8.31.2010

T U E S D A Y   August 31, 2010
Robert A. Doll

Theme: Trip Planner — First words of the theme answers describe the progression of a round-trip.


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Have significant influence (PACK A PUNCH).
  • 26A: "Enough on this subject" ("LEAVE IT AT THAT").
  • 46A: Persevere (STAY THE COURSE).
  • 61A: Respond at the front (RETURN FIRE).
  • 63A: "Round" thing suggested by the first words of 17-, 26-, 46- and 61-Across (TRIP).



This wasn't a smooth puzzle for me and I therefore didn't love it. I cringed a little when I got to the really awful plural BAMS (10A: Shouts from Emeril) and actually groaned when I saw EEE (48A: Ample shoe width). Those are two things you just don't want to see in your grid. The rest of the fill was fine, but nothing exciting enough to make up for those two clunkers. Then there's the theme. Actually, the theme itself is fine but the clue is … weird. Was the "round" aspect emphasized just to make it difficult? Well, it succeeded in making it difficult but in a way that I found more irritating than clever. Yes, I realize that some trips are one-way and the theme answers specifically describe a "round"-trip. But I guess I see "round"-trip as the default. If you say to someone "How was your trip?" they're not going to be confused and ask which trip you mean, the way out or the way back. They're going to know you mean the whole trip. Also the STAY kind of bugged me. I would have been more comfortable with VISIT, I think. STAY seems so permanent and obviously if the next thing you do is RETURN, well you didn't really STAY, did you?

All of my confusion was, of course, exacerbated by the fact that I read 51D: Prime rib order as simply "rib order" and, because I had the RA in place already, entered RACK without thinking twice about it. That made the reveal answer "tcip" which I was pretty sure wasn't right. It all worked itself out eventually.

Crosswordese 101: 10D: Boxer Max BAER was a heavyweight champion of the 1930s. BAER defeated Primo Carnera to win the world title in 1934. In 1935, he lost the title to James J. Braddock. After his boxing career ended, BAER appeared in several movies but was never as successful in acting as his son, Max BAER, Jr. who played Jethro Bodine on "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 19A: Sight from the Sicilian village of Taormina (ETNA). Just yesterday!
  • 2D: Algerian seaport (ORAN).
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Everything Else — 1A: __ d'état (COUP); 5A: Winger of "Shadowlands" (DEBRA); 14A: Guesstimate phrase (OR SO); 15A: Fiat (EDICT); 16A: From the top (ANEW); 20A: Ali trainer Dundee (ANGELO); 21A: Sunroom (SOLARIUM); 23A: Doctrinal suffix (-ISM); 25A: Rent (LET); 33A: Starbucks order (ESPRESSO); 34A: Charm (ENAMOR); 36A: Show worry, in a way (PACE); 37A: Former California fort (ORD); 39A: Disease cause (GERM); 40A: Makes amends (ATONES); 43A: Puts in a new pot, say (REPLANTS); 49A: According to (ALA); 50A: Belgian capital (BRUSSELS); 55A: Aleve alternative (ANACIN); 60A: Superboy's girlfriend Lang (LANA); 64A: Mushrooms used in Asian cuisine (ENOKI); 65A: Elemental unit (ATOM); 66A: Places for props (SETS); 67A: Coolidge's vice president (DAWES); 68A: City NNE of Lake Tahoe (RENO); 1D: Historic NYC club, with "The" (COPA); 3D: SOS responder, often (USCG); 4D: Creep (along) (POKE); 5D: Kicks out of office (DEPOSES); 6D: Coll. dot follower (EDU); 7D: Storage containers (BINS); 8D: Pepsi competitor (RC COLA); 9D: Wheaties box picture (ATHLETE); 11D: Hostile to (ANTI); 12D: Computer list (MENU); 13D: Showed off one's butterfly? (SWAM); 18D: Kicking partner (ALIVE); 22D: Business letter abbr. (ATTN.); 24D: Sushi bar soup (MISO); 26D: Exams for future attys. (LSAT'S); 27D: Florida theme park acronym (EPCOT); 28D: Place to play (ARENA); 29D: Dodgers manager Joe (TORRE); 30D: Viking in the comics (HAGAR); 31D: Chorus from the pews (AMENS); 32D: Flourless cake (TORTE); 33D: Ecol. watchdog (EPA); 35D: Apt. parts (RMS.); 38D: Ten: Pref. (DECA-); 41D: Looks over warily (EYES); 42D: Took the wheel (STEERED); 44D: North Star (POLARIS); 45D: Greg Evans comic strip (LUANN); 47D: Treasure State capital (HELENA); 50D: Popular diner orders, for short (BLT'S); 52D: Part of ICU (UNIT); 53D: Easy marks (SAPS); 54D: Put away (STOW); 56D: A long way off (AFAR); 57D: Name as a source (CITE); 58D: Boxing's "__ Mike" Tyson (IRON); 59D: Nautilus captain (NEMO); 62D: Tiny Tim played one (UKE).

