01.11 Tue

January 11, 2011
Don Gagliardo

Theme: Lots of Ls — Um … lots of Ls.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: Passé keyboard key (SCROLL LOCK).
  • 62A: "I'm afraid this will sound funny" (YOU'LL LAUGH).
  • 3D: Video game difficulty setting (SKILL LEVEL).
  • 31D: Names on it are off-limits to telemarketers (NO-CALL LIST).
  • 39A: Angle irons graphically represented by four sets of black squares in this grid, and by letter formations starting in the four longest answers (L-BARS).
  • 64D: Ernie of the PGA, to whom this puzzle could be dedicated (ELS).
Good morning. I'm up super early today to get this post up for you, so let's just see how well my brain works at this time of the morning, shall we? I love the funky-looking grid we have today. Reminds me of those little whirly things on a stick that you blow on and they spin around. I'm sure those things have a name. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've seen the name of them in a puzzle. But I can't think of it now. Did I mention it's early?

Here's the thing about the theme. It's fine. I like the triple-L theme answers and I like the way the L blocks look in the grid. L-BAR? That really doesn't mean anything to me. If you Google it, many of the hits you'll get will be BARS aimed at a clientele of people whose lifestyle is sometimes referred to with a word that starts with the letter L. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Like I-beam and H-beam (and to a lesser extent T-nut) I assume an L-BAR is a real thing and has something to do with construction. Other than that, an L-BAR doesn't really have any significant presence in my life. So okay. The theme is L-BARS. Moving on.

I almost finished with an error and I wonder if any of you did the same thing? I plopped TIN in where TAN goes (4D: Bronze relative). I don't actually think that TIN and BRONZE are "relatives" but I already had the T and the N and I know that TIN and BRONZE have something to do with each other — which, I guess could make them "relatives" ... but now I'm just rambling. I was pretty sure it wasn't right when I put it in, is what I'm saying. So when I made my way back up to that section and saw ILKI, my hesitation was confirmed. I can't say that I know who ILKA Chase is (14A: Chase on stage) and I wasn't entirely sure her name wasn't ILKE. I mean, when you've got a ridiculous name like that, it really could end with just about anything, right? (Totally teasing about the ridiculousness of the name. It's actually a pretty cool name. Please don't write to me about my insensitivity.)

  • 15A: Cat-__-tails (O-NINE). That is one ugly partial. And yet, I got it immediately, so can I really complain?
  • 16A: Wicked (EVIL).

  • 21A: Extremely, in Essex (BEASTLY). I need to keep a little notebook of all the words I see in crossword puzzles that I want to start using. I always say it here — "I'm going to start using this word" — but then I forget.
  • 23A: Follower of Mary (LAMB). For a minute, I thought this clue was a reference to a radio alphabet. Then I remembered that when people say "M as in Mary" that's not the word used in the radio alphabet and actually sounds kinda wimpy. Of course now that I look it up, I see that the actual word used is MIKE and that's not much better. Oh look! The LAPD does use MARY. I take back everything I said.
  • 68A: Boatload (SLEW).
  • 7D: Letter addressees (SIRS). If there was ever a clue that could use a "passé" ….
  • 21D: NYC subway line named for two boroughs (BMT). Nice to see the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit getting a little love. Usually, we only see the IRT here in CrossWorld.
  • 27D: Hyped-up feeling (FEVER).

