12.03.2010

F R I D A Y   December 3, 2010
Pamela Amick Klawitter

Theme: Add ARY — The letters ARY are tacked onto the end of familiar phrases, then … everything's wacky.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Where a witch's influence ends? (SPELL BOUNDARY).
  • 25A: Office employee to avoid? (DEADLY SECRETARY).
  • 47A: Shuttle evangelist? (SPACE MISSIONARY).
  • 53A: Bird in a landfill? (GARBAGE CANARY).

The big news at the PuzzleHouse is that I got a new job yesterday. Yay! I know, I know. You probably thought I still had that other job. Well, that one didn't work out and it ended sort of traumatically, so I didn't really want to talk about it. But yesterday I got two job offers, chose the one that I think will be best for me, and am now ready to get back to work later this month. With the interviewing, waiting, weighing, and negotiating (plus dealing with strep girl), this week has been a little stressful. Today it's time to get caught up on everything I missed. But let's talk about today's puzzle first.

I really like this puzzle. It seems like more of a Monday/Tuesday theme and, in fact, the puzzle overall was much easier than I like to see on Friday. There were definitely a few iffy spots, but nothing that made me fight with it too hard. Basically, this feels like a perfect Wednesday puzzle.

We covered OONA previously in Crosswordese 101, but there are a couple other names in the puzzle that I'm going to guess caused problems for some solvers. I would consider these names CW301 — not so common that I'm going to spend a lot of time on them, but common enough that they definitely should be noted:
  • 8D: Linebacker Junior who played in 12 consecutive Pro Bowls (SEAU).
  • 29D: Gulager of "The Virginian" (CLU).
  • 56D: "The Long, Hot Summer" vixen __ Varner (EULA).
Then there are a couple names that I don't consider crosswordese at all, but that I might have been problematic for some of you: that would be YANCY (32D: "The Waltons" handyman Tucker) and ALS (24A: Tim's "Tool Time" sidekick et al.). Because "The Waltons" was before my time, I know the name "John Boy" and that the name of the actor who played Grandpa is like Richard Gere's name but spelled differently (that would be Will Geer). Obviously, there are many ways to clue ALS, but if you didn't watch "Home Improvement" religiously the way some people did (who me?), you might not be familiar with AL Borland.

Bullets:
  • 23A: River past Memphis (NILE). I admit it, I was tricked by this for a hot minute. Was thinking Tennessee and not Egypt.
  • 34A: What a recent ex may need (TLC). I actually tried "tac" for this at first, thinking the ex in the clue was the first X in "tic tac toe."
  • 35A: With 62-Down, call (SEE A). Funny that the clue for the cross-reference answer BET has to include the word "see" (62D: See 35-Across), when SEE is part of the answer.
  • 42A: Cookie recipe morsels (NUTS). I tried "oats" first.
  • 59A: Actress Thomas who is now St. Jude's National Outreach Director (MARLO). St. Jude's must have a lot of banner ads on the internet because I totally knew this even though I don't recall ever consciously thinking about it.
  • 65A: Kate __, a.k.a. Batwoman (KANE). Not knowing my superheroes, I considered the possibility that Batwoman was Lois Lane's evil twin.
  • 3D: Source of the food thickener alginate (KELP). If this is in any of the food I eat, I really don't want to know about it.
  • 12D: Unlike folks on "Hoarders" (TIDY). I haven't watched this show because the few ads I've seen for it make me really, really sad for those people.
  • 22D: Some traffic monitors (NARCS). Drug traffic.
  • 50D: Mississippi source (ITASCA). I knew this because as a child growing up in North Dakota, I visited ITASCA State Park.
  • 53D: 8 on the Beaufort scale (GALE). I guess the Beaufort scale measures wind. Good to know.
Crosswordese 101: ÉTAT is the French word for "state." It's often clued as the partial "Coup d'_____" or "'L'_____, c'est moi': Louis XIV." Other clues, however, are a little trickier, but they definitely give you a hint that the answer you're looking for is French. It might include the name of a place that you know is a state, but use the French word for it, like Californie, Pennsylvanie, or Floride. Or, it will indicate the need for French with an obviously French name, like "Jacques's state," "State to Sarkozy," "South Dakota, to Pierre, " or 28D: Texas and Tennessee, in Toulouse.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:

