04.20 Wed

April 20, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C. C. Burnikel

Theme: Family Affair — Nicknames for family members are hidden within familiar phrases.

Theme answers:

  • 21A: *Ages (FOREVER AND A DAY).
  • 29A: *Surgery prep area (SCRUB ROOM).
  • 39A: *"Aha!" (JUST AS I SUSPECTED).
  • 48A: *Bout with very big contestants (SUMO MATCH).
  • 59A: Groundbreaking sitcom, and a hint to four different three-letter words concealed by starred answers (ALL IN THE FAMILY).
Today we have another nice puzzle from veteran Don Gagliardo and my crossword blogging colleague, C. C. Burnikel. As you may know, I'm kinda rushing this week, so let me just make a couple points about this theme and this grid and then we'll jump straight to bullets.

For this kind of theme to avoid being completely boring, a couple things have to happen. First, you really want to start with sparkly theme phrases. In this case, SCRUB ROOM and SUMO MATCH seem a little bland, but FOREVER AND A DAY and JUST AS I SUSPECTED are completely awesome. Second, it's much more elegant for the "hidden" words to span multiple words in the theme phrases. If DAD were hidden in, say, CRAWDAD, well, that wouldn't be very impressive now would it? No, it would not. But starting with a fun phrase like FOREVER AND A DAY and then finding the hidden word breaking across three words is very nice. Even if you started with a fun theme answer like DADDY WARBUCKS, that would still be blah for two reasons: (1) the hidden word is found whole inside another word and (2) the hidden word and the clue for the hidden word have exactly the same meaning. The theme today is well done is what I'm saying.

As for the fill, there are definitely some sparkly entries — STONER, MY HERO, WORF — but you sure hate to see an entry like AGI hanging out over there (47A: Form 1040 calc.), especially when that G could easily have been changed to an N. No, ANI crossing LENO isn't ideal fill, but if it allows you to get rid of AGI, I'm thinking you wanna take that risk.

I'm gonna go ahead and put the Crosswordese 101 round-up right up front today. I know somebody is going to ask about ENS (26A: Minnesota twins?) which, if you've been following the blog for a while you know is a "literal letter" clue. So to you, gentle yet confused reader, here's your answer.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 25A: Old Olds creation (REO).
  • 26A: Minnesota twins? (ENS).
  • 7D: Banned apple spray (ALAR).
  • 42D: Thurman of "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 61D: Mythical archer (EROS).
  • 63D: River of Flanders (YSER).
  • 1A: Berlin Olympics star (OWENS).
  • 17A: Pheasant ragout (SALMI). Wow. No idea. Is this a common thing that's just not in my sphere of knowledge?
  • 27A: Buff (FAN). Very tricky. With the AN in place, I plopped a T in there without thinking too much about it.
  • 45A: "Really __ ...": "Tears of a Clown" lyric (I'M SAD). Oh sure, why not?

