WEDNESDAY, May 5, 2010—Alan Olschwang

THEME: "Trash Compactor"—Four two-word phrases begin with words that double as verbs that mean "compact" or "squish."

Oy, I did not care for this puzzle. The theme was OK (though one theme entry is the sort of thing you only know if you're a baseball fan, and I tell you, millions of crossword fans are not also baseball fans), but there was a lot of fill that's hostile to crossword newbies. I'll get to that in a minute. What I liked about the theme is that it's got two Qs, and there's the added elegance of all four "squish" words being used in non-verb, non-squishing contexts.

I forgot to plan ahead, and I have anniversary dinner plans (19 years!) So this post will be quick, unillustrated, and not formatted how it usually is.

Theme entries:
  • 18a. [Mule or burro] is a PACK ANIMAL.
  • 26a. [Where to see racquets] is a SQUASH COURT.
  • 48a. [Daring diamond device] is SQUEEZE BUNT. I had SQUEEZE PLAY, because what the heck is a SQUEEZE BUNT? It's nothing I know about. And I know "device" alliterates, but is it the best word choice here?
  • 63a. [Impromptu jazz performance] is a JAM SESSION.
What I didn't like:
  • The middle, where CORFU sits beside ORALE. One's a [Greek vacation isle] and the other's a [Papal vestment].
  • 37a. [Put on, as cargo] clues LADED. Who ever talks about lading?
  • 51a. ["Turandot" slave girl] clues LIU. Usually we get Charlie's Angels actress Lucy Liu or Long Island University. I've been doing crosswords for decades and the only opera I've ever attended is Turandot, and I still needed all the crossings for this one.
  • 34d: [In other words, to Brutus] is ID EST, which we see as "i.e." often enough. This is fine Latin, quite accessible. 59a: [And the following, in a bibliog.] clues ET SEQ. Et sick!
  • 66a. ["Rent-__": Reynolds/Minnelli film] clues the partial A COP. The movie was undistinguished and it has likely been forgotten by most of the people who ever knew it existed—unless they do crosswords, in which case they get reminded a couple times a year.
  • 4d. AM/FM RADIO is a terrific entry, but I'm not sure why it's clued as [Feature of a new car]. I took a Ford Fusion Hybrid for a test drive a week ago, and the AM/FM radio was but a small part of the sound system. Six-disc CD player! Twelve speakers! Optional iPod/MP3 player hookup! I am just old enough to remember when the cheap-ass cars came with only an AM radio, and FM was the fancy option, before having a tape player became the fancy option.
  • 9d. [Trapper] clues SNARER. Quick, tell me a sentence in which you have used the word SNARER. And "What? SNARER?!? Is that even a word?" doesn't count.
  • 27d. The QUOIT, a [Ring used in a horseshoelike game], is a word I encounter in only two places: crosswords and Scrabble. Oh, do I love it in Scrabble. Not so much in crosswords.
  • 40d. [Store, as fodder] clues ENSILE, which is in the running for the title of Dullest Word Found in Crosswords. I dunno—is it worse than ENISLE?
  • 64d. The [Marshal at Waterloo] is named NEY. Sure, Napoleon is a much bigger deal, but NEY hogs all the crossword glory.
Enough kvetching from me. I'll bet you guys can mention some things you liked in this puzzle. Take it away!

Crosswordese 101: Ding, ding, ding! Today's winner is ORALE. It doesn't appear in crosswords too often, but I consider it and the ALB to be old-school crosswordese. I mean, if you don't live in Vatican City, do you pay much attention to papal vestments? Probably not. Other clues you may see invoke the nouns garment, attire, scarf, or cape. Once ORALE was even clued as an alb coverer. (Can't believe we haven't XW101ed ALB yet! Consider yourself lucky—it means we haven't seen ALB much here.)

