FRIDAY, May 21, 2010 — Mike Peluso

THEME: Airline puns — familiar two-word phrases from the world of flight are turned into puns and clued "?"-style

Expectations have everything to do with how difficult I think a puzzle is. For instance, I did today's NYT in 7:01 and today's LAT in 5:21, but the former felt (and was, comparatively) blazing fast, where the latter felt like a struggle (though the time is pretty avg. for me). I expect to get kicked around by a Friday NYT, but I expect a Friday LAT to be little different from the rest of the week, i.e. pretty easy. I enjoyed the toughness today, especially when I was done and could see that yes, there was a theme, and it was fairly coherent. I finished up in the SE and needed every single cross for the final theme answer, as I thought I was dealing with PLANET-something. This means the "K" in POCKET (50D: Sink, as a billiard ball) was the last letter in. First letter in: the "A" in ARCED (1A: Like a javelin's path), right off the bat.

Biggest struggle was the NE, where PILATE did not come to me except with much effort. I was not thinking Bible. I was thinking classical literature. Nothing was coming. Nothing. Now that I look back at that section, I realize that I put CHILI'S down quickly (9D: Tex-Mex restaurant chain), and then couldn't do a thing with the Acrosses. This make very little strategic sense, because if I'd simply looked at the Down next to CHILI'S — 10D: Bits of wisdom? (PEARLS) — I would have gotten it instantly and then the CP- would have given me CPLUS (9A: 2.3, roughly) and I'd have been in and out of there quickly. Instead, I abandoned the section and returned to it later. Irritating. I should be more disciplined than that by now.

Never seen KRA (40D: Malay Peninsula's Isthmus of ___), RIVA (39D: 1972 Kentucky Derby winner ___ Ridge), or TSR (64D: Dungeons & Dragons co.) outside of crosswords, and so am not that fond of them as answers. I'm not sure I've ever seen RIVA before today. That "V" was right in the middle of an answer I struggled to get: LIVES ON (44A: Stays in memory). It's a fine clue, but I didn't have many crosses. Knew it was something IN or ON. So I guess that little western section was the second-toughest part of the puzzle today. Isthmus of KRA sounds like someplace Flash Gordon liked to hang out. Oh, and I had RUBY Ridge as the Kentucky Derby winner at first. I was thinking about Ruby Ridge recently, as I was in the Idaho panhandle just last week for my grandma's 90th birthday party. Which reminds me, I made a tribute puzzle for her. I offered it to readers of my other blog, and now I'm offering it to you. Just hit "Print," below, or go here (to Orange's site) to get an AcrossLite/.puz version.
Grandma 2

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Capri beach chairs? (ISLE SEATS)
  • 25A: Quiz a Roman judge? (TEST PILATE)
  • 38A: Affable terriers? (FRIENDLY SKYES)
  • 51A: Really dark beers? (BLACK BOCKS)
  • 63A: This puzzle's title? (PLANE TALK)
Crosswordese 101: TSR (64D: Dungeons & Dragons co.) — you (and I) may as well commit this one to memory, as it will repeat on you (and me). Originally, TSR stood for Tactical Studies Rules, but that is not going to help you remember it. I'm going to try to remember that it's an inverted alphabetic string. I know it starts with "T," so I can just work from there. You ... do whatever you have to. TSR could stand for Total Social Rejects ... but that's just mean. And I enjoyed D&D for a brief time in my pre-teen years, so I can't fully endorse that mnemonic. And yet it might work for me.

