07.08 Fri

July 8, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Take As Directed — Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases where the first word is a direction. Instead of including the direction word, the second word of the phrase is oriented in the grid so that you have to read it in that "direction."

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Aptly, Chinese, e.g. (ASIAN). [East Asian]
  • 6A: Aptly, Park Avenue area (SIDE). [East side]
  • 10A: Aptly, New Jersey beach phenomenon (WIND). [East wind]
  • 67A: Aptly, Israeli-occupied territory (KNAB). [West Bank]
  • 68A: Aptly, Oval Office site (GNIW). [West Wing]
  • 69A: Aptly, Hollywood locale (TSAOC). [West Coast]
  • 1D: Aptly, about 5 percent of the Earth's surface (ACIREMA). [North America]
  • 46D: Aptly, Pyongyang resident (NAEROK). [North Korean]
  • 13D: Aptly, Pierre's state (DAKOTA). [South Dakota]
  • 45D: Aptly, "Happy Talk" musical (PACIFIC). [South Pacific]
  • 37A: "Apt" geographical element needed to complete the answers to 10 of this puzzle's clues (DIRECTION).
Interesting theme today. And I'm glad I didn't try to solve this on the computer. When you have words going every which way, it's very confusing to the fingers. In fact, when I filled out the grid in AcrossLite so I could post it at the top of this blog, I typed in WING instead of GNIW at 68A. It's hard to type words backwards! It didn't take me too long to figure out what was going on here. The whole northwest corner came pretty easily and when it was obvious that 1D was nonsense read the normal way, I figured it would have to be read some other way. That made the rest of the theme answers fun to figure out. Can't say that I've ever heard reference to New Jersey's East WIND, and embarrassed to say I needed a couple crosses before "remembering" that Pyongyang is in one of the KOREAs (have I mentioned that geography isn't my strong suit?).

Nobody likes to see EEE in the grid (55A: Width measure), but that probably couldn't be helped. Also, SEA BOAT? I assume that's a real word, but it doesn't mean it's a good word (26A: Main vessel). But there was a lot I liked in this grid. For example, I enjoyed the questions/exclamations:
  • 50A: "So soon?" ("ALREADY?").
  • 60A: "Shoot!" ("RATS!").
  • 44D: "Are we in?" ("IS IT A GO?").
There were two points during this solve when I completely cracked myself up. First of all I can never get Prado and Prada straight, so when I saw [65A: Prado display] I'm thinking "Shoes? Purses?" Um, no. Prado is actually a museum. That displays art. Or rather, in Italian, ARTE. Then I read the word "morels" as "morays" and couldn't figure out why EELS wouldn't fit where FUNGI was supposed to go (66A: Morels, e.g.).

  • 18A: Tour de force (FEAT).

  • 11D: Succinctly (IN A WORD). Another great colloquial phrase. Love it.
  • 30D: Quebec's Sept-__ (ILES). Never heard of this. It sounds vaguely … French! doesn't it?
  • 41D: '70s Robert Blake cop show (BARETTA). I just had a question about BARETTA tonight when I was playing Facebook Jeopardy. It had something to do with this:

  • 51D: Trendy headgear (DO-RAG). Trendy? Okay.
  • 54D: Foot bone (TALUS). I tried TARSI first and then wondered where the hell I came up with that. Turns out the TALUS is part of the TARSUS. The fact that I tried to enter a plural for a singular clue? Well, that's another story.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: Conscription category (ONE-A).
  • 59A: European wine area (ASTI).
  • 9D: Big name in compacts (ESTÉE).
  • 35D: Thames landmark (ETON).
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Everything Else 14A: Treinta ÷ seis (CINCO); 15A: Some Neruda works (ODES); 17A: "What else __?" (IS NEW); 19A: Terrible (WACK); 20A: Bona fide (REAL); 21A: Wall makeup, maybe (STONES); 23A: Intl. commerce group (WTO); 24A: Anger (ENRAGE); 28A: '60s chic (MOD); 29A: Virgil contemporary (OVID); 32A: Earth, to 29-Across (TERRA); 33A: 29-Across's "__ amatoria" (ARS); 34A: Contradict (BELIE); 36A: Pop-ups, perhaps (ADS); 40A: Diamond stat (RBI); 42A: Assault (STORM); 43A: Spot in a poker game (PIP); 46A: Isn't far from reaching (NEARS); 48A: Like some blog comments: Abbr. (ANON.); 49A: Peruvian pronoun (ESA); 53A: Kind of acid (NITRIC); 56A: Relax (GO EASY); 62A: Relative position (RANK); 63A: "... __ of Bread ..." (A LOAF); 64A: "__ take arms against a sea ...": Hamlet (OR TO); 2D: Latin agreement (SÍ SENOR); 3D: Machine makeup, informally (INNARDS); 4D: Amtrak's bullet train (ACELA); 5D: Word of impatience (NOW); 6D: Lax (SOFT); 7D: Prefix with logical (IDEO-); 8D: Heads with lists (DEANS); 10D: Eye-popper response (WOW); 12D: Bee drawers (NECTARS); 21D: Break off (SEVER); 22D: Warmed the bench (SAT); 25D: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" setting (GOBI); 27D: Certain counter's unit? (BEAN); 31D: Orders (DICTA); 37D: Urgent (DIRE); 38D: It may be dramatic (IRONY); 39D: Luxury hotel (OMNI); 40D: Freshen one's familiarity with (RELEARN); 43D: Public projection (PERSONA); 47D: Slump (SAG); 52D: Long (YEARN); 57D: Objector (ANTI); 58D: Slant, as to a specific audience (SKEW); 61D: Graveside sound (SOB); 63D: Popeye's behind? (AFT).


