12.30 Thu

December 30, 2010
Kelsey Blakley

Theme: City Mash-Up — Theme answers are made up of two city names put together, where the end of the first city and the beginning of the second city make up a third city.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Iowa/Arizona/Maryland tri-city area? (AMESANNAPOLIS). [Ames Mesa Annapolis]
  • 32A: Washington/Georgia/ New Hampshire tri-city area? (TACOMACONCORD). [Tacoma Macon Concord]
  • 40A: South Dakota/Nevada/ Virginia tri-city area? (PIERRENORFOLK). [Pierre Reno Norfolk]
  • 55A: California/Alaska/ Tennessee tri-city area? (FRESNOMEMPHIS). [Fresno Nome Memphis]
We've really had a good week here at the LAT haven't we? This theme is super super cute and I found the puzzle really fun to solve. Once I figured out the theme, I tried to guess the rest of the theme answers without crosses, but I had trouble with the first one because I was resisting AMES until the very end. I'm so sick of seeing AMES in the puzzle! Enough with AMES already! Ya know what's in AMES? Iowa State University, that's what! In-state rival to my beloved Hawkeyes. (Not that they're really much of a rival, I mean when one side is so far superior to the other — is it even accurate to call it a rivalry?) Okay, okay, I'm a little hopped up on Hawkeye Love right now because there's a big wrestling tournament going on and I've been following it all day. Session Three starts tomorrow at noon. I'm exhausted already. But I'm not going to bore you all with my personal obsession because I'm sure that gets old.

The puzzle! Quite a bit of crosswordese in this one, but I didn't really mind it because I love the theme and I kinda dug the long downs as well: CLOSE LOOK, COLD SPELL, BUMPER CAR — those are some pretty colorful entries if you ask me. All in all … fun! Let's get to the bullets!

  • 5A: Flintstone word (DABBA). Raise your hand if you wrote in *ABBA and waited for the cross.
  • 15A: Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie __" (AMOUR). My very favorite version of this song was sung by Eddie Murphy on an old SNL where he was doing an impersonation of Stevie Wonder in order to show Stevie Wonder (who was playing a character who wasn't Stevie Wonder) how it should be done. I've never been able to find that clip online. SethG?
  • 27A: "__ Town Too": 1981 hit (HER). Ooh! Awesome!