18 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

Another fun LAT puzzle! Hey, any puzzle which starts out at the COPA and ends up in RENO can’t be all bad. And then there’s HAGAR and LUANN along the way. And the whole theme was on traveling… my favorite pastime!

ENOKI made me TRIP a little as I had ENOBI instead, and that made UKE into UBE. I guess I was thinking of the Dicken’s character instead of that “tip-toe through the tulips” weirdo. Other than that, I got everything correct. To me, correctness is far more important than speed in a CWP.

Didn’t see much crosswordese… well I guess ALA, ETNA, EEE, and maybe ORSO are.

Some new words for me: ANGELO Dundee, ENOKI mushrooms, and Superboy’s girlfriend LANA Lang.

“Shadowlands” is an extraordinary book and movie about the relationship between C.S. Lewis, the author of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' and 'Mere Christianity', and his wife Joy Gresham. Two superb actors, Anthony Hopkins who played C.S. Lewis, and DEBRA Winger who played Joy, made this a truly marvelous movie. I also highly recommend the book.

Well, I’ll LEAVE IT AT THAT, and go have some breakfast and ESPRESSO.

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, Excellent write-up.

I read the 51D clue the same way you did.
For my *Rib* order I wanted a 'rack' of 'em.
Then realized I wanted my *Prime* rib order, RARE.

Actually "reading" a clue correctly does make it easier.

Theme was a bit weak. I agree on the *visit* -v- STAY thingy. If I stayed ... why did I return?

Overall, more of ho-hum Monday level.

Orange said...

"Where did you stay on your trip?"

"We stayed at my brother's." Or "We stayed at the Hyatt downtown."

Are y'all using some different verb for that? Are you temporarily residing" or "renting a room" instead of staying there?

Sfingi said...

@Puzzlegirl - the Triple E made me groan, too.

Otherwise, not too bad. Four theme items are always welcome.

I've never heard of LUANN, LANA, DAWES or ENOKI, but got on crosses. I looked up Mr. VP DAWES. A miserable cuss.
Had ELKO before RENO. RENO is so nearby, I never thought of the direction. My brother-in-law lived in Sparks. He should have stayed there, since he might still be alive.

Mini-theme - Boxing. Max BAER, ANGELO (Mirena) Dundee (easy for NE Italians and their wives), IRON Mike. I didn't think of IRON right away - ugly would have fit; looking for a synonym for violent, stupid, high-pitched, ear-biter, toothless (no, that last once is for Spinks, and the least of Tyson's problems).

The COPA(cabana) was competition to Lou Walter's place, the Latin Quarter. Lou was Barbara Walter's father.

Van55 said...

I've never been to Sicily. Is there a village on the island from which Mt. Etna is not a sight? Why use what seems to be a particularly obscure village in the clue -- especially on a Tuesday? Just annoying mensanation I guess.

Capcha today is subar. Fitting for a subpar (to me) puzzle.

Joon said...

really, we're whining about the ETNA clue? it said "sicilian"; you can't claim that the clue is too hard for a tuesday. are you objecting to the fact that it contained extra information that might cause you to learn something new? i thought it was a nice clue.

Van55 said...

Whining? No, Joon. Commenting.

And yes, the Sicily part of the clue made the answer a gimme and the village of 10,000 people (fewer then Elma, NY) unnecessary.

Eric said...

I didn't mind STAY either. I went on a round TRIP this past weekend, and when we checked in, the front-desk person said "enjoy your stay" -- or if she didn't, she could well have done. (For the record, we did.)

What tripped me up was misreading the reveal clue, the same way others misread Prime rib order. In my case, I missed the first words of, so what I saw was "Round" thing suggested by 17-... -- and since the only theme answer I had at that point was RETURN FIRE, the obvious but wrong reveal answer was AMMO. I needed to get the rest of the theme answers by other means, and correctly read the clue, to sort that one out. It didn't help that military stuff, both historical and present-day, were very much top-of-mind on my own TRIP. (Strangely, my misreading of the reveal clue, combined with my answer for it, would work with three of the four theme answers. Neat.)

I was expecting Starbucks order to be one of their stupid invented we're-too-cool-to-use-plain-English terms, and so was quite relieved when it turned out to be plain old (yummy) ESPRESSO. I don't shop at Starbucks -- I refuse to learn a different word for everything, just for the dubious privilege of paying far too much for a coffee.

@JNH: Thanks for your link yesterday to the Myra Hess Jesu; I'd never heard of her. She played beautifully -- such a light touch. How odd that she might well have been playing one of her wartime National Gallery concerts on the very day Rudolf Hess was making his fateful flight...

Jeff said...

Totally agree, puzzlegirl. One other thing that I like to see is the theme reveal at the last answer, or at the last theme answer. Dunno why it irks me to see it in a random place.