  • 15A: Cartoon drooler (ODIE).
  • 18A: Eugene O'Neill's daughter (OONA).
  • 64A: Actor Baldwin (ALEC).
  • 11D: Kuwaiti VIP (EMIR).
  • 39D: Sch. in Troy, NY (RPI).
  • 57D: Some HDTVs (RCA'S).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Actor Gyllenhaal (JAKE); 5A: Big rolls (WADS); 9A: "Zorba the Greek" setting (CRETE); 14A: Very top (APEX); 16A: Invoice word (REMIT); 17A: Downed shot (BELT); 19A: Lab flask contents, perhaps (ACIDS); 33A: Teen sensation? (ANGST); 36A: Early 16th-century date (MDI); 37A: "Also sprach Zarathustra" composer (STRAUSS); 41A: Shade on a beach (TAN); 44A: Fitting (APT); 45A: Phoenician dialect (PUNIC); 51A: Part of a roadie's load (AMP); 52A: __ bomb (ATOM); 60A: For all of us (OURS); 61A: Certain line crosser (SCAB); 63A: Sunburn soothers (ALOES); 66A: Air ducts (VENTS); 67A: "There you have it!" ("TA-DA!"); 68A: USMC rank (SSGT); 1D: Setup punch (JAB); 2D: Fossey focus (APES); 4D: Lengthens (EXTENDS); 5D: Wild associate? (WOOLLY); 6D: Sun-dried structures (ADOBES); 7D: Flintstones' Snorkasaurus (DINO); 9D: Treetop rocker (CRADLE); 10D: Changes the actor (RECASTS); 13D: Saturn drivers? (ET'S); 21D: Light melodies (LILTS); 25D: Condemns (DAMNS); 26D: Become, finally (END UP); 27D: Antacid target (AGITA); 30D: Insurance company named for a mountain (AETNA); 31D: Televise again (REAIR); 38D: City on its own bay (TAMPA); 40D: Item in a stirring picture? (SPOON); 43D: Like an infamous "A" (SCARLET); 46D: Exposes (UNMASKS); 48D: Make stand out (EMBOSS); 49D: Divine (SACRED); 54D: Elvis __ Presley (ARON); 55D: Billy __ (GOAT); 58D: Bright side? (YANG); 59D: Dallas NBAer (MAV).

39 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

IMO, this was a rather ordinARY puzzle… the same old add-some-letters thing.
It’s something Rich Norris seems to love, but it drives me NUTS.
Here we have a Friday puzzle with no sparkle.

The best part of the puzzle was the reference to a SPACE MISSION by Stanley Kubrick (Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra”)

… and a reminder to send in a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by putting in an entry for MARLO Thomas.

WOTD: PUNIC

@PG The very best to you in your new job.

Not a very exciting puzzle today, but I got through it okay and I ENDUP with a big TADA!

So now I can just go pour a cup of java and read the news.
… awww, Cub #10, Ron Santo passed away. A great memory for Chicagoans!

Tinbeni said...

PuzzleGirl, Congrats on the NEW job.

Yup, TAMPA was a gimmie.
(Pamela the check is in the mail).

WOW and a-half on these themes.

OK, a few gliches, had neat before TIDY.
(I'm a Felix Unger, so watching "Hoarders" makes me clean Villa Incognito even more).

For that Lab Flask, well I did want PINCH.
Hell, I want Pinch in ANY and All flasks.

Like the JAB/BELT crossing.

TA-DA!!! Simply perfect.

December 3rd is my favorite day of each year.
It was on this day, 15 years ago, that my best friend, Charlie, had his Heart Transplant.
I always joked with him that he got either a black or hispanic girl's heart.
All of a sudden he could dance!

You see, he died last year on Dec. 2nd.
The last day of his 14th year with "replacement parts."
(It was NOT heart related).

Tonight's Sunset "Toast" goes out only to him.

