2.02.2010

TUESDAY, February 2, 2010 — Bruce Venzke


Theme: "Get a Room!" — The second word of each theme answer is a type of room.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Laundry room device (STEAM PRESS).
  • 27A: Nonmember's club amenity (GUEST LOCKER).
  • 34A: Place for a dip on the road (HOTEL POOL).
  • 47A: Patient strategy (WAITING GAME).
  • 57A: Indisputable evidence (SMOKING GUN).
  • 66A: Dorm unit, and word that can follow each word in 18-, 27-, 34-, 47- and 57-Across (ROOM).
Perfectly serviceable Tuesday puzzle today. Not super super easy, but nothing too flashy either. I know we've talked about this before, but I'm going to bring it up one more time. With these types of themes, it's much cooler and more elegant if the meaning of the overlapping word is different in the answer and in the resulting phrase. For example, in the phrase HOTEL POOL, pool refers to a swimming pool. In the resulting phrase — POOL ROOM — pool refers to billiards. See how that works? A steam PRESS is an appliance, but a PRESS room is where the media hangs out. You see where I'm going with this, don't you? A GUEST LOCKER is a small compartment at, say, a health club where you can lock up your things. It's found in a ... LOCKER ROOM. Locker means the same thing in both phrases. Not a hindrance to solving by any means, but just a little something to think about as you're getting more and more familiar with crossword puzzles.

