04.24 Sunday

April 24, 2011
David Blake

[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: "At Your Convenience" — The letters "AT" are added to familiar phrases to make wacky entries.

Theme Entries:
  • 22A: South-of-the-border political assent? (SI SI, SENATOR).
  • 36A: Knockoffs of "Woman With a Hat"? (NEAR MATISSES).
  • 43A: Where to excavate perfume? (ATTAR PITS).
  • 57A: The first glossy fabric? (ORIGINAL SATIN).
  • 87A: Dishonest Yankees? (BRONX CHEATERS).
  • 101A: A lifetime at the North Pole? (SANTA FATE).
  • 108A: Feature of a mad scientist's machine? (MUTATE BUTTON).
  • 122A: "Wrestling" maneuver? (THUMB ATTACK).
  • 3D: Food evaluation measure? (NOSE RATING).
  • 83D: Amusement park for fans of flowing music? (LEGATO LAND).
Hey, puzzle fans. Doug here in my usual Sunday slot. Happy Easter! Thanks to SethG and PuzzleHunk for filling in over the past couple of days. PuzzleGirl might be back tomorrow. Tune in and find out. Oh, and it's her birthday today, so send her some nice wishes in the comments when she comes back.

I believe this is Mr. Blake's LA Times debut. Congratulations! Today's theme is very similar to last week's. Last Sunday, we added AV, and today we add AT. Lots of nice phrases in this bunch. I'm a Yankee fan, and I can think of a few BRONX CHEATERS. I also liked NEAR MATISSES, MUTATE BUTTON, and THUMB ATTACK. Did you know that thumb wrestling has professional and amateur varieties, just like real wrestling? I did a little Greco-Roman thumb wrestling when I was in college.

  • 19A: Jipijapa hat (PANAMA). Jipijapa is a palmlike plant from Central and South America, and its leaves are used to make Panama hats. In my high school Spanish class, each student had to "adopt" a Spanish-speaking county and learn all kinds of stuff about it to present in an oral report (in Spanish) at the end of the semester. I chose Panama, and in my report I said that their national anthem was written by Van Halen. I thought I'd get a laugh or a frown or something, but the teacher didn't even blink.

  • 29A: Amazonian predator (ANACONDA). I used to live near Anaconda, Montana. I always thought it was a cool name for a city. The founder wanted to call it Copperopolis, but that name was already taken.
  • 36A: Knockoffs of "Woman With a Hat"? (NEAR MATISSES). There's the "Woman With a Hat" over on the right. You'd think they could come up with a catchier title. I'd call it "Stop Staring at My Freaking Hat!"
  • 53A: "___ Rose": "The Music Man" quartet (LIDA). I've seen this entry a few times, and I can never remember it.
  • 90A: Not incl. (EXC). I'm guessing that EXC is an abbreviation for except. Ouch.
  • 131A: Slate, briefly (SKED). SKED is short for schedule, at least in crosswords.
  • 12D: Yoga pose (ASANA). I don't do yoga, so I don't know how common this words is among yoga devotees. And why do I want to put a tilde over the N?
  • Click on picture to enlarge and read
  • 28D: Three-time co-star of Fisher and Ford (HAMILL). Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill were all in the first three "Star Wars" movies. Or are they technically the last three? Not sure. I used to love "Star Wars," but the recent episodes give me a gigantic headache.
  • 85D: Nuts (SCREWY). Love this entry & it reminds me of Bugs Bunny. "So long, screwy! See ya in St. Louie!"
  • 87D: Four-time all-star catcher Santiago (BENITO). He was also the National League Rookie of the Year in 1987. Santiago was best known for throwing out would-be base stealers from his knees.
  • 118D: Needle case (ETUI). An odd bit of crosswordese that never seems to die. Not a great entry, but it has a goofy charm. And where else are you going to keep your needles?

Now for a shameless plug. If you enjoy difficult themeless puzzles, please take a look at my Washington Post "Post Puzzler" that was published today. You can get it as a pdf or an Across Lite file. It's my debut "Post Puzzler," and I'm pretty excited about it. The puzzle is much harder than a typical Saturday L.A. Times puzzle, so be warned.

See you next Sunday if not sooner. Adios.


    backbiter said...

    Nice write-up Doug. I took about three hours to finish as I was solving in between mini-crises at home. LOL. I'm glad you mentioned Bugs Bunny. I don't know how, but without any crosses on 85D: I immediately pictured Bugs holding up the sign with a screw and a baseball and entered "screwy". I swear it. My only gripe is I don't like figuring out the theme on the first theme answer. "Si Si Senator" gave it to me right away. After that it feels like I'm cheating since I know what to look for. I wish Sunday puzzles weren't titled. Anyway! Happy Birthday Angela! I hope the move is going smooth. Now, um, about that "48 Hours" recital, I'm ready.

    mac said...

    Good puzzle, which I had to squeeze in between food related jobs. tuna/tapenade stuffed eggs, spicy shrimp, and so on....

    Thank you, Doug, for your really fun write-up. I'm doing your Post Puzzler in stages, as well.

    @PuzzleGirl: hope the move went ok, and that you have some fun on your birthday! Happy Year!

    Dave in Bend, OR said...

    Happy Bday PG!... Doug I am thinking that exc is for exclude vs. except but still kind of lame. Cream Soda made me go out and get a six pack as it has been awhile and A & W makes a pretty good one. As I remember it, the first A & W drive-in was in my home town of Santa Monica and MAY still be headquartered there. Great Root Beer floats but awful burgers/fries....Went through it pretty quick until I put "Titan" in for Tiger @ 95A and that took me f o r e v e r to figure out as I somehow knew the W was correct in stew...AnyHOO Happy Easter all.

    v-man said...

    I enjoyed this puzzle and it was pretty painless. I also believe the constructor was shooting for exclude for not incl. Cream soda is one of the few beverages I can't stand but to each his own.
    Happy Easter to all.

    Rube said...

    Had the most trouble in the SE where I had EXt, Texan, and frEt. Knew EXETER was right but had to wipe everything else out and restart. Favorite answer is LEGATOLAND.

    Good puzzle. Thanks Doug and Happy BDay @PG.

    Jan said...

    Enjoyed the puzzle, but 109D ("Inuit craft") drove me nuts! First I had CANOE, then when that one didn't fit, I tried KAYAK, but that one didn't fit either. Finally got UMIAK. All seemed to fit the clue, and all are 5 letters long!

    CoffeeLvr said...

    I was out of town on Sunday, but did the puzzle on paper (it is syndicated in the KC Star magazine.) Got around to reading the blog and comments today; enjoyed the write up and comments.

    Thank you, Doug, for the link to your WAPO puzzle. It was a nice stretch challenge this evening. It is right at the edge of my confidence/competence. I confess to using the Check function, but only Googled to see if Gansta Lovin' was by EVE or EVa. I found the bottom much easier than the top.

    Barb2 said...

    Thanks for your educationall answers. We needed help! We'll be referring to your blog again. Thanks.