Rex Parker said...

SEEA / BET is a disaster, made worse by being a split answer. I'd accept [See a bet] as a clue for CALL. But vice versa = painful.

Grid is over-reliant on freakish names.

Seen this theme before, I'm nearly positive.

rp

Avg Joe said...

Congrats on the new job, PG. I hope it works out well for you. And thanks for the efforts with all of your other obligations.

I agree this puzzle was surprisingly easy for a Friday overall, but there were a few sticking points for me. The first them answer came very easily, which made the whole thing fall together. But I did have to wait for most of the crosses to get GARBAGE, which then filled in GALE (who knew?) Also, YANG was a flyer for me, but it turned out to be right. TAMPA was a gimme, since I lived there in the 70's. STRAUSS was buried back with the cobwebs, but had the first and last 2 letters, so it didn't take much deduction. Agree with Rex on SEE A BET. That was plain fugly.

The highlight was ITASCA. If for no other reason, any adventurer should visit that park just so that they can say they walked across the Mississippi without getting their feet wet. The rest of the surrounding area is also gorgeous. One of the neatest places I've ever seen and well worth spending a day or two.

Captcha: graillab. The imagination runs wild.

Anonymous said...

If Batwoman's real name isn't Kate KATT, I don't want to live any longer, much less finish this stupid puzzle.

The Wiki page of poker terms doesn't conscience the term SEE, much less SEEABET.

captch: sadian - what this puzzle made me.

*David* said...

I was going to say fastest Friday for me but then I got stuck in the Nothern California countryside and couldn't finish that darn section for a while. ANGST finally was the break I needed.

SEE A BET didn't make much sense to me. Lots of interesting names with EULA, MARLO, YANCY, and KANE that were barely or not familiar.

Congrats on the job it looks like employment is picking up slowly but surely.

ddbmc said...

Have to agree with @RP, here, on the SEEABET. Very weak.

Had not a clue for:CLU, SEAU, YANCY or EULA. And there were those random Roman numerals again!

Theme leaned more towards Tues-Wed.

WOTD:PUNIC-total guess.

Over all, the puzzle did not induce too much AGITA.

Great news on new job, @PG. I'm sure you've suffered much ANGST during the interview process.

@Tin, tip of the hat to Charlie.

Captcha: houtki-Game played on ice, with a puck in Sri Lanka?

Lime D. Zeze said...

Is ALOES really the plural of ALOE? Really? Really? No, really? I loathe answers like this.

howardlwatson said...

Congrats on the new position. In times like these, any job is a good job but to get one you like is great.
Only problem I had was how to abbreviate Mississippi to 4 letters then, duh, Nile popped out at me.
Hope Puzzle daughter continues to improve. Strep can leave some serious after effects.

Larry S said...

I guess it was too easy for a Friday because I got it done in thirty minutes with just 3 or 4 lookups. But I'm not complaining about that. I hate giving up, which is what often happens on Fridays.

Can someone help me understand "Bright side?" equals YANG?

WOTD would be "agita" except it is so obscure I don't think it's worth the neurons to remember.

Is "deadly secret" a phrase that stands by itself?

Anonymous said...

@Larry S Yin / Yang, good/bad, evil/dark, etc/etc.

Eric said...

My usual Friday DNF :-( This time on only one letter -- the N in the YANG x KANE cross. It never occurred to me that 65A was looking for the Batwoman character's name; I Googled IMDB for actresses, and none of them fit (go figure!).
And as for "Bright side?" -> YANG, that totally baffled me, though it makes sense in retrospect -- except that I was under the misapprehension that yin was the light side, and YANG the dark. Wikipedia to the rescue, as usual.

STRAUSS was a gimme. Shoutout to Stanley Kubrick and 2001; one thing I haven't often seen remarked on about him is his excellent choices of music for his movies. Anyone remember Eumir Deodato's jazz version?

For 29D, though, I was CLUless. For the crossing 34A, "What a recent ex may need", I had T_C, but all I could think of was TEC (crosswordese for "detective" -- unpleasant thought, but plausible). Google helped. I also needed a post-guess Google to confirm AGITA -- what @Larry said about its WOTDness.

