12.15.2010

W E D N E S D A Y   December 15, 2010
Julian Lim

Theme: Head Games— Theme answers end with things created in your mind.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Words of protest (WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA).
  • 21A: King's memorable words (I HAVE A DREAM).
  • 33A: Lennon's last album released before his death (DOUBLE FANTASY).
  • 49A: Pensive state (DEEP THOUGHT).
  • 55A: Sports psychologist's mantra ... or what can be said about the last word of 16-, 21-, 33- or 49-Across (IT'S ALL IN THE MIND).


I made my way steadily through this Wednesday grid without any problems. Anything that didn't come to mind immediately (see what I did there?) was easily discovered through crosses. The theme is fine — nothing particularly flashy, but the theme answers are several notches above boring. Wondering where the partials, prefixes and suffixes hang out? Apparently right here in this grid: A SEC, OR A, A TEN, UP A, -URB, ANA-, -INI. Wow. That seems a little excessive.

Bullets:
  • 1A: 2007 Oscar winner (Best Original Screenplay) about a pregnant teenager (JUNO). Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this movie, but I wish it had been presented a little more straightforwardly as a modern-day fairy tale. I'm afraid some people (especially teens) walked away from that movie thinking that's what life is really like.
  • 9A: Astronaut's thumbs-ups (AOK'S). Not a fan of the gratuitous plural.
  • 64A: Instrument in a Chinese temple (GONG). When are they gonna bring "The Gong Show" back?
  • 2D: Escort to a seat, in slang (USH). 'Cuz when I'm rappin' about the movie house, it's wack to use the whole word.
  • 14D: Pricey strings, for short (STRAD). Short for STRADivarius.
  • 18D: Chess sacrifice (GAMBIT). I was looking for something a little more French here. Aren't there a lot of French terms in chess?
  • 25D: "... two fives for __?" (A TEN).
  • 38D: "Gross!" ("YECH!"). I can't be the only one who tried "yuck" first.
  • 46D: Heracles' beloved (IOLE). I've learned a few mythical characters just from solving puzzles. This isn't one of them.
  • 50D: Gearshift letters (PRNDL). Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive-Low.
  • 51D: Heads, to Henri (TÊTES). Now there's my French!
Crosswordese 101: There are a few ways to clue the entry ANI. In the L.A. Times, the most common is the one used today: 8D: Singer/songwriter DiFranco. Next is a reference to the clue as a "Wheel of Fortune" buy ("I'd like to buy AN I, Pat.") That clue is tricky, because it's also used to clue AN E. ANI is also the nickname of Anikin Skywalker in "Star Wars" and the word for a big blackbird, but you're only likely to see that clue in late-week puzzles. Of course, my favorite way to clue AN I is as the partial "'Gimme _____!': start of a Hawkeye cheer." Go Hawks!

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 19A: High nest (AERIE).
  • 30A: Hockey great (ORR).
  • 63A: Theater honor (OBIE).
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Everything Else — 5A: Greenish-blue (AQUA); 13A: "Gimme __": "Be right with you" (A SEC); 14A: Turn one's nose up at (SPURN); 15A: __ the fat (CHEW); 20A: Very capable (ADEPT); 26A: Sound during a massage (AAH); 27A: Do a goalkeeper's job (DEFEND); 28A: Island in the French West Indies, familiarly (ST. BART'S); 31A: Elect (VOTE IN); 39A: Uses a LaserJet (PRINTS); 40A: "Oh, what a tangled __ we weave": Scott (WEB); 42A: Island nation west of Haiti (JAMAICA); 45A: Mineral used in glassmaking (SILICA); 48A: "... man __ mouse?" (OR A); 52A: Nairobi is its capital (KENYA); 54A: Kingdom (REALM); 61A: Time for lunch (NOON); 62A: Machu Picchu's range (ANDES); 65A: Makes slick, in a way (OILS); 66A: Letters at the end of a love letter (XOXO); 1D: Boxer's target (JAW); 3D: Cultural funding gp. (NEA); 4D: C to C, e.g. (OCTAVE); 5D: Nuisance to gardeners (APHID); 6D: Kooky (QUEER); 7D: Suffix with sub (-URB); 9D: Low-pH substance (ACID); 10D: "Goodness!" ("OH DEAR!"); 11D: Try and try again (KEEP AT); 12D: Mowed strips (SWATHS); 17D: Witnessed (SEEN); 21D: Altar words (I DO); 22D: Gnus' group (HERD); 23D: Hairstyle for Hendrix (AFRO); 24D: These, in Juarez (ESTAS); 29D: Prefix with gram (ANA-); 31D: __ cavae: large blood vessels (VENAE); 32D: Frequently, to a bard (OFT); 34D: Dance-storm link (UP A); 35D: Like some showers (BRIDAL); 36D: Wingless parasites (LICE); 37D: Gulp from a flask (SWIG); 41D: Creature that "sees" using echolocation (BAT); 42D: Pulling one's leg (JOKING); 43D: Schoolyard argument retort (ARE TOO); 44D: Controversial rocker Marilyn (MANSON); 45D: Old Persian rulers (SHAHS); 47D: Klutz (LUMMOX); 53D: Partner of yin (YANG); 56D: __-tzu (LAO); 57D: Pasta ending (-INI); 58D: Native of Nigeria (IBO); 59D: Prohibit (NIX); 60D: "Gloria in Excelsis __" (DEO).

