04.17 Sun

April 17, 2011
Dan Naddor

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme: "Audiovisual Aids" — The letters "AV" are added to familiar phrases to make wacky entries
Theme Entries:
  • 24A: Salon tool for recalcitrant customers? (STYLING GAVEL).
  • 30A: Not the best purple flower? (SUB-PRIME LAVENDER).
  • 45A: Where the experts hang out? (MAVENS' ROOM).
  • 64A: Colorado brewer's rodent mascot? (COORS BEAVER).
  • 77A: Culinary product of a French-Italian region? (SAVOY SAUCE).
  • 97A: Group that ruins commercials? (AD HAVOC COMMITTEE).
  • 104A: Bad news about a tooth? (TWIN CAVITIES).
  • 15D: Prefer Hitchcock's Bodega Bay classic to his other films? (FAVOR THE BIRDS). 
  • 52D: Cryptologist's rant? (DECODER RAVING).
Hey, puzzle fans. Doug here. Today's puzzle is by Dan Naddor, and it's a winner. Solid theme and lots of fun entries throughout the grid. I enjoyed solving it, but I found myself slowing down as I neared the end, savoring the last few answers. This is Dan's final puzzle for the L.A. Times. For those of you who don't know the story, Dan passed away in December 2009 from complications related to cancer. He was an amazingly prolific constructor, and it's wonderful that his puzzles continued to run, bringing humor and joy to his many fans. Rich Norris published over 150 of Dan's puzzles, and it seemed like they'd go on forever. He leaves behind a legacy of creativity and craftsmanship that few can match. Next time you're in a bookstore, pick up an L.A. Times Crossword collection. I can guarantee it'll be jam-packed with Dan's puzzles. They're worth solving again.

  • 1A: "This ___ fine mess you've gotten us into, Ollie!" (IS A). ISA isn't a great entry, but the clue is genius. You read the clue, think of Laurel and Hardy, and forget all about the awkwardness of the entry.
  • 18A: Three-time all-star closer Robb (NEN). One of those weird names that non-baseball people must hate.
  • 22A: Hunter attachment? (GATHERER). Hunter-gatherer.
  • 24A: Salon tool for recalcitrant customers? (STYLING GAVEL). So the hairdresser bonks someone on the head with a gavel, accompanied by a Three Stooges-style empty-coconut sound effect. I love it.
  • 34A: Statistical hypothesis trial (T-TEST). I vaguely remember this from Statistics class. If I look it up and try to explain it, I'm going to give myself a headache.
  • 61A: Boss's address? (E STREET). Bruce Springsteen ("The Boss") and his E Street Band. Awesome clue!
  • 82A: Semicircular antenna housing (RADOME). I had to get this one from the crossing entries, and I wasn't sure whether it was a "radome" or an "R.A. dome." Turns out it's "radome," short for "radar dome." OK, I think we can all remember that the next time it shows up in a grid.
  • 13D: USAF E-6 (TSGT). Short for Technical Sergeant. Do you have to pass a T-test to become a T-Sergeant?
  • 41D: Wrestling holds (NELSONS). For this entry, I couldn't decide whether to use an Iowa Hawkeyes (real) wrestling video, or a "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (fake) wrestling video. So I found a pair of Nelsons that everyone will enjoy.

  • 70A: Recently discontinued retro Chrysler (PT CRUISER). Very cool entry. For those of you who like mini-themes, today we have PT Cruiser, V-chip, A sharp, t-test, E Street, TSgt, MLife, and N-Go.
  • 96A: Abba of Israel (EBAN). If you're not familiar with crossword mainstay Abba Eban, you might wonder how you're supposed to know the name of an Israeli Abba tribute band.
  • 99A: MGM Resorts loyalty program (MLIFE). Tough answer, but easy to get from crossers. I always sign up for a players' club card when I'm in Vegas, but I never redeem the points. I also usually lose the card in about five minutes. 
  • 105A: "Stop-___": UGK hit (N-GO). The song "Stop-N-Go" by the rap group Underground Kingz (UGK). Never heard of any of that. Maybe the Israeli Abba band will do a cover version. The album that features "Stop-N-Go" was produced by "AVEREXX, Below, DJ Paul & Juicy J, Jazze Pha, Joe Traxx, John Bido, Lil Jon, Marley Marl, MoMo, N.O. Joe, Pimp C, Swizz Beatz, DJ B-Do Scarface, and Yung Fyngas." That's a sweet list of rappy names.
I hope you all enjoyed the puzzle. Thanks, Dan!


Bruce S. said...

Nice writeup Doug. I enjoyed doing this puzzle and was glad I knew going in it was Dan's last one in the pipeline since I took my time to enjoy it. I always liked his puzzles and this one was no exception.

StudioCitySteve said...

Amen to @Doug and @Bruce - really enjoyable puzzle and I hope Dan's having all kinds of fun in another dimension.

Doesn't seem right to have any grumps today, so I'll keep my only one to myself.

backbiter said...

I had a few issues with this one, but I'm gonna let all that slide. On to the good stuff. The first theme answer I got was Coors Beaver. And I was like this, "What the hell does that mean? That makes no sense whatsoever!" It wasn't until Styling Gavel when I realized, "Oh, Audiovisual. Add AV". LMAO DUH!
I would be lying if I said I missed Dan the last 16 months because his puzzles were still being published. I just kind of pretended it didn't happen. And now it's over. Thanks Dan for all the puzzle enjoyment you have provided. Now I WILL miss you.



Anonymous said...

I don't usually do the Sunday puzzle but was up early today and had some time after doing the sudoku and acrostic. Plus I had read PG's comment about DN yesterday so I gave it a shot while watching golf and the Orioles losing their sixth in a row after starting 6-1. Thoroughly enjoyable with a creative theme. Next to Barry Silk, I think Naddor's grids are the most fun and challenging.

StudioCitySteve said...

No blog post today for Merl Reagle in the print edition, so I'll just hijack this one and say "meh".

How does MINCEMEAT fit the theme (which was shaky at best anyway)?

VSO? Let's just leave the P off and call it a clue. I have a bunch of other grumps.

Merl has a big fan club - I'm not convinced.

syndy said...

Dan Naddor's swan song was as sweet as it could be! but now I really want to see the Coors Beaver commercial-hopefully the adhavoc committee won't get to it!

JTH said...

Merl didn't leave a post for the Sunday puzzle. Maybe afraid of too much criticism for this puzzle. Like Steve said about VSO without the P - not good. Once again, I have to say way too many nonsensical abbreviations that must make the puzzle easier for Merl to construct but harder to solve because of the lack of logic. Can someone explain why using ital for italic is a good clue?
And battered does not fit the compound word answer format established in all the other theme answers until combination which kind of sums up the theme.