07.03 Sun

July 3, 2011
Samuel A. Donaldson

[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: "Say Again?" — Familiar phrases in which one word is pronounced differently to yield a wacky phrase.

Theme Entries:
  • 23A: Understudy's crime? (LEAD POISONING).
  • 33A: Short ovation? (MINUTE HAND).
  • 49A: Instrument with colored bands? (STRIPED BASS).
  • 68A: Compliment on a skillful asphalt job? (GOOD EVENING).
  • 84A: Anesthetist's error? (WRONG NUMBER).
  • 101A: Fight among forest females? (DOES BATTLE).
  • 117A: Clean kielbasa? (POLISH SAUSAGE).
  • 16D: Telescope? (METEOR SHOWER).
  • 64D: Jeans feature after a barbed wire encounter? (TRAIL OF TEARS).
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here on Sunday. Thanks to Neville for filling in for me last week. I was in Las Vegas for a few days, and I didn't solve many crosswords while I was there. In fact, I think there were a couple of days when I didn't even look at a crossword. Scary, I know! I can give you all one piece of advice: Don't play the "Lord of the Rings" slot machine. You'd do just as well to throw twenty-dollar bills directly into the fires of Mount Doom.

Today's puzzle is by one of my favorite puzzle folks, Sam Donaldson. Sam's been published many times in the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times, and he's the regular blogger for the CrosSynergy puzzles over at Amy Reynaldo's Crossword Fiend site. Today's a big day for Sam because this is his first Sunday puzzle. Congratulations! It's a winner. He used nine heteronyms (words spelled the same and pronounced differently) to create a super set of theme entries. I appreciate a little dark humor, so my favorite was the clue & answer at 23-Across: "Understudy's crime?" for (LEAD POISONING). Change the short e vowel sound in "lead" to a long e, and you've got one dead leading man. I also found WRONG NUMBER and TRAIL OF TEARS to be particularly fun.

One note about the grid. In a Sunday puzzle, you often see four Across entries in the top and bottom rows & four Down entries in the leftmost and rightmost columns. Sam chose to use three entries along the top & bottom and three entries along the left & right. So we solvers got fresh long entries like BENELUX, YO ADRIAN, STRAY CAT, and the fabulous OH COME ON. I think this Donaldson guy knows what he's doing.

  • 20A: European triumvirate (BENELUX). It sounds like a brand of laundry detergent, but it's actually a combination of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
  • 40A: ___ Shore (JERSEY). Have you noticed that Snooki is sneaking into crossword puzzles? I've seen her name in two or three different grids. Frightening.
  • 42A: The Joker portrayer (ROMERO). I had a brief solving hiccup here after entering Ledger.
  • 45A: Spot for "Spot" (TAG). Clever clue.
  • 59A: Some tablets (PCS). I played around with my friend's tablet computer when I was on vacation. It was an Asus Eee computer. The name Eee comes from their slogan: "Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play." Are these computers well-known in the U.S.? Because it would be great to have a clue for EEE that doesn't involve wide shoes. That said, Eee is a horrible name for a product.
  • 78A: Shinto temple gateway (TORII). PuzzleGirl covered TORII in Crosswordese 101. Sometimes it's a Japanese temple gateway, and sometimes it's a reference to outfielder Torii Hunter.
  • 86A: A.L. West team, on scoreboards (LAA). The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. And their starting rightfielder is... Torii Hunter.
  • 115A: Got one's money's worth at the buffet (ATE A LOT). I did a couple of buffets in Vegas, and yes, I got my money's worth. The buffet at Harrah's had an ice cream/frozen yogurt bar where you could add sprinkles, nuts, crushed oreos, etc., to your bowl of ice cream. I watched one little kid fill an entire ice cream bowl with M&M's. No ice cream, just M&M's. Why didn't I think of that?
  • 3D: "... bombs bursting ___" (IN AIR). Happy 4th of July!
  • 45D: First O, say (TIC). Tic-tac-toe.
  • 43D: "You can't be serious" (OH, COME ON). Awesome entry. I'm going to steal this one and put it in one of my grids.
  • 81D: Marxism extremes? (EMS). Yep, there's an M (em) on each end of "Marxism."
  • 88D: Three times daily, on an Rx (TID). These pharmacy abbreviations always baffle me. I'm going to give Sam one demerit for this entry.
  • 97D: "The First Billion is the Hardest" author Pickens (T. BOONE). Ha, just saw that T. Boone is one letter off from t-bone. Am I the last person on Earth to notice that?
  • 50D: Diamond wearer in "Copacabana" (RICO). Yesterday PuzzleGirl wrote "...for God's sake, do not — I repeat NOT — listen to 'Copacabana.' " But you know you can't resist...
    I hope you all enjoyed today's puzzle and are having a nice three-day weekend. And to our international readers who don't celebrate the 4th, feel free to call in sick for work on Monday. See you next week.