I knew from Crosswords that Charlie Chaplin was married to someone named OONA, but it hadn't yet sunk in that she was Eugene O'Neill's daughter. Got it from crosses and a lucky guess -- how many womens' names OON_ can there be? -- despite its being a natick with SEAU.

@Anon 6:59: According to the Wikipedia article on betting in poker, "see" is a synonym for "call". Even so, I agree with @RP ET AL about this one.

I knew of Rome's PUNIC Wars, but didn't think they had anything to do with the Middle East, so only reluctantly filled in PUNIC based on some crosses, while going "huh?". Turns out that the Punic Wars were against Carthage (duh, I knew that!), which was pretty much across the Mediterranean from Sicily. It still is; it's a suburb of Tunis -- I love how ancient names survive into modern times. But Carthage was founded by the Phoenicians. "Punic" is a variant of that word; it's what the Romans called them. "Carthage" itself ultimately derives from "Qart-ḥadašt" (in case your font doesn't have the diacritics, the stripped-down version is "Qart-hadast"), which was Phoenician for "New City". So now I know, and so do you.

Rex Parker said...

Comic nerd alert: _Batwoman_ now has her own ongoing comic, which started just last month. It is fantastic, both art- and story-wise. She is possibly the most interesting female character in DC Universe. Also, a redhead. Also, a lesbian.

Van55 said...

Wow, this is NOT the puzzle that appeared in my local paper today, so I was suprised to see it. I hope my paper hasn't ceased syndicating the LAT puzzle!

Rube said...

We had AGITA last year with the definition "Antsy feeling". New to me was the original meaning of "heartburn". Also new for me was ITASCA as the source of the Mississippi.

An enjoyable, if too easy, Friday morning diversion with all of the obscure names easily gettable with crosses.

Eric said...

Word nerd observation: I wrote, "I Googled IMDB for ...". That's an oxymoron, but a telling one: in my brain, "Google" (verb) seems to have become basically a synonym for "search on the web", whether or not Google itself is actually involved :-)

ddbmc said...

AGITA obscure? Nah. I'll concede regional usage, perhaps. Certainly used enough in the NY-Metro area! I hear it all the time!

@Eric, I enjoy your mini-tutorials! Now I have another WOTD:diacritics!

Batwoman, a redheaded lesbian? More male fantasy fodder or female empowerment? Discuss amongst yourselves! Will agree artwork is edgy and sublime.

Captcha:pastests-all puzzles leading up to today's?

Van55 said...

If I had solved this one, I am sure I would be excoriating it for its plethora of relatively little know proper names, as mentioned by PG.

Congrats on the new gig!

Eric said...

@ddbmc: Why can't Batwoman be both male fantasy fodder and female empowerment? Some of us fantasize about empowered females :-)
Seriously, I know Xena was the latter, but I have the impression she was the former as well (though admittedly I don't have a personal opinion on that, never having seen the show).

Thanks, btw.

Anonymous said...

I often wonder if those of you who nitpick at the "weaker" answers have ever tried to compose a puzzle of your own. If the puzzle itself is good, I can tolerate a couple of bad acronyms, abbreviations, and even the dreaded variances. It is part of the puzzle's charm. To me, much of the fun is to try to learn the mindset of the author as you go along.

That said, it's Friday, so time for a few BELTs.

Bob

Kevin UMich said...

You should be a CrossWord editor. For catching that 35-Across/62-Down 'flub' (that See is in the clue, sort of), I would give you the job for sure. I'm not so sure it's a flub, but it could definitely be clued as "With 62D, call/With 35A, call" or just "With 35A" or somehow using a synonym for "See."

It may not be a flub, though, since 'See' is sort of CW lingo, and doesn't imply that it's part of the clue. For example, if part of the solution was "DOWN" or "ACROSS", there's no way they could say "See 35-Across"/"With 62-Down" that both keeps the solution out of the clue and also manages to not make it obvious. I know if they used a synonym for DOWN or ACROSS in that instance, I would immediately have an alarm go off saying OH OH! The answer must be DOWN! Maybe not quite as extreme, but I think it's still the same type of thing.