Rojo said...

Well, the Do Rag is not currently trendy, but it was trendy at one point among some sectors of the population....

I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this puzzle; theme, fill, and cluing.

Like PG, I got the NW filled out pretty quick and the theme figured out fairly quickly after that.

My real sticking point was the NE with me wanting, at various times to put in POLLENS instead of NECTARS, ONE WORD instead of IN A WORD, WOH instead of WOW, and (following from that last) HACK instead of WACK. SEA BOAT did not help here, even though it actually came to mind early, but I just thought it sounded too ugly.

I particularly enjoyed this one because it was one of those that I went through the clues at the start and was feeling a bit despondent, but once I got a few here and there fills, it all came together. The theme helped a lot in my solving as well, which is often not the case.

Unlike PG, I actually had no issues about doing this one on the computer.

Rojo said...

I meant to mention that those among whom DO RAGS were indeed trendy, often tended to use the term WACK.

This, and memories of KRS-1, actually helped me fix that last WOH/HACK into WOW/WACK in order to complete the puzzle and get my satisfying "tada" sound.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth is Treinta ÷ seis (CINCO)?

Thirty + six = five ?1

Is Orwell involved?

Anonymous said...

Nevermind, I guess I really do need new glasses. I could only see the division sign as a plus sign.
Thanks anyway

*David* said...

I liked this change of pace, quite a bit. It took me a while to figure out what was going on since it was so unexpected for the LAT. I do hope more of these type of puzzles get published it made for an exiciting solve compared to usual.

I spent a lot of time hopping around and it wasn't until I put in KNAB that the theme really sunk in. I'm surprised that a puzzle like this hasn't been done before. Ugliest fill for me was RELEARN and SEABOAT seemed to have an odd definition.

Bill said...

I gave up on it early. I got most of the west half and some fill words weren't making any sense at all.

How does "aptly" sometimes apparently translate to "spelled backwards"

Anonymous said...

I think the Prado is the great museum in Madrid--hence "arte" must also be "art" in Spanish. I say "I think" because when my husband and I passed through Madrid on our honeymoon, we were there for the two days when the Prado was closed. So never actually got to see the "arte" works inside.

I read "morels" as "morals," so had an even harder time than PG figuring that one out.

But great Friday puzzle, over all.


C said...

One trick pony puzzle but good enough to make me think and that is all I can ask for.

For me, the decoder area was the nretsew side of the puzzle. Once I got the upside down KOREAN (wanted to type that in, aptly, as well), the puzzle flew to completion.

Steve said...

Triple-super-like today. I had the bottom three filled and could not see for the life of me see what was going on, even though I'd already got "DIRECTION", and then "PACIFIC" told me I was looking for N/S/E/W.

The penny finally dropped with a clang when I realized that KNAB wasn't going to magically turn into "Gaza Strip" whatever I did with directions.

SEABOAT didn't bother me too much, although I did hold off on filling it in until the crosses confirmed it.

INNARDS was awesome.

Lotsa fun today, agree with @David it would be great to see more of these.

@Bill - it's not just "backwards", the first word sets the direction of the second - south PACIFIC - downwards, north KOREAN upwards, east WIND rightwards, west COAST leftwards. Therefore aptly.

Anonymous said...

I, too, thought SEABOAT was clued clunkily, until I realized is just a straight synonym - and MAIN does not mean lead, or most important, but - SEA (as in, over the bounding main).

Good one...

Tuttle said...

SEABOAT is a word you rarely see since there's a more common and succinct term for it: Ship.

Anonymous said...

Geography not PG's long suit:Prado in Madrid, arts in espanol

Vega said...

The puzzle was super-fun if a little too on the easy side for me. WACK was awesome, as was INNARDS. But yeah, hard to type words backwards in AcrossLite. That was annoying me (not the puzzle's fault, I know).

Happy Friday!

Anao Bob said...

Finally got this one but was thrown off by the clue for the reveal at 37A DIRECTION, "...geographical element...". Wouldn't that be some thing, a physical thing, like a desert, mountain, fault line, etc.? Googledom doesn't show much support for DIRECTION as an geographical element either.

Isn't ISITAGO (44D) an Italian cheese from the ASTI region that gives a warm glow to one's INNARDS?

I think Masefield's first draft started like this: "I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky, and all I ask is a tall SEA BOAT and a star to steer her by."

Anonymous said...

Would someone please answer Bill's question of how "aptly" sometimes apparently translates to "spelled backwards?" There were so many "aptly" clues! and I still have no clue about how I was supposed to know this. Please, you experts, share this knowledge.

