04.26 Tue

April 26, 2011
Dave Sarpola

Theme: Pro & Con — Three two-word phrases. The first words start with PRO; the second words start with CON.

Theme Entries:
  • 17A: What an inflammatory statement is intended to do (PROVOKE CONFLICT).
  • 38A: What a restraining order is designed to do (PROHIBIT CONTACT).
  • 59A: What a band PR man is paid to do (PROMOTE CONCERTS).
  • 5D/61D: Both sides (and this puzzle's title) (PRO) and (CON).
Hey, puzzle fans. This is Doug again. PuzzleGirl will be back tomorrow, rain or shine. We (Seth, Sam, Neville, and I) love filling in for her, but we love reading her write-ups even more.

As far as I know, this is Mr. Sarpola's debut. Congratulations! I thought the theme was fresh. I can't recall seeing anything quite like this one before. Since the L.A. Times daily puzzles don't have titles, Mr. Sarpola had to fit PRO and CON into the grid somewhere to explain the theme. I like the way they're tucked into the corners. On the con side, PROVOKE CONFLICT & PROHIBIT CONTACT don't make me think happy thoughts. But we finish on a positive note with PROMOTE CONCERTS. Whaddya think? I'm running late, so let's get to the bullets.

  • 1A: Head covering (SCALP). This one grossed me out a little because I was thinking of answers like SCARF, BERET, DO-RAG, etc.
  • 16A: XIX x III (LVII). OK, I'm going to admit it. I don't mind a random Roman numeral from time to time. That said, I never do the Roman math problems. I let the crossing entries fill them in.
  • 36A: Lost film fish (NEMO). Cool. I've been waiting for NEMO to show up so I could post this video. (I'm sure PuzzleGirl is rolling her eyes right now.)

  • 46A: Meetings of lips (KISSES). That's an utterly unromantic clue for KISSES. I guess they don't want us getting too excited while solving a Tuesday puzzle.
  • 47A: Rodeo shouts (YEEHAWS). Love this entry.
  • 28D: __ Hopkins University (JOHNS). I can think of another way to clue JOHNS. (PuzzleGirl is rolling her eyes again.)
  • 8D: Ike's WWII command (E.T.O.). This is bit of familiar crosswordese that you can read about here: ETO. The initials stand for the European Theater of Operations in World War II. Its commander was General Dwight Eisenhower a.k.a. Ike a.k.a. DDE.
  • 9D: Author of muchas epístolas (SAN PABLO). Saint Paul, in español.
  • 39D: Bird that dines on stinging insects (BEE EATER). I hate bees, and I love bee eaters. Look at how cute that little guy is. That bumblebee is toast.
  • 58D: Personnel IDs (SSNS). I trust the readers of this blog, so I'm going to give you my Social Security Number: 078-05-1120. OK, it's not really mine. It used to belong to a lady named Hilda Schrader Whitcher. Back in the '30s, when Social Security cards were still a novelty, a New York wallet manufacturer decided to print up sample cards to insert in each of their wallets. Believe it or not, they used the actual card of one of the secretaries who worked there, Mrs. Whitcher. Thousands of people ended up adopting the number. By 1943, a reported 5,755 Americans were using Mrs. Whitcher's number as their own. For the whole story, check out snopes.com.


backbiter said...

This was Okay. Not great, just okay. I think what really put me off was the reveal which I already figured out anyway. Never in my life during a staff meeting did we weigh the pro and con. It's always the pros and cons. And I guess that is why I didn't care for this.

Orange said...

What a rip-off! I was hoping for The Return of PuzzleGirl today. Hope the move went well.

Oh! Hi, Doug. Nice write-up. ;-)

Pete said...

@backbiter - When two people are on different sides of an issue, one is PRO, one is CON.
I don't know how to nicely say that while I appreciate the subs, I miss PG. Pretend I just did.

Neville said...

Pete - As much as I enjoy subbing, I like reading PG's posts more :)

Doug - Not the worst pic for JOHNS I could think of. We'll leave it at that.

Captcha: solat, as in 'This puzzle is so LAT.'

VirginiaC said...

I enjoy the subs too but will welcome PG back.