Congrats on the new job by the way! On vas, diner? Allà on n'hi ha més. [Catalan proverb.]

Spanish = ¿A dónde vas, dinero? (Allí,) donde hay más. More helpfully, in English: "Where do you go, money?" "Where there is more."

Supposed to be kind of a funny, lighthearted little saying, nothing degrading (like work is all about money or something, silly thought) or anything like that.

CrazyCatLady said...

Started off thinking this was way too easy for a Friday, but then had my comeuppance over on the EC. Struggled with the cross of YANCY and PUNIC. I watched the Waltons, but have no recollection of YANCY. Ended up guessing on PUNIC when I had PUNI in place. It sounded vaguely familiar. Also had another problem with KANE (never heard of her), and BET. SEE A BET is meaningless to me. Finally figured out YANG which enabled me to finish. Beaufort scale is my WOTD.

Agree with @ddbmc about AGITA. Learned it when I lived in NY from my friends of Italian descent. Only write over was Total before REMIT.

PG Congrats on the job. Hope this one is a good fit.
@Tinbeni - got TAMPA right away because of you.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@Van55
"plethora of relatively little known proper names" ??? Really?
IMO, there's none that are obscure for the average puzzler except maybe YANCY Tucker and Junior SEAU. I'd hardly call that a "plethora." Am I NUTS, but aren't the rest of the proper names just standard crosswordese?
And shouldn't we welcoming a couple of new words?
And what the heck are Rex's "freakish names"?

Nighthawk said...

Congrats, @PG, on the new gig. Hope it's both satisfying and rewarding.

Started out fast, then got bogged down on tricky fill.

Tumbled to the theme with SPACEMISSIONARY. Actually liked the theme, though sorta simple. Thought DEADLYSECRETARY was hilarious. I've know a few.

Thinking chocolate, had chip for NUTS at 42A. ODIE and OONA crossing SEAU took plenty of guesswork. For whatever reason, SEE A BET jumped to mind when the crosses filled _EEA. Headscratched for a bit about abbreviations for upstate NY universities (Cornell, Syracuse?) until RPI dawned on me. AGITA was my WOTD.

Chuckled at the mini-Memphis theme. Elvis ARON Presley, Memphis river, MARLO Thomas of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital located in Memphis, Miss. River headwaters Lake ITASCA, and "all my exes live in Texas, that's why I'm livin' here in Tennessee" ETATS. Thought TLC should have been "TCB" with a lightning bolt!

But the photo was icing on the cake, @PG. Thankya. Thankya. Thankya vuura much.

badrog said...

Enjoyed the cross at 27D/33A since the primary definition of both ANGST & AGITA is "anxiety".
Didn't care much for the clueing, though. Would've preferred a reference to Edvard Munch's The Scream rather than "teenage" for ANGST. And AGITA is really weird ... FWIW, the etymology is listed as Southern Italian dialectal pronunciation of acido, which does in fact mean heartburn. But when it first appeared in U.S. English usage in 1982, it was with the meaning of "anxiety". It didn't take on the acid stomach meaning until later ... and usage in both meanings apparently incubated in NYC ... which explains everything! TYVM to Meriam-Webster.com where AGITA was their Word of the Day on July 18, 2010.

*David* said...

JNH- You have to, HAVE to read the write-up before making your comments.

JNH-Puzzlegirl mentioned five proper names that potentially could be problematic.

JNH JNH JNH good got your attention again.

I would also put KANE and MARLO in that category for myself. I think seven proper problematic names in a crossword can be defined as a plethora, thanks for listening.

JNH, JNH, JNH rats lost him again.

SethG said...

the "Wednesday puzzle" comment and the "SEEA / BET is a disaster" comment and the "names" comments

Sfingi said...

Couldn't remember the first letter of EULA and the last of ITASCA.
Didn't know Kate KANE, MAV (sports), SEAU (sports), YANCY.
Writeovers: RErun - REAIR,
Budd - GOAT, Corfu - CRETE,
SEAn - SEAU.