    Everything Else 1A: Woodcutter who knew the magic words (ALI BABA); 8A: Wide divide (CHASM); 13A: Tribal magicians (SHAMANS); 21A: Variety show (REVUE); 22A: Catches the show (TUNES IN); 25A: Steamy stuff (EROTICA); 26A: Israeli weapons (UZIS); 27A: With 116-Down, "Bed-In for Peace" co-organizer (YOKO); 28A: Make amends (ATONE); 30A: Be a disincentive to (DETER); 31A: Eager, in dialect (RARIN'); 36A: Sound on Old MacDonald's farm (OINK); 37A: Responses to the obvious (DUHS); 39A: Office orders (REAMS); 47A: Concordes: Abbr. (SST'S); 48A: Triumphant shout (AHA); 55A: Seafaring salutations (AHOYS); 60A: Official declaration (EDICT); 61A: "The Gates of Hell" sculptor (RODIN); 62A: Goes __: deteriorates (TO POT); 63A: Like some advanced research, briefly (POST-DOC); 65A: Cues from a stage coach (LINES); 66A: "Trust me!" ("I SWEAR!"); 67A: Epps of "House" (OMAR); 72A: Mother of the Valkyries (ERDA); 73A: Short summaries (RECAPS); 75A: Garfield's creator (DAVIS); 76A: Clue room (LIBRARY); 79A: Enter, as data (KEY IN); 80A: Start a rally (SERVE); 82A: Ballpoint brand (BIC); 83A: Fishhook-to-line connection (SNELL); 87A: Vow (OATH); 89A: "Owner of a Lonely Heart" band (YES); 90A: Still in the outbox (UNSENT); 92A: Andre's love (STEFFI); 95A: 10% donation (TITHE); 99A: One might go around on the patio (SPIT); 100A: __ Neuf: Paris bridge (PONT); 105A: Mitigates (EASES); 109A: Rubber tree yield (LATEX); 111A: Astound (FLOOR); 112A: Tug (YANK); 114A: Kennel sound (YELP); 120A: Pottery casserole dish (TERRINE); 121A: "You're __ talk!" (ONE TO); 122A: Unpredictable (ERRATIC); 123A: Therapy time (SESSION); 124A: Exorcist's foe (DEMON); 125A: Old West gang (DALTONS); 1D: "It was over so fast" words (A BLUR); 2D: TV host Gibbons (LEEZA); 4D: Like some comforting manners (BEDSIDE); 5D: Mont Blanc, e.g. (ALP); 6D: Lift (BUOY); 7D: Geometry class list (AXIOMS); 8D: Serenade, perhaps (CROON); 9D: Fox's prey (HEN); 10D: Pilot (AVIATE); 11D: Naturally brewed beverage (SUN TEA); 12D: A lot of resistance (MEGOHM); 13D: "The Feast of Saint Nicholas" painter (STEEN); 14D: Judah Ben-__ (HUR); 15D: Give __ to: okay (A NOD); 17D: Currently (ASITIS); 18D: Like a noted creed (NICENE); 19D: Crotchety (SNARKY); 24D: Go downhill fast? (SKI); 29D: "If I Ruled the World" rapper (NAS); 32D: Helped get healthy (NURSED); 34D: Impulse (URGE); 35D: Short spinners? (DJ'S); 38D: Ballpark staples (HOTDOGS); 41D: Virginie-Occidentale et al. (ÉTATS); 42D: Close connections (RAPPORTS); 44D: Blowout on the court (MASSACRE); 46D: Fitting (APT); 47D: No. under the year on many tax forms (SSN); 51D: With accuracy or distance, a golf stat (DRIVING); 52D: Fox forensic drama (BONES); 53D: City SSE of Sana'a (ADEN); 54D: Spanish ayes (SÍ SÍ); 56D: In working order (OPERABLE); 57D: "Rocky" catchphrase (YO ADRIAN); 58D: Future adoptee, perhaps (STRAY CAT); 65D: "Deathtrap" playwright (LEVIN); 66D: "You win" ("I GIVE UP"); 69D: Baltic Sea feeder (ODER); 70D: "The Banana Boat Song" opening (DAYO); 71D: Workers' rights agcy. (NLRB); 74D: Rice preparation (PILAF); 77D: Longtime collaborator with Elton (BERNIE); 79D: Util. unit (KWH); 80D: You might do it after hiring a lawyer (SUE); 85D: "Wrong, comrade" ("NYET"); 91D: Spends the night in (STAYS AT); 92D: Evidence of egg toss errors (SPLATS); 93D: Just right (TO A TEE); 94D: Goes on stage (ENTERS); 95D: Business card no. (TEL.); 96D: 14-legged crustacean (ISOPOD); 98D: Cotton Club site (HARLEM); 99D: Had a hunch (SENSED); 102D: Regularly (OFTEN); 103D: "Sounder" Oscar nominee (TYSON); 104D: __-di-dah (LAH); 106D: Defense gp. formed in Manila (SEATO); 107D: Classic watch (ELGIN); 108D: See-thru wear? (SPECS); 110D: Super Bowl at which Tom Petty performed (XLII); 113D: Two-season "American Idol" judge DioGuardi (KARA); 116D: See 27-Across (ONO); 118D: 1989 World Champion figure skater (ITO); 119D: Web ID (URL).


