T H U R S D A Y   October 28, 2010
Jascha Smilack

Theme: Switch the Flip — Familiar phrases with the pattern "[verb] the [noun]" are flipped so that the noun is the verb and the verb is the noun.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Libertarian slogan? (FIRE THE FED).
  • 24A: Finish an ascent? (SCALE THE TIP).
  • 35A: Tidy up in a wood shop? (DUST THE BIT).
  • 43A: Floor an oppressive boss? (DECK THE MAN).
  • 51A: Value one's vision? (PRIZE THE EYE).
  • 62A: Send a star pitcher for an MRI? (TEST THE ACE).
I really didn't understand the theme on this one until I was almost done. I think the past tense on FIRE THE FED really threw me. I mean, I guess "fed the fire" is a phrase, but I usually think of it in present tense. PRIZE THE EYE also seems a little off to me. I want the phrase to be "keep your eye on the prize," not just "eye the prize." DUST THE BIT, on the other hand, is clever and made me chuckle. My verdict? Uneven execution of an okay theme. I wonder how many possible theme answers ended up on the cutting room floor. There must be a lot of them, right?

Other than the theme, the fill is very light on crosswordese, which is nice, but pretty heavy on abbreviations, some of which are pretty awkward. I guess I don't love this puzzle. But I also don't hate it. For what it's worth. Which I'm sure is not much.

  • 17A: Poet who wrote, about children, "And if they are popular / The phone they monopular" (NASH). We have two telephone handsets in our house and whenever I can't find one, chances are very good they're both in PuzzleDaughter's room. Chances are also good that they are both completely dead.
  • 20A: Rich sponge cake (GATEAU). That G was the last letter I put in the grid. The clue for LUNGS — 1D: Airway termini — was not making a bit of sense to me and I don't know the word GATEAU. But the G seemed like a reasonable guess for some reason.
  • 28A: Cones and prisms (SOLIDS). I tried "shapes" first.
  • 47A: It's often served with lemon (ICE TEA). I tried "hot tea" here.
  • 60A: It merged with AT&T in 2005 (SBC). Whoa. This is HARSH (44D: Caustic). I thought CrossWorld's merged telecom company was always MCI. But MCI merged with Verizon, SBC Communications (formerly Southwestern Bell Corporation) merged with AT&T.
  • 66A: D.C. underground (METRO). Have any of you watched that new show "The Event"? Its sixth episode just aired this week and I was getting into it but I don't think I can watch it any more. At the beginning of this week's episode a character is supposedly on the D.C. Metro and it's … obviously not the D.C. Metro. Spend some money, people! How hard can it be?! Once that started bothering me, I noticed that the show isn't really very good. I'm going to read the recaps on Television Without Pity and if they're entertaining I might keep watching the show just so I can make fun of it, but otherwise … it's a non-event.
  • 68A: Concerning (AS TO). Never sure if this is going to be AS TO or "in re." I tried "in re" first today.
  • 3D: Noodle topper (PASTA SAUCE). I really wanted this answer to be a type of hat.
  • 32D: Charon's river (STYX). Yesterday Pat Benatar, today Styx.