Jeff

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Eric
Yes, those concerts attest to the strong British spirit and resolve during World War II during the London Blitz. A series of special concerts will be held on October 5th this year at the National Gallery to commemorate the 70th year since Dame MYRA Hess (and others) performed during those dark days. Here's an interesting link on that---
National Gallery Commemorates Second World War with Special Day of Events.
I may be attending that.

Tuttle said...

MISO and ENOKI? Dag, gonna have to make tonkatsu tonight.

Rex Parker said...

If you invent a word and it doesn't catch on, you should probably take a hint.

ENOKI is possibly my favorite crossword word.

Liked the theme, but am not a fan of partial reveals (TRIP instead of ROUND TRIP in the grid). Mostly short fill = not terribly exciting grid, but I like PACK A PUNCH above the boxing trainer. That was nice.

rp

Tinbeni said...

@Orange
I just agree with PuzzleGirl the 'theme' w/h/b a bit tighter with *visit* over STAY.

For example:
I'm planning a trip.
I'll pack, leave, visit RENO or EPCOT, then return.

JMHO, no biggie.

Rube said...

Misspelled TORRE and BAER, and put in care instead of UNIT. Yet, an easy Tuesday puzz. Did have trouble in the NW when I wanted an athletic club in NYC at 1D... dumb, there is no such thing, except maybe the Y. Forgot ORAN and couldn't remember Dundee's first name. All worked out in the end.

Frowned at BAMS, but have learned to accept EEE as everyday crosswordese.

FYI, the 1993 Hopkins/Winger version of Shadowlands is not currently available on Netflix, but the 1985 version with Joss Ackland & Claire Bloom is. Note that the movie is categorized as a "Tearjerker".

Sfingi said...

@Eric - I don't go to Starbucks because it just plain costs too much, and I can make my own, thank you. However, on a TRIP, I might pick up a Starbucks refrigerated mocha, but if there's a cheaper brand I would take that, too.

@Vans - I've never been, but I've studied it a bit, after all, Hubster's Sicilian. If you look at a map of the island, you'll see that the volcano is not centered, but much more in the East. Lava flows most toward Syracuse, Catania. Except for a partial destruction of Catania in 1669, the near area has mostly been farmland; lava creates great soil, anyway. There are also related earthquakes which have caused worse destruction, as what Goethe saw at Messina a few years after a quake. You can take a cable car to see it closer. Otherwise, view from the eastern side. There are small volcanic islands, Stromboli and Vulcano, in the South, which are a part of Sicily.
Anyway, many other islands and island chains are volcanic and formed by volcanoes such as Hawaii, Japan, etc.
Funiculi funicula, I hope to go some day.

C said...

OK puzzle, nothing to write home about but upholds the typical LAT Tuesday standard well.

I liked POLARIS, can't recall seeing the word in a puzzle recently. I found LEAVEITATHTAT somewhat irritating due to the letter sequence at the end. I guess infrequently observed letter sequences trip up my crossword answer QC processes which then triggers the wrong answer irritation sequence. Hmm, I think I have gone into TMI land. Time to stop.

Eric said...

@JNH: Wow. That will be a special day. (The music itself isn't to my taste; I lean more towards the Baroque and earlier -- and to rock'n'roll and later -- but still...)

The poignancy of the Elena Gerhardt story reminds me of my visit to the Arc de Triomphe some years ago. For those who haven't been there: Napoleon had the thing built to celebrate some victory or other (which one doesn't matter here), but it has since become an all-purpose war memorial, with a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and inscriptions and plaques commemorating (as far as I could tell with my limited knowledge of the French language, and even more limited knowledge of French history) many, many campaigns over the following almost-two centuries. Part of being a Great Power, I realized as I stood there, overwhelmed, is to fight a lot of wars.

At any rate, one of the larger ones, set into the ground, commemorates the liberation of Paris in 1944, and the Allied Expeditionary Force that accomplished it. On the day I was there, someone had laid a huge huge wreath by the AEF plaque -- interwoven with ribbons in the black, red and gold of the modern Bundesrepublik Deutschland. I was very moved by that.

As I still am, sometimes, by the fact that the Supreme Allied Commander was a guy with a thoroughly German name. Well, almost thoroughly; his immigrant ancestors had spelled it "Eisenhauer".

CrazyCatLady said...

Pretty much an average Tuesday. Got tripped up by putting in FRET instead of PACE at 36A. Also the "Round" thing revealer held me up for a minute or two. EEE=ugh. I'm fine with STAY. Took a quick TRIP to Santa Monica this weekend where I STAYed in a charming B & B near the beach. On the RETURN TRIP we got stuck for a few minutes in a traffic jam of black limos headed to the Emmy Awards.
@JNH thought of you at the Rte. 66 End of the Trail sign on the pier.