See you Monday.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Like a javelin's path (ARCED); 6A: Balancing pro? (CPA); 9A: 2.3, roughly (C-PLUS); 14A: "The Wreck of the Mary __" (DEARE); 15A: Steak seasoning (RUB); 16A: Picked up (HEARD); 17A: Capri beach chairs? (ISLE SEATS); 19A: Rhythmic feet? (IAMBS); 20A: Faint (DIM); 21A: "The Metaphysics of Ethics" author (KANT); 22A: Camera type, briefly (SLR); 23A: Sailing, say (ASEA); 25A: Quiz a Roman judge? (TEST PILATE); 30A: Play with a brushing motion (STRUM); 32A: Fights in the sticks (RASSLES); 33A: Idealist (DREAMER); 37A: Post-WWII alliance (OAS); 38A: Affable terriers? (FRIENDLY SKYES); 42A: "Who, me?" ("MOI?"); 43A: They're not content to see you (RAISERS); 44A: Stays in memory (LIVES ON); 47A: Greek fabulist (AESOP); 51A: Really dark beers? (BLACK BOCKS); 55A: See 54-Down (REMO); 56A: Golfer's concern (LIE); 57A: Many a Middle Easterner (ARAB); 59A: Tokyo-based chip maker (NEC); 60A: Where to see an approaching train? (ALTAR); 63A: This puzzle's title? (PLANE TALK); 65A: Like a game in baseball's record books (NO-HIT); 66A: Sitcom E.T. (ALF); 67A: Coco rival (ESTEE); 68A: Traveling options (TOURS); 69A: Pin site (MAT); 70A: "Grace Under Fire" star Butler (BRETT); 1D: Puma competitor (ADIDAS); 2D: Put up a fight (RESIST); 3D: Less windy, say (CALMER); 4D: Bard's preposition (ERE); 5D: Certain sergeant's post (DESK); 6D: Rail relative (CRANE); 7D: Uses the "flat stick," in golf (PUTTS); 8D: Workout targets (ABS); 9D: Tex-Mex restaurant chain (CHILI'S); 10D: Bits of wisdom? (PEARLS); 11D: Flight (LAM); 12D: Suffix with sub- (URB); 13D: 1968 Columbia U. protesters (SDS); 18D: Put away (EAT); 22D: Hardly dense (SPARSE); 24D: BMW competitor (AUDI); 26D: Small diamonds (TREYS); 27D: Soothing lotion (ALOE); 28D: Chai and oolong (TEAS); 29D: Mountain road feature (ESS); 31D: Desert Storm mess, briefly? (MRE); 34D: Prepare for court, perhaps (ENROBE); 35D: Town in a 1945 Pulitzer-winning novel (ADANO); 36D: 11th-century year (MLI); 38D: Prevent (FOIL); 39D: 1972 Kentucky Derby winner __ Ridge (RIVA); 40D: Malay Peninsula's Isthmus of __ (KRA); 41D: Belgian river (YSER); 42D: Bud Selig's org. (MLB); 45D: Iced pastry (ECLAIR); 46D: Sidesteps (SKIRTS); 48D: Legislative century (SENATE); 49D: It's folded and filled (OMELET); 50D: Sink, as a billiard ball (POCKET); 52D: __ lily (CALLA); 53D: "Make today delicious" food giant (KRAFT); 54D: With 55-Across, Italian site of a post-WWI Allied conference (SAN); 58D: U.K. network, with "the" (BEEB); 60D: Hill dweller (ANT); 61D: Manchester head? (LOO); 62D: Cal. column (THU.); 63D: Robin's "Mork & Mindy" co-star (PAM); 64D: Dungeons & Dragons co. (TSR).


Tinbeni said...

This actually took longer than the NYT, yet it had a doable theme that I got early since I searched out the reveal PLANE TALK.

Some great misdirection, fave was RAISERS, 43A "They're not content to see you" ... aah, poker!

NE was the last to fall since my IAMBS, Rhythmic feet? couldn't get dancing. Had 'let' (sublet) in my mind and that 2.3 didn't seem high enough to be a C-PLUS. But once that fell the subURB appeared.

Also liked that ALTAR for where to see the approaching train.

Just plunked in RIVA Ridge for the '72 derby winner and thought "How the hell did I remember that horse?"

Learning moments was the author KANT and KRA isthmus.

I did the Grandma 2 puzzle earlier this week. No special knowledge required. Check out @Rex NYT blog for Tuesday, more pictures, etc. on his trip. Turns out @Rex is a closet Roman Numeral fan. Well done!

gespenst said...

I'm w/ you, @Rex, didn't expect this much of a challenge from a Friday puzzle. I haven't had to google on a week day in a long time! (and not too many Saturdays, either ...)

I got tripped up b/c my mind put an extra T in "PLANET TALK" and I couldn't figure out what the theme had to do w/ planets ... but a closer look indeed revealed only ONE "T" so PLANE was the ticket.

Actually the NW corner fell quickly, so I was startled to have so much trouble with the rest of the puzzle, but in the end it took about 4 googles to make headway. Interesting cluing for SENATE, OMELET, RAISERS. CPLUS was funny, since I was trying to remember the value of "e" (the base of natural logs) ... turns out it's 2.71828... rather than close to 2.3; and why I thought "E" could be an answer in a crossword, I'm not sure, lol.

Nice challenge for a Friday morning :)

imsdave said...

Very nice stuff. I can't remember an LAT Friday that took me this long. Excellent payoff on top of of it. As to KRA and TSR - sometimes to just have to do that stuff for the sake of the overall effect. Well done Mr. Peluso.

