F R I D A Y   December 17, 2010
Paul Cuerdon

Theme: THEME — CU, the chemical symbol for copper, is inserted into familiar phrases creating new wacky phrases.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Raised to the ninth power? (DOUBLE CUBED).
  • 24A: Poison literature? (CURARE BOOKS).
  • 50A: Most adorable flier? (CUTEST PILOT).
  • 55A: Original Anglican assistant priest? (FIRST CURATE).
  • 47D: Element whose chemical symbol is used in this puzzle's theme (COPPER).
Well I made it through my first day at the new job. Yes, yes, I realize that this is the third "first day at the new job" I've had this year. I really hope I don't have to have another one for a very long time. Why? Because they suck. You have to be on all day — meeting people, learning how to do stuff and whatnot. I'm exhausted. So let's get on with it.

As some of you know, I'm not real science-y, so it took me a while to grok the theme. The first two theme answers I was able to complete were CURARE BOOKS and FIRST CURATE, so I thought the theme was something about CUR, not just CU. And I still had to think about it a bit even when I got to the reveal answer, because I just didn't know copper's symbol is CU. It all became clear eventually. As it so often does.

I really like the fill in this grid, which has an unbelievably low crosswordese frequency even for a Friday. I'm never really crazy about British spellings, but if we needed that extra L in PEDALLED to make LIBELOUS and OVERDONE possible, I think that's okay. There are an awful lot of three-letter words in this grid, but they really didn't bother me at all. How often to we see LAO-BYU-OMB? I even kinda like the stack of ABS-ZEE-TIN in the northwest corner. I don't know. Something about this puzzle just really worked for me today.

  • 10A: Fosbury's high-jumping technique (FLOP). I'm pretty sure I learned this from crosswords. It might have been lurking vaguely in my brain somewhere, but I know it was in a puzzle recently and it kinda surprised me.
  • 28A: "Bad" cholesterol letters (LDL). "Good" cholesterol, on the other hand, is HDL. The H is for happy. (Someone here taught me that mnemonic — thank you!)
  • 32A: See 44-Across (GABLES). I probably would have tried to clue this "Iowa wrestling legend Dan and others." And then an editor would have changed it.
  • 52A: Eldridge Cleaver's "Soul on __" (ICE). See, this is what I'm talking about with the three-letter words. This is just a normal, nothing-special word, but the clue is awesome.
  • 65A: Prepares for the next turn in the alley (RESETS). Bowling!
  • 5D: Film doctor with 7 faces (LAO). I definitely learned this one from crosswords. Dr. LAO is played by Tony Randall.
  • 10D: Word after blue or bird (FLU). I don't think I'm entirely sure what "blue FLU" is. Is that just being down in the dumps? Or is it really a type of FLU?
  • 50D: Jazz lover (CAT).

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Everything Else — 1A: Iron pumper's pride (ABS); 4A: Some macaroni (ELBOWS); 14A: Zuider __ (ZEE); 15A: One who may need technical terms explained (LAYMAN); 16A: Like much early TV (LIVE); 17A: Element in pewter (TIN); 20A: Weather, in a way (ERODE); 22A: Little bit (TAD); 23A: Washday brand (ERA); 29A: "__ tuned!" (STAY); 30A: Hill on British TV (BENNY); 31A: Total amount bet (POOL); 34A: Do some gardening (PRUNE); 35A: They may be noble or precious (METALS); 38A: Waited (PAUSED); 39A: Skill determinants (EXAMS); 40A: Madagascar mammals (LEMURS); 43A: Learning method (ROTE); 44A: With 32-Across, feature of a noted New England home (SEVEN); 45A: Alveoli, e.g. (SACS); 49A: Monitor, for short (CRT); 53A: More than plan (ACT); 54A: Hoarse (RASPY); 60A: Spring mo. (APR.); 61A: Manual reader (USER); 62A: Dome opening, in architecture (OCULUS); 63A: Corp. bigwig (CEO); 64A: Watch displays, briefly (LED'S); 66A: Directional ending (-ERN); 1D: Tlaxcalteca enemies (AZTECS); 2D: Cedar Revolution city (BEIRUT); 3D: Lady of Spain (SEÑORA); 4D: Respected one (ELDER); 6D: LDS-owned school (BYU); 7D: Fed. number-crunching gp. (OMB); 8D: '70s-'80s TV family (WALTONS); 9D: Deceitful (SNEAKY); 11D: Defamatory (LIBELOUS); 12D: Cooked really well? (OVERDONE); 13D: Biked, in Bristol (PEDALLED); 19D: S&L offerings (CD'S); 21D: Any Wrigley Field contest until 1988 (DAY GAME); 25D: Falls back (EBBS); 26D: __ Air: Los Angeles community (BEL); 27D: It's next to nothing (ONE); 31D: Frederick the Great's realm (PRUSSIA); 33D: Gore and Franken (ALS); 34D: Hole number? (PAR); 35D: Forgiving (MERCIFUL); 36D: Deal with, as demons (EXORCISE); 37D: Ragged (TATTERED); 38D: Football play (PUNT); 40D: Romaine, e.g. (LETTUCE); 41D: Anticipatory time (EVE); 42D: Mayo, e.g. (MES); 44D: Aid (SUCCOR); 46D: French border region (ALSACE); 48D: "Sophie's Choice" author (STYRON); 51D: Lift in a gym (PRESS); 56D: Most coll. applicants (SRS.); 57D: Toys __ (R US); 58D: Samuel Adams Summer __ (ALE); 59D: Boy king (TUT).