  • 56A: Prefix with moron (OXY-). I can't hear the word OXYmoron without thinking of George Carlin who, I believe, was the very first host of SNL (64D: NBC hit since '75).
  • 66A: Live (EXIST). Another tricky clue depending on which pronunciation you chose to start with.
  • 9D: He who is without sin? (STONER). Ha!
  • 10D: Links gp. (USGA). I tried LPGA first.
  • 30D: Reine's spouse (ROI). French!
  • 40D: It usually includes crossed-off items (TASK LIST). Please tell me I'm not the only one who tried TO-DO LIST first.
  • 41D: Soccer star Freddy (ADU). Since I started working in real estate law, ADU means Affordable Dwelling Units to me.
  • 52D: Big hits (HOMERS). Another tricky clue. I was thinking music, not baseball.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 6A: Test sites (LABS); 10A: Unexpected result (UPSET); 15A: "The King's Speech" Oscar winner Firth (COLIN); 16A: Touched down (ALIT); 18A: Far from fresh (TRITE); 19A: Snack in a shell (TACO); 20A: Garden figure (GNOME); 24A: Spelling on screen (TORI); 33A: Glob suffix (-ULE); 34A: Mack Sennett lawman (KOP); 35A: Hard-twisted cotton thread (LISLE); 46A: __ tai (MAI); 53A: Droid (BOT); 54A: Go on and on (YAK); 57A: He succeeded Boutros (KOFI); 64A: Arab big shot (SHEIK); 65A: Sleek, in car talk (AERO); 68A: Like the Vikings (NORSE); 69A: Fairway club (IRON); 70A: Religious practices (RITES); 71A: Led Zeppelin's "Whole __ Love" (LOTTA); 72A: At sea (LOST); 73A: Foam opener (STYRO-); 1D: Fall mo. (OCT.); 2D: Klingon officer in the "Star Trek" franchise (WORF); 3D: "The Untouchables" co-author, 1957 (ELIOT NESS); 4D: Powerful liquid, for short (NITRO); 5D: Derisive looks (SNEERS); 6D: Incurring a fine, maybe (LATE); 8D: Antacid choice, briefly (BICARB); 11D: Prevalent all over (PANDEMIC); 12D: Memorial __-Kettering: NYC hospital (SLOAN); 13D: Tube awards (EMMYS); 14D: Draw (TIE); 22D: VapoRub maker (VICKS); 23D: Durante's "Inka Dinka __" (DOO); 27D: Japan's highest mountain (FUJI); 28D: Grad (ALUM); 31D: FedEx rival (UPS); 32D: Bullring shout (OLÉ); 36D: Balance (STABILITY); 37D: Kids' block (LEGO); 38D: Do some cutting (EDIT); 43D: Used a stool (SAT); 44D: "__ card, any card" (PICK A); 49D: Many a Fed. holiday (MON.); 50D: Beefy stew ingredient (OXTAIL); 51D: "You saved me!" ("MY HERO!"); 54D: Shout of delight (YAHOO); 55D: All ears (ALERT); 58D: Handy "Mr." (FIX-IT); 60D: Swedish furniture chain (IKEA); 62D: Type type (FONT); 67D: Chicken general? (TSO).


Pete said...

I would have sworn I never heard the phrase TASKLIST. I still swear I never heard of SALMI, and it doesn't Google well - It isn't until the seventh page that there's a site where someone discusses salmi as clued, i.e. give a recipe for salmi, say how much they love salmi, etc. The rest are proper names, definitions, sites in Russia etc.

The move will suck, then it will be over, then you'll be in a new house, one more suitable for your family. That's good.

gina713 said...

I also had tan for fan and originally had lpga instead of usga. Other than that, it was a smooth fill. Moving with small kids and all there toys and stuff is the worst part. Not to mention if your spouse holds on to anything anyone has ever given to her because it has sentimental value further burdens the already taxing day. Than the unpacking, ugh.

DK said...

I loved this puzzle, but encountered every single problem you did. I had to google to get salmi. And, even then, it was tough. I googled "pheasant ragout almi." Google offered the correction. Never heard of USGA. The theme was clever, but didn't help with the solution.

Anonymous said...

Salmi, AGI, are they serious!?! Tricky rascals......

syndy said...

Also loved the puzzle:also fell into every trap!TODOLIST! ran thru the alphabet until SALMI made the little man drop.But I had so much LOVE for the Puzzle that it was OK!(so much better than the NYT)

kerrys said...

I don't follow your logic why AGI is bad. I think it was a good clue/solution, seeing tax day was just two days ago. Also what would be your clue for ANI?

Anonymous said...

@PG -

I'm surprised you didn't mention the unusual grid size...


Tuttle said...

Ah yes, SALMI of Pheasant. Wrong word for the dish, overly complex and tastes horrible. A veritable poster-child for British cuisine.

A salmagundi is a French salad of various cooked meats and vegetables. How the hell the English derived a gamey stew from that term nobody knows. And I didn't think anyone had cared since the turn of last century anyways.

Penning in FOREVERANDever for 23A didn't help me with that corner either.

StudioCitySteve said...

I got SALMI through the crosses and I've never heard of it, and I've eaten a lot of pheasant in my time (and a lot of most everything else). Super-obscure, didn't like it.

Can someone explain FAN? I flat-out don't get it.

I have a TASK LIST in front of me right now on my Outlook homepage (and it's got a lot of stuff on it, very little of which has been crossed-off - I'd better cut this post short.