  • 49D: Stock mkt. debut (IPO). Initial Public Offering. But you knew that.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 51A: German GM subsidiary (OPEL).
  • 64A: Dublin's land (EIRE).
  • 65A: Red Muppet (ELMO).
  • 70A: Eyelid problem (STYE).
  • 2D: Verve (ELAN).
  • 32D: Big name in video games (ATARI).
  • 64D: Ernie of the PGA, to whom this puzzle could be dedicated (ELS).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: 17-Across in the neck (PEST); 5A: Adventurous (RISKY); 10A: Domesticated (TAME); 17A: See 1-Across (PAIN); 20A: Bigger photo: Abbr. (ENL.); 22A: Horror maven Craven (WES); 25A: Sphere (ORB); 27A: Was beaten by (FELL TO); 29A: Midday energizer (POWER NAP); 34A: K-6 (ELEM.); 35A: Stroll (WALK); 37A: Vowel before omicron (IOTA); 38A: Bounty rival (VIVA); 41A: Picket line crosser (SCAB); 42A: Garden site (EDEN); 43A: Actor Neeson (LIAM); 44A: Finishes the road (TARS); 45A: Got sick again (RELAPSED); 48A: Like some quaint lamps (OIL-LIT); 50A: Fair grade (CEE); 52A: Workshop sprite (ELF); 55A: Crete-born "View of Toledo" painter (EL GRECO); 59A: Texas ranch initials (LBJ); 66A: Trace (TINGE); 67A: Future atty.'s hurdle (LSAT); 69A: Preminger et al. (OTTOS); 1D: Lounging jacket wearer's smoke, maybe (PIPE); 5D: Pasadena arena (ROSE BOWL); 6D: Andean ancient (INCA); 8D: Masseuse's challenge (KNOT); 9D: Cowardly (YELLOW); 10D: Business card abbr. (TEL.); 11D: Speak bluntly (AVOW); 12D: Cats' quarry (MICE); 13D: Benevolent lodgeful (ELKS); 19D: Ancient strings (LYRE); 24D: Farmers' publication? (ALMANAC); 26D: Brush component (BRISTLE); 28D: Say "bo's'n," say (ELIDE); 29D: Scottish pattern (PLAID); 30D: Gumbo pod (OKRA); 33D: Big name in beer (PABST); 36D: Up to the task (ABLE); 40D: Wet ones, so to speak (SMOOCHES); 46D: Banana discard (PEEL); 47D: Have as a customer (SELL TO); 52D: Makeup accentuates them (EYES); 53D: Recline lazily (LOLL); 54D: Do a slow burn (FUME); 56D: Trot or canter (GAIT); 57D: Litter's littlest (RUNT); 58D: Kellogg's toaster brand (EGGO); 60D: Donkey's protest (BRAY); 61D: Ballet leap (JETÉ); 63D: Sad (LOW).


Sfingi said...

@Puzzlegirl - that would be a pinwheel. I see lots in the cemeteries.

I made the same TiN hesitation you did. I also had some actual writeovers - SCROLLbaCK before SCROLLLOCK, lostTO before FELLTO, LOaf before LOLL.

I thought, I don't know what an LBAR is, but I'll roLL with it. Nor have I ever heard of Ernie ELS, he being a sportster.

I was hoping to see, additionally, a reference to the Knight's move in chess.

Kind of fun.

Van55 said...

What the 'ell?

On first impression I thought the theme was a little lame, perhaps partly due to the sheer length of the reveal. On further examination I concluded that the puzzle is brillllliant! Not only dobwe have the triple l's of the four long answers and the lbar black squares, we also have ELS, ELMO, ILKA, ELAN, ELKS crossing EVIL and EVIL crossing TEL. Plus FELLTO, SELLTO, ELGRECO, LSAT, ELEM, ELAN, ELF and LOLL.

I LLLove it!

imsdave said...

@Van55 - nice catch on all the L's.

@pg - thanks for the Peggy Lee - always appreciated.

Clever puzzle, quite well executed with the grid constraint.

wild captcha - a real person!

demintsc (read DeMint SC)

Avg Joe said...

Guilty here for writing TIN. Didn't know Ilka and Chevy wouldn't fit, so I went with it. Tan never crossed my mind until I googled for Ilki Chase. Damn! LOL at Boehner.

Oh well, we got our daily slew. I wonder if we'll see a lowlying waterlogged area as a clue tomorrow.

