3.11.2010

THURSDAY, March 11, 2010 — Scott Atkinson


Theme: Turn, Turn, Turn — Theme answers have the letters STILE hidden in them, consecutively but not in the same order reach time.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Mah-jongg pieces, e.g. (GAME TILES).
  • 28A: Notable achievement (MILESTONE).
  • 34A: Site of the Beatles' last commercial concert (CANDLESTICK PARK).
  • 43A: Likely to spread disease (PESTILENT).
  • 57A: Metro access, and a hint to the circled letters in 17-, 28-, 34- and 43-Across (TURNSTILE).
Fun puzzle today! I really the love the Scrabbliness of it. The theme is fine — nothing super exciting but it also doesn't suck. But it's the fill that made the puzzle enjoyable for me. I didn't love TNTS in the plural (27A: Demolition supplies) or LOGISTIC in the singular (1D: Like a wedding planner's skills — yes, yes, I know it's an adjective and not a singular noun, but you're all smart enough to get my point). But those slight eyebrow raises were offset by Paul LYNDE (19A: Paul in the center square — check out a compilation of some of his funny lines here), KVETCH (22D: Whine — which just might be the coolest word ever), and "I CAN SEE!" (20A: Cry to a faith healer, maybe).

I'm one of those people who loves names from popular culture in their puzzles, so Paul LYNDE and REDD Foxx (64A: Funny Foxx) were fun to see. Even though Arthur ASHE is crosswordese (41A: "A Hard Road to Glory" author), he was such an awesome guy that I enjoy seeing him regularly. (Funny story about this clue. There's a book about high school wrestling in Iowa that came out a few years ago called "Four Days to Glory" — sort of a "Friday Night Lights" for wrestling — and whenever I see the Ashe book, I always think of the wrestling book and feel a jolt of surprise that the wrestling book made it into a puzzle. Which, of course, it didn't and never will. Along the same lines, I spent quite a bit of time at the ACPT trying to convince Peter Gordon of Dan Gable's crossworthiness and … didn't get very far.)

But it was the Ks, Qs and Zs I liked the most.

Scrabble!
  • 48A: Film in which Woody Allen voices Z (ANTZ). I either forgot or never knew he was even in that.
  • 55A: Hose problems (KINKS). First entered snags. Wrong kind of hose, obviously. Oh yeah, you know what's coming.


  • 59A: 1944 Italian beachhead (ANZIO). Huh?
  • 11D: "Macbeth" ghost (BANQUO).
  • 26D: Swab brand (Q-TIP). No other brand will do!
  • 35D: Scatterbrain (DITZ). By the time I got down to this part of the puzzle, I had figured out there were lots of Zs in the grid, so this answer went straight in with no hesitation at all.
  • 45D: Song section (STANZA).
Crosswordese 101: There are two common ways to clue ELS: (1) like today's 51D: High trains and (2) South African golfer Ernie ELS (whose nickname is "The Big Easy" — try to remember that).

36 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Some fun stuff in this puzzle!

We all love to KVETCH about the LAT crosswords and about words like LASE, TKO, QED, TNTS, IDI, ILL, ASHE, ROLO, TSO, and OSOS… but hey, today it’s a lot of fun things, so why fret.

STILE anagrams (TURNS).

Paul LYNDE in the center square.

Other funny guys, like REDD Foxx and Woody Allen.
Z singing in ANTZ (Woody Allen)

And the DITZ, Teri Garr.

Fun TUNES by the Beatles.

BEATLES LAST CONCERT (AT CANDLESTICK PARK)

And, the Beatle’s HELTER-SKELTER

Caramel candy ROLO. Yummmm!

The KINKS, Drinking cherry cola with LOLA (a common CW word)

For some of you, it’s drinking SAKE.

Laying on the beach in ST MARTIN.

EASTER bunnies. Any bunnies!!!

No more need for PARKAS… spring is here! Yay!

Taking the ELS to Wrigley Field. Go Cubbies!!!

Getting out my old TIE DYE tee-shirts.

Seeing the fool, Rod Blagojevich, ON TV (The David Letterman Show last night).

What A GAS this puzzle was!!!!

Thank you, Scott.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Scott
I'm thinking that the clue for 40A ILL, has a typo. Shouldn't that be "Off one's FEET"?

Tinbeni said...