I did notice several attempts at misdirection in the clues, which is always welcome:
  • 23A: Havana residue (ASH). What kind of residue would you find in the city of Havana? I don't know ... sand? Ohhhhhh, you mean the cigar!
  • 24A: Organ with a hammer (EAR). Not a musical instrument type of organ.
  • 50A: Jones or Johnson (SURNAME). Were you trying to think of a first name to go with both of those last names? Did the number of possibilities make your head explode?
  • 52A: West in old films (MAE). Not the direction, but the sexpot.
  • 56D: Practice on canvas (SPAR). Painting, right? Wrong. Boxing.
Only a few other things jumped out at me:
  • 17A: Links goals (PARS). I know this is perfectly legit and I've seen clues like this many times, but it makes me laugh every time. PuzzleHusband is a golfer and, while par is certainly cool, I think his goal a number a little lower than that. I can imagine it might also be a problem for golfers who have no chance of ever making par and are satisfied with a goal of, I don't know, 100? That seems to be a magic number for some golfers.
  • 64A: Lead singer with The Police (STING). I met him once. Very briefly. Probably shouldn't even bring it up but, yeah. I met him.
  • 8D: Triton's realm (SEA). PuzzleSon is into this book series right now that involves Greek Gods. Maybe you've seen the ads for the upcoming movie "The Lightning Thief"? that's the first book in the series. It's cool because now when I'm stuck on a mythology clue I just ask my ten-year-old. Gotta love that.
  • 12D: Ilie of tennis (NASTASE). Pretty cool to see his last name instead of his first.
  • 25D: Partner of hop and jump (SKIP). Funny story. I was looking for a clip of a song that has the line "you've got AMNESIA" (55A: Mental blackout). I can't remember anything else in the song except that one line and it sounds (in my head) like it might be Kix. So I went to Kix's website and look at their gateway page (it'll only take a sec). Pretty funny.
  • 39D: Nose-dive (PLUMMET). Plummet is an excellent word.
  • 40D: Trattoria dessert (TORTONI). Raise your hand if you got down to the S in tiramisu and realized it had too many letters.
  • 49D: Family nickname (NANNIE). I'll be interested to know if any of you have ever heard NANNIE used as a family nickname. Maybe it's just because I live in a town where there are lots of NANNIEs, but I can't imagine anyone using that as a nickname when it already has its own family-relationship-type meaning. (As an aside, my eight-year-old daughter informed me the other day that she would like to have an au pair. I think I've got her running in the wrong crowd.)
Crosswordese 101: I'm just going to do a CW101 round-up today because there is some classic — classic — crosswordese in today's puzzle. The couple of other candidates in this puzzle that we haven't discussed already pale in comparison. If you had trouble with any of these words, do yourself a favor and take a minute to review them. These are words that appear again and again and again (and again and again) in puzzles. If they're gimmes for you, they might help you get a foothold in a spot where you desperately need one! So learn them!
  • 15A: Film beekeeper (ULEE).
  • 30A: "__ Beso": Anka song (ESO).
  • 41A: Harem chamber (ODA).
  • 65A: Graceful molding (OGEE).
Everything Else — 1A: Weary comment (AH ME); 5A: Rx's (MEDS); 9A: By oneself (ALONE); 14A: Square fare? (MEAL); 16A: Defunct flier with a blue-globe logo (PAN-AM); 20A: "Four Quartets" poet (T.S. ELIOT); 22A: Leavening agent (YEAST); 25A: Some daisies (SHASTAS); 31A: Printer brand (EPSON); 32A: Cone maker (FIR); 33A: Zoomed (SPED); 38A: __-date: current (UP-TO); 42A: Like Homo sapiens (HUMAN); 46A: Arafat's gp. until 2004 (PLO); 53A: Swaying direction (FRO); 54A: Crete peak: Abbr. (MT. IDA); 59A: Okra units (PODS); 61A: Mortise's mate (TENON); 62A: 1993 Nobelist Morrison (TONI); 63A: Land east of the Urals (ASIA); 1D: Roadie's load (AMP); 2D: Prepares, as leftovers (HEATS UP); 3D: Heron habitats (MARSHES); 4D: "Anything __?" (ELSE); 5D: Stan "The Man" of baseball (MUSIAL); 6D: Matador's opponent (EL TORO); 7D: Insect repellent ingredient (DEET); 9D: Perform on stage (APPEAR); 10D: "__ Theme": "Doctor Zhivago" melody (LARA'S); 11D: Basic dance (ONE STEP); 13D: Ambulance initials (EMS); 19D: Rescued damsel's cry (MY HERO); 21D: "... __ man put asunder" (LET NO); 23D: Some lie about theirs (AGE); 26D: Groundskeeper's buy (SOD); 28D: Artsy Manhattan area (SOHO); 29D: Key equivalent to B (C FLAT); 33D: Punch hard (SLUG); 35D: Without exception (TO A MAN); 36D: Falco of "The Sopranos" (EDIE); 37D: "Gosh" (OH GEE); 38D: Co. with brown uniforms (UPS); 43D: Crime family member (MAFIOSO); 44D: Medium with much talk (AM RADIO); 45D: Prefix with natal (NEO-); 47D: Walking in the shallows (WADING); 48D: Protected by shots, perhaps (IMMUNE); 51D: F-series camera maker (NIKON); 55D: Bug-eyed (AGOG); 57D: Bourbon et al.: Abbr. (STS.); 58D: Pontiac in a '60s hit song (GTO); 60D: "Casablanca" pianist (SAM).

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

@PG: BOTH words in each theme answer can be paired with ROOM.

Sfingi said...

Anonymous beat me to it. This makes it a cleverer puzzle. It took me a little time, but I liked it. The sports clues were super-easy.

I had "hole in one" at 34A, (place for a dip in the road) before I figured out the theme. Also, i had "Canon" before NIKON.

Bloggie is playing hide and seek with my nickname again.

hazel said...

I'm not consciously being disagreeable today, but I thought this puzzle was a crashing bore. Words which start with ROOM? Really? And while I'm at it, what's so distinctive about DORM as the big reveal? Its just another room.

One big fat HO HUM to my solving experience.

@Constructor - nothing personal. I probably couldn't put a puzzle together if my life depended on it!

CartBoy said...

Gotta agree with anonymous. Both words in the theme answers work with "room". Therefore, a better theme might be "room-room" as a take-off on Mazda's "zoom-zoom" tag line.

Van55 said...

Roomy puzzle. I enjoyed the theme and the comparative lack of crosswordese. Nice job!

Tinbeni said...

Bourbon STS with the Saints in the Super Bowl was good.

AH ME, would it be too much if the constructors, just once, used Scotch Street, Carlisle in a puzzle?

I forget, but AMNESIA is nothing to take lightly.