For me, not Googling Thurs. was a personal best. Asked Hubster for the Fr. pl. for state - ETATS. He pointed out that it's state spelled backwards.

MARLO is 1/2 Sicilian and married to Phil Donohue. Her Dad sarted the St. Jude's Hospital after he made a promise to said Saint that he would do something grand if he was pulled out of debt. Her voice kind of grates on me.

Want to point out that Also Sprach Azrathustra means Thus Spoke Zoroaster, a book by Nietzsche, and Zoroaster is the founder of an ancient (BCE) Persian religion.

Speaking of sports, I followed the LeBron James reaction story of yesterday. This would have been the sort of thing I'd have my inmates write an essay on, since there are so many viewpoints, and they would have had more ideas than I.

@Eric - don't stop there! Does it involve - oh, never mind.

Rather liked the puzzle. AGITA and ANGST together!

KJGooster said...

I also tried TEC (as in deTECtive) for 34A: What a recent ex might need.

I've been in medicine for 17 years and AGITA was new to me. As others have said, it may be a regional thing -- I'm out west.

And when I see ITASCA I think of RVs, not the river. The girl I had a crush on in 8th grade camped in one... but I digress.

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi and @Eric, I can totally see Lady Gaga in the role of "Batwoman." "Bat Romance," perhaps?

Captcha:bearitup: How Nastassja Kinski dressed in in "Hotel New Hampshire?"

3 and I'm out!

Van55 said...

Mystery solved -- our local paper printed the LAT Puzzle for 12/04 today!

I hope that doesn't mean we get this one tomorrow morning. I don't like this one.


JNH: NILE (as clued), KANE, ITASCA, YANCY, SEAU, CLU, EULA, ALS.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PuzzleGirl said...

@JNH Please don't call people names.

@*David* Consider yourself deputized.

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

@David
I do read PG's writeup before making my comments... but do I HAVE to agree with her assessment of what words are problematic? I am not a sycophant.
Besides, I was addressing my comment to what @Van55 said, NOT TO YOU!

And some Anonymous yesterday stupidly made a snarky remark about my comment on Chuck Norris and totally missed the humor behind it.

I didn't care for this puzzle, but it sure wasn't because of a few esoteric words. I rather enjoy broadening my scope with new words, even unusual proper names.

Tom in the D said...

Well, I wish I could say 5 for 5. I only had 1 square blank. That was the g in angst/agita. For some reason, angst didn't make sense as a sensation. Agita didn't make sense to me at all. But I appreciate all the explanations for it in the comments. As for the theme itself, meh. Pretty substandard for a friday LAT. @ Kevin umich , You raise me up!! LOL. Fire richrod. As always,PG , great write up. Hope the new job goes well and puzzle daughter is feeling well as well. Tonight I'm gonna party like its MMX.

mac said...

Love that name, Yancy, can you imagine, two ys! Otherwise I did not enjoy solving this one very much.
Loved to see Strauss smack in the middle.
@PG: congratulations on the new job, hope it's going to be all you hope for!

Sfingi said...

@KJGooster - Agita is Italian, or at least Southern Italian dialect. There are so many of these dudes - like my Hubster - in NY, NJ, PA, MA that some of their words have entered the language, especially those involving food. Or the attempt to digest it. If, say, a sauce were too acid, you would say, "It gave me agita."

As the man asked, "Can we all get along?"

I'm busy watching Eric's movie.

John Wolfenden said...

In the L.A. Times print edition, the clue for 53D read like this:

538 on the Beaufort Scale

No too hard to recognize the print flub, but it's unusual to see that kind of error these days.

I'm with Kevin UMich on the SEE A BET contreversy. If "See" being contained in one of the clues makes you think that SEE A BET can't be right, that's bad. But the fact that it's a split clue makes it half as lame, something to be mildly annoyed by but not detested.

CrazyCatLady said...

CrazyCat husband just explained to me over dinner what SEE A BET means. I obviously don't play a lot of poker. Maybe I'll remember it next time.

Captch - exicat - guess I'm at my limit.