v-man said...

Today's puzzle had a Thursday feel and yestereday's had a Friday feel to me. A little disappointed I was expecting more of a challenge. Well there is always Saturday,

Avg Joe said...

PG, Blue Flu is a tactic used by Police forces in contract negotiations. Sometimes called a sick-out.

Challenging puzzle for me, and HTG for STYRON to confirm SACS. Without seeing the reveal, I figured the theme was C U Later, but that really didn't make much sense. Liked the Coppertone flashback.

Hope the new job works out well.

Rex Parker said...

Stray CU in the (icky) OCULUS.

Grid seems fine, but theme answers were painful.

And this was super-easy for a late-week puzzle.


chris said...

I just have to say that raising to the ninth power is actually "cube cubed"

imsdave said...

I have to agree with RP about the strained theme answers. But the fill was pretty good and I enjoyed trying to suss out the theme answers without crosses after getting the theme off of cuRAREBOOKS. I wonder where Mr. CUerdon got the idea for the theme?


CUte and CUnning puzzle, but I have to agree with Rex, the theme pairs were a bit CUmbersome... CUTEST PILOT??? Yech!
But I actually liked OCULUS and its clue despite the strayness.

Like PG, that Fosbury FLOP was buried somewhere in my CW gray matter, but I looked it up and in most of the LAT and NYT puzzles it had a "failure or dud" type of clue, so that surprised me too.

I wrote in GREEN GABLES instead of SEVEN GABLES... guess I had Avonlea on my mind having just watched the "Anne of Green Gables" movie. Excellent movie BTW.

Whenever I see that Zuider ZEE thing in puzzles (often), I think of "Sipping Cider by the Zuyder Zee" (note the spelling).

Yay! I finally got my old-fashioned LEDS instead of LCDS. I always could see the watch display easier back in the day.

WOTD: "Alveoli" (SACS)

I guess any time I can finish a puzzle before my OVERDONE omelet (like today), I consider it a Monday-level puzzle.

Well it's a BRRRRR!!! morning here in Chicagoland. Hope y'all are stayin warm.


I know my math pretty well and the ninth power is indeed DOUBLE CUBED... look it up.

Sfingi said...

I found this Monday easy. No Googling on a Fri. Familiar with everything except Dr. LAO. Does this mean I'm getting better? If I buy the NYT, I'll probably be knocked back in line.

There was also TIN and METALS.

In 1968 I voted for Cleaver. Everyone in the 'hood knew it was I, since we had to write it in.

SethG said...

Here, double cubed means to cube it, then cube it again. Which is a cube cubed. So it works, but it's strained. (About as strained as curare books...) Otherwise, fine puzzle, but Friday?

*David* said...

This was a VERY easy Friday puzzle maybe my fastest ever, which was my main disappointment. I did like the three 8 stacks on the two sides but the fill didn't wow me particularly. The theme continues to be an add a letter(s) Friday which I am completely done with.

Tuttle said...

"Every time you pick up a handful of dust, and see
not the dust, but a mystery, a marvel there in your hand. Every time you stop and think, I'm alive, and being alive is fantastic. Every time such a thing happens, you are part of the Circus of Dr. Lao!"

Anything referenced by MST3k is a gimmee.

Mokus said...