ALL I want to say is I CAN SEE we disagree.
Though I got every single letter correct, hey, I'm ADAPTIVE, I HAVE no love of this circled letter puzzle.

The theme, which I realize will be lauded by the lemmings, REVEALED itself early to me. Invoked a, SORT OF, DISTANT feeling. Big deal you mix up the letters of turnSTILE. ugh.

KVETCH - WOD, time to learn some Yiddish.

@JNH Sometimes when people ARE ILL they don't have a desire to EAT. Hence, I don't think "Off one's feed" was a typo. JMHO

@PG I liked the story about your beloved wrestling and the book title, maybe someday. Also the KINKS clip was the best.

*David* said...

I liked the theme, I thought it was cute and different from most LAT puzzles. I felt the difficulty ramped up significantly from yesterday. Last letter was E by TIEDYE/LYNDE. I don't really remember Hollywood Squares growing up. I also liked the three 8 letter fill stacked in the NW and SE corners.

Zeke said...

@Tinbeni - I don't know if this makes me one of your "lemmings" (thanks ever so much for insulting us before we did anything by the way), but I agree with PG on the theme assessment - Not great, doesn't suck. What it did do was support a very nice puzzle. Its Scrabbliness provided several instances of filling in an answer, a quick glance at the crosses, with an oh no, that can't be correct, but it was. Made for a nice puzzle.
@PG - You gotta know Anzio Beach - major battle, major screw up on the part of the commander, our first major assault on the continent in WWII. Or maybe you don't have to know.

Anonymous said...

The theme said something about circled letters. I did this puzzle on the latimes website, and the circles did not show up for me. Did they show up in the print edition?

Van55 said...

I guess I am a non-lemming for not particularly liking the theme. Seemed humdrum to me. Forgettable.

The puzzle had a nice resistance, though. I struggled a bit in the NE where I couldn't remember BANQUO.

Solid B for me.

Tinbeni said...

@Zeke
If the "mixed up" letters of STILE had been actual word anagrams, like gameTILES I would have agreed the theme was fine.
Probably would have EVEN said inspired.

But the circled letters in milestone, ILEST, means nothing. Same with the LESTI and ESTIL.
Just letters in my scrabble tray.
Funny thing is Pestilent actually has STILE in the word.

As such, it is my opinion that this theme did suck.

I CAN SEE we disagree. Sorry my KVETCH, or choice of the word lemming, made you feel insulted.

Jerome said...

Nothing wrong with thinking that a puzzle sucks, but I would hope that one who believes that at least have an understanding of the theme. In this case they didn't.

TILES, ILEST, LESTI, ESTIL, and STILE rotate in order. They are anything but random anagrams. It's a shame that one would fail to see the cleverness and symmetry of this puzzle. It's like eating a taco and saying "This hamburger sucks"

Zeke said...

@Jerome - I totally missed the rotate in order aspect. I hereby withdraw any misgivings. Thanks

PuzzleGirl said...

@Jerome: Thanks for pointing out the rotating aspect of the circled letters. In case you don't know, I'm relatively famous around here for not always getting the whole theme. It's more than a little embarrassing. I like the theme more now that that's been pointed out.

Adaptive Lemming said...

I for one do NOT laud the theme.

shrub5 said...

Fun puzzle with all the Ks, Qs and Zs. Thank you @Jerome for pointing out the orderliness of the circled letters -- that had escaped me.

@PG: Thanks for the link to Paul Lynde's humor. It is amazing how much he got away with on Hollywood Squares.

Didn't know RABAT, capital of Morocco. Without that T and the Y from QUAY, I had a hard time coming up with TIEDYE -- eventually it clicked.

Favorite clue: "Hams are often seen on it."

Tinbeni said...

@Jerome: Actually I noticed the rotating aspect of the circled letters.
EVEN indicated such.

Look at my second comment:
From the theme word STILE I had:
TILES, ILEST, LESTI, ESTIL, leading back to STILE.
In that order.

That notwithstanding I decided I did not enjoy the theme. I am only kvetching about the theme.

Without the circles, and the ersatz theme, I thought this was a copacetic Thursday LAT offering.

Great cluing and answers.

Scott A. said...

Hi everyone-

Thanks for all the comments good or bad. LOGISTIC was a tough one to clue. I had [___ nightmare (planner's headache)]. Rich's clue is better I think.