OH, GEE, SHASTAS is a type of daisy, learning moment.

The double theme was an enjoyable fill.

@PG - OK, I smiled at the Kix page, I guess they are another new band I have never heard.
Very informative write-up, again.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda Hobbs said...

Relaxing and fun puzzle. Hubby and I solved it together over morning coffee. Again, sports names are a blank for me. "Stan "The Man" of baseball, Ilie of tennis." I have no idea. Otherwise, great fun.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Now this is a fun puzzle... great double theme words. Wow, 10 theme words packed into a 15x15 grid. Now that's an art. I always liked Bruce V's puzzles because he has a nice balance of crosswordese with cool fill words. I always like seeing TS ELIOT and Stan MUSIAL in a puzzle, and today they crossed; that's nice.
Fave words: ULEE (I just learned this in another recent puzzle).
PLUMMET (love how that sounds).
Unfave words: AH ME and TO A MAN.
Fave clues: "Practice on canvas" (was thinking of what an artist does).
"Jones or Johnson"... I just love all those misdirections. It's what makes a puzzle fun.
Unfave clue: "Family nickname" = NANNIE. I don't ever remember anyone referring to a family member with that nickname, only a professional care-giver.

Now LARA'S Theme is one of my favorite melodies and "Doctor Zhivago" is in my top ten greatest movies of all time. And, of course, Julie Christie, well what can I say about that lovely woman.
Here's a beautiful clip to make your Ground Hog Day even more pleasant... just think of that Ice Palace scene.
LARA'S THEME

Thank you, Puzzlegirl, for an outstanding writeup, especially your take on these type of themes... so informative. I've gotten back into doing the Mon.-Wed. puzzles just because of all that I learn from you bloggers. And I appreciate that you put up the spam-blocker as it was getting quite annoying.

Don't forget to vote today!
As we say in Chicagoland, "vote early...vote often".

Well I'm back from my ICEBERG photographic excursions up North and I'm now hardened to severely cold weather, so bring it on Punxsutawney Phil, I can take it!
I'll be once again donning my crampons this weekend as I'll be shooting ice formation photos in the canyons of Starved Rock S.P.

Now for my "Square fare".

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Ironically, some of T. S. Eliot's poetry will be used in my upcoming ICE Portfolio. Here's a TAD bit of sampling---

"...Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
Whem the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror... "
~ From Little Gidding by T. S. Eliot

I love this "American" poet! (yes, American).

Van55 said...

What did puzzle constructors ever do before Ulee's Gold was created?

imsdave said...

Par for me is not normal - just an aberation that occurs a few times during a round,

Very nice puzzle, excellent theme, good fill.

I did the same thing as PG with the SURNAME thing - finally stopped after ideating (just a little crosswordese for the fun of it), came up with DAVEY as my only good answer.

chefbea said...

Good Tuesday puzzle. Of course I knew Stan the man.

Parsan said...

The double room (10) theme was really fun for a Tuesday puzzle. I must be improving because I remembered all of PG's 101 words.

Does anyone have a STEAM PRESS in their laundry room? A mangle? A steam iron, maybe. One can "steam press" something. Perhaps it is a device in a commercial laundry or dry cleaner.

Have we surpressed our personal comments to the point that even PG was hesitant to tell us she had met STING? For me puzzle-meat, comments-gravy.

@PG--Thanks for the analysis of the makeup of the theme. I hadn't looked at it that way.

Burner10 said...

We called my great aunt Fannie (married to Sam) Nannie (and Gus).
Nice write up - thanks.

lit.doc said...

I found this one leaning toward mard (“medium-hard”, thanks to BEQ). Had to pick away at it between herding cats, but it felt slow for a Tuesday. A few self-inflicted problems, like my continuing inability to spell NASTAS_ (Y? I? oh, yeah), and my brain’s refusal to dredge up ODA from the CW 101 file (though SERAGLIO comes quickly to mind, thanks to Mozart). SW was last and slowest, mostly because I had some difficulty parsing T_AM_N sensibly. And I stopped after an alphabet run on WA_ING hoping for an explanation of how whatever is turns out to be makes sense.

