02.09 Wed

W E D N E S D A Y February 9, 2011
Samuel A. Donaldson

Theme: All this for just $19.95!!! — Theme answers are familiar phrases heard on infomercials.

Theme answers:

  • 22A/24A: Infomercial appeal (BUT WAIT / THERE'S MORE).
  • 38A/49A: Infomercial appeal (OUR OPERATORS ARE / STANDING BY).
  • 54A: Infomercial appeal (CALL NOW).
Fun theme. Brings to mind Dan Aykroyd and the "Bass-o-Matic." Yuck. (Yet hilarious nonetheless.) Good stuff in this grid. Love the long downs with their preponderance of Zs: HAZARD PAY and GRIZZLIES. Other highlights for me include:
  • 8D: "Mean" señor (HOMBRE).
  • 46D: Knucklehead (NITWIT).
  • 26D: South Pacific island region (OCEANIA).
We've also got a little bit of that "paired cluing" we've been talking about lately with:
  • 18A: "The Lion King" king (SIMBA).
  • 30D: Lyon king (ROI).
That seems particularly clever to me for some reason. Also:
  • 42A: Yves or Yvette, e.g. (NOM). More French!
  • 57A: "Yes, Yvette" ("OUI"). Still more French!
The most trouble I had in this grid — and I can't believe I'm telling you this — is where I entered KIMONO for KOMODO (35D: __ dragon: largest living lizard). That's one of the more ridiculous missteps I've had in quite a while. One time last year I was working a puzzle where the clue was "Southern morsel" and I already had CRA**** in the grid. The answer, of course, is CRAWDAD, but I entered CRAISIN. HAha!

  • 6A: Home censorship aid (V-CHIP). I just realized that I don't know exactly what this is. Is it hardware? Like an actual part of a television set? Or is it software that you set up through your cable company? I'm not the most diligent parent, is what I'm saying.
  • 11A: Journalist's last question? (HOW). The first questions, of course, are WHAT, WHERE, WHY, and COOKIES?
  • 14A: "Au contraire!" ("NOT SO!"). I tried NO WAY first.
  • 15A: "You think I'm to blame?" ("WHO ME?").
  • 16A: "If you even dream of beating me you'd better wake up and apologize" boaster (ALI). Okay, that's just awesome.
  • 28A: Likely loser in war (DEUCE). "War" in this case refers to the card game.
  • 58A: Nook download (E-BOOK). No love for the Kindle, huh?
  • 64A: "Do ___ to eat a peach?": Eliot (I DARE). This is from Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," which I've never read. But now that I've admitted that publicly, I'll probably go do it. Wikipedia tells me it's "one of the most recognized voices in 20th-century literature, and is the quintessential urban zeitgeist of the 20th century," so, yeah, it seems like something worth reading. We'll see.
  • 65A: MI and LA (STS.). MI and LA are postal codes for the states (STS.) of Michigan and Louisiana.
  • 67A: "So Much in Love" singers, with "The" (TYMES). The song sounds familiar, but I'm quite sure I've never heard of the TYMES. Here's some guys you probably know covering the song:

  • 2D: Actor Lundgren of "Rocky IV" (DOLPH). It's almost embarrassing how quickly this answer came to mind.
  • 11D: Incentive for dangerous work (HAZARD PAY).
  • 13D: Volume component (WIDTH). I was stuck on the audio type of volume. Took me quite a few crosses before I remembered volume = length x WIDTH x height.
Have a great day, everybody. See you back here tomorrow.[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Utopian (IDEAL); 17A: Spanish silver (PLATA); 19A: Londoner's last letter (ZED); 20A: Raising (UPPING); 27A: St. Louis landmark (ARCH); 29A: Like stale jokes (OLD); 30A: Riches' opposite (RAGS); 34A: Struggle (VIE); 35A: "The change is yours" ("KEEP IT"); 41A: Conditional promise (IF I CAN); 43A: Some votes (AYES); 44A: Clearasil target (ZIT); 45A: "__ the G String": Bach work (AIR ON); 47A: Chichén __: Mayan ruins (ITZA); 56A: Verdi opera with a Shakespearean plot (OTELLO); 61A: Inflict, as havoc (WREAK); 62A: Las Vegas-to-Salt Lake City dir. (NNE); 63A: Sparkle (VERVE); 66A: Alan of "Little Miss Sunshine" (ARKIN); 1D: Feedback (INPUT); 3D: Troops encampment (ÉTAPE); 4D: Buzzing with activity (ASTIR); 5D: Advanced (LOANED); 6D: Rd. Rabbits (VW'S); 7D: X, to Greeks (CHI); 9D: Permeate (IMBUE); 10D: Gardening moss (PEAT); 12D: Acid used in soap (OLEIC); 21D: International finance coalition (G-SEVEN); 23D: Polish Solidarity leader (WALESA); 25D: Sierra Club founder (MUIR); 29D: "__ the ramparts ..." (O'ER); 31D: "__ Wiedersehen" (AUF); 32D: University of Montana athletes (GRIZZLIES); 33D: Gregarious (SOCIAL); 36D: Wrath (IRE); 37D: French possessive (TES); 39D: Back stroke? (PAT); 40D: Conflicted (TORN); 45D: On the job (AT WORK); 47D: Desktop images (ICONS); 48D: Needle (TAUNT); 49D: Neither stewed nor pickled? (SOBER); 50D: Hardly cool (NERDY); 51D: Twinkle (GLEAM); 52D: Trumpet sound (BLARE); 53D: Joins, as oxen (YOKES); 55D: Lake Tahoe's aptly named Cal __ Casino (NEVA); 59D: Egg: Pref. (OVI-); 60D: Baseball's Griffey (Jr., too) (KEN).