  • 29A: The Concord Sage's monogram (RWE). That would be Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • 43A: Like some outlet mall mdse. (IRR.). Irregular.
  • 46A: Alberta natives (CREES). Not a fan of the S-plural of Indian tribe names.
  • 58A: Soldier who has completed most of his tour of duty (SHORT-TIMER). I guess I knew somewhere back in the far reaches of my brain that this phrase had its start in the military.
  • 2D: 2007 Enterprise acquisition (ALAMO). The car rental company, not the starship.
  • 9D: Not pizzicato (ARCO). Speaking of the far reaches of my brain, wow. I came up with this one with no crosses. I was involved with music a lot from the time I was, like, four through college and then some. But I only played a string instrument (the cello) for one year. Can't believe I remembered ARCO.
  • 10D: Cheerleader's feat (SPLIT). I was thinking maybe we'd argue about whether it's okay for this to be singular instead of the plural "the splits." You start.
  • 25D: '70s "Concentration" host Jack (NARZ). All I can say to this one is … WTF?!?!? Wow! Ne-Ever heard of the guy. I totally remember Ed McMahon hosting "Concentration" and he was only on for nine months, while this NARZ character hosted for five years! Bizarre! Awesome name though ….
Crosswordese 101: This is gonna be more like CW301, but you guys are ready for it, right? There are two sports guys named ODOM that you should know for crosswords. First, and most common, is today's 42D: Blue Moon of '60s-'70s baseball. His full name was Johnny Lee ODOM, but you don't need to know that. He's always clued as "Blue Moon," and there will always be a reference to baseball, 1960s-70s, and/or the fact that he was a pitcher. The other one is Lamar ODOM, a professional basketball player currently with the L.A. Lakers.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 36A: K-12 (ELHI).
  • 45A: Announcer Hall (EDD).
  • 61A: Saarinen who designed the Gateway Arch (EERO).
  • 64A: Skating maneuver (AXEL).
  • 65A: Broadway matchmaker (YENTE).
  • 21D: Pianist Templeton (ALEC).
  • 57D: Contemporary of Rex and Agatha (ERLE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Squish (MASH); 10A: Bairn, e.g. (SCOT); 14A: Pick of the litter? (ALPO); 16A: Horse around (PLAY); 17A: Zoo retreat (LAIR); 18A: Red and yellow but not green (WARM COLORS); 22A: Sing like Slim Clark (YODEL); 23A: Cut from the staff (AXE); 24A: Arterial implant (STENT); 31A: My __, Vietnam (LAI); 38A: It may be precious (METAL); 39A: Percolate (OOZE); 44A: Quite a long time (EON); 48A: Anesthesiologists' work sites, briefly (OR'S); 51A: Neapolitan song starter (O SOLE); 60A: Drops off (EBBS); 62A: Even a little (AT ALL); 63A: Passed-down tales (LORE); 66A: Oven cleaner chemicals (LYES); 1D: Asia's __ Peninsula (MALAY); 3D: Spotted (SPIED); 4D: Paintbrush material (HORSE HAIR); 5D: Become clear to, with "on" (DAWN); 6D: Radarange maker (AMANA); 7D: Cleansing agent (BORAX); 8D: Crash course vehicle? (BUMPER CAR); 11D: More than a glance (CLOSE LOOK); 12D: Crew tool (OAR); 13D: Cobb et al. (TYS); 19D: "The Daily Planet" reporter (OLSEN); 26D: Ocean phenomenon (TIDE); 28D: Lover boy (ROMEO); 30D: Stout hero Nero (WOLFE); 32D: Start of a conclusion (THEREFORE); 33D: Anabaptist denomination (MENNONITE); 34D: "From __ Zinc": vitamin slogan (A TO); 35D: Time to bundle up (COLD SPELL); 36D: Like some proportions (EPIC); 37D: NYC commuter line (LIRR); 41D: Odometer button (RESET); 47D: Swashbuckler Flynn (ERROL); 49D: __ candle (ROMAN); 50D: Silver fish (SMELT); 52D: "Whoopee!" ("OH BOY!"); 53D: Vers __: free verse (LIBRE); 54D: Switchback features (ESSES); 56D: Layover (STAY); 58D: Something fishy (SEA); 59D: Give the evil eye (HEX).


SethG said...

The skit ran season 8, episode 19. Subscribers to Hulu Plus can watch the full episode, the best we can do is this clip, which will be around until NBC finds it. The script is here.

PLAY could be clued without horses given HORSE HAIR. RWE could be clued without Concord given CONCORD.

Cairo and Mexico City are world capitals. So are Kigali and Manila.

imsdave said...

Hand down on *ABBA - I YABBAed like a mad man. That was my only write over though. Extremely clever puzzle, well executed. The LAT has really outdone itself all week!

Thanks for the (as usual) great write-up PG, and go Cyc..., I mean Hawkeyes.


Very easy-solver for a Thursday once you catch on to the clever theme. At first when I saw the clue for 20A ... "tri-city area", I said "what the ____", but once I figured it out, everything just clicked in place. All the crosswordese on crosses sure helped a lot too.
Solved it in just under 12 minutes, which is darn good for this old codger. So does that make me a SHORT-TIMER?

The only word I did not know was ODOM. Nothing else today really snagged me.

Loved Puzzlegirl's rant about AMES... now I KNOW she's well and kicking again.

The other day we had DODGEM and today we have BUMPER CAR. Does that mean the puzzles are going to have a weekly theme? Hey, that's an idea for Rich Norris. How about it? Has that ever been done?

Best clue of the week: 18A "Red and yellow, but not green" (WARM COLORS). Now that reminds me to get out my palette and start to do some watercolor painting again this winter. BTW, I don't use HORSE HAIR paintbrushes, only the finest sable.

Yeah, I agree... who the heck is Jack NARZ?

Overall, I had fun with this puzzle and thought that Kelsey did a fine job with the construction.

Have a super Thursday y'all, and don't forget to YODEL!


I had YABBA (5A) for the longest time, thinking that YAWN for 5D seemed plausible too. Then, BAM! It DAWNs on me, that Fred Flintstone actually said "Yabba-DABBA Do."

Sfingi said...

Got everything on crosses, but there was so much I never heard of, to whit: Templeton, NARZ (Hubster calls Nazis NARZies), YENTE (thought it was YENTa), switchback, MESA (NV), ODOM (sports), EDD. Slim Clark, ARCO (apparently used with the violin).

