3.30.2010

TUESDAY, March 30, 2010 — Robert A. Doll


Theme: "Make Like a Banana …." — Theme answers start with synonyms for "splitting."


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Critters with powerful jaws (SNAPPING TURTLES).
  • 27A: Program interruption (BREAKING NEWS).
  • 46A: Spurning learning (CUTTING CLASS).
  • 60A: Discontinuing relations of any kind (SEVERING ALL TIES).
Good morning, everybody! It's Spring Break here in Arlington, Virginia, and I hear it's even going to feel like spring in a couple days. The PuzzleKids are off to a basketball camp every day and I'm working longer hours than I typically do. Perhaps I need to look up the definition of "break." Speaking of "break," let's talk about the puzzle. (See what I did there?)

I kinda like this theme. It's a strange looking grid, with a ton of three-letter words and abbreviations, which I'm not crazy about. On the other hand, if you're kind of new to solving I can see where the short answers might help you get a foothold. Let us know in the comments if you thought the three-letter stuff was so easy it was annoying, or if it was more of a welcome relief.

Highlights:
  • 15A: California fruit (RAISINS).


  • 20A: Server on skates (CARHOP). I never really thought about this word before. Shouldn't it be CARGLIDE. I mean, for CARHOP they should be on … pogo sticks, right? (That would be cool.)
  • 49A: Caribbean isl. belonging to France (ST. BARTS).
  • 58A: Game in which love is expressed frequently? (TENNIS). Cute clue.
  • 5D: Ship's captain (SKIPPER).
  • 7D: Apollo's twin sister (ARTEMIS). I heard that when a hunter was caught watching her taking a bath, she turned him into a stag and his own dogs ripped him to shreds. Harsh!
  • 8D: Movie girl with "perils" (PAULINE). I do not know what this means.
  • 61D: __ de Janeiro (RIO). Olympics!
Everything Else — 1A: Casey and Kildare: Abbr. (DRS.); 4A: Clairvoyant's claim, for short (ESP); 7A: Courses for coll. credit (APS); 10A: Ball support (TEE); 13A: Actor McKellen (IAN); 14A: Classic Jag (XKE); 21A: Sniggler's prey (EEL); 22A: Eliel Saarinen's son (EERO); 23A: Normandy battleground (ST.-LÔ); 24A: Chinese government bigwig (PREMIER); 32A: Bedroom set piece (ARMOIRE); 35A: Sun. speech (SER.); 36A: Catch a few z's (NAP); 37A: "Green Eggs and Ham" author (SEUSS); 38A: Writer Jong (ERICA); 40A: USNA grad (ENS.); 41A: Sephia automaker (KIA); 44A: Took, as advice (ACTED ON); 50A: "¿Cómo __ usted?" (ESTA); 54A: The Phantom of the Opera (ERIK); 57A: River inlet (RIA); 63A: Apple-polishers (TOADIES); 64A: __ canto: singing style (BEL); 65A: Post- opposite (PRE-); 66A: Govt. ID (SSN); 67A: Frequently, in verse (OFT); 68A: Words in a simile (AS A); 69A: Old JFK arrival (SST); 1D: 45s, e.g. (DISCS); 2D: Charged (RAN AT); 3D: Watchdog's warning (SNARL); 4D: __ 67: Montreal World's Fair (EXPO); 6D: Proverbial sword beater (PEN); 9D: "To __, With Love" (SIR); 10D: Mah-jongg piece (TILE); 11D: Cabinet dept. formed after the 1977 oil crisis (ENER.); 12D: "Tiger in your tank" company (ESSO); 16D: Bow's opposite (STERN); 18D: Greek god of fear (PHOBOS); 19D: Nerd (GEEK); 25D: Actress __ Dawn Chong (RAE); 26D: "Snowy" wading birds (EGRETS); 28D: Take a chance (RISK IT); 29D: Arthurian lady (ENID); 30D: Texas city on the Brazos (WACO); 31D: Wing tip-to-wing tip distance (SPAN); 32D: "Just __!" (A SEC); 33D: Contact lens solution brand (RENU); 34D: Is required to (MUST); 39D: Take offense at (RESENT); 42D: "To sum up ..." (IN BRIEF); 43D: Not with (AGAINST); 44D: Cockpit abbr. (ALT.); 45D: Sand structures (CASTLES); 47D: Tut-tutted (TSKED); 48D: Rugged rock (CRAG); 51D: Haircut sounds (SNIPS); 52D: Stadium levels (TIERS); 53D: Balance sheet item (ASSET); 54D: Approximations: Abbr. (ESTS.); 55D: Classic autos (REOS); 56D: 58-Across star Lendl (IVAN); 59D: Cinders of old comics (ELLA); 62D: Lawyers' gp. (ABA).