OMG, I just got ticketed by the CW Police for reading 47A as “Walking in the shadows”. Doh! I am now writing RTFC on the board one hundred times.

OK, back from reading Puzzle Girl’s write-up and the comments so far. @PG, I really, really appreciate your attention to teaching solving skills.

@Anon 6:10 and Sfingi, did we read the same write-up? Maybe I’m having a senior moment, but it didn’t sound to me as though PG misunderstood the theme. She was making a point about the theme-relationship of one of the second words—LOCKER = LOCKER ROOM—which in a perfect world would have changed the meaning, as was the case with the other theme answers. Nothing to suggest she didn’t also see GUEST ROOM etc.

@Puzzle Girl, I though having OH GEE and OGEE in the same puzzle was kinda cute, but is it kosher in Constructing 101?

Charles Bogle said...

I'm w @PG, @Tinbeni, @lindahobbs--fun and relaxing puzzle. Never knew ODA was a harem; didn't know OGEE--thanks, @PG, for an absolutely first-rate write-up and good teachings today..also liked PLUMMET. Gang, in my opinion, this was so much more enjoyable than today's NYT

Parsan said...

@lit.doc--I thought I must be the only one to initially have read it as "shadows". How weird is that!

anon 06:10 said...

@lit.doc - On the first line of PG's write-up is "The second word of each theme answer is a type of room."

lit.doc said...

@anon 06:10, I see what you mean. Missed that.

mac said...

Nice, smooth puzzle, good Tuesday.
Some really nice, uncommon words, like plummet, am radio, tenon. Add me to the "shadows" crowd.... Didn't understand the clue for nannie, and I don't own a steam press, just a steam iron.

crazycatlady said...

I did the puzzle this morning while in the WAITING ROOM at the doctor's office. I found it to flow smoothly and have some nice, tricky clueing. I thought the double theme answers were fun. Only room I question is GUN ROOM, but I guess some folks have them.

I too was thrown by the clue for SURNAME, but found it through the crosses. When I play golf I am very happy if I can get PAR on a hole. Originally I had PASS though, thinking football for some reason, which made MARSHES into MASSHES. Hand up for CANON instead of NIKON. Remembered ODA (finally) from last week. My countertops have OGEE edges so I always know that.

When I was a kid, there was a family next door with five boys under the age of 10 (yep that was fun). They had a Scottish Grandma who they called NANNIE. She lived with them and helped take care of them so I guess she was also their NANNY.

@PG Thanks for the write up. I wish I could meet STING.

chefwen said...

What a fun little puzzle, loved the double theme. Messed myself up right off the git-go AGAIN by putting reheats at 2 down. Aaarrgh! Why is my first fill usually wrong? Also had to wrack the old gray matter trying to spell NASTASE, I mean, really, it's pronounced exactly as spelled, so what's the prob lady?

Tinbeni said...

@Lit.doc & Parsan
Hand up for shadows, which was even more stupid on my part because I go WADING in the shallows off Honeymoon Island almost weekly.

@Chefwan
My inability to spell was evident at both Stan and Ilie's last name. Had to wait for the crosses to get them.

For whatever reason TORTONI and SURNAME both popped into my head when I saw the clue.

It amazes me that after we have completed our puzzle of the day, then come here and read the comments, the different little things we either get or have trouble with.
I guess if they did a study they would find it has everything to do with disjointed life experiences.
Probably the reason we enjoy this blog.

JN said...

Do any of you do the paper version of the puzzle? I hated the new layout today. The puzzle was too long and extended past the fold. I remember the LA Times once put a Sunday puzzle in the middle of a page. I called and complained but I'm sure I wasn't the only one because by the following week it was over or under the fold.

I liked the puzzle, misdirection and all. I picked it up after dinner and was able to complete it fairly quickly.

Tinbeni said...

@JN
I do a paper version, printed in the St.Petersburg Times, so I did not have that problem today.

Several years ago though they started printing at the bottom of a page; Grid then clues across to the other side.

Soooooo many people complained it took less than a week before they apologized and started printing it in the corner, above the crease, so it could again be folded and placed on a clip board properly.