TNTS is rough. Sorry. I hope the other stuff makes up for it. As I said at crossword corner, the clue for TIEDYE was Rich N's, and what a hall-of-fame clue it is.

Thanks to those who pointed out the rotation of the circled letters moving down the grid. That indeed was the point of the theme. Sorry if that failed to please. I'll try harder next time.

@Johns-Off one's feed is Rich's clue. I had never heard that idiom, but I'm glad that I have now.

Tinbeni said...

Scott A.
I thought you constructed a very good puzzle.

I especially enjoyed the fresh, clever clues.
Lack of crosswordese fill.
KVETCH is probably my new favorite word.

The fact that, even though I did notice the rotation theme, and it wasn't "My cup of Tea" means nothing.

You don't have to try harder. You did a great job.

@All others:
I'm over the limit, so kvetch me all you want.
I'll be back tomorrow.

crazycatlady said...

The print edition of the puzzle has circles. The puzzle on line @LAT doesn't. I thought the theme was fine, especially after @Jerome's explanation. I always love seeing KVETCH and DITZ in a puzzle. I was happy with all the long words KNEE BEND, REVEALED, ANACONDA, BANQUO, TIE DYE and ST MARTIN. Had a lovely trip once to ST MARTIN until I got ILL with food poisoning and went off my feed (I have heard that term used in reference to horses). Filled in KINKS right away since I have a KINKy hose, that should have been replaced months ago. My sticking point was the G cross of AGAS and GELLER. I've never heard of URI GELLER. I had ELLER and URI and had to resort to Google to get the G. A GAS as in "This is fun!" just didn't come to mind. All in all I really enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks for a nice write up PG!

C said...

Did the online LAT so didn't get the circles on my grid, shame, good theme today (now that I know what it is ;^) )

Overall, very fun puzzle, best 7 minutes of my day so far.

Darryl said...

@Anon 7:37, @C You might want to consider doing the puzzles in Across Lite, which provides the circles. Additionally, most of us seem to agree that it's a nicer interface than the applet in the LA Times. It's available at Cruciverb.com. You have to register, but it's free, and download the AcrossLite software from there.

Anonymous said...

I'm not kvetching - great puzzle but I really want a kir royale right now as I sit outside in the sun in the south. Scott should never have given me the idea! I miss my kir royales.

Rube said...

Very fine theme although my LAT printout didn't have circles so I missed the subtleties the first time through.

Although I'd heard of Paul Lynde, I never watched Hollywoood Squares so missed the clue.

No new words here so learning that St. Martins is half French/ half Dutch is my fact of the day.

I'm still at the level that I comment about no Googles on late week puzzles, as here. Although it was close on Rabat. Wanted Labat at first, but realized that I was thinking Labatt's, a Canadian beer. Then ROLO rolled in and I was finished.

Charles Bogle said...

@Scott A: thanks for a very fun and clever puzzle and thanks even more for coming on and sharing insights w us

actually liked your clue for LOGISTIC better

as @PG aptly noted, fill was great. So different. Made for a harder-than-usual Thurs but that's fine

hand up for not getting rotating anagrams..shows ll the more the talent at work here

@PG: loved the Kinks and Ernie Els write-up

evil hazel said...

I liked this scrabbly little puzzle, esp. after the rotating STILE was pointed out.

Dave Davies once handed me his guitar at a Kinks' concert. All I could do, sadly, was scream.

Rex Parker said...

"It's a shame..." that people don't know how to stop while they're ahead. It's one thing to point out what others seem to be missing in the theme, and quite another to go on and be a smug asshole about it.

Rex Parker said...

P.S. I liked this hamburger just fine.

the redanman said...

I, too likes the Scrabble-y bits and bobs and especially the density of Q's including at least one non-QU. Impressed with the rotation of STILES letters like a "moving" electric sign.


I must admit I made a proofing error today! (embarass face), I hate to do that.

On a personal note, I remember an NYT puzzle a month or so ago and I groused about LASE(D) vs LAZE(D) and LASE still looks funny to me. I have my own thing with lasers (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) ... but not for here, maybe on my blog


Anyway, PG thanks for another excellent write-up and everyone for their comments.

Bretski said...

I liked this puzzle quite a bit despite not seeing the circles on the LAtimes applet and therefore not truly getting the theme. All the theme answers were pretty much in place before I even saw the theme revealer anyways. I always am a fan of 8 stacks.