GirlboyChrissyM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sfingi said...

I thought this would be a lot harder when I started. Was afraid I was finally "aging out."

I had checked a dozen things I might have to Google - but only Googled DOLPH (7th listed actor in Rocky IV) and PLATA. The Italian, argento, is quite different. (The German is Silber, our root). This happens once in a while, as in pero and canino, for dog, but not much.
However, these 2 unknowns were in the same corner, creating a Googly Natick.

I also didn't quite get the theme, at first. Thought they meant by appeal as in eliciting desire in the viewer, not in begging. But this is good, as a fair challenge.

I also never heard of The TYMES and Cal NEVA, and didn't know ETAPE, TES, and GRIZZLIES; and had to be reminded of ITZA, MUIR, VCHIP, GSEVEN, ARKIN, SIMBA, WALESA (or, at least how to spell him). Got all of that and the French by crosses.

Did not understand why HOMBRE was "mean," or why CAL NEVA is aptly named. Snowy? Not when I went to Tahoe. Why is HOW a journalist's last question? By "likely loser in war," does Donaldson mean the card game? If so, I would have capped it. Unless he meant the Devil.

Rd. Rabbits was clever, and there was very little junk fill.

Anonymous said...

@Sfingi Lake Tahoe spans CALifornia and NEVAda. I don't know how HOW is a journalist's last question, because it's Who, what, when, where and why. The five Ws.

Anonymous said...

Refreshing theme, but my spelling errors on Komodo & Arkin set me back.

Etape crossing with Plata was new & rough.

Cal Neva is aptly named as Tahoe is on the border of CALifornia and NEVAda.

Loved the Ali quote, which reminds me of Dolph's line as Ivan Drago, "I must break you."

Anonymous said...

eTape is necessary to fix a rip on a page of your eBook

*David* said...

I found this a purty easy puzzle and a fresh theme. I finished this one in 4;01 after three doughnuts, two eggs, and four cups of black coffee. There were a lot of stains on the paper and I am a multitasker.

Anonymous said...

So many great lines in Prufrock. Hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Testing. My laptop has turned German.

Anonymous said...

You had Kimono. I had Kabota. Thought the tractors were named after the Dragons. Not so. I must watch too much television. Used the theme answers to solve the rest.

Tuttle said...

PLATA is an eliding of plata d'argento, "plate of silver". And its diminutive, platina, gives us the word "platinum".

Only slow-down I had at all today was 41A where I had "ifthen" crossing with "pet" for a while.

What I learned today: The Ali quote (and the similar quote from Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs) is a paraphrase of a line from 1938's Angels With Dirty Faces where Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) says "You slap me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize".

CarolC said...

@sfingi, I was taught the questions as "Who, What, When, Where, Why, and sometimes HOW".

@PG, I also fell for KIMONO, in retrospect realizing that I knew better than that, and tried NO WAY. Tried NINNIE but corrected it to NITWIT.

That blanket thingie whose name I can't remember is a great illustration of the theme!!

Captcha is "algir" which with a little imagination leads me to Horatio Alger & RAGS to riches! I have my tax appointment today so IF I CAN, I hope to emerge with a refund coming instead of a large bill to pay which could WREAK havoc on my finances.

lit.doc said...

