ere I saw Elba," so if the clue asks for an isle in a palindrome, ELBA's your answer.

28 comments:

chefbea said...

Don't think I have ever been first on this blog!!! Easy puzzle.

@orange why the yummy dessert???

Sfingi said...

Didn't know PETREL. Had "taco" before TAPA. ZENO and XENO are nice.

@Orange - love the Buscemi shot. I thought it was for "eyelid woe," but "good looks" sure fits. He's Sicilian. His name is a town in Sicly. Just watched a film he directed and acted in, Interview. Very upsetting. Twisty beyond belief. Should do well in France of the '60s. I do admire his acting.

The CIA is skulking in both this and the NYT. Is it anything we said?

@Chefbea - it's a Napoleon.

the redanman said...

Glad it wasn't only me that couldn't find the A-Lite at Cruciverb. NOW TO SOLVE!

(I sure hope that this doesn't count against my three and out!)

:-((((

chefbea said...

@sfingi Doh!!! Don't like napoleans so that's why I didn't recognize it

Crockett1947 said...

Orange, thanks for stepping in. Rex, get well soon.

Knew most of the names in this one. That's a change for me. Sure missed neing able to download and solve, The applet interface is NOT user-friendly, IMO.

Have a great Presidents' Day.

gespenst said...

Did this one in the car eating my breakfast before work ;)

For some reason even though I knew it was ELBA, I was wondering if it was spelled ELBE (I know, it was early, give me a break) so I thought through the palindrome and realized it had to be ELB-A- :)

Re: FLIED ... there's a reason it's not FLEW, but not sure I can explain it. It has to do w/ the verb being used in a unique way, so it becomes regular. Also why the Toronto Maple Leafs aren't the Maple LEAVES ... read Stephen Pinker's "The Language Instinct" for more details. I love that book and now want to go back and read it for the third time.

Once again noticing a strange confluence of words (and no, I'm not hypothesizing a conspiracy or plagiarism) ... STYE clued as "eyelid woe" I've seen at least 3 times lately, and OOLA as the dance from SW-VI at least twice.

I wanted CUBICLE for PARTITION but it didn't fit.

Once I saw the last theme clue (Author of ...) I looked up and saw I had BRAVE for part one and knew immediately that I needed to fit in NEW and WORLD (which gave me WEARETHEWORLD) ... love getting the theme like that ... and even remembered how to spell ALDOUS ;)

Nice easy and fun Monday :)

the redanman said...

Only slightly harder than the NYT - both were very quick for (never timing) me, but filling in a printed non-A-Lite version was hilariously awkward. Also ...

@ORANGE, I personally have a devil of a time with that LAT on-line solve program, not for me! That's why I printed today.

Silly me, I really liked the theme mechanics. I am not a hard core puzzler, so was this good?

mac said...

Real Monday easy puzzle, with a nice theme. Wanted a c at the end of Aztek, but Annie saved the day.

Two years ago I found the crossword puzzle blogs and started following some of them on a daily basis. Of course the ACPT was mentioned, and even though I felt in no way ready for a tournament, I wanted to find out more about it. Since I live in Connecticut, not too far away, I could get a ticket for the final. That experience convinced me to sign up for it the year after, and I had a wonderful time. Needless to say, I will be back this year! Arriving in NY on Wednesday for my puzzle vacation.

I heard a short version of the new "We are the world" last Friday, and oddly enough I liked the addition of rap in it, really made it up-to-date.

That Napoleon looks good, we call it Tom Pouce in Holland. I'm hungry!

HAha: dorydip

Parsan said...

Also wondered about IVAN I being moneybags. Did not know PETREL.

"Anne of Green Gables" (AVONLEA), written in 1908, is a great book for pre-teens, older kids and anyone looking back in time. I know a middle-aged couple who went to Prince Edward Island specifically to see the places from the films where Anne kissed Gilbert, the house she lived in, etc. Go figure! PEI has a thriving tourist business built around the excellent film series made in 1985 starring Megan Fellows. It has often run on PBS.

