04.21 Thu

April 21, 2011
Neville L. Fogarty

Theme: OMG! One Masterful Grid — Three-letter "netspeak" abbreviations are used as the inspiration for theme entries that begin with the same three letters.

Theme Entries:
  • 17A: Acquire incriminating info (on), as hinted by 19-Across (GET THE GOODS).
  • 19A: "I'm heading out," in netspeak (GTG).
  • 33A: Lament about a lost opportunity, as hinted by 32-Across (I MISSED OUT).
  • 32A: "Here's how I see it," in netspeak (IMO).
  • 38A: "Break time's over," as hinted by 41-Across (BACK TO WORK).
  • 41A: "Oh, and did I mention ...," in netspeak (BTW).
  • 56A: Charity for young alopecia sufferers, as hinted by 55-Across (LOCKS OF LOVE).
  • 55A: "That's too funny!" in netspeak (LOL).
(The netspeak abbreviations stand for Got To Go, In My Opinion, By The Way, and Laughing Out Loud.)

Hey, puzzle fans. Doug here today. If you follow the blog, you know that PuzzleGirl and her family are moving this weekend, and she's a little busier than usual. So you're going to have to put up with fill-in bloggers for the next few days. We'll do our best to keep things light and puzzly. (I hope PuzzleGirl's not checking up on me today, because the purple in my grid doesn't go with the blog color scheme. She'll think it clashes. Looks OK to me.)

Fun puzzle from Neville Fogarty. The first thing I noticed was that the pattern of black squares in the grid was unusual. So I suspected that the theme was going to be out of the ordinary. Yep, Neville had to place a three-letter entry next to each of the long theme entries, and that explains the interesting grid design. I like the way it sort of looks like a whirlpool in the center.

As for the theme itself, I liked that too. These new-fangled chat/text abbreviations the kids are using have been a boon for crossword constructors. We love new three-letter entries! I don't know which constructor was the first to put LOL or OMG into a grid, but the floodgates have been opened and there's no going back. Fifty years from now, people are still going to see LOL in their crosswords and they'll wonder what the heck "Texter's titter" means. Anyway, Neville made clever use of four common texting abbreviations today. And I thought the theme answers got better as I moved down the puzzle. GET THE GOODS is a little clunky without "on," but not horrible. I MISSED OUT is good. BACK TO WORK & LOCKS OF LOVE are excellent. I read an article in a local newspaper yesterday about a seven-year old girl who donated her knee-length hair to Locks of Love, so that entry jumped out at me. I'd donate my hair if I had any left.

There's plenty of cool stuff in the rest of the grid, so let's get to it.

  • 11A: Is for all? (ARE). "Are" is the plural form of "is." Hmmm, I'm not positive that "plural form" is the correct term, but you get the idea, right?
  • 23A: Pearl weights (CARATS). I wasn't sure whether this was going to be CARATS or KARATS. Then I remembered that carats are units of weight, and karats are units of purity (24k gold, e.g.). PuzzleGirl probably has a good mnemonic to help you remember that.
  • 25A: Stone's 14: Abbr. (LBS). A stone is equivalent to 14 pounds. They still use that measurement in the UK apparently. I heard that Kate Middleton weighs around eight stone (112 pounds) and she'd like to gain another stone before her big wedding. Sounds painful.
  • 62A: Turn right? (ORIENT). Great clue. If you turn someone the right way, you orient them. I have a horrible sense of direction, so I need a lot of orienting.
  • 65A: Large TV family (BRADYS). Nine of them, if you count Cousin Oliver.
  • 5D: Greets the visitors (JEERS). Clue of the day. My first thought was "Wow, that's rude." Then I figured it out. When you're at the ballpark, how do you greet the visiting team? With boos and hisses and jeers.
  • 23D: "Avatar" spec. effects (CGI). Short for computer-generated imagery.
  • 41D: Robin's way down (BATPOLE). Holy awesome entry, Neville! I've seen the Batmobile and the Batcave in puzzles before, but never the Batpole. I love it.