26 comments:

JOHNSNEVERHOME said...

An okay puzzle with a few good words, but mostly crosswordese and trite fill.
WOTD: IOLE (“Hercules’ beloved”)
Best words: VENAE cavae and PRNDL (although mine says PRND21).

I HAVE A DREAM and it’s trekking in the ANDES… I better go soon, before I get too old.

Remember the GONG Show with Chuck Barris?
What was the whole story with that guy (besides his AFRO)?
Something about being a hit man for the CIA?

Have a super Wednesday y’all !

Jack Handy said...

When I'm in a pensive state, I'm DEEPinTHOUGHT. And most instances of a Deep Thought are just drug fueled musings.

Rex Parker said...

This was pretty ugly throughout. I groaned audibly at least half a dozen times. One simple puzzle should not have all this muck in it: ASEC, USH, URB, ANI, AOKS, AAH, ATEN, ANA, ESTAS, VENAE, ORA, UPA, YECH (indeed), IOLE, LAO, INI ... the theme is OK, if oddly literal.

Van55 said...

I agree with RP entirely. Read AOKS and said YECH. Far, far too much icky fill, and RP even left out XOXO, which is just lame. And PRNDL. The theme is no kind of payoff for all the tripe.

SethG said...

I was sure I was headed for my fastest Wednesday ever, 'til I finished and realized it was the wrong Times. I don't know what my fastest LAT times are.

Only hesitations were trying to fit a prefix onto sub and IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. On the radio at 8:03 this morning: Pixies.

Avg Joe said...

I too am in the YECH camp. A few bright spots, but not enough to make it feel worthwhile. Liked VENAE and thought the clue for BRIDAL was clever, but the rest left me groaning.

But hey. At least we got our daily controversy starter with 6 down :-)

Eric said...

I liked "pricey strings, for short" as a clue for STRAD, and LUMMOX is a great word -- yay Heinlein!

But other than that ... what y'all said.

I'm of two minds about VENAE. It's a new and interesting word, and it's nice to see a blood vessel other than the overworked AORTA, but it's yet another gratuitous plural, in a puzzle that has too many gratuitous inflections already (plurals and a couple of third-person-singulars -- OILS and PRINTS), along with its other YECHiness.

It's kinda neat to see DEFEND stacked with Bobby ORR, seeing as he was a defenceman. It would be still neater if I thought it was intentional, but alas, it looks like sheer accident. That's suggested by the clue for DEFEND, "do a goalkeeper's job": wrong position, for one thing, and likely the wrong sport -- "goalkeeper" is more soccery, as opposed to hockey's "goaltender" or, informally, "goalie". (Rather damaging my non-sports-guy cred here, but oh well...)

Anonymous said...

Isn't it everybody's job to DEFEND when you don't have the puck/ball?

And when you do have it, is it everyone's job to OFFEND, or is that just for Sean Avery ....

C said...

OK theme, the rest of the answers, not so good. Veering dangerously close to my random letters in a puzzle scenario.

@sethg, showing a young Black Francis singing answers the songs question about 'Where is my mind?' It ends up in your belly, Black Francis, it ends up in your belly ... If you can get a copy of the entire show your clip came from, well worth the effort.