Everything Else — 1A: Final Four org. (NCAA); 5A: Bedouin homes (TENTS); 10A: Bed board (SLAT); 14A: The enemy (THEM); 15A: Saved on supper, one would hope (ATE IN); 16A: Hot spot connection (WI-FI); 17A: Bondman (SERF); 20A: Relief provider (BROMO); 22A: Place with trails and trams (SKI RESORT); 23A: B&O et al. (RRS); 25A: Cousin of -trix (ESS); 32A: "Aladdin" prince (ALI); 35A: Ilsa __, Bergman's "Casablanca" role (LUND); 36A: Game ender, at times (HORN); 39A: "Ouch!" ("YOWIE!"); 41A: Backstabber (RAT); 42A: A-list (ELITE); 43A: Use, as a cot (LIE ON); 44A: Dart through the air (FLIT); 46A: Island rings (LEIS); 47A: Financial statement abbr. (YTD); 52A: Arthur Godfrey played it (UKE); 53A: Earlier today, say (A WHILE AGO); 65A: South African Peace Nobelist (TUTU); 67A: Parishioner's pledge (TITHE); 68A: Poet Pound (EZRA); 69A: Katharine of "The Graduate" (ROSS); 70A: Flippant (SASSY); 71A: Bassoon, e.g. (REED); 1D: Airline investigative org. (NTSB); 2D: "Moonstruck" Oscar winner (CHER); 3D: Sleek, for short (AERO); 5D: Beer source (TAP); 6D: Flight data, briefly (ETAS); 7D: Post-Thanksgiving soup starter (NECK); 8D: "Kon-__" (TIKI); 10D: Deli platter cheese (SWISS); 11D: One might pick you up at an airport (LIMO); 12D: Way off (AFAR); 13D: Lean (TILT); 19D: Get cozy (NESTLE); 21D: RN workplaces (ORS); 24D: Reaction to a library volume? (SHH); 26D: With cunning (SLYLY); 28D: Single (UNWED); 31D: Set free (UNTIE); 32D: "Farewell, mon ami" (ADIEU); 33D: Grant entrée to (LET IN); 38D: Completely recovered (ALL BETTER); 45D: Shih __: Tibetan dog (TZU); 49D: Pursuits (QUESTS); 50D: Struggle to make, with "out" (EKE); 51D: Struggles with sibilants (LISPS); 53D: When it's __: answer to an old riddle about a door (AJAR); 54D: City SSW of Dallas (WACO); 55D: Managed care gps. (HMOS); 56D: __ Minor (ASIA); 57D: Skedaddles (GITS); 58D: July 4th sounds (OOHS); 60D: Financial advisor Orman (SUZE); 61D: French 101 verb (ÊTRE); 62D: One of a four in a nursery (QUAD).



Well I agree with Orange on this puzzle.
Lots of bizarre words and clues.

"The enemy" (THEM)???

Shouldn't the clue for 17A be "bondSman" and not "bondman"?


Here's something for your breakfast entertainment

ATE IN last night and so this morning I need a BROMO.

Desmond TUTU

John GITS!!!!

Rex Parker said...

Yes, "new car" slayed me. In my 1974 Pontiac Grand Am, maybe.

SQUEEZE BUNT is beyond legit, though. Can't believe you even muttered about that one. Are all sports now off limits for theme answers???

I should say, however, that I had SQUEEZE PLAY at first. That's what happens when you know too Much about a topic.


Joon said...

ALB >> ORALE. every priest wears an ALB, as do altar servers, and the garment is not exclusive to catholics. it's the sort of word kids learn in sunday school. papal vestments? not so much. i know a ton of specialized catholic jargon, but first encountered ORALE and its relative FANON in crosswords. ORALE is even worse than FANON because apparently they're the same thing, except ORALE is what they called it in the middle ages and FANON is what it's called now. ugh.

Tinbeni said...

Well that SQUEEZE BUNT is a favorite play here in Tampa Bay Rays territory.
I like the "kids" but prefer my NY Yankees.

OK, here is where it gets weird. I wrote in 'Rent-A-COP' thinking it was the Burt movie filmed here in Tampa Bay. It wasn't? Damn, that was the other great Burt movie, 'Cop-and-a-Half.'

Could not recall Ilsa's last name LUND. All crosses.
QUOIT got me the 'U' but I don't know this game. I'll have to google. WTF, it goes back to ancient Greece!
I blame this on a mis-spent youth playing baseball, basketball, football ...

Enjoyed the latin/French test, ID EST, ET SEQ & ETRE. I passed.

For whatever reason I liked the OOHS & YOWIE.

Hmmm, Sentence with the word SNARER?
Nope, not even going to try.

*David* said...

This did feel like an old skool crossword. LIU, QUOIT, ENSILE, ORALE this could be a Parker puzzle if I didn't know better. I also loved AMFM RADIO as new car feature, so where do I dock my i-pod, Alan?

Joyce G said...

Ok, what a mind bending brain drain this moring. Good thing all I can do today is sit and cogitate this crossword bc I had 2 cortisone shots in my knees yesterday. 53a for me so wanted to be "In the morn" bc "a while ago" for me can be a few yrs more yrs. I confess my 25 yr LANG Arts, Span teaching career yrs never brought me to "skiresort." I feel so unenlightened. I further confess, I would inerpret 44a more as "flee," for me "flit" equates the movement of a butterfly. Lund was the only scandinavian name I could think would fit. Ok, "snarer" used in a complete sentence: Daniel Boone was a small animal snarer in the pioneer days. See what I mean, far too much time on my hands! Good

Joyce G said...

New phone, bad fingers...Good day, folks!