PuzzleGirl said...

As I said in the description of the theme: "Instead of including the direction word, the second word of the phrase is oriented in the grid so that you have to read it in that 'direction.'" So the word is oriented "aptly."

Steve said...

@Anoa Bob - if that was Masefield's first draft, I wonder if there's a note as to why he crossed out the word "go" in the first stanza and used "down" as the verb standing alone. I've always wondered about that :)

@Anon 11:10AM, I think I did answer Bob's question about why the direction makes the clue/answer "apt".

If north KOREAN means write KOREAN in an northerly direction (i.e upwards) and the answer is NAEROK, then I'd say that's apt. Same for west COAST being , aptly, TSAOC.

@PG also explained that in the write-up.

Rube said...

Had the exact same problem as @anon 7:43 and even wrote in XXXVI. That didn't last but a millisecond and then I looked closer. My aha moment came just like @C's in the SW. The solve was not going well until I filled in the entire SW and saw KOREAN and BANK emerge. Still didn't understand why these were backwards and the top row was forwards until I looked at the middle and filled in DIRECTION off of 2 letters.

Had floweRS before NECTARS, topO before IDEO, cITRIC before NITRIC, and Spin before SKEW. Thought NECTARS, INNARDS, DICTA, and PERSONA were terrific. Groaned mightly at SISEÑOR. Do not approve of SEABOAT also.

Wonderful puzzle. Doable without Googles and just right for a Friday. Keep these coming RICH!

Rube said...

BTW team, let's GOEASY on @PG and geography. She is self confessedly "challenged" in that field, and I quote from today's writeup, "...(have I mentioned that geography isn't my strong suit?)". Those two "directional" pictures in her writeup tell it all.

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

I somehow solved the entire thing as I got the "direction" theme. My problem was I kept looking at the theme clues as to where they were LOCATED on the page (like we sometime describe problem areas in a puzzle when discussing solving)..So, for example, since TSEW was in the SOUTH section of the puzzle and I got the west wing refrence, could not for the life of me how a word in the south could translate to west WING. It KIND OF worked for certain clues since ACIREMA was indeed in the north (albeit NW) portion of the grid as was WIND in the NE section and so I thought of Nor'easters which may or may not be a NJ phenom (west coast here so have not a clue). So after reading @PG's explanation it all became painfully obvious. Guess I overthunk it.
Ditto on loving INNARDS. No issue with "trendy" for DORAG as, IMHO, something does not have to be trendy TODAY to be trendy, just something that may have started a trend, now or in the past.

CoffeeLvr said...

I really liked this, also. The dime dropped at KNAB, although I already knew something was going on when South DAKOTA wouldn't fit. I also had pretty much pieced together DIRECTION.

More, please.

Alexscott said...

I got 2D through crosses, looked at SISENOR, and thought, "I guess that must be Latin for 'agreement.' Okay." I was feeling pretty smart for completing the puzzle and grasping the theme pretty quickly, while also knowing that the Prado is in Madrid. But then Rube explained SI SEÑOR, and now I'm not feeling so superior.

I agree about SEABOAT. Seems kind of clunky, even if legit. It's sort of like "roadcar" (though, of course, there is "airplane").

Fowler said...

I flubbed on doing words backwards. Such a simple gag; so mad at me 'cuz I missed it -- 'tho I got everything else. SEABOAT looked stupid for a "main vessel," if we think of main as "important," but then main also means ocean, so it is literally correct.
Yep, Prado is sure in Madrid. Loved visiting there, and the park next to it.
"Aptly" was off-putting, but it does make sense. What directional modifier is "apt" for each of the subject nouns? And then (the meaning I missed): which direction is the aptest way to spell the north and west answers?

one across said...

I liked this puzzle and was able to finish it without resorting to outside sources.

I did think "wack" was a mistake (wacked??), but surprisingly found it in an up to date dictionary.

CrazyCatLady said...

I thought this was a particularly awesome Friday puzzle. I had the same problem as Dave in Bend in at first thinking that the answers should correspond to the DIRECTIONs of the grid. But after going round and round, I decided no. Then I wondered about pairs like PACIFIC COAST and ASIAN SIDE. WIND DAKOTA killed that idea.

I got the theme between SIDE and DAKOTA, then got the reveal and that helped me to understand GNIW and KNAB. What was weird is that I spent part of every summer from birth to 22 at the "beach" at the Jersey Shore (Stone Harbor and Cape May) and never heard of EAST WIND. Easterly maybe? Am I the only one??

Anonymous said...

I didn't like it at all !!!! TOO CUTE.

shrub5 said...

Late to get started on this one but totally enjoyed it. I figured out the theme fairly quickly with ACIREMA being "backwards" AMERICA....no, "north" AMERICA. I see. So I went around the puzzle and tried to fill in the "aptly" clues with an answer that had a direction. Very clever to get all these around the perimeter. Nice work!

Favorite clue/answer: "Popeye's behind" / AFT.

@PG: Love those crazy signs!

balloons said...

Puzzle Girl, I really enjoyed your post about this puzzle. It was the first crossword I'd tried in years, glad I found your delightful and illuminating blog.