5.13.2011

05.13 Fri

F R I D A Y
May 13, 2011
Gary Lowe


Theme: Mixed-up words? — One word in a familiar phrase is mixed up? I'm not sure how else to explain it.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Red-hot entrée? (HELL'S CHICKEN).
  • 33A: Bather using magnesium sulfate? (SALTED TUBBER).
  • 42A: Avoidance of chewy candy? (NON-TAFFY DIET).
  • 58A: Best man's moment of uncertainty? (TOAST STAMMER).

[Some of you might have noticed that it's like practically dinnertime and I'm finally getting the post up. Blogger was essentially broken this morning when I tried to post. Looks like it's back. Hope we don't have any issues ....]

I hate to say this, but I just need to tell you right up front: I have no love for this puzzle. This puzzle is a mess. The theme is a mess, the fill is a mess, there was a typo in the version I solved (it might have been corrected by the time you got yours) — just a mess all the way around. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this ... I just can't. But let's talk about a couple things. First of all the base phrases used for the theme are all over the map. HELL'S KITCHEN is interesting, TOAST MASTER is okay, SALTED BUTTER is deadly boring, and NON-FATTY DIET isn't a thing. The resulting phrases aren't much better and the cluing is ... blah.

As for the fill, you know it's not good when I can hardly get past ACTO, IS A, ID'ED ("31D: Challenged, in a way?" Huh?), and BETE to find something good to say. The northeast and southwest corners were particularly subpar, each for a different reason. I found the northeast damn near impossible, which isn't something I mind too terribly much if there's a payoff, but there definitely isn't one here. And in the southwest, there's just no excuse for APSE and T-TOP to be right together like that in a corner where you can basically fill it however you want. Sure, you get your Z this way, but it's not a fair trade-off by any stretch of the imagination.

So yeah. I think I'm basically gonna just stop now. And just so this write-up isn't a total loss, I'll leave you with this:



Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 17A: Shipmate of Starkey (SMEE).
  • 41A: Roman existence (ESSE).
  • 57A: Sweater letter (RHO).
  • 61A: Altar neighbor (APSE).
  • 22D: Biblical pottage recipient (ESAU).
  • 46D: "The Sound of Music" baroness (ELSA).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 1A: Newspaper section (DESK); 5A: Deafening (AROAR); 10A: Drop hints, say (FISH); 14A: Required payment (ANTE); 15A: Regional woodland (SILVA); 16A: Strength (AREA); 18A: Donny and Marie's hometown (OGDEN); 19A: "In my opinion ..." ("I SAY..."); 23A: Night class subj. (ESL); 24A: Observance (RITE); 25A: Book before Job (ESTHER); 29A: Siskiyou County peak (SHASTA); 31A: "Life __ Highway": 1992 Tom Cochrane hit (IS A); 32A: Charlottesville sch. (UVA); 37A: It's heard around the water cooler (GLUG); 40A: Schiller's "An die Freude," e.g. (ODE); 47A: "Aladdin" monkey (ABU); 48A: Actor Gulager (CLU); 49A: Nats division (N.L. EAST); 53A: Beefsteak, for one (TOMATO); 55A: Sign of disrespect (SASS); 61A: Altar neighbor (APSE); 64A: Associate with (TIE TO); 65A: Phone button letters (OPER); 66A: Bantu language (ZULU); 67A: Matrimony, for one (UNION); 68A: Tannin source (WINE); 69A: "Smokey and the Bandit" vehicle feature (T-TOP); 70A: Rigatoni alternative (PENNE); 71A: Hang (STAY); 1D: Bolts (DASHES); 2D: Get tangled (ENMESH); 3D: Designer McCartney (STELLA); 4D: Nautical beam (KEEL); 5D: Not prone to making small talk (ASOCIAL); 6D: Entitlement (RIGHT); 7D: Classic number (OLDIE); 8D: "Voulez-vous coucher __ moi?": "Lady Marmalade" lyric (AVEC); 9D: Most objectionable (RANKEST); 10D: Timid (FAINT); 11D: Sched. producer (IRS); 12D: Vast quantity (SEA); 13D: Horse power? (HAY); 21D: Sp. title (SRTA.); 26D: Nerve centers (HUBS); 27D: New Years' highlights (EVES); 28D: Like white rhinos and black swans (RARE); 30D: Certain NCO (SSGT); 31D: Challenged, in a way (ID'ED); 34D: Meatless protein source (TOFU); 35D: Eponymous ice cream maker (EDY); 36D: Nice beast (BETE); 37D: Punkie, e.g. (GNAT); 38D: Timber wolf (LOBO); 39D: Word in a coined phrase? (UNUM); 43D: X-__: tool brand (ACTO); 44D: Rise, as a balloon (FLOAT UP); 45D: Not debatable (IN STONE); 50D: Secret spot? (ARMPIT); 51D: Jungle queen (SHEENA); 52D: Early 20th-century presidential portraitist (TORREY); 54D: Absorbed eagerly (ATE UP); 55D: Hofbrau vessel (STEIN); 56D: __ Martin (ASTON); 59D: Math ratio (SINE); 60D: Cuts (MOWS); 61D: HIV-treating drug (AZT); 62D: Bear's option, on Wall Street (PUT); 63D: __-pitch (SLO).