39 comments:

Tinbeni said...

IN BRIEF, I got in my Peabody Wayback Machine and traveled to Monday, 'bout a year ago.

Let's see, I count 24 3-letter & 20 4-letter fills.
Didn't check to see how much of CW101 was covered but I think a fair dose.

ELLA, 59D Cinders of old comics was new, I mean OLD. The strip started in 1925, ran until 1961 (per Wiki) and somehow I missed it. Relied on the crosses.

@PG I agree, newbies will enjoy.
Nice write-up of a so-so puzzle.

Rex Parker said...

Solid. Liked the top part quite a bit. Lazy in the corners with abbrevs. and crosswordese, but a fine Tuesday outing otherwise.

Lurene said...

APs? 7 across.

Mr. Tibbs said...

Lurene: Advanced Placement classes for High School Seniors to graduate early.

Van55 said...

Oh wow. I couldn't disagree more with Rex. This one might set an asll time record for trite and lazy fill. SST and SSN! RIA, KIA, RIO and REOS! STLO and EERO! I could go on...

Monday was so much better.

The Corgi of Mystery said...

I don't usually notice trite fill in the early-week because I'm done so fast. If anything, a glut of 3-letter answers is worse on Thursdays/Fridays because it then feels like you're working a lot for rather little reward.

Having said that, I personally make my best effort to not have SST(S) as the last answer in my grids, which is one of my pet peeves.

hazel said...

Not a rocking puzzle, but I liked the fill - really moreso than the theme answers (w/ exception of SNAPPINGTURTLES).

Didn't really need any footholds per se - solving was kind of like walking up a (pretty wide) staircase, but its Tuesday, and to be expected.

Liked seeing my disapproving twin (Evil Tutter) vacationing in ST. BARTS, with one of her TOADIES.

Anonymous said...

PG@ The PERILS OF PAULINE was an old movie/serial before talkies replaced the silent movie. Think Dudley Dooright with real actors.

Crossword 101 said...

On my list:
ABA, ASA, EEL, ENID, ESSO, KIA, REO(s), RIA, ST-LO and SST

Probably should be:
DRS, ENS, ESP, PRE, RIO, TEE, XKE and of course SSN(s)

I know, these are real words and things used in language but they appear so often in puzzles they qualify on the redundant level.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Lame theme, tired cheap fill, but a couple of good clues (6D & 8D). Fave entries were ST BARTS, ELLA & PAULINE. Unfaves were SPAN (cute, but not clever clue) and RENU (not again!) Best part of this puzzle was reading Puzzlegirl's delightful writeup (fun, as usual). And PG, have a pleasant "non-break" break... envying you standing by those D.C. cherry blossoms.

lit.doc said...

Speaking for the "Some us just started doing Real Crosswords a few months ago" contingent, this is just the sort of Tuesday outing that I would have found enjoyable and encouraging last summer, and still have no problem with. Three-letter fill is a mercy for the neophyte.

My only three-letter gripe is with 7A APS. "AP" is a modifier, not a functional noun that can be pluralized. I ask a student "How many AP classes are you taking?" Were I to ask how many APs s/he's taking, I'd get a reply something like "where the heck would I take Assistant Principles, and why?" Assistant Principals are ref'd to as APs.

Had one other gripe, which I'm not sure is legit. I noticed the traffick-accident theme as I went, then waited and waited for a theme-reveal that never materialized. Is it not standard practice to have at least a theme-hint in the title if not a theme-reveal clue/answer in the grid?

shrub5 said...

Liked the four impressively long theme answers and fresh stuff like CARHOP, ST. BARTS, PHOBOS and RAISINS but the overly familiar 3 letter words mentioned by others above was noticeable enough to be mildly annoying. Heard some echos with ERIK and ERICA, KIA and RIA, ESTA and ESTS, RIO and REOS.

Did not know the word "sniggler" but EEL just popped into mind (I had the first E in place.)

I see a few EGRETS each day on my drive. They are standing in the marshy areas adjacent to the freeway. Wiki says: egret chicks are very aggressive toward one another in the nest with the stronger often killing their weaker siblings. Yikes.

Newbie said...

Unchallenging even for a Newbie. Too may easy 3 and 4 letter fills. It also gave me a "splitting" headache that there was no theme clue. Puzzlegirl is apparently not familiar with the famous silent film series The Perils of Pauline. Let's do it again tomorrow!

a guy said...

lit.doc, maybe your students talk differently behind your back? APS is commonly used...

CrazyCatLady said...