I'd much rather be doing the puzzles in across lite. I haven't been able to access cruciverb since it was hacked (4 weeks ago?). Is that just on my end? Is the site up and running as it was? Or is there a new URL?

Or have I been banished? :(

Zeke said...

@Bretski - Cruciverb is up and running, same URL. You may have to re-sign in, or clear your internet cache. It's also iffy if they actually get the puzzle up there, but it was there today.

Anonymous said...

Anagram Definition:
A type of word play in which a word or phrase is formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase.

Tiles is an anagram of stile (as is islet).

How are the other three anagrams?

March 11, 2010 4:38 PM

Sfingi said...

This was slow going for me. I got TILES, then wondered what kind of Mah Jongg TILES they wanted - some sort of ceramic, bamboo in Chinese... Then I got the TURNSTILE, and thought they were all tiles. Then I got MILESTONE and saw the anagram, and the house of cards fell. Never saw the revolving order, though.

The only word I didn't know was KIR. Do not understand AFC North = DIV. Division? Assume it's sports.

We've had parasails recently, for Mylar. This time it's a verb, SOARS.

I kept thinking of Gela, Sicily, and tried to think of the other Sicily amphibian spots, then realized that was 1943, and by 1944 they were up to the mainland. ANZIO is important if WWII is.

Ideal conclusion and its answer could be taken 2 ways:
IST to make it idealIST, or
1ST, and ideal way to end a race - first.

Had AKC before TKO, where for me the perfect Pug was described by the American Kennel Club. Woof.

Wanted Zelig for ANTZ, and I actually saw the silly cartoon.

Puzzles are, after all, supposed to catch you going in a wrong direction.

Had URI and GELLER right away, but worried because the first name came last. Mr. LYNDE, who died at only 56, was "gay," but I don't think people knew that then. My family wouldn't let me watch it, and neither my mother nor I knew what he was joking about.

I CAN SEE reminded me of a German song: Dr. Eisenbart, who's a quack.
"Kann machen dass die Blinden gehn,
Und dass die Lamen wiedersehen.
(I can make the blind to walk and the lame to see again.) Or the blind carpenter who picked up his hammer and saw.

Got my new boiler.

@Tinbeni - you live in FL and don't know Yiddish? I recommend Leo Rosten's The Joys of Yidddish. At least it's funny. It does help to know a little Deutsch. Now, what does WOD mean?

crazycatlady said...

@Sfingi KIR is an apéritif made with crème de cassis and white wine. A KIR Royale is made with crème de cassis and champagne. They're both very delicious, especially in the summer. I think WOD is word of the day.

chefwen said...

I didn't get circles in my printed out copy, didn't really need them to get the theme. I did not notice the rotation, so thank you for that @Jerome.

Not being the greatest of spellers, I tried to squish contagous, yeah I know, there is an I in there, where PESTILENT needed to go, so that really messed me up for a while, but that was my only sloppy area. Actually loved the puzzle. Thanks Scott.

@HAZEL - when did you turn EVIL?

Charles Bogle said...

@sfingi: loved your post!

ddbmc said...

Rough and tumble for me, today! Mind was not pulling words from clues. Also, didn't have the circles, so was clueless to the theme.

Paul Lynde was a hoot on HWS. Watched the Peter Marshall version, years ago.

Wanted Zelig instead of Antz,and Idealism for Idealist. @JNH, saw Rod Blagojevich with Letterman--loved the "Hair-off" with Trump!
Is it just me? I loved the Barcelona bears-Osos! Then there is the Hanna-BarBEARA bear-Yogi (I once had the opportunity to ask Yogi Berra if "Yogi Bear" was named after him, he said: Gee, I dunno!") (he's a Jersey boy-from Kansas)A little brush with fame.
50A-Flap Door Home-TEEPEE was cute.
Completely forgot SPYDOM name-Hari Kari! It was a long-work filled day. Late to comment,as usual. Off to bed.
@Scott A. thanks for the workout.
@PG, thanks for the write up.
@Rex, no calling people names! (even if some of us ARE certain holes). There are a few hockey teams called the Ice Holes, but I digress...nite all.

Anonymous said...

i agree with @ddbmc, this blog should have no name-calling AND THAT INCLUDES YOU TOO, MR. REX.
-ccd

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the the Canadian PARKAS instead of ANORAKS(British?). Don't think you can ask for Anoraks in Canada.

McBeal