  • 53D: Many Nissan autos (Z-CARS). I was in a cab the other day and saw what looked like a brand-spankin-new Nissan sports car. Bot the cab driver and I couldn't help but stare at it. I've never really been that into sports car, but that one was striking.
  • 57D: Wrangler, for one (JEEP). With the JE in place, I wanted this to be JEAN but it didn't really seem right. (Probably because it wasn't.)
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 9D: Günter's gripe (ACH).
  • 54D: Busybody (YENTA).
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Everything Else — 1A: Fat job? (LIPO); 5A: Interstate exit (RAMP); 9A: See 12-Down (AFTER); 14A: Pararescue gp. (USAF); 15A: Organic compound (ENOL); 16A: Hanker for (CRAVE); 22A: Pithy saying (SAW); 23A: NFL game foursome (QTRS.); 27A: Buying outing (SPREE); 33A: Farm expanse (LEA); 38A: Grads (ALUMS); 41A: Sandwich request (RYE); 42A: Untrusting (LEERY); 46A: __ scripta: written law (LEX); 48A: It can be rolled, pressed or stuffed (SUSHI); 56A: Warrior trained by the centaur Chiron (AJAX); 61A: Be amazed (at) (MARVEL); 65A: Like pretzels (BENT); 67A: "Rigoletto" highlight (ARIA); 69A: Dust crops, e.g. (SPRAY); 70A: Certain NCO (MSGT); 71A: A library book may be on it (LOAN); 2D: Stern with a Strad (ISAAC); 4D: Useful (OF HELP); 5D: Proved false (REFUTED); 6D: "Star Wars" saga nickname (ANI); 7D: Code creator (MORSE); 8D: Fabric fold (PLEAT); 10D: Radio abbr. (FREQ.); 11D: 300-pound president (TAFT); 12D: With 9-Across, fairy tale ender (EVER); 13D: Great American Ball Park team (REDS); 19D: Checker's dance (TWIST); 21D: Flying prefix (AER-); 25D: One of 24 in un jour (HEURE); 26D: Sci-fi writer Frederik (POHL); 29D: Sheltered side (LEE); 30D: "That's my take" ("I BELIEVE SO"); 31D: Desperate (DIRE); 33D: __-da: pretentious (LA-DI); 34D: Juice: Abbr. (ELEC.); 36D: Orch. work (SYM.); 37D: Flirt (TEASE); 39D: NYSE, e.g. (MKT.); 40D: Stride (STEP); 45D: Edible part of a pecan (NUT MEAT); 49D: Doo-wop syllable (SHA); 50D: Like some supplements (HERBAL); 52D: Building girder (I-BEAM); 55D: John with Grammys (ELTON); 56D: Green dispensers (ATMS); 58D: Copernicus's sci. (ASTR.); 59D: Bonus, in adspeak (XTRA); 63D: Peke, e.g. (TOY); 64D: One might be bummed, briefly (CIG).


Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl: It looks like an excellent write-up of a FUN Thursday puzzle.

Alas, my St.Petersburg Times decided that, since I enjoyed the Dan Naddor yesterday SOOOO MUCH, they would re-print it today.

So, I'll get it off the LAT site and do it during game 2 of the World Series tonight.

BTW, Since my NY Yankees (aka "the Evil Empire") was eliminated, I was wondering who I would root for ... after last nights 1st pitch I knew it w/b the San Francisco Giants ... Hey, they haven't won-it-all since they moved to the "left" coast.

Orange said...

My go-to extinct/merged phone company TLA (three-letter abbreviation) is GTE.

Sfingi said...

Clever and difficult.
At first I couldn't plumb the theme (reversal of idioms). I Googled a Natick at SBC crosses ZCARS and got both PRIZE and ACE. Then it was a race to the top.
I did have to Google the French word for hour. Is there a type of Grimm's rules for changing Italian to French?

Did have JEan before JEEP, TOP before TIP and hIPO before LIPO.

Checked out some words after: Yes, a GATEAU is a cake, and The Great American Ball Park is an actual name of a ball park! So, I learned a couple facts.

Jascha, don't play your fiddle, don't make it wail and whine. Dance instead. This was a good one!
And 6 for the theme!!

Van55 said...

I ended up with a FAIL, as I had PRICETHEEYE and CCARS.

Agree that "eye the prize" is not exactly in common usage. SCALETHETIP didn't work for me at all.

I thought the theme was awkward and a bit strained.

Are we going the rehash the ICETEA vs. ICEDTEA debate today? Please don't. ICETEA is in common usage, especially in crosswords.

This is not a great week for the LAT puzzles, in my opinion.

*David* said...

I had some problems in Walla Walla and Kissimee. It took me a bit to get the theme. My problems were putting in IN RE and MULTIS in Fla and not having heard of GATEAU.

I felt the abbreviation bug on this one. It seemed like wherever I turned I was going ugh there is another one. I like the theme but it needs some more refining.

C said...

Put me in @Van55's FAIL corner (I prefer alternate solution corner, actually), I had PRICETHEEYE and CCARS. I actually own a Nissan sports car but it's not a ZCAR so my mind wouldn't let me flirt with another Nissan sports car, it kept trying to force MY Nissan sports car into the space. I guess my mind is a sports car monogamous.