Pine tar as "batter's stickum"?? I thought they used rosin.
Not sure if Yeehaws and hicks crossing is insulting to some or not.
For some reason when you post a video my iPad tells me it isn't available. When PG or the other subs post one it works fine?????

Gareth Bain said...

@Doug: Agree, refreshingly novel theme idea! But I can't say I'm overly wild about the theme phrases or about the gratuitous LVII... Otherwise, a pretty solid construction, and I look forward to solving more of Mr. Sarpola's crosswords!

Doug P said...

@VirginiaC - I'm not sure why my videos don't work for you. I'll check with tech support (PuzzleGirl).

Speaking of PuzzleGirl...I agree. She's better than any of us subs. And she better get her butt back on the blog tomorrow!

StudioCitySteve said...

@VirginiaC - I'm not a baseball expert, but I think the pitcher uses rosin.

Enjoyed this, seemed a little different.

I like PG AND the subs!

Anonymous said...

You're right Steve, the pitcher has a rosin bag which contains a powdery rosin substance to dry sweaty fingers. The batter uses a pine tar rag, which has a sticky substance that they use to improve their grip on the bat. It can't be more than 17" up the handle. Though it is illegal for the pitcher to use pine tar, they will sneak some out in cold weather to improve the grip on their breaking balls. I know, I know nobody cares but I love to talk baseball!

Nighthawk said...

Just wondering, is using a calculator to multiply Roman numerals on a level with Googling for an answer? Guilty as charged!

Never really liked the cross-referential clues like those for the theme name/revealer, but found they weren't needed after completing 17A and the PRO of 38A, as was fairly apparent and a good Tuesday-ish level.

I don't think anyone should cringe, @VirginiaC, at the HICKS/YEEHAWS crossing anymore than they will the ORGAN/URGE or the GASJET/JOHNS crossings. Gave my inner 3rd grader a chuckle.

Nice write-up, Doug.

And CONgrats, Mr. Sarpola. Nice smooth start. Keep 'em coming!

C said...

Nice puzzle, I think I liked the triple E in the compound answer BEEEATER. I imagine that is a pretty handy answer for constructors.

@VirginiaC, what @Anonymous:10:27 said. When I played, I found that I liked the smell of pine tar and that I had unknowingly got into the habit of smelling my bat between pitches. When someone pointed this out to me, it was too late, I was on a hitting streak and you always have to respect the streak so I continued to smell my bat between pitches.

Rube said...

Enjoyable puzzle and great write-up, Dave. Enjoyed the SSN story.

Didn't have any write-overs, but got nervous when I saw BEEE_. Love the word OMSK! First heard of it in the game Risk, way back. FWIW, just found out that Jamie FARR played Cpl Klinger on M.A.S.H.

Rube said...

Just kidding Doug.

badams52 said...

Completely agree with Doug on the theme. Loved the idea of having pro and con in two connected words.

One of the few puzzles I actually finished without google, etc. I usually have 1 to 5 blanks when I "give up" and come to LAConfidential.

@VirginiaC, I think just having HICK in the puzzle itself sounds insulting. I'm not from the south, but I wouldn't want to be called a Hick.

Like @C above, I really liked the BEEEATER answer. The triple E looks nice in the grid

Anonymous said...

Just a note on hick. I always thought it referred to people anywhere who lived in the country, that is, country hicks as opposed to city slickers.
em jay

John Wolfenden said...

I wasn't too excited by this one. Nary a pun to be found! I did like seeing PINE TAR...we had our trees trimmed last week and our dog ended up rolling around in pine sap and getting it stuck to her fur. As it turns out, rubbing alcohol gets it out nicely.

We had "Deserve" for EARN yesterday. Somebody please make Rich Norris an app that shows when the same answer has appeared with the same clue within the last week.

mac said...

Congratulations and proficiat, Mr. Sarpola! Isn't it odd that these words mean the same?

Nice puzzle (theme not too important to me this time), and great write-up. I agree with Doug, the kisses clue was too prosaic. Also, I read him to say: I used to belong to a lady named Hilda.... Very funny story.

Favorite word: beeeater.

Delighted my husband with the 17" factoid. He mentioned a game where Billy Martin pointed out that there was too long a pine-tarred area on the bat after a home-run (Kansas City?). I'm out of my league.