  • 44D: One taking a lot of notes (TELLER). Bank teller. Another super clue.
  • 54D: "Ohio" folk-rock quartet, initially (CSNY). Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I just noticed that if you put an "I" in the middle, you get the TV show "CSI: NY." Trippy.
  • 43D: Bentley of "Ghost Rider" (WES). Ghost Rider might be my second favorite comic book character after Batman. Why? Because he's a flaming skeleton who rides a motorcycle. It doesn't get much cooler than that. I saw the "Ghost Rider" movie, and it....wasn't good. But it had scenes with a flaming skeleton riding a motorcycle, so I feel I got my money's worth. Also, you could pretend that Nicolas Cage was actually on fire, and that was fun. All that said, I have no idea who Wes Bentley is.
  • 59A: Soccer mom's need (VAN). You also need one if you're moving. I really wish I lived near PuzzleGirl so I could help her move some furniture. Too bad I'm on the other side of the country. I'm heartbroken.
PG has lined up some talented guest bloggers for Friday and Saturday. I'll see you all on Sunday. TTFN.


Mari said...

Took me a minute to see the "whilrpool" in the grid, but I got it. Good eye!

Neville said...


Thanks for the write-up today. You know I love the Pearl photo :) Your comment about a Masterful Grid might be a bit of hyperbole, though - but I'll take it! Favorite entry: BATPOLE.

Yes, wasn't this a strange looking grid? I usually go for more interlock, but in a way each full line is just one whole theme entry - maybe? Yes, we'll just call it an interesting whirlpool and leave it at that.

I think the purple looks nice!


VirginiaC said...

Loved the purple! Loved this Puzzle! GreT morning!

VirginiaC said...

Oops that should be Great morning. this iPad keyboard is hard on a typist!

Pete said...

I don't see APOLLOS as good-lookers. ADONIS[]S, yes, APOLLOS no. Apollo never had any special reputation as handsome. He was the god of oracles, so maybe he saw the future better than most, but I can't believe that's what they're getting at here.

Hephaestus said...

One of the dictionary definitions of apollo (lowercase) is "A young man of great physical beauty."

badams52 said...

Excellent write-up Doug. Spot on with my feelings on the theme. Also good use of the puzzle theme to title the puzzle. Almost missed it except for the hyperbole.

Thanks for he explanation of JEERS. Couldn't figure that one out.

Since we had USGA instead of LPGA yesterday, didn't get fooled by this one.

@Neville, maybe Doug just couldn't think up any other M words that weren't hyperbolic. Let's see, magnificent, mediocre, melancholy, mixed-up, messed-up, marvelous, hmmm.

syndy said...

Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt but was never Pharoah.Net talk has to be the laziest puzzle constructors tool ever! sorry hated this one

Tuttle said...

Pearl Forrester for the win!

Now if we can get Bobo and Brain Guy into the grid somehow ...

I liked JEERS crossing world cup winning ESPANA. Just watched the Copa Del Rey (Spanish soccer cup) final last night. Much JEERing en ESPANA was to be heard. Although it was on neutral ground so everyone was a visitor really.

Although the biggest JEER needs to be reserved for Sergio Ramos who while celebrating the victory riding on top of a bus through Valencia dropped the trophy, which the bus then ran over.

Tuttle said...

Syndy, Cleopatra VII held the title of Pharaoh as well as Basillissa (Queen). In fact, the Egyptians even called the emperors of Rome pharaohs, although the Romans only used the title in Egypt itself and history generally considers Cleopatra to be the last of the pharaohs and her house, the Ptolemies, as the last dynasty of royal Egypt.

I don't like her being clued "briefly", there's no evidence anyone ever referred to her as CLEO (probably a good way to become divorced from your head in a hurry), but that's just me.

Pete said...

@Hephaestus - Yes, I know there's dictionary support for this and every entry in almost every puzzle. I wasn't questioning whether it's a valid clue but rather whether it's a good clue. When "He was an Adonis" out-googles "He was an Apollo" 6.5 million to 20 (that's 20, not 20 million), one can't really say that Apollo was an archetype of handsomeness in support of this clue. Clue it as "They'll send you to the moon" and all's well.

Nighthawk said...

Fun write-up, @Doug P. Zippy. Liked the thematic title and sign-off.

Aside from the fun theme (and thank goodness we've gotten past pager abbreviations), the fill was interesting and pretty lively.

Liked the song clue of ANGELOU juxtaposed to the Civil War song AURALEE. And LOL at WRECKED next to CSNY. Trippy, indeed.

Stumblers for me were: JUAREZ, ARE, EGGS ON, BOUT, Eliza's 'ENRY, CRATES for some unknown reason, and mis-parsed TEN K.

Actually realized the theme while solving, rather than afterwards, which added to the fun and was helpful.

Brian said...