    Gareth Bain said...

    Agreed! A winning collection of entries!! Leadpoisoning was my favourite too!

    the long entry grid was special. As someone who's tried filling in his share of Sunday grids, I can testify that even an ordinary Sunday grid is way tougher than a daily! Going for the money the way Sam does here is something else!

    On phone where linking is impractical, but you may want to wash out the taste of manilow with straw cat strut or jersey girl. Doug you had a clear opportunity to link to these but you chose manilow. You're so demonic!

    Rojo said...

    Enjoyed this one, although it was a DNF because of one single square: the T of 45 down (TIC) and across (TAG) just would not come to me and I had to cheat. It even took me a few moments after I cheated to understand the clue/answers.

    I very much enjoyed the theme, although I have a small problem with GOOD EVENING because it seems to me that the pronunciation of the pun answer is too similar to the pronunciation of the original phrase to go along with the rest of the theme, and I don't think that's just my NYer accent, even if my friends do make merciless fun of it.

    Vega said...

    Argh, I'm so annoyed with myself, but I still can't figure out Spot for "Spot." Help!

    Gene said...

    WTF? Spot=tag?????? Otherwise fun and very original puzzle.
    Happy B-day America!

    Doug P said...

    It took me a while to get the TAG clue too. A dog might have his name (Spot, e.g.) on the tag on his collar.

    Anoa Bob said...

    I usually just do enough of the Sunday puzzles to see what the theme is and then quit rather than slog through the typically perfunctory fill. This puzzle drew me in and kept me there. First-rate stuff all over the place. Thanks for a fun solve Mr. Donaldson.

    DNF in Calif. even though I had most of the crossings. Blanked on ROMERO at 42A so missed 42/43/44D. After I saw the answers I could only say "OH, COME ON", any idiot should have gotten that.

    Hand up for not getting spot=TAG.

    While I was previewing this I see Doug P 'splained it. Hmmm. That's quite a stretch.

    Vega said...

    Oh, ah. Thanks for the explanation. I'm not sure I like it. A somewhat low Spot in an otherwise pretty awesome puzzle.

    KJGooster said...

    Very nice Sunday effort. I was looking for something trickier than heteronyms, given the usual Sunday add-or-subtract-or-replace a letter themes. I like this better, though.

    TAG/TIC cross was the last for me as well.

    I love my Eee PC netbook. Lightweight and has a battery life of almost ten hours.

    CoffeeLvr said...

    The T for TAG was my last letter in, too. Solved this one on paper, and ran the alphabet. Finally sussed out why "Spot" was in quotation marks in the clue, but could not see how TIC and O related, thanks, Doug.

    This puzzle was really well done.

    I used to tear my clothes climbing through the barbed wire fences. Eventually learned how to avoid that. Or went around to the gates.

    Post solve Google taught me that a MEGOHM is a real measure. Did not know that. Didn't know TORII either; wonder if I can remember it? Also new to me: SNELL, ERDA, and ISOPOD. STEEN and RICO were only vaguely familiar. Still, none of this is crap fill. TORII on top of SNELL, plus my mental blank for PILAF, made that area hard to fill.

    Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

    Really liked the theme! I have a problem with 47 down though. I don't think he should have No. in the clue for SSN. Nice to see isopod an answer and not a clue. Agree with Doug LEADPOISININGw was the best of them! Happy 4th all!

    Mokus said...

    Enjoyed the puzzle and your entertaining write-up, Doug.

    Could TID mean Take Internally Daily? SWAG. Now, should I tackle the CWP in the LAT or fix a martini...or both! Happy 4th everyone.

    CrazyCatLady said...

    Wow! I thought this was a pretty awesome Sunday puzzle. POLISH SAUSAGE totally made me laugh. I got STEFFI, but I have no idea who Andre is. Anyone? I'm too lazy to look it up. And, of course, my favorite was STRAY CAT. Took me all day on and off. I think my brain is going, or has gone TO POT.

    Super write-up Doug, except for the Manilow. I think you may need to ATONE for that.

    One tiny nit, a TERRINE is a deep loaf or rectangular shaped dish that you use for a pâté or terrine such as foie gras, not a casserole IMHO.

    Anonymous said...

    @CrazyCat - Andre Agassi & Steffi Graf.

    CrazyCatLady said...

    @Anon 5:06 OMG That's so funny! I was thinking it was opera. And I've been watching Wimbledon all weekend. Thanks!!

    CrazyCatLady said...

    Just a reminder to everyone to keep their dogs and cats inside, cool and safe tomorrow, especially if you're in an area with loud fireworks. The shelters are always overrun on July 5, because of the very scared pets that run off. You might also be an angel and consider adopting a STRAY CAT. They make wonderful pets.


    Anonymous said...

    Thought it was easy until I got to west section. Got Romero, Torii, and Snell but just couldn't get 42-44 down and thus DNF.