PurpleGuy said...

DNF. I thought this was a real slog, and total waste of my time.
One of the worst LATimes puzzles IMHO.

xxpossum said...

Hey, Pzl Grl! With respect to Van55, I thought today's puzzle was pretty decent. Not alot to pick nits about. Excellent theme, good clues.Above average for a L.A.T's CP.Suprised to hear you were ambivalent about it.L8R!!!

Tuttle said...

PG, was what you saw possibly a GT-R? The Z-CAR's big brother.

John Wolfenden said...

Fun and challenging. ZCARS is a bit of a stretch, but a very solid puzzle.

I never get tired of seeing TAFT in crosswords for some reason. Maybe it's the mental image of him getting stuck in the White House bathtub. And I love the word NUTMEAT.

Thumbs up? I BELIEVE SO.

CrazyCatLady said...

Took me a while, but I was able to finish. NW was the worst for me. To begin with, LIPO wasn't clued as an Abbr. or even "briefly." I wrote it in, then erased it and then put it back. I guess it was a little like the Chard thing the other day. I also second guessed GATEAU because it's the French word for cake and there wasn't anything French in the clue. Other problems were jean first for JEEP, shapes instead of SOLIDS and SCALE THE TOP. The TWIST cleared that up. There were way too many abbreviations for my taste. I especially didn't like SYM for Symphony. The EVER AFTER cross was kind of cute. I was OK with the theme.
@John Wolfenden - That's some image LOL!

Go Giants!

Rube said...

I too have trouble with the theme. The first three theme answers need additional letters stuck here or there while the last three stand by themselves, except that "man the deck" doesn't make any sense, IMO. I guess it could be a nautical term, but I'll bet Jack Aubrey never said it in any one of those 20-1/2 books.

Otherwise, a pleasant Thursday puzzle. Did have trouble with hIPO/LIPO 'tho... last letter. Methinks I've seen ENOL somwhere else today.

Who had the nickname ANI?

SBC was a gimme for us Californians. It used to be PacBell Park, then SBC Park, now it's AT&T Park. Go Giants.

Scully2066 said...

Thank you PG for another great write up! Wow, this puzzle kicked my butt and did not even understand the theme until you spelled it out.

Never heard of that yummy GATEAU before but I will be on the look out for it. SUSHI is yummy to some but not to me (looks like bait to me :)

Hope tomorrow is better and at least I can get a finish out of it.

Mokus said...

Anakin Skywalker (nicknamed Ani) was a legendary Force-sensitive Human male who served the Galactic Republic as a Jedi Knight. He was Luke's father. He yielded to the dark side and became a Sith known as Darth Vader.

Larry S said...

I was flummoxed by the NW corner for a long time and only avoided a DNF because I switched to the "Regular Skill Level" mode--I solve on the computer, is that bad form?--that alerts to bad guesses. Plus I googled 'monopular' because I had brain-freezed on Ogden Nash, could only think of Bennett Cerf.
Funny that I googled "Lung" to remind myself what the little 'termini' are (alveoli), and didn't realize till I solved another cross that it was LUNGS I was looking for!

Anonymous said...

i liked this puzzle hard start but i finally got it done i had c cars until i looked at the blog had to google the cake

Anonymous said...

As a pedant ;-) I was irked that the solution to 47A was 'ice tea' when the correct name for the drink is 'iced tea'.

Tom in the D said...

Did not understand the theme till I read ur write-up PG. Therefore I had dust the bin and pride the eye. Never took Latin in h.s., so I had L-E__, thought Charon was just another European city I've never heard of. My nit to pick would be that while all prisms are solid, as far as I know, most cones are hollow...i.e. ice cream cones. I know Jascha means that it's not a liquid or a gas, but I still don't like it. Shapes was my first guess. Love SUSHI with wasabi. Have a good night all.

badrog said...

The thing that saved the theme for me was when I noticed that the final word 'had to' be 3 letters, regardless of how badly it skewed the pun or the idiom.

mac said...

Tough theme, but interesting puzzle.

Not the iced tea conversation again!