04.29 Fri

April 29, 2011
Jeff McDermott

Theme: AB-Positive — The letters AB are added to the beginning of familiar phrases, creating new wacky phrases clued wackily.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Entrance exam study guide? (ABOUT DOORS).
  • 62A: Behar's home? (ABODE TO JOY).
  • 11D: Steal office supplies? (ABDUCTTAPE).
  • 28D: Missing letters? (ABSENT MAIL).
Good morning and happy Friday. I guess there was some kind of big wedding or something this morning that people were interested in. For the most part, I have been able to ignore the whole thing, which has been awesome. And I think at this point I will continue that trend ….

How about this puzzle? Weird theme. I mean, there's nothing necessarily weird about adding letters to the beginning of phrases to make theme answers, but AB? Why? This puzzle needed a title or a reveal answer or something. (No, the title I included isn't really the title of the puzzle, it's just something I made up like I do every day (except Sunday).) Could ABSORB (9D: Engross) somehow have been used to wrap up the theme? If not, it probably shouldn't be in the grid. You can't make a theme out of adding AB to the beginning of words and then include a word starting with AB that doesn't work with the theme. Well, I guess you can, but my point is that you probably shouldn't.

The resulting phrases themselves are okay. ABDUCT TAPE made me chuckle. But the clue for ABOUT DOORS is overly cute and the clue for ABODE TO JOY is just plain awkward. Come to think of it, there are a lot of places in this puzzle where the cluing just seems, I don't know, weird. [67A: Six-sided rooms] for ELLS seems kind of random. Maybe that's a common construction or architectural term or something, but it doesn't mean anything to me. [10D: Snoopy-wearing-shades trait] is on the strange side. Nothing against Joe Cool, but that's just an awkward way to clue COOLNESS, a word that's pretty awkward all on its own.

I do appreciate some of the tricky clues though. [42A: They're tucked in a cannonball] is fun for KNEES. And [54A: Sink or swim, perhaps] for NOUN is just mean (but in a good way). So that's about all I have time for today. No bullets, but of course you can talk about whatever entries you want in the comments.

In conclusion: RACQUETS!

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 6A: Aptly named lotion (AFTA).
  • 16A: Reed in a pit (OBOE).
  • 19A: Jim Davis pooch (ODIE).
  • 23A: Mediterranean high spot (ETNA).
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Everything Else 1A: Put one's hands at ten and two (STEER); 10A: 1970 NBA expansion team (CAVS); 14A: Poet Neruda (PABLO); 15A: Affect, in slang (GRAB); 20A: Parlor treat (SUNDAE); 21A: "Break a leg" ("GOOD LUCK"); 25A: Dazes (TRANCES); 26A: They go nowhere (DEAD ENDS); 30A: Lead singer Michaels of Poison (BRET); 31A: Sphere (ORB); 32A: American patriot Deane (SILAS); 34A: Legally prevent (ESTOP); 37A: Game with a Ural territory (RISK); 39A: Only part of Egypt in Asia (SINAI); 41A: "Ditto" ("SAME"); 44A: Suisse capital (BERNE); 46A: Selfish sort (PIG); 47A: Russian refusal (NYET); 49A: Squash relative (RACQUETS); 51A: Flanders city (ANTWERP); 55A: Cross, often (MEMORIAL); 57A: Title for Bovary (MADAME); 61A: Man __ (O' WAR); 64A: John __, the Lone Ranger (REID); 65A: Atty.-to-be's exam (LSAT); 66A: Maternally related (ENATE); 68A: Guidelines: Abbr. (STDS.); 69A: Battle of the __ (SEXES); 1D: Mudbath offerers (SPAS); 2D: House of Dana perfume (TABU); 3D: "By a swan's __ bill": Keats (EBON); 4D: Gave the runaround (ELUDED); 5D: Spins (ROTATES); 6D: Back (AGO); 7D: Throat trouble (FROG); 8D: Card worth a fortune? (TAROT); 12D: Declare (VOICE); 13D: Looks for (SEEKS); 18D: Menace with a blond cowlick (DENNIS); 22D: Schoolyard pressure (DARE); 24D: Stage surprise (AD LIB); 26D: Doofus (DORK); 27D: "__ Brockovich" (ERIN); 29D: Less fruity? (SANER); 33D: Wrap around a wrap, maybe (SARAN); 35D: Drop (OMIT); 36D: Identifies (PEGS); 38D: Googling elements (KEY WORDS); 40D: Net __ (INCOME); 43D: 8-Down user (SEER); 45D: Puts on a par (with) (EQUATES); 48D: Olympic qualifying events (TRIALS); 50D: Incomplete (UNDONE); 51D: Martin's "That's __" (AMORE); 52D: Staircase support (NEWEL); 53D: Its maker claims it won a blue ribbon in 1893 (PABST); 56D: Pack (LOAD); 58D: Trojan War hero (AJAX); 59D: Floating speck, perhaps (MOTE); 60D: Looks closely at (EYES); 63D: Some NFL linemen (DT'S).


