01.24 Mon

January 24, 2011
John Lampkin

Theme: ROFLMAO — Okay, not really ROFLMAO. Just LOL. Theme answers are familiar three-word phrases with the initials L.O.L.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Comfortable situation to live in, with "the" (LAP OF LUXURY).
  • 56A: Low-paying but rewarding project (LABOR OF LOVE).
  • 11D: Minnesota-based dairy cooperative (LAND O' LAKES).
  • 29D: "Like that's going to work!" ("LOTS OF LUCK!").
  • 41A: Cyberchuckle, and a hint to this puzzle's four longest answers (LOL).
Good morning, everyone. Looks like we're starting out the week with a smooth solve from Mr. Lampkin. I usually expect something tricky from John, but today's puzzle is pretty straightforward. Well, it is Monday after all. Did you notice how many of the clues seemed to be "paired"? For example:
  • 44A: "Romeo and Juliet" city (VERONA).
  • 46A: Before, to Shakespeare (ERE).

  • 6D: Brand over spaghetti (RAGU).
  • 7D: Brand under the sink (AJAX).
I think of that type of cluing as Bob Klahn-esque, and it doesn't surprise me that we're seeing quite a bit of it from John.

As for the theme, it's a perfectly solid theme for Monday. Theme phrases are not particularly sparkly, but they don't just lie there either. The only nit I would pick is that three of the theme answers use OF as the O part of the phrase, while the fourth is the contraction O'. That didn't affect my solving experience, but it does detract somewhat from the theme's elegance. And I admit that's being awfully picky.

Grid entries that spice up this Monday fare include:
  • 14A: Ballerina's rail (BARRE).
  • 27A: A deuce used as an ace, say (WILD CARD).
  • 5D: Showing shame (RED-FACED).
  • 42D: Like a stroller at the shore, shoewise (BAREFOOT).
That last clue made me LOL. "Shoewise"? Had no idea what was going on there and only figured it out from crosses.