@PG, would the LAT ever print a previously-published puzzle?? I’d swear I’ve solved a puzzle within the last year with more or less the exact same theme. I gather from remarks Rex has made that there’s a data base where such things can be checked, but I don’t recall what it is.

@Anon 8:15, LOL at your def of eTape!

CrazyCatLady said...

Had kind of a tough time getting started today, but once I got a toe hold at PEAT, it went smoothly. I don't watch infomercials, but the theme answers were easy. Liked the four French answers, NOM, OUI, TES and ROI. I thought "O'ER the ramparts" was timely since that was the line of the national anthem that Christina Aguilera flubbed at the Super Bowl. WOTDS for me were OLEIC and Chichén ITZA.

For some weird reason I will always remember the time Sharon Stone's husband was attacked by the KOMODO dragon at the LA zoo.

Does VW still make Rabbits?

Anonymous said...

CalNeva lodge/casino is right on the boarder of Cal and Nev. Part of the lodge is in Cal and part in Nev. It use to be strange at 2am, if you wanted to keep drinking you had to move to the Nev side of the club. Lots of fun in the good old days.

Larry S said...

I too did a literal LOL at the redefinition of ETAPE.

This puzzle was unique in having an easy theme that yielded a lot of letters--and yet I still had lots of problems and an eventual DNF. Mistakes: rOLPH, eMBUE. (By the way, there's embed and imbed, but IMBUE but no embue. Oh foo!)

Erasures: Why for HOW (I remember now that HOW? is the sixth question, but it seemed logical that the series end in the all-important Why?). UPlIft for UPPING. That held up the NW for quite a while. And like Tuttle, IFtheN for IFICAN.

I agree that War if a card game should be capitalized.

Sfingi said...

@Tuttle - You are doubly helpful! Thanx.
The deacons at my church are so concerned that the service pieces will be stolen. I said, "But they're only silver plate!" But - the thieves don't know the difference, cuz, as Jay Leno points out -they're stupid. Anyway, PLATA d'argento, and it's like Italian, after all.

@Carl C - Speaking of Leno, he keeps making fun of Snuggies to the point where I've decided to get one. Might save on this year's horrid heat bills. I bought one for a relative's little dog - to match her wild animal fur decor. I'll take any color. Camouflage pink would be nice.

@Anon1101 - Aha! So, is the expression CalNEVA common, in them parts?

If you haven't done the NYT, don't read my next comment:
@David - that's just your breakfast? You must be a lumber Jack.

SethG said...

I played for an ultimate team named ShamWow!. After a year, we thought of changing our name to Slap Chop and wearing HD Vision WrapArounds.

My favorite parodies include the Bass-o-Matic, Dentist In A Box, and the Shake Weight DVD.

Joon said...

card games aren't capitalized unless they're trademarked games with a specialized deck (e.g. uno, set, fluxx, falling, san juan ...). card games that use regular playing cards are lowercase common nouns (war, bridge, hearts, canasta, poker, pinochle, cribbage, rummy, gin, etc.).

Joon said...

hmm, i guess that distinction would've been clearer if i ever capitalized the first letter of anything.



Doug P said...


No, the LA Times would never run a previously published puzzle, but theme ideas do get recycled sometimes. I don't remember any puzzle with this set of entries, and the clever way that Sam split them up to retain symmetry is undoubtedly original.

There's a database at www.cruciverb.com, but you have to be a Gold member to access it. I think it's $35/year. Totally worth it if you're interested in constructing puzzles.

John Wolfenden said...

CCL, I had the same thought about KOMODO dragon...Sharon Stone's husband Phillip Bronfman got bitten on the foot after she used her clout to gain access to the exhibit at the L.A. Zoo.

The zookeeper had actually suggested they take off their shoes, since the dragons might mistake white sneakers for rats. As it turned out one of them figured out that Bronfman's flesh-colored feet were...delicious feet!

No joke to be bitten by those things though, their saliva is a potent bacterial cocktail that kills quickly and necessitated a week-long hospital stay.

Sfingi said...

@Joon - I did not know that!

@litdoc - Maybe you had a dream. I once had one in which there was a crossword totally about my life. I'm still waiting.

CrazyCatLady said...


I don't want to be mean, but I always thought Sharon Stone was a bit of a NITWIT about that whole KOMODO incident.

Sharon Stone "Time" Interview