Joyce G said...

Johnsneverhome...the enemy...us vs them?


@Joyce G
Hope you heal fast!
According to that great philosopher, Pogo, the enemy is sometimes US.

hazel said...

SQUEEZEBUNT was sort of grating to me too. I just don't really ever hear it that way - maybe its the announcers for the Bravos who get 99% of my baseball attention. SQUEEZEPLAY is so much more descriptive/accurate to me for reasons that would take far too long for me to try to articulate! Of course, SUICIDE SQUEEZE beats them both by a mile, but that's neither here nor there.

For some reason, no joy in solveville for me today. Can't quite put my finger on why, though.


Soozy said...

I was not a huge fan of this puzzle either. I didn't even realize the clue for SQUEEZEBUNT (Daring diamond device) was about baseball till I got here. Oops.

Any ideas why 62D (QUAD) was clued as one of four in a nursery? One of four I get, but nursery...?

@Joyce G, I'm in agreement on A WHILE AGO.

LADED? I'm laden with worry about these clues, sure, but nobody laded me. Ick ick ick.

Anonymous said...

62D, one of quadruplets (4 babies on a nursery)

C said...

Heh, a more difficult than normal Wednesday puzzle due to the old skool answers.

SQUEEZEBUNT is primo, I liked it a lot. Unloading some more useless information from my brain, there are two forms of the squeeze bunt: Safety and Suicide. A safety squeeze is where the runner on 3rd does not run unless the batter makes contact, a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off from 3rd when the pitcher throws home. Why did I share that? I dunno, the interwebz has mighty powers.

Zeke said...

@Orange - The answer to your question is that ENISLED is much, much worse than ENSILED. There are actually people who worry about, discuss, putting their crops in silos. They may never use the term ENSILED, but they worry about the act of ensiling. When was the last time 5 guys sat around a coffee shop in the morning discussing stranding people on a deserted island? Seriously discussing it, not Chaney's Friday night poker club chatter. Oh wait, Chaney was serious. Gotta Emile Litella you here - never mind.

shrub5 said...

Completed this with little difficulty, however I forgot to look for the theme! D'oh.

There were many Scrabbly letters which added interest. Don't think I've ever heard Ilsa's last name from Casablanca, so LUND was a total fill-in from crosses; same with QUOIT and NEY.

"My nephew plays the drum in the school marching band -- he's a SNARER." (??) Nah...

Happy Anniversary to Orange and OrangeHubby. My neighbors bought a Ford Fusion Hybrid about two months ago -- they love it. Came with lots of bells and whistles.

Thanks for the enjoyable puzzle, Alan O.

Van55 said...

I didn't like it much either. Theme was OK, I suppose. Didn't like the croswordese ORALES, EZRA, etc.

chefbea said...

Hi Everyone. Been busy and the LA times puzzle isn't in the Wilmington paper so I have to print it out. I'll try to get to this puzzle on a regular basis now.

Good puzzle today. Liked the theme even though I never heard of Squeeze bunt

mac said...

The puzzle was ok, with a couple of new words for me: bromo, Lund and squeeze bunt. I personally don't like fill such as yowie, ooh, ohoh, aha etc. It sometimes feels like a cop-out.

Plenty of nice words, though, so all in all good time.

@Orange: hope you had a good anniversary dinner.

Joon said...

van55: it's to the point where pretty much every time i hear somebody say "crosswordese," i agree a little bit more with liz gorski. EZRA pound, crosswordese? good grief. he's one of the most influential english-language poets of all time. lumping him in with ORALE is just bewildering.

Sfingi said...

Didn't enjoy.

@John - That's exactly what I thought - Pogo Possum: "is us," not THEM.
Also, I agree with the bondman/bondsman thing. Bondman was the only way my husband got paid, sometimes. When the culprit was behind bars or let loose for good, he got the bond.

Unbelievably, I got SQUEEZEBUNT, though I had no idea what it was. If you don't know sports, you don't question it. Today I discovered yesterday's question about what a Cardinal has on his cap - STL - St. Lucy? Luke? I thought it was IHS. Oh good grief; not on his ORALE, on his St. Louis baseball(?) cap.

However, never got the theme.
I had to Google for LUND and LIU. Never heard of a movie called Rent-ACOP. (With Lisa Minelli, wouldn't it be Rent-a-Cop - the musical?)
I don't think BROMO is a whole word, and think HORN is lame.
I think initials shouldn't cross. Quick Henry, the FLIT would have been better.
SNARER is better than reSNARER. ENSILE is better than reENSILER. Now, that would be a trashy job.
Worse yet - recompactor an uncompactor, who does his work first.
By the way, some Neolithic liths in Britain are called QUOITs.

Buon Cinque di Maggio!