And @Anon 9:02, I've not seen a 16x15 before either - I didn't really notice until I saw the row of grey squares at the bottom (from the LA Times online site) - I thought it was a computer glitch at first.

Rube said...

Had to Google TORI Spelling to find out she was an actress. Never heard of her. 'Course don't know the words to "Tears of a Cloown", either. At least that was an easy guess.

AGI seems OK to me too. If I was to complain, it would be about the partial PICKA. Love words like PANDEMIC in my crosswords.

Fine puzzle.

Ruth said...

@StudioCity: something like "opera BUFF" equivalent to "opera FAN" is how I explained it to myself.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand ens for Minnesota twins. Would someone clue me in?

Helpful Guy said...

@Anon 9:30 There are two 'N's, spelled ENS, in MiNNesota. A Mississippi foursome would be ESSES.

hebow44 said...

I, too, had LPGA, but wasn't able to set things right in that corner ... and I'm an avid golfer/hacker. Blinded by the specific over the general. Great clues for this puzzle; an enjoyable solve.

JaxInL.A. said...

I know it's probably obvious, but I don't get without sin for STONER, even with the ? Help? I agree with @syndy that this puzzle is better than today's NYT.

Congratulations, C.C. on another puzzle so soon, and to Don for being a good partner.

StudioCitySteve said...

@Ruth -- ohhhhhh, now I get it, thank you! Complete brain-f on that one.

Off-topic, did you all see the story about the marriage proposal in the Washington Post sunday crossword this week? Nice story - Google the news pages and you'll find it.

StudioCitySteve said...

@JaxInLA - it's a play on a biblical quote "Let he who be without sin cast the first stone" - therefore the "STONER" is without sin. Not sure I like the context of the clue myself being as it's a story about stoning a woman to death, but there you go.

Anonymous said...

@JaxInLA - Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Old Joke: Jesus was walking around Gallilea and came across a mob throwing stones at a fallen woman. He said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". This old lady came forward, grabbed a boulder and smashed the fallen woman's head. Jesus: "You know Ma, sometimes you really piss me off".

CoffeeLvr said...

PG, hand up for TodoLIST, lpGA, SALMI as a complete unknown, likewise KOP. Both of the last were barely gettable through crosses.

I had Fit before FAN at 27A; thought ELIOT could have a second T, until a three letter last name made no sense.

TASKLIST was part of some "productivity" software used in my former office. Ugh. Useful for managers, perhaps, but not for the managed.

Despite the two really tough spots mentioned above, I found this pretty easy. ALL IN THE FAMILY popped into my head without a conscious thought, and no crosses in place.

A big YAHOO for my son today, just accepted into Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.

Nighthawk said...

Hand up for both tAN before FAN and todoLIST before TASKLIST.

SALMI is interesting. Thanks, @Tuttle, for the explanation.

Other unknowns that needed crosses: soccer's ADU, Star Trek's WORF.

Oddly, the theme answers seemed to autofill after a few downs. But did not see the mechanics of the theme until I read @PG's ever sparkling writeup.

Lots of fun fill. And I agree with others. Unless you're the kind to leave your receipts and other tax data in a paper bag in your accountant's office and sign the return without looking, particularly these last few weeks, AGI should be top of mind for most of us.

tutu said...

French! Ha! Still funny after all these weeks,I mean who laughs at crossword writeups? Me, thats who, when PG is at it,thankx for that one.So you're moving, holding down a job,blogging and raising a family! I bow to you my friend, please keep up the good spirits. Plus upcoming holidays and all that jazz. No wonder Stoner is your Hero! Just kidding, but I know what I read...Hee Hee

C said...

"People on ludes should not drive." My favorite STONER line of all.

Fun puzzle. I am not a purist so the AGI is AOK to me. If I were to quibble, and I am, "soccer star" and Freddie ADU are orthogonal to each other, i.e. no overlap. Need a sarcastic ? at the end of the clue to make it work.

badams52 said...

Couldn't have said it better myself PG. Loved Forever and a Day, and Just as I suspected.

Also had lpGA before USGA. Didn't have tAN before FAN though. I always work the downs first. I want some crosses before I hit the long theme words.