Anonymous said...

If you imagine a simple room as being L-shaped, there are six distinct sides.

Pete said...

I've hated the phrase "it is what it is" since it became common parlance, to me it's a statement of defeat rather than acceptance. I've come to think of the LA Times puzzle as "it is what it is". They're basically solid puzzles built around simple contrivances, usally with one or two sore thumbs. I would guess that this is corporate policy, based on keeping syndication viable (excepting the sore thumbs).

Change 15A to GRAD, 9D to ADSORB, and clue 9D to somehow reference that AB has been ADSORBed to the theme phrases, and maybe you've got something interesting. Maybe not.

RACQUETS sticks out like a sore thumb, a perfectly valid answer in a different puzzle, but not in this puzzle.

Tuttle said...

Surprisingly easy once I overwrote my initial 'gyrates' for 5D and 'aft' for 6D.

AJAX should be clued as either a 'major' or 'minor' Trojan war hero. Because its funnier that way.

VirginiaC said...

I thought Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger??

Anonymous said...

John Reid was the 'Lone Rangers'
true name in the series

imsdave said...

You know you're taking this stuff to seriously, when you balk at ABsorb and pABlo. Shame on me.

John Wolfenden said...

I didn't have time to do my normal AB workout this morning, and little did I know it would come back to haunt me in today's puzzle.

I liked "Put one's hands at ten and two" for STEER and "Stage surprise" for AD LIB.

I don't like clues like "Some NFL linemen" for DTS (defensive tackles). It could also be offensive tackles, right tackles or left tackles, so you can only fill it in with crosses.

I must be thick, but I just don't get "Squash relative" for RACQUETS.

Double writeover for Battle of the BULGE then SOMME then SEXES.

Couldn't crack the ELLS/NEWEL cross. NEWEL is a fine learning word but the clue for ELLS is kinda lame.

DNF, DNLove.

Pete said...

@John Wolfden - There is(was) a game called RACQUETS, very similar to squash. According to Wikipedia, there are a grand total of 5 RACQUETS courts in the US.

Anonymous said...

@PG, there is a bug in the software that isn't allowing people who sign on with their Google account to post. I have been thwarted by this for the past two days.

OK puzzle, COOLNESS was my favorite answer.


John Wolfenden said...

Thanks Pete...there are obscure references that I enjoy learning about, but RACQUETS would not be one of them. And I've actually played squash a bit.

*David* said...

One of those puzzles that I had lots of fill but it took a while to put it all together especially in the west corners. I finally sussed it all out but wasn't left with too much satisfaction on the theme or the fill.

hebow44 said...

Yeah, tried Bulge and Bands before getting sexes. Also really liked my Absent-tees for missing letters, though once that AB thing materialized I was lost.

CoffeeLvr said...

Let's not forget PABST has ABS. PG, nice pic!) It is notable that a six-pack is the opposite of a beer belly.

If this posts successfully, the issue with posting with a Google account is not universal. I also posted yesterday.

mac said...

This one was not on my wavelength. Doable, not enjoyable for some reason. Maybe I'm too tired, worked hard (and husband turned on the tv at 6 a.m.....).

PurpleGuy said...

As opposed to @mac, This was definitely on my wavelength.
I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Felt like it should have been a Wednesday or Thursday.

Shanti -