  • 39A: Went to the polls (VOTED). When PuzzleSon was just a toddler, we took him with us to vote one time. Our polling place was an elementary school in the neighborhood, and they used machines where you make your choices and then push a big green button clearly marked with the word VOTE. As we went through the process, I explained it to PuzzleSon, the way parents do with little kids (knowing that none of it probably made a bit of sense to him). After that, every time we'd drive by that school he would yell out "Push green button say boat!"
  • 66A: Nuts (LOCO). One of the few relatively tricky clues in the grid because the answer could have gone in a number of directions. Nuts like peanuts and walnuts? Nuts like a group of nutty people? Nope, it's not even a noun in this case. I had the same sort of hesitation with 13D: Relaxed (EASED). There, my first thought was to read the clue as a verb.
  • 8D: Spanish toast (SALUD). Add this to your list of toasts, which should include SKOAL from the other day.
  • 21D: Angle iron (L-BAR). Ane here, once again, ladies and gentlemen, a perfect example of how doing crossword puzzles regularly can help you become a better solver. I wouldn't have had the foggiest idea on this one if we hadn't just had L-BAR as a theme (and, if I recall correctly, the reveal answer was clued as "angle iron").
  • 28D: People magazine focus (IDOL). Have y'all been watching "American Idol" this season? I'm a big Aerosmith fan, so I was afraid seeing Steven Tyler on the panel would make me cringe like crazy. Now, I haven't watched a whole episode all the way through, but the bits and pieces I've seen of him have been palatable. I understand that he sometimes tends a little toward the pedophile end of the spectrum, and that doesn't sit well with me at all, but from what I've seen, he's pretty entertaining.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 17A: Twisty-horned antelope (ELAND).
  • 34A: Beethoven's Third (EROICA).
  • 43A: "Born Free" lioness (ELSA).
  • 46A: Before, to Shakespeare (ERE).
  • 47A: "Free Willy" critter (ORCA).
  • 59D: Chief Norse god (ODIN).
  • 61D: Gaelic language (ERSE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Where many knots are tied (ALTAR); 6A: Tabula __: blank slate (RASA); 10A: Elmer's product (GLUE); 15A: In __: stuck (A JAM); 16A: Bear with too-hot porridge (PAPA); 18A: Powerful wind (GALE); 19A: Tiny army marchers (ANTS); 23A: Anonymous Jane (DOE); 24A: Research facility (LAB); 25A: Songwriter Neil (DIAMOND); 32A: Store, as a hose (COIL); 33A: "Much __ About Nothing" (ADO); 36A: Li'l Abner's creator Al (CAPP); 42A: Cake maker (BAKER); 49A: Turns on, as an engine (STARTS UP); 51A: What mirrors do (REFLECT); 54A: Golfer's support (TEE); 55A: Dot-com's address (URL); 62A: Very dry, as Champagne (BRUT); 64A: Musical quality (TONE); 65A: __ but wiser (OLDER); 67A: Ending for exist (-ENCE); 68A: Leaves out (OMITS); 69A: Actress Sommer (ELKE); 70A: Nut, e.g. (SEED); 71A: Past or present (TENSE); 1D: Adam's second son (ABEL); 2D: Refrain syllables (LA LA); 3D: Mouse catcher (TRAP); 4D: Golfer Palmer (ARNOLD); 9D: Part of USA (AMERICA); 10D: 4.0, for one: Abbr. (GPA); 12D: Pulitzer author Sinclair (UPTON); 22D: NBA's __ Ming (YAO); 26D: Glittery mineral (MICA); 27D: Breaker at the shore (WAVE); 30D: Romeo or Juliet, e.g. (ROLE); 31D: Christian's dresses? (DIORS); 35D: Coagulate, as blood (CLOT); 37D: Lima's country (PERU); 38D: Get ready, briefly (PREP); 40D: British peer (EARL); 44D: Moves out (VACATES); 45D: Peacekeeping gp. since 1949 (NATO); 48D: Animation collectible (CEL); 50D: "Out with it!" ("TELL ME!"); 51D: Moscow money (RUBLE); 52D: Filmdom's Flynn (ERROL); 53D: Steakhouse steak (T-BONE); 57D: Grimm beginning (ONCE); 58D: Oboe or bassoon (REED); 60D: Docs for doggies and dogies (VETS); 63D: Stubbed digit (TOE).


Sfingi said...

Cute puzzle.

How many people made this mistake:
"a rut" before A JAM? You're stuck in a rut; In A JAM, you're in trouble.

Did not know YAO (sports).

Mini-themes: Romeo and Juliet, brands.

More crosswordese: REED, ADO, ERE.

Avg Joe said...

Purty much everything you said PG. Thanks for the cat pix:-) Good solid Monday level puzzle. The only stumble I took was having SALUt, but Diamond cleared that up once I got enough crosses. Several interesting sub-themes, but the least noticeable was that it's Neil Diamonds 70th Birthday. Happy Birthday, Neil.

mac said...

Ditto, PG.
@Sfingi: hand up for a rut. Another pair: diamond and mica are both glittery minerals.

Cute cats, had to get my screen closer to read the text on the box!

Disturbing article about the LAT in the business section of the NYT.

hazel said...

LOL on the LOL VENN. So true, I did not actually laugh, or even chuckle, but I did think it was very funny. This is also my first instance of ever using LOL, but it seemed appropriate.

Solid Monday fare.

Anonymous said...

25A: Songwriter Neil (DIAMOND) - Today is his 71st birthday.

Jack Parker said...

Hey, my old friend and one-time partner Neil (DAIMOND) is turning 72 today!

CarolC said...

Thanks, PG, for this LABOR OF LOVE you do every day!

Cute cat pix. Reminds me of the time I briefly left a newly delivered pizza unattended on the table. My cat leaped up, knocked it to the ground, opened the box, and he and his co-conspirator the dog began scarfing it up before any of the humans around could do anything. Wish I had a video, but definitely a ROFLMAO moment.

Anonymous said...

(OK, I'll join in...)

Hey! It's Neil Diamond's 73rd birthday today!

Actually, it's only his 70th, as the OP mentioned - he still has a lot of love to write and sing about!

Rex Parker said...