Well, I was feeling pretty good about my best Friday completion time until I read the above comments. I thought it was easy because it hit on so many things that are familiar to me.
I enjoy a Sam Adams in any season.
Lived near Salem as a child and took guests to the House of Seven Gables regularly.
Sophie's Choice is a great book and a fine movie adaptation.
The lights at Wrigley didn't help the Cubs very much. Nothing can.
I was in awe of Dwight Stones who made the flop famous.
Saw Tut once at a museum in LA.
Do you shelve Elbow Macaroni under E or M? Name the movie.
The theme was okay but unimportant to me. I really enjoyed this puzzle.

johnl52 said...

Thought the Jazz video was superb - haven't seen a harmonica played like that in a while. Oh, and the crossword puzzle was okay - some clues easy, some were a little out there.

Rube said...

I can't believe it! I fell for Mayo again. Are there any Spanish speakers out there who know if "e.g." is used in Spanish also?

Wanted ute for Jazz lover and GAO for OMB, but otherwise an enjoyable, easy puzzle. Too easy for Friday. Enjoyed those triple eights in the corners.

CarolC said...

@PG, thanks for the "happy" for HDL - now I'll remember. Does that make LDL "lousy"? Good luck with the new job. Hope third time's the charm!

I often can't figure out the theme, and even when I can it doesn't usually help me. I had CURARE BOOKS without a clue what it meant and then got CU for copper and was set. @imsdave, thanks for pointing out the CU in the constructor's name. CUTE.

Agree with others there's not too much brilliance in the fill. Still enjoyable.

Captcha "sedat" - May I have " AN E"? Oh, that's another puzzle.

C said...

Easy puzzle for a Friday, fun though. I liked the copper theme, pretty interesting element, actually, as elements go.

Heh, all hail Dr. Lao and MST3K!

Van55 said...

Maybe a touch on the easy side for a Friday, even in the LAT, but I rather liked it for the same reasons PG expressed. No groans from me, and I thought the theme was better than average. Didn't mind the spare "CU" in OCULAR at all. Funny how some people's nits to pick and not nits for some of us nuts.

Arthur said...

No one should ever play the harmonica until James Cotton is dead for at least 10 years, and even then be really, really sure of yourself.

@Carol - How about Lethal for LDL?

CrazyCatLady said...

Agree that this was kind of easy for a Friday. I also liked OCULUS. It reminded me of the James Turrell (Pomona College 1965) installation at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco.


@CarolC Lousy/Happy works for me.

rz said...

Smooth solve for me, which means prolly too easy for most of the CW veterans here.

The medical stuff was a gimme for me due to daily work exposure. SACS, LDL, CURAREbooks (old anesthetic agents), ABS, FLU, and when all else fails EXORCISE.

My mnemonic for the Fosbury FLOP is an old Burger King commercial where he demonstrated his Whopper-eating style - bun heel skyward. Always made me laugh.

My only suggestion would be to change the 17A clue to: "Element in Bronze". The answer would still be TIN but would continue the COPPER theme.

Thanks again for the nice write-up @PG.

Joon said...

no, no. the L is for lachrymose.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Joon used a capital!

Sfingi said...

Always keep a little CURARE on hand in case anyone threatens to put you in a nursing home. Then, just dip your spear in it and shoot yourself in the foot. Make sure your will is written.

@ Mokus - Accidental Tourist.

Paco said...

I think the blue flu refers to a work slowdown by the NYPD who were prohibited from striking. Many of the officers called in sick . This was years ago . Does this ring a bell with anyone ?

badams52 said...


I believe the Fosbury flop you are trying to remember came in the form of "Fosbury" being the fill with the "flop" as part of the clue.

Don't know how to search the LA Times crosswords so I cant tell you for sure when it was. Fosbury hasn't been an answer in the NYT puzzle since at least 1993.


Aha! I just knew it wasn't that long ago, but Julian Lim used FOSBURY FLOP as part of his theme words (see Nov 9th LAT)

xxpossum@html.c said...

Good puzzle.Not too hard, not too easy.Not sure about DoubleCubed now that I've read everyone's take on it.3 doubled is six. Cubed CUBED would be 3X3X3.27 for me.HOW CLUELESS AM I?!!!HELP!! PzlGrl, as litigater for this site,I would hope you would provide closure on this issue.I'M GOING NUTS HERE!!! Thanx.

Anonymous said...

Just a note on "yare". Can this word be used and understood? If so, the Philiadelphia Story has helped a lot. But we need a usage for the next generation or for those who can't get into this society comedy.