@Tinbeni's comment sums up things quite nicely. Today's offering reminds me of the LAT puzzles of YORE, but a good one for newer solvers. I liked PHOBOS and ARTEMIS. ELLA Cinders was an unknown. Liked the clue for TENNIS and the tie in to IVAN Lendl. I thought the theme was tad violent.
@lit.doc my kids used to refer their AP classes as APS. They called the Assistant Principal Mr. (what ever his name was). He was the disciplinarian. Since they weren't prone to CUTTING CLASS, they didn't get to know him very well.
@Hazel thought of you at 47 Down ; )

mac said...

Competent Tuesday puzzle. I agree with the Corgi, early week I breeze through the puzzle so fast I don't really mind or notice short crosswordese very much until it is pointed out to me. Late week they are my life savers!

Some really nice words like Phobos and Artemis, skipper reminds me of that old tv series with the dolphine, and snapping turtles make me hopeful the weather will improve and they will show up on my driveway!

C said...

Looking at the blank puzzle grid, I wasn't too excited to get started due to the large number of short answer fill. I don't mind the abbreviations so much rather the puzzle tends to be very easy to finish with a lot of 3 letter fill and becomes more like a chore of writing random letters onto a piece of paper.

After finishing the puzzle, though, I was glad my preconception was off. Nothing fantastic nor overly craptastic about the puzzle. I had fun solving it, i.e. wasn't a letter writing chore, so I'll put my vote in the easy but enjoyable side.

Toady said...

Too busy polishing apples to notice any problems with this excellent puzzle.

Joon said...

i've seen grids with tons of 3-letter words before, but usually only when the theme is extremely demanding (e.g. 5 long theme answers). 15-12-12-15 is pretty normal, so i have no idea why the grid is so odd. i'm not opposed to 3-letter words per se, but if you need to use so many of them, i feel like you should go out of your way to make sure that all or almost all of them are actually words, instead of abbreviations (especially plural abbrs, like DRS, APS, ESTS), prefixes (PRE-), or partials (AS A, and really BEL too since it's hard to clue it as a stand-alone answer). so while i liked the theme just fine, the grid was pretty unsatisfying. just my opinion.

lit.doc said...

@a guy and @CCL, wow, that was an eye-opener. Fifteen years in the trenches and have never heard that usage from other AP teachers, counselors, or seen it on AP Central. Learn something new everyday. Thanks. Can't wait to try it out at school, just to see what kind of reaction I get.

Tuttle said...

Artemis did indeed set Actaeon's own hounds on him by turning him into a stag. A humorous note is that even in this myth, which is at least 2,500 years old, one of the hounds was named "Sticte"... Greek for "Spot".

Athena also ran into this peeping-tom issue, but she merely struck Teiresias blind for his indiscretion. Teiresias' mother begged Athena for forgiveness, but since the curse could not be removed the goddess instead granted him the gift of prophecy.

jazz said...

Just two cents...

Perils of Pauline was filmed in beautiful Ithaca NY, in and around the natural gorges there. Which segues me into how proud I am of my dear Big Red sports teams (men's BB and hockey, women's hockey).

I side with @Van55: trite and lazy indeed! Though I always credit the constructor for a job better than I could ever do, I've seen better Tuesdays...TSKED? BEL? SER? EERO? Not to mention DRS and APS...nope, I'll look forward to tomorrow.

Cheers, all!

Tinbeni said...

@Joon
You're a constructor. How about a puzzle designed for Monday where every single entry (but 2 6's) was from the CW101 list.

In the middle would be the theme hint.
The 15 letter across would be:
CROSSWORDCILIST (Crossword 101 list).

In the NW the first six w/b NEWBIE.
In the SE the last six w/b FOR YOU.
(Actually, with the hint, these would be the only
"non-theme" answers)

I went and reviewed the CW101 and there are a bunch of five & six and a few seven letter words to work with(which surprised me).

It could be a Monday with 70 plus theme 'words' and an inside joke for those here and to other Constructors as to how trite fill could be fun.
I think it would be a hoot.

PuzzleGirl said...

@jazz: Don't forget Rob Koll and your wrestling team! They came in second at the Division I NCAA tournament last week. Since nobody was going to catch Iowa for first, second is actually a pretty big deal. Go Big Red!

Bretski said...

I actually liked this one quite a bit for a Tuesday.

As a few other have noted already, I breezed through it quickly enough that I didn't really notice all the 3 letter crosswordese (or even the theme for that matter) until I was looking over it at the end. I did however notice a lot of the 6s & 7s that I thought were usually "sparkly" or "in the language" for a Tuesday LAT. I liked the non-crosswordy SKIPPER, IN BRIEF, & ACTED ON. I also liked the unusual grid right off the bat, very closed down on the edges, but relatively open in the center.