35 comments:

Pete said...

Starkey has only one [...] mate, and that's Hutch. And they never went TUBBING together, not that there would be anything wrong with that.

That's the nicest thing I've got to say about this puzzle.

Fowler said...

What? Only ONE comment? It's almost 12:30. I'm guessing this means that PuzzleGirl is right. This is such a mixed up puzzle that almost everybody is DNF and no one's inspired to write about it.
I admit it: I didn't finish. I got down to the last of my blanks--in the NE and SE corners-- and decided, "The hell with it; I must be missing the fundamental theme," so chose to take a look.
This is indeed the worst puzzle I have seen here. I had the typo in my copy too. I'm sure that Life is not "a- a - highway." I don't see how the mixed up words share any pattern or that RHO is any more as sweater letter than PI or SIGMA.
I could go on, guys, but why bother?

Joon said...

there's only one comment because blogger was down all morning.

that said, i haven't got much to say about this puzzle. i found the fill and theme as off-putting as PG did, but i liked the clues okay (except IDED). i'm hoping the negative reception to this puzzle doesn't mean we won't see more difficulty in the late-week LAT going forward. and if that isn't hardly too many negatives in one sentence, i don't know what not to tell you.

CoffeeLvr said...

I am pleased PG hated this as much as I did. Thank you for the song. Glad Blogger is back up.

Worst clue: "Drop hints, say" - to FISH is to try to get another to drop hints, not to do it yourself.

Rex Parker said...

Only four posts! How could that be!? Golllly!

In short: train wreck.

Also, upper right was a Lot of work for nothing.

rp

EarlyRiser said...

My only complaint is 37D. Where, oh where, do you get "GNAT" out of "PUNKIE"? Huh? Huh?

Anonymous said...

@EarlyRiser A punkie is another word for a GNAT.

@Joon - I would hope that most people would recognize this as a bad puzzle, not a too difficult one.

Alexscott said...

The combination of Non-Fatty Diet not being a thing and the typo (an unforgivable one considering how easy an answer it should be and the fact that it's asking for a two-letter word) made this a uniquely bad puzzling experience. I kept trying to get Low-Taffy Diet to work, thought of Not-Taffy, but never figured out Non, which I suppose makes more sense. Punkie is another word for Gnat, eh? At least I learned sumpin'. I did like the clue for Unum, even though I didn't get it before throwing in the towel.

Not an enjoyable puzzle by any stretch, but I would've given it a pass if not for the typo. That's the editors' fault, I would assume. But to their credit, this is the first time I've come across one in an LAT puzzle. Just as well that it came on a meh puzzle.

Jerry said...

Total mess. Non-fatty diet?! Worst L.A. Times puzzle I've solved.

syndy said...

okay butter=tubber;taffy=fatty then how in heck does chicken=kitchen? there is no "T" in chicken! blogger should have eaten this one entirely.Rankest indeed

Margaret said...