Hubster said since the show was called Concentration, it's odd that none of us remembers Mr. NARZ. Guess we weren't concentrating.

Been to the AMANA colony, which consists of a few sites physically separated.
@Ulrich - they spoke a weird German there called Kolonie-Deutsch. There were still some speakers 20 years ago.

Conrad said...

Wow. As a non-American with only a loose grasp of American geography, today's theme was well-nigh impossible! I got a few individual cities (ANNAPOLIS, TACOMA, FRESNO), and a combo (RENORFOLK), but only because we got NORFOLK yesterday.

Other than that, some nice long answers. Anybody have PRIMARYHUES where WARMCOLORS should have gone? That was my first answer, and you can guess how it messed up my game!

Mokus said...

I thought the theme was clever and entertaining. A very enjoyable puzzle except for memories of My Lai.

Back in the 60s we started our short-timer calendars when we had 90 days left. Best part of my enlistment.

PG, since you didn't brag about your Insight Bowl upset I'll do it for you. PG's Iowa Hawkeyes 27, my Mizzou Tigers 24. Sad but true.

*David* said...

Geography themes always work for me and tis one was cute. It took me a while to tease it out which made the puzzle take longer then usual but the rest of the fill was pverall easy. I put in AMORE for AMOUR which was my last area to fix.

John Wolfenden said...

DNF thanks to the WOLFE/RWE cross but liked it nonetheless.

I love PG's semi-random pics, like today's of Creed from "The Office." There's a guy who lives across Mulholland from us who had Creed Bratton staying at his house for awhile when he was down on his luck before landing the plum gig he has now.

I'd die happy if I never had to see ELHI in a puzzle ever again. For me it's in the same category as AOLER.

C said...

LAT is still pumping out good puzzles, I love puzzle swells. This was a fun puzzle to solve. The theme was fresh and fun.

Personally, i am ok with Ames in a puzzle as this Californian probably couldn't name another city in Iowa. Sad but true. Additional bonus, it appears to trigger something in @PG that causes her to go go off on very funny rants. I say more AMES in the puzzle for that reason ;')

Van55 said...

Nicely executed, interesting theme.

Good Thursday puzzle over all for me.

Rex Parker said...

This puzzle is awesome because it has FRESNO. I write this from the deck of the pool where I'm staying in Orlando with my family, with whom I grew up, in FRESNO. Go Bulldogs.


Avg Joe said...

I too enjoyed this puzzle. I couldn't remember whether Jimmy Olsen was spelled with an E or an O, and Ralph W. didn't come to me easily. So that slowed my down. Misspelled Amore like David causing a speed bump. Had a really hard time accepting Narz, but felt certain enough of the crosses I called it done. Got Arco entirely via crosses as well as Yodel and Odom.

The only nit I'd have to pick is that the theme answers are inconsistent with 2 overlaps from the first to the second city on the last 3 but 3 overlapping letters on the first. Minor nit for sure, since all had a first and last city that stood alone without extra baggage.

Enjoyed the J.T./J.D. Souther clip PG. John David is a mediocre picker and not notably better at writing, but he has a fantastic voice that is matched by few. I always enjoy hearing him. I'll sign off with this clip:


Happy New Year and Go Big Red! (just you wait til next year, Iowa)

Vega said...

Fun. Yes, I did put in *ABBA and wait. Concord above CONCORD bugged me. You're unbelievably funny, PuzzleGirl.

Anonymous said...

So Jimmy Olsen was the photographer-right? That one stopped me...well and a few others. But as I live in Ames Iowa...with so much more here than any other Iowa town, including Iowa City...loved that the LA Times continues to promote Ames too.

Peter said...

With all due respect to the constructor, I must disagree. I hate to be a wet blanket, but I found the theme to be too contrived for my taste. Also, there are some crosses between words I don't care to see on my grid (LIRR/IRR, YENTE/ERLE, EDD/ODOM), and a couple other real crosswordese stinkers: NARZ, EERO, LYES (is this a word?). Still had fun solving it, though, so I really shouldn't complain.

In closing, does ALPO make sense to anyone as "Pick of the litter?" If so, please fill me in. I'm sure the litter would pick something else, given the choice, if I am interpreting it correctly.