All in all, just markedly different than typical Tuesday fare. That's probably why I liked it.

jazz said...

Wow, all this and wrestling too! Thanks for the update, @PG. With so much fun in winter, it'll be a shame when Spring comes ;^)

Marc said...

Im a newbie, however I often find three and four letter abbrs. and words the demise of my puzzle enjoyment.I really get much more pleasure out of intresting and toughtful cluing the ones you usually find thurs and friday. I did like the themed answers because they weren't quite as pretencious as other themes and in reality helped me more to solve the 3-4 letter crosses.

Rube said...

My favorite is PHOBOS. Don't think I've seen this in my limited Xword experience. My WOTD although if I saw it "in the wild" would immediately recognize it.

A pleasant puzzle. Everyone seems mellow today!

Rex Parker said...

In the late 80s, we most certainly talked about taking our A.P.s, plural. Maybe that's changed, but it seems very in-the-language to me.

Orange said...

Maybe "A.P.s" is more of a California thing. It clanked in my mind's ear, as we talked of "A.P. classes" and "A.P. tests" and "A.P. credits" but not A.P.s. I do not doubt that it has been common usage in settings other than my high school at my time.

I'm with Joon on the 3-letter fill.

sfingi said...

Agree with Van55, as I often do.

The dreaded SSN. The "other" puzzle had SST, also.

PAULINE, CARHOP, PHOBOS and RENU are new to my puzzle experience.

@Jazz has informed us that the silent serial B & W Perils of Pauline was filmed in Ithaca. The famous scene is Pauline tied to the RR tracks.

Carhop is indeed the word used, even w/o skates. The phenomenon didn't last long in my clime, but it was used at the Kewpie's on Oneida Square. (A huge Kewpie doll slowly turned above the white-tile and glass-brick Art Deco Building.)
Kewpie

I'm so old, there were no Advanced Placement tests. They have saved kids lots of $.

We actually get EGRETS in the Utica Marsh, which is a flood plain around our part of the Mohawk River.

@Tuttle - I did not know that about "Spot." Thank you. There's quite a history of Greek women destroying men for learning their mysteries. Apparently now all that's left is "Have you ever faked it?"

CrazyCatLady said...

@Orange & Rex My children went to HS in the late 90s and early 00s here in Claremont. Most of the kids who cared took multiple A.P. classes each semester. When they would talk about them, they would refer to them as A.P.s as in "How many A.P.s are you taking this semester?", or "These A.P.s are driving me crazy with all the homework." Stuff like that. Maybe it is a CA thing.

@P.G. I totally forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed your write up today. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

NJ Nana said:

In my neck of the woods we called it CPs, college prep courses. Live and learn from cw's everyday. Thanks!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

PAULINE sure had her share of perils and for you youngsters, anon7:11 said it well... think of Dudley Dooright.

I agree with @Joon and somehow a puzzle composed with close to 60% three and four letter words just shouldn't qualify for Advanced Placement status.

I sure appreciate the info that various commenters contribute, like what @Tuttle told us about ARTEMIS. Sometimes even these non-sparkling puzzles have redeeming qualities with just one or two words that become springboards for discussion.

@sfingi CARHOPS (espec on roller-skates), art deco, and diners are right up my alley; so your Kewpie thing was a real treat. Is that place still there?

CUTTING CLASS reminds me of something in my sophomore year of college: I took what I thought was a "mickey-mouse" course and so I cut every single class session except for the last one (final exam). I ended up getting an A. I always chuckle when I think of that.

split infinitive said...

"Egrets, I've had a few......but I did it MY WAY"!
Please tell me if I was the only one singing Sinatra this morning!

Fine theme, fun but not too taxing for a Tuesday. I am ok with some 3 letter words but there"2 many abbrvs." Having *both* SSN and SST in the same puzzle seems like overkill. Liked seeing PHOBOS and ARTEMIS, and really had to sweat to think of CARHOP.

We took APS in highshool in MN, but that may have just been the one school calling them that.

PG, thanks for the links & the write-up. I am enjoying the xws more & more due to the hard work you, Rex, & Amy put in every day to explain the daily grid.

I still hope the CW101 will appear in book form one day, although I realize it's always a work in progress! That's a mighty valuable part of your blog!

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CrazyCatLady said...

@split infinitive OMG chardonnay just squirted out my nose! INRE: Egrets! Last week we learned that's called a nose job! Okay - now I have to explain to my husband.

lit.doc said...

@CCL, I recall that astonishing revelation, but thought the term in question was "egest", which does not sound tres beau.

Anonymous said...

Sorry CCatLady! That happened to me too. I hummed that darn song most of the evening. I promise to behave Wednesday!