What @CoffeeLvr (and everyone else) said. Wow. Very disappointing puzzle.

Anonymous said...

@Sydny - It's a phoenetic swap, not a letter swap.

Dave in Bend, OR said...

Seems as there is a lot of unity on this one (unlike the "UnAmerican" kerfuffle of a few days back). Add me to the list. How does phonetic swap answer it any better than letter swap @Anon at 1:19? Is there a chance Anon is the constructor trying to validate this mess? Oh well, here's to better Friday offerings to come!

Anon 1:19 said...

@Dave - I didn't say it made it better, just that is what it was. Unless you pronounce kitchen as kit-shen, as I do, then it's not even a phoenetic swap.

backbiter said...

Yep, I'm not saying anything new that wasn't said above. Lame. First theme answer filled in was "Salted Tubber".
Awful! 50D: is the only redeeming clue here. Secret Spot? Armpit. At least there's that.


Cheers!

*clink*

Anonymous said...

Gary Lowe has really let me down on this one. I totally agree that this puzzle sucks!

Anonymous said...

DNF.I feel sorry for the constructor if they read all these comments.Now on to the next one! LOL

Reno911 said...

I did like the clue/answer for 50d.

Anonymous said...

Glad it's not just me. A DNF with more write overs than I care to admit. The typo at 31A didn't help. The only thing I got out of this puzzle is I learned the Osmonds are from Ogden and not Provo. Good Grief!!

Anonymous said...

DNF for me too. After a while, I just didn't want to bother anymore.

Vega said...

I too. Learned that the Osmonds are from Ogden and not Provo.

C said...

Hmm, I finished this puzzle but I didn't have that feeling of accomplishment I would get with solving a more difficult puzzle. I didn't know why until I read @Rex's comment about the upper right being a lot of work for nothing. Spot on. I would say the same about the entire puzzle, a lot of work for not much goodness.

Strange puzzle, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

A bad puzzle, a difficult puzzle, and an annoying puzzle all rolled into one. Love the Cochrane video. Thanks PG.

Sfingi said...

DNF and did not get theme at all. brAT before GNAT. Googled 4x.
Headscratcher. Maybe if this type catches on I'd get better at it.

I my paper, an error at 31A. "Life__a Highway," with the article "a" already there. Googled just to see if I missed something.

So I guess all Blogspots were down yesterday. No captchas doday?

End of a beautiful week in Upstate NY. Lilacs opening, trumpet vine waking up. Fields of dandelions.

KJGooster said...

Did not like. At all. Usually there are a couple of contrarians who chime in go against the prevailing opinion, but it doesn't seem that way today. Agree with the trouble in the NE, almost a DNF until FAINT finally came to me.

mac said...

The funniest thing today was Joon's comment.

Mokus said...

Despite the late hour I would like to thank PG and everyone who commented above. For the first time I was actually angry when I finished a puzzle. Misery loves company. The RANKEST CWP of the year! Perhaps one needs this to remind one how difficult constructing a quality puzzle is.

VirginiaC said...

Horrible!

GLowe said...

Ouch. thx everyone.

Jim Haynie said...

Ditto. Bad puzzle!

M. Bouffant said...

So bad I ended up Googling, which led to this site, so it's not a complete loss.

But that really was an awful puzzle.

Raymond said...

Utter shambles. Grasping at the most tenuous word connections; some plain wrong.

MPPuzzler said...

I thought is was just me. Glad to hear my opinion was shared by everyone else. I finished the puzzle more angry than anything. Bad puzzle, except for the "Secret" clue.

LongbeachLee said...

I finished. I didn't Google. Normally I'd feel good about that. In this case, I feel stupid, or at least neurotically stubborn.

Bill said...

Glad to hear I wasn't the only one who gave up and put it in the trash. One of the worst puzzles I've ever run across. I don't mind hard clues but I do mind poor clues that have little to do with the answer. Total garbage.