Tom EWELL also did not have GOOD LOOKS but he was funny. Myrna LOY had class and was wonderful in "The Thin Man" series with William Powell.

Thanks Orange!

Orange said...

@redanman: Yeah, I like this theme. Literary, but easy. Straightforward clueing makes it suitable for a Monday. The singular ATLANTA BRAVE is a little weird, but the next two theme entries really pop. And the theme's got an element of surprise, as you ponder what follows ATLANTA WHAT WE before you reach the ALDOUS HUXLEY clue.

Van55 said...

This is in stark contrast to today's NYT puzzle in that it contains a ton of crossword ARGOT.

I learned OOLA from a puzzle from last week or the week before.

Enjoyed the theme.

In this economy should we all just tighen our OBI's?

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Rex, you get yourself well quick, ya' hear!
Thanks Orange for filling in... you're all so devoted to us fuzzlers. Boooo on PG's boss.
I am sure you posted that photo of a Napolean just for me... yums!
The puzzle was easy and fun... got it finished before my first cup of coffee. I'd guess maybe 5 minutes or less. But that's okay, we needed relief after last week's grunters (which I so enjoyed).

I'm sure Rex would appreciate AZTEK with a K.
Wiki says "Aztek is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Universe. Based out of the fictional Vanity City, Aztek is the champion of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl."

What tickled me was seeing XENO and ZENO in the same puzzle.

How many times this Olympics week we've heard the song WE ARE THE WORLD? I actually like the Richie/Turner rendition much better. Thanks, Orange for posting that.

Somehow I always cringe when I hear that baseball term FLIED. Baseballers just ain't very literate.

Omigosh, OOLA OOLA OOLA.
I just learned about her in another puzzle (last week?)
Will that now be considered a standard crosswordese word?

Thanks Orange, for that ELBA palindrome. I never heard that before.

I always had a crush on Natalie WOOD when I was young. She was so beautiful and extremely talented (a real Venus). I think it was her eyes that mesmerized me. Here's a nice tribute to her as sung by Frankie Avalon---
NATALIE WOOD

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Come on, Amy, get them to hold the ACPT in Chicagoland. Maybe I'll try that non-social mail-in aspect.

shrub5 said...

@Sfingi: I too had tacos before TAPAS but PIANO quickly fixed that. Only other boo boo was putting forte before FLAIR.

@Orange: Last night I did the Liz Gorski "Washington Square" puzzle you recommended (and linked) in a Friday comment. Quite enjoyable!!

There's an amusing dog rescue story over on Rex's NYT blog today.

@gespenst: I think I'll go find "The Language Instinct" book you mentioned as I am interested in such stuff.

When I see the word YAWS, I think of the skin infection that is seen in humid tropical areas of the world. If untreated, it can lead to disseminated lesions and extensive tissue destruction. It is caused by a bacterium closely related to the one causing syphilis.

hazel said...

Re: crossword tournament, you can also solve the puzzles online for $20 - they release them at the same time as they release them to tournament goers - so you kind of feel like you're competing. If you go to Orange's link for the mail-in version, back up a bit and you can find it. I did it last year. Very very cool.

Liked the puzzle a lot - put in George Orwell for the author, though!! Wasn't thinking - I just read an article about him in NYT Book Review - and he was right there on the edge of my brain. His real name is Eric Arthur Blair, which I did not know. Anyway, he fit, but not for long.

Go Braves!! Johnny Damon, if you're out there reading this blog, sign with us!!

Paul said...

@JNH - Both Orange and Rex have links to Tournaments in your area over at their respective sites.

Sfingi said...

Gespenst - Is the plural of computer mouse mouses or mice?