Believe it or not, I actually had an IMS database emergency at work yesterday. So, on the 'day late and a dollar short' front, thank you all for the wonderful reception you gave my puzzle. It was truly appreciated. I wish I could take all the credit for it, but I can't. Shout outs:

@test solvers - for dealing with all the dreck
@Rex - for the great fix nobody else could find
@Mr. Norris - for your patience and guidance
@DougP - I don't have the right words to thank you for all you've done
@all the commenter's - thanks for making my day

Van55 said...

I had to rassle with this one a bit to get it finally to come together. A nice, unexpected challenge from the LAT puzzle on a Friday.

Not sure I like MLB, NEC and SLR, but the theme is risible and atones.

C said...

I really enjoyed today's puzzle. The answers, for the most part, weren't arcane (KRA is excused from the previous statement) but were made to feel arcane by the subtle and well crafted cluing.

Very cool.

Sfingi said...

I got the theme right away and loved the homophones. So, I started in a good mood.

However, I had the NE and SW corners virtually empty and gave up. Peluso is too clever by half for me.
In the NE, I had sub-SET and never gave it up. I tried to Google for TexMex chains and came up with nothing. I guess there is a CHILI's around here, but I block out anything hot, such as Mexican or Setzuan. Then there was 2.3. I knew it wasn't natural log, but, as with subSET, I was certain it was mathematical.

In the SW, sports killed me (so what's new?). I simply do not understand golfer's concern - LIE. Of course, I had PAR.
The only other golf words I know are birdie, divot, eagle, fore, sandtrap, mulligan, none of them 3-letter.
Couldn't possibly have guessed the baseball record NOHIT from among all the things baseballers pat themselves on the back for (yawn).
Then RIVA and MLB (sports initials - the very worst category for me).
I don't suppose Peluso is the hockey guy?

Also, had MAp before MAT, but crosses saved me.

For my final performance in this whinathon, I get a new kind of captcha, wherein I am asked to listen, not look. Of course I don't have the QuickTime PlugIn, and it's still loading. Maybe because it's Mac.

*David* said...

SW was my problem area, lots of wrong fill over there that needed to be erased. ALTAR was tricky which kept me flummoxed from finishing that area. A decent puzzle overall.

syndy said...

okay-the ruby ridge derby with itchy fingered feds waiting for the first horse to stick his nose out of the gate-OUCH. Hard to believe a cw terrier neither "asta" nor "toto" hereby awarding extra points.

mikeyk said...

Anybody else think that PLAINTALK would have been more fitting than PLANETALK as the puzzle's title?

shrub5 said...

Liked the homonym/pun airplane theme. I had an error at 70A where I put RHETT instead of BRETT. That made the D&D co. TSH (didn't knowTSR) and the UK network BEER (didn't know BEEB either.) Had a ridiculously long time getting C PLUS. All I could see was CPLUS which is the plural of CPLU. Also didn't know bock for beer, so BLACK BOCKS puzzled me. Otherwise all was fine, eventually. Nice degree of difficulty.

@Sfingi: I had MAP before MAT also.

SPOILER ALERT! Do not read below if you haven't done the tribute puzzle.
As an inveterate disliker of Roman numerals in cwps, I have to say the tribute puzzle for Rex's Grandma is the notable exception. I loved it! Thoroughly enjoyed the reunion/celebration write-up over on Rex's NYT Tuesday blog.

backbiter said...

The only reason I struggled with this I let a notion slip through the cracks of my brain, and I couldn't let it go. First theme answer to go in was "isle seats". I figured phrases beginning with "a" with that letter lopped off. I haven't the foggiest notion why I just could not get that outta my head. Everything worked out, but damn I felt silly. lol

mac said...

I liked this puzzle alot, just enough crunch and stickiness for a Friday. Rassles was my personal word of the day, and I had Ruby for Riva as well, don't ask me why.
Loved the pearls (but then I would).

CrazyCatLady said...

Thought this was a fun puzzle, although a bit a of challenge. My struggle was right in the middle with 34D Prepare for Court, ENROBE, ADANO which we've had before, but clued differently, TREYS and RAISERS. I'm a little DIM when it comes to cards/poker. Also didn't really get 56A Golfers concern LIE. Are golfers dishonest? How can they be if they're in twosomes and foursomes? Haven't heard anyone say RASSLES since the OJ trial.
@Rex Did the puzzle you made for your Grandma a couple days ago. Liked it a lot. Thanks!

shrub5 said...

@CCL -- re: Golfer's concern LIE.
LIE refers to the position of the ball after it has come to rest, with regard to the ease of the next shot. For example, a ball that has landed right next to a tree has a bad lie.

Elaine said...

did rex mean the nyt puzzle took him 7 hours or 7 minutes?