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