@Chefbea - I don't like Napoleons either. Too gooshy(sp.?). I prefer what we call here Italian cheescakes, which are not like any they show on the internet. They are the size of a pusty (pustachot), therefore individual; are the consistency of a cassada pie, but have a lattice pie crust. Every Sunday I have mine at the Florentine on Bleecker St., Utica.

@Parsan - I always wondered what Marilyn thought of working with him. I'm sure he was chosen precisely because he was nerdy.

Speaking of nerdy, that Aztek car is one of the ugliest I've ever seen.

gespenst said...

@sfingi, I would bet based on what I recall, that taken out of its normal context, the plural of mouse would probably be mouses. But please don't quote me, I'm an amateur linguist at best ;)

@shrub5 - I hope you enjoy the book as much I as have!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

The plural of 'mouse' on a computer according to the Oxford English Dictionary is mouses.

Parsan said...

@Sfingi--I don't think he was Marilyn's type! Tom EWELL recreated his Broadway stage role in the film, "The Seven Year Itch", with Marilyn Monroe. Probably most of you younger bloggers have not seen the movie, but I'll bet most of you have seen a still from it where she is standing over a grate and her white dress is blowing up around her. Her husband Joe Dimaggio did not like that shot.

chefwen said...

I make a Strawberry Napoleon using Phyllo instead of puff pastry. It makes it crunchy instead of mushy. Quite good.

The puzzle also had a little more crunch to it vs. the NYT.

Had aztec in before sharpshooter Annie appeared. I could see the EWELL guy in my head but couldn't remember his name so I had Ewing in which really messed up that corner. But all easily fixed.

Tinbeni said...

A more interesting Monday than the last three. Hey, they are suppose to last at least one Mug of coffee.

Some interesting fill today.
Zeno & Xeno.
A little baseball, that Atlanta team, Flied & Lined.
A misdirection on how to spell Aztec, AZTEK, no longer in production, duh! Uggggllyyy!

Liked FLEE over FAST, an excellent suggestion in how you should do it.

TOOT, horn beep. Great answer, not what I was thinking. Hmmmm? What else could I toot?

OOLA twice in a week after never seeing it before. Ugh!

@Parsan - So Joltin Joe didn't like it. I did.

obertb said...

Love Orange's use of the Napoleon picture. Misdirective, just like some xword clues.

Also love Napoleons, but they're a mess to eat.

Aldous Huxley was a gimme for an aging hippie like me, but might have presented a problem for younger solvers. Score some soma, indeed!

crazycatlady said...

Nice easy puzzle after the brain twisters of the past three days. I liked the theme and some of the longer answers like PARTITION (also wanted CUBICLE), GOOD LOOKS and ROMULUS. PETREL and AZTEK (with a K) were new to me. Remembered OOLA from last week. I wonder if OAKLEY and WYATT knew each other. Liked FLEE over FAST. That Napoleon looks darn yummy. Thanks for filling in Orange.

Orange said...

@JNH: Chicago's first xword tournament took place last year. Its follow-up is scheduled for April 17, at the downtown (Grand Ave.) location of Marbles: The Brain Store. The store is filled with a wealth of puzzles and games that you'll want to buy—ridiculously cool selection. (And they have a lot of games out on the tables, so you can play the games before buying them. Omigod, it's a tantalizing store.) I'll be one of the event's hosts again.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Amy, thanks so much for the heads-up on the local tournament. I love those kind of stores.
If I'm not on the road April 15th, I'll be there.
It's always nice to put faces on blog buddies, so I hope to meet other LATCCers then.

Sfingi said...

@Parsan - at 65 I've seen 7-Year Itch several times. (Love my MEDICARE) DiMaggio (Sicilian, I must note) was no looker, and a little jealous of her fame. I'd like to see a little more shape on the actresses today. Like Queen Latifah.

@Chefwen - The top of the Napolean is fine. It's the filling I don't care for. Not much of a whipped cream fan either.

the redanman said...

anyone ever have/find the explanation for the absent A-Lite file for Monday's puzzle on Monday?