Larry S said...

Hand up for TiN. Ouch. "... modern bronze is typically 88% copper and 12% tin." So "Bronze relative" doesn't clue tin, but that's also a pretty flat clue for TAN. And somehow I can't feel badly about not knowing the name ILKA Chase, though I'm sure he or she is a fine person.

@Van55, thanks for pointing out what should have been obvious but I totallly missed. Add LBJ to the list?

Rex Parker said...

Oh come on, it's easy (inevitable?) to have that many "EL" words when you've got a Bajillion Ls in your puzzle by design. Also, it's not that hard to work an "EL" into your puzzle—that's a staple dyad of 4x4 corners everywhere.

This is an ambitious puzzle, and I like it fine. I just wish I could get more excited about LBARS, or the letter "L" in general.


*David* said...

I like the grid, the theme, and the additional connections to the theme/grid. I did not like the multitude of four letter fill that this construction required.

Van55 said...

26 L's in the grid by my count = 14.1 percent of the white squares. I think that's damned impressive even if Rex poo poohs it.

badrog said...

Re 23A: "... everywhere that Mary went the LAMB was sure to go. It followed her to school one day ..."

Van55 said...

@ Larry S --

Yes, I could have included LBJ as well as OPEL in my list.


C said...

First run through, I had TiN but the QC pass through the puzzle caught the error and changed to TAN.

POWERNAP. Sign me up.

Coco said...

It took me forever to parse the reveal & figure out what the hell they were talking about, but finally noted that


appeared in, and adjacent to, all the long theme answers, hence the L-BARS. Except there are no such things as L-Bars, there are only angle irons.

Neophyte said...

Great puzzle. Got on the wrong track at 12d "Cats' quarry"... kept thinking MINE (Caterpillar Inc.) and then 18a SCROLLLINK... Oh, weLLL.

SethG said...

There are 27 Ls. There are 27 Es. Amazing balance.

Some states have no-call lists, but the national registry maintains a do-not-call list. That's what I tried to fit in. And TAN. L-BARS, I tried to avoid filling that in.


Perhaps the most innovative puzzle that I've seen in a long while.
I've used LBARS in concrete work so that was a gimme. The puzzle wasn't particularly difficult once I figured out the theme, but I did make the same mistake as Puzzlegirl with the TAN/TIN thing. I knew ILKA Chase so that made me change TIN to TAN and then I said ooooh the color of bronze. Tin is actually one of the elements that makes up the bronze alloy so I wasn't entirely wrong on that. The other thing that threw me off for a while was putting in POWERBAR instead of POWERNAP. Gee, I should know that... I take far more POWERNAPs than POWERBARS.

I too (like Van55) noticed all the EL words (like ELEM, EL GRECO, ELS etc.) When I noticed that there were 15 EL words, I said "now that is one heck of a clever puzzle."


Rex, can you ever say anything positive?

Solving a slightly harder than Tuesday-level puzzle and having a lot of fun is indeed refreshing. Thank you, Don.
IMO, Don G. is a genius and I thoroughly enjoy all of his puzzles.

Gonna go LOLL in my recliner!


Paul McCartney and Wings- "Mary had a little LAMB"

Eric said...

I loved that the black squares were brought in and made part of the puzzle, instead of just being furniture. I don't think I've ever seen that before. It reminds me of a Sudoku book I have, in which many of the puzzles have clue squares that make patterns: an @-sign, a heart, a rectangle, I think a smiley face...

That sure was a SLEW of ELS, too. Plus, there are four hidden ones! The LLL's in the long theme answers are actually quads, making an L pattern with their crosses -- symmetrical, and in the same orientation as their adjoining black-square L's. E.g. OILLIT x NOCALLLIST. Which means, come to think of it, that the LLL's are symmetrically placed within their theme answers. Taken as a whole, this puzzle demonstrates quite the SKILL LEVEL, no?