Good Monday (better than NYT, I think). Theme is solid, fill quite smooth. Only real annoyance was the one "O'" among the three "OF"s in the theme answers. Either all the same, or all different ... ideally.


Compulsive panty thrower said...

Neil DIAMOND is 74???!!!! Wow, does that make me feel old!

C said...

A monday puzzle with some life to it, not in the sense of arcane answers but in a lively clue/answer way.

Enjoyable solve.

CrazyCatLady said...

Another fun puzzle by John Lampkin. Nice, soothing Monday material. Also there was that little nut/nuts mini-theme.

@PG loved your kitty cat fest of a write-up. Last night CC husband and I spent half an hour watching one of our cats go LOCO in the kitchen sink trying to catch drops of water with her paws. We are, apparently, easily amused.

OMG Neil Diamond can't be 70! Is it possible?

Larry S said...

Looks like a lot of us put ourselves in A JAM by filling with A rut. Hand up. Plus I thought the powerful wind below it would be a Gust, so I had a big mess to clean up.

75 years old in DIAMOND years is like 150 million.

I'm assuming that the Venn circles for ROFLMAO would be entirely separate. But if someone says they're ROFLMAO, there's a good chance they actually LOL. I will NOT think of pink elephants or of PG literally ROFLMAO.

New to me is that BRUT is a designation; I thought it was a brand. Looks like it is French for 'brute' or unrefined, natural, i.e. no added sugar, but now usually indicates a drier champagne, less added sugar.

Larry S said...

Stretching to pair clues, I raise my BRUT to you and wish you SALUD, amor y dinero. All the while Neil DIAMOND belts out "Coming to AMERICA."

Neil Cubic Zirconium said...

Are we having fun yet?

Tuttle said...

Yea, in a rut here too.

Nice definition of LOLing and ROFLing (~50s in).

(The rest of the show is dang funny too... if you follow European soccer)

Be champions!

Nighthawk said...

Sweet Caroline! Is it just me, or have 5 years actually raced before my eyes as I have read these comments! I seem to be getting OLDER by the minute.

Indeed, that IS a very tiny nit to pic @PG. LOL!

Hand up for 15A in A rut. (But didn't it go nicely with ELAND!)
Also for 18A Gust. Made me not trust AMERICA but what is AttERICA? Listen up, Erica!

Recently watched "Letters to Juliet" with college daughter but spaced out on the town initially as PADUA. Ooops! Wrong play.

I thought the only clunker was ENCE.

Always nice to see, and seems lately we have seen in profusion, the lovely ELKE.

ramino: string of circular oriental noodles?


I always expect to be amused by John's puzzles and today was no exception. Mondays need cute light stuff especially after the Bears got trounced. Just for that, I'm never gonna buy LAND-O-LAKES butter anymore.

It didn't surprise me to see EROICA in John's puzzle, but what did surprise me was seeing L-BAR after the big flap about a week ago. I've actually used L-BARS in concrete work, but it seems like no one else has heard of them. They really aren't the same as "Angle irons". L-BARS are bent cylindrical rods.

Well it's refreshing to see "OLDER but wiser" after seeing a lot of stupid stuff written (even here) about us oldsters.

For some odd reason, I thought the Spanish toast was SALUT and not SALUD. Why? I don't know. Is there a drink called SALUT?

I really got plenty of AWWS and LOLs when I read Puzzlegirl's writeup... the little kitties and the funny story about what Puzzleson learned about voting.

And for me that Venn diagram is funny but not true. I actually do bellow out whenever I type LOL.


Speaking of BRUT and SALUD, where the heck is Tinbeni?
Did he go to Russia after all?
Oh wait, I'll bet he's tanning himself in Jamaica.

CrazyCatLady said...

@JNH re: Andy: I was under the impression that he wandered off to Russia.

Anonymous said...

He's here, he's just not _here_.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's in rehab.

KJGooster said...

Jumping in very late here, but anyway...

I was absolutely flying through the grid, feeling great until I hit the theme revealer and realized that living the LIFE OF RILEY wasn't gonna cut it for 20A. Easily fixed, but brought me back down to earth.

Good puzzle, though.