Rex Parker said...

AREA is the most common four-letter word in crosswords. And yet no one would call it "crosswordese." It's really gotta be something most people outside crosswords either can't be expected to know or rarely actually use.

EZRA Pound, no.
Kathryn ERBE, yes.
ENSILE, yes.
ELAN, not really.
ELON, definitely.

CrazyCatLady said...

Been gardening and went to the dog park today so just got to the puzzle. I fogot to look for the theme again since I rushed through. Not terribly inspired, but ok. I know the game QUOITS or horseshoes, but I forgot it was spelled with a QU and wanted to wite in COITs like the carpet cleaning company. That's how it's pronounced, I think. Had SQUASH COURT already, so I then remembered the correct spelling. How SILLY was that? Didn't know Ilsa's last name. ENSILE was new to me, but I assumed it meant put in a silo. Between SQUEEZE BUNT and one of the theme answers in yesterday's NYT, I guess I'm learning some slightly obscure baseball lingo. Liked SKI RESORT, A WHILE AGO and ALL BETTER. Didn't like ORALE and CORFU. I remember filling out Bills of LADING to send manuscripts when I worked at the publisher. I guess the shipment was then LADED. Who knew? Thought AMFM RADIO was hilarious. HELLO, it's the 21st century. I wanted something like SMELL OF NEW LEATHER. Now that's an awesome NEW car feature.
@ZEKE - I always enjoy reading your agricultural facts.
@Orange Happy Anniversary!
@Chef Bea Nice to see your Beet seed packet again. Got some beets that are almost ready to harvest.

Tinbeni said...

Just read that Liz Gorski article, she makes her point very well. Funny thing is I agree with every word she wrote and know that if tomorrow has EEL in it, I will probably think "damn, crosswordese."

As for todays puzzle, I can't really say I remember either ENSILE or ORALE in a puzzle recently.
EZRA Pound I always like just because I don't know (other than ZACK) many four letter names with a 'Z' in them, oops, yeah there is that LIZA.
OOHS brought a smile this morning b/c as hookey as it is, that is what you hear (along with the AAHS) from the crowd during a fireworks display.
YOWIE, hell, I just like its sound.

It's probably why I don't comment on any Roman Numeral in the grid any more. If there is one, it is only ONE, and the math is easy.

Having to parse out whether it is the ERS or ORS that is the RN workplace, and why I entered the former before the latter, and why I didn't check that cross before I wrote it in is what baffles me.

That AM-FM RADIO was soooo lame I just didn't want to tune it in.


Here it is, Cinco de Mayo and not one Spanish word in the puzzle. We usually get at least one Spanish or French word every day.

Well, anyway, Happy Cinco De Mayo to all my Mexican friends.

Oh yeah, and a Happy Anniversary to Amy and her hubby!

When it comes to Crosswordese, I just chalk it up to normal construction, not something to stress out on, or get bewildered over someone's dislike for the word. Us who have been solving puzzles for 50+ years have learned to take it all in stride, actually seeing the same old words again and again is like seeing an old friend. I looked over the list of CW101 today, and there wasn't even one word that astonished me... none of the words were new revelations to me (not even ENSILE, EZRA, and ORALE). I guess (aside from being slower) there are definite benefits from being an oldster.

There is nothing wrong with whining over sports clues... everyone has their likes and dislikes in puzzles. Some would dislike botanical, musical, or literate clues (which I love).

@Tinbeni & mac
The OOHS, ERS, and AHAS may seem like cheap fill, but I actually like seeing them in puzzles because they're words we hear in conversations all the time... so why not give them dignity?

split infinitive said...

YOWIE: Not a lot of sparkle here in the puzzle. I've clearly become spoiled by some of the clever MTW grids we've been treated to recently.

New Car feature. Umm, talking GPS? Pinetree scent? Voice commands?
//Previously owned car feature: AM/FM RADIO. Ashtray. Glovebox.

I've *never* put a NECK in any soup. I should have known SQUEEZEBUNT, but got married, for too long, to 'squeezeplay.'

BROMO? I think that's a slow motion film of a non-A List male sibling playing hockey.

Head still spinning from SNARER & LADED.

Happy Anniversary Amy!

split & co.

Tinbeni said...

If you read my comment you will see I LIKED the OOHS and the AAHS.

@7:34am I said:
"For whatever reason I liked the OOHS & YOWIE."

@3:50pm I said:
"OOHS brought a smile this morning b/c as hookey as it is, that is what you hear (along with the AAHS) from the crowd during a fireworks display.
YOWIE, hell, I just like its sound."

As to ERS or ORS I knew it was one or the other.
At first I went with ERS.
I said NOTHING that implied I did not like the answer.


I know, I know.
I was just agreeing with you