I thought 23A was referring to the Virgin Mary, who certainly does have lots of followers, but I don't know if there's a collective name for them. I'm glad I had enough crosses to set me straight, as I've never heard of the BMT line. (I only knew those initials as my usual order from fast-food Subway. I like it that they tie in to the chain's theme.)

I'm liking the recent run of Greek-letter clues where you actually have to know your Greek alphabet. "Letter after pi", and today's "vowel before omicron". Not that I know it that well, but it makes a fun challenge, seeing as the order is close to ours, but not identical.

Anonymous said...

This version of Peggy Lee's Fever has her singing with true "fever", in her younger, "hotter days"!


ddbmc said...

Hell! I liked all the ELS! @Larry, we'll add your "L," as well!

Jersey Shore Snookie has a novel out. Captcha was: nonsnook. My thoughts, exactly!

CrazyCatLady said...

I had TIN and didn't know it was wrong until I read the write-up. ILKI sounded just fine to me.

The puzzle seems to have a plethora of Es too. Thought it was fun, but agree that EL BARS was not that jazzy of an answer for that incredibly long reveal clue at 39A. LIke JNH, I had POWER BAR before NAP

All in all a satisfying Tuesday solve and a nice summary. Funny that we had SLUE yesterday and SLEW today.

Rex Parker said...

There's no E in SNOOKI. But there is an I, unlike in TEAM.

Van55 said...

There's an ME in "team" though.

mac said...

I like the puzzle a lot more now I know about those Ls made out of Ls. You'll laugh was great. Only the top line is the only one without Ls. Too bad. Could have done tale/lice, no?

Rube said...

I agree with Coco about angle iron. Go into a hardware store and ask for L-Bars and you'll get a blank stare. For completeness though, the clue for 39A does include the term "angle irons".

Chuckled at @PG's result of Googling for LBars. I wonder if that clientele referenced uses the term L-Bars.

Didn't anybody have IRT, (Interborough Rapid Transit), like me? Should have known better, but it was the first thing that popped into my head. Hand up for POWERbar and lostTO.

Clever, well constructed puzzle, IMO.

mac said...

@PG: LOL about speaker.

John Wolfenden said...

Don't know if I've seen a reference to the black squares in a puzzle before. Very meta, in a good way.

I'd always heard BEASTLY as an adjective, not an adverb. Goes to show how much I know.

After yesterday's SLUE raised my hackles it's good to see SLEW clued in a way everyone can agree is correct.

PG, did you see the Doonesbury strip where Zonker discusses John Boehner's tan? I loved it.

Avg Joe said...

@John W. I saw that Doonsbury strip when it printed, but had forgotten about it. ROFL. Can't help but be reminded of "How many therapists does is take to change a lightbulb?"

Speaking of the funnies, today's Non Sequitur is a hoot.

Still wondering if the conspiracy continues tomorrow with SLOUGH. :-)

NJ Irish said...

Caught on to all the L's el's and Els. I know nothing about golf but learned about Ernie from xwords.

OK here goes.. I said I'd try to embed a link and it seems not many of you know who Ilka Chase was so if this doesn't work just copy and paste. :-)
Ilka Chase

Sfingi said...

@Rube - you had to name 2 boroughs (burrows if you're a rabbit). Bronx and Manhattan. Memories for me of a half century ago.

@NJ Irish - very good. Now do a YouTube video.

@Average Joe _ _ _ _ _ _ of Despair. Not to be confused with Mollusc that can be killed with salt_ _ _ _.

Eric said...

I'm guessing L-BAR is another word for L-beam, which is "a beam whose [cross] section has the form of an inverted L; usually placed so that its top flange forms part of the edge of a floor." A standard bed frame is made of a lighter-weight version of the stuff, except that in that case the L is right-side-up.

Forgot to mention before: TiN x ILKi and lostTO for me too.

Eric said...

Bed-frame picture; you can see the L shape of the left and right rails.