Great theme and the fill really came together once it came to light. Only complaint- I really don't like it when two obscure names cross (ESPANA X RAO in this grid) and no amount of logic will help to figure them out.

StudioCitySteve said...

Couple of gripes today. I have to say I agree with @syndy about CLEO - took me a while to force myself to fill that in.

IMO - not sure about this, it's usually IMHO (in my humble opinion). IMHO IMO isn't used.

The obscure crossings top-center got me miffed - JUAREZ, RAU, ZASU. Agree with @Pete about APOLLO too.

I still can't see a whirlpool, do I need my 3D CGI purple glasses?

*David* said...

@Pete That's what defines a tricky(ier) clue from an obvious one. taking a different slant on a definition. How boring all puzzles would be if we took the most popular or obvious definition.

I would have liked the clue between the internet term and the theme to have been a more obscure. Something like "netspeak hint to 19-Across" having two fills connecting to each other with descriptive clues to each other made the puzzle easier then it should've been.

C said...

I enjoyed solving the puzzle today. I liked the newish approach to the theme, thumbs up for trying something new.

IMO, FWIW, the cluing for the puzzle was rather sparkly and fresh. BATPOLE was the answer of the day for me.

@tuttle, dropping the trophy and watching the bus run it over was hilarious. They are soccer (football) players so not so good with their hands after all ...

Anonymous said...


I agree that the themed clues should have been more obscure.

Fun puzzle - but it seemed more for a Monday or Tuesday. Definitely not a Thursday!

Here's to hoping tomorrow's difficulty will more than make up for it...

Anonymous said...

Purple - what purple? Dead tree version does not come in purple. Biggest gimme that just jumped out was Stone's 14 - loved it.

Espana was also a gimme - though I rooted for the Netherlands.

Poor Lionel Messi looked devastated yesterday.

Ken said...

Bullish start? = taur HELP!

John Wolfenden said...

An undeniably nifty double theme. I liked "Is for all?" for ARE and "Turn right?" for ORIENT. Don't think I've ever seen BATPOLE before.

I second the gripes about APOLLOS, and like Pete's solution. SCS, I've seen IMO more than IMHO but they both seem pretty common. Can't say I've ever heard of a NETMAN before. Is it a reference to the dudes who used get the ball out of the basket before they figured out to cut out the bottom? I guess then it would be BASKETMAN.

AURALEE was an interesting captcha, thought for sure it was LORILEE.

I remember learning while reading Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast" that name of the emo band "Better than Ezra" is an EZRA Pound reference from that book.

Doug P said...

@Ken -

TAUR- is a prefix that means "bull." The only common word I can think of that starts with TAUR- is TAURUS. Then there are weird words like TAUROMACHY (bullfighting) and TAURIFORM (shaped like a bull).

Anonymous said...

IMO some clues were a little off, but overall not bad. I mostly agree with the arguments surrounding CLEO and APOLLO.

Lots of erasing because my first hunches didn't work. I agree using secondary defs. makes a puzzle more challenging, but the trick is to not get so obscure that people can't make the connection.

@StudioCitySteve - I remember IMO coming into vogue before IMHO, (way back in the 14k modem and AOL days).

PuzzleGirl said...

Hey, everybody. Just popping in to say hi to you all and thanks to Doug.

@syndy: There are way lazier puzzle constructor tools than net talk.

@Brian: I don't think you have much to go on when you call ESPANA "obscure." It's a country after all. And not, like, one of those countries in Africa that's had 12 different names over the years or something. I mean, it's ... Spain.

@Anonymous 11:20: If I've learned anything over the last few years of doing puzzles, it's that just because something is obscure to me doesn't mean it's obscure.

Anyway, fun puzzle, Neville. I'll try to stop in tomorrow too when I have a chance.

Anonymous said...

I wanted "Is for all?" to clue "ONE" - as in the Musketeers. The compulsion was so strong it even made me doubt "ANGELOU" for 11d, though I knew perfectly well she had to fit there.

Duane said...

62A Turn right? I automatically thought East and shot Orient in there. For 4D, netman here refers to a tennis court.

mac said...

I have to admit to a little "hah" moment when I crossed jeers with Espana!

Very good puzzle, and to me definitely a Thursday, plenty of bite and crunch. Some outstanding clues as well, number one being batpole.

The God of oracles is a good looker! And handsome to boot!

I think Cleopatra deserves the title pharao. The Egyptians called Mubarak the last pharao!

Couldn't believe Ramos dropping the cup. Hilarious!