Virginia C said...

USH????? What a Yech!

Anyone else remember on "Green Acres" when Eddie Abert was trying to teach Ava Gabor (or was that Zsa Zsa?) to drive and she kept referring to the gear shift as the "pernundal"? PRNDL - funny how some stuff sticks!

*David* said...

Made steady quick progress through the puzzle, a couple of erases here or there. Way too many partials/abbr started bothering me pretty much from the beginning.

CrazyCatLady said...

I liked the theme, but agree with everyone above about the junky, YECH fill. Had Yuck first.

@Avg Joe Filled in 6D and thought, "no that can't be." But, it was. It reminded me of my mil's innocent usage of that word. She also described bright prints as gay.

@JNH about your IL governor comment from yesterday - point well taken.

Liked the "Paper Tiger" clip.

xxpossum@hotmail.com said...

I hope this does'nt sound too petty, PzlGrl,but when you say that you like to use " Gemme..." for your ANI clues....then go on to use a example that DOES'NT HAVE AN I IN IT!! That just confuses me, anal-retentive dweeb that I am.

TWG said...

DEEP THOUGHT came up with the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything: 42

(see: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Love those books)

Anonymous said...

rex didn't mention XOXO because he used that one in his published NY Times puzzle. also, it's not that lame. compared to INI and VENAE? please!

Rube said...

Don't have much to add, (detract), here except that I dislike those playground retorts like ARETOO.

I accept YECH, as Mad Magazine put it into the lexicon back in the 50s.

Never heard of Marilyn MANSON. Googled him and now I know why. Sounds like a lot of talent wasted on a current rock genre, whatever his is called.

Will make IOLE my XW WOTD. Mediocre puzzle.

John Wolfenden said...

I knew our regulars would have some problems with this puzzle, but I liked it despite some ultrastandard fill cluing.

PRNDL was my favorite. And I'll always enjoy the appearance of underused words like LUMMOX.

Nice to see a Pixies thread...my wife and I occasionally play "Here Comes Your Man" on Rock Band.

It's the IOWA Hawks said...

@xxpossum - I'm guessing the cheer is gimme an I, gimme an O, gimme a W, gimme an A ....

Sfingi said...

Had dUMbOX before LUMMOX.
Had to wait for crosses for the L gear. "Sfingi" the Focus (someone already had "bofus") doesn't have that.

Pedestrian puzzle. I kept thinking of one with sub suffixes like SUBURB: text, woofer, marine, terranean, aru.

@Rube - Marilyn MANSON was very popular for a while in the far-out crowd. Kind of gross, esp. his private life. Looked like Edward Scissorhands.

Remember Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey? Now he's Senator Franken of Minnesota.

Otherwise, hee-haw.

Anonymous said...

In hockey defenders defend, forwards and centers try to score first and help out o defense. Goalies make saves!

Anonymous said...

Jack Handey is still Jack Handey, Al Franken is still Al Franken, and Marilyn Manson thinks you're pretty gross, too.

Mokus said...

@PG Mizzou already devoured the Jayhawks in the regular season and it just whet their appetite for more ground Hawk a.k.a. Tiger tenders.

Captcha: pabsti Could that be a gratuitious plural for a blue ribbon beer?

Tom in the D said...

@PG, I thought you hated the Big Ten??

Avg Joe said...

As the apparent sole spokesperson for the newest entrant into the Big 10 (the conference that's evidently math challenged) We're happy to have Iowa as our nearest opponent and probable rival (TBD). Let the games begin.

Captcha: forsee.....don't know what to think about that????

CrazyCatLady said...

Just wanted to clarify my comment regarding my mil who would be close to 100 now if she was still alive. She used to say things like "my dishwasher has been acting queer for the last few days" or "Uncle Joe was feeling queer so he checked himself into the hospital." That kind of stuff used to drive me crazy. She was from the back "country" of upstate NY. Being a good dil I just smiled.

Eric said...

@CCL: It's a pain, isn't it, when a perfectly good word gets hijacked like that. The new meaning crowds out the old one, spoiling things for people who just want to keep using the word the way they've always used it. I admire your mil (mother-in-law?) for sticking to her guns.

I think I'm going to start using "hoo-ha", with its older, non-suggestive meaning, just to make a point :-)