08.10 Wed

August 10, 2011
Julian Lim

Theme: Raining Cats and Dogs — The words "cat" and "dog" are hidden in several of the grid's down answers.

Theme answers:

  • 1D: Actress Blanchett (CATE).
  • 3D: System for which Super Mario Land was developed (NINTENDO GAMEBOY).
  • 9D: "Ego Trippin'" rapper (SNOOP DOGG).
  • 11D: Gothic Spanish landmark (TOLEDO CATHEDRAL).
  • 33D: Dispersed, as a crowd (SCATTERED).
  • 57D: Old Venetian judge (DOGE).
  • 7D: Really come down, as illustrated in this puzzle's circles (RAIN CATS AND DOGS).
So the words "cat" and "dog" are raining down from the top of the grid. Cute idea. Vertical themes always seem kind of … off to me. They make me feel kind of unsettled in a strange way. That's not a criticism of the puzzle, though — just an observation about one of my quirks. Today's long theme answers are pretty awesome. Besides NINTENDO GAMEBOY, my favorite entries include:
  • 17A: In vain (TO NO AVAIL).
  • 59A: 1947 Hope/Crosby film (ROAD TO RIO).
  • 26D: Carols at the mall, usually (MUZAK).
Stuff that kinda threw me includes:
  • 5A: Danish director von Trier (LARS).
  • 25A: Every, in an Rx (OMN).
  • 37A: Geologic age meaning "without life" (AZOIC).
When I read each one of those clues I thought "Seriously?" But then when the answers became clear through crosses, they all seemed kind of obvious.

  • 20A: Tallinn native (ESTONIAN). Whenever I see any reference to ESTONIA — which isn't often, strangely enough — I think about this old Dilbert comic:

  • 21A: 1974 Dolly Parton chart-topper (JOLENE).

  • 27A: Pushed to the limit (TAXED). I tried MAXED here at first, which made TOUPEE (27D: Rug with nothing swept under it?) awfully hard to see.
  • 31A: Actor Paul and journalist Hughes (RUDDS). I have a vague notion that Paul Rudd is someone I've heard of. Hughes RUDD? Not so much.
  • 35A: Frère de la mère (ONCLE). French!
  • 52A: Enjoyed Wrigley, e.g. (CHEWED). The gum, not the baseball stadium.
  • 25D: Store display suffix (-ORAMA). Try to see if you can add this suffix to any words today just for fun.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 22A: George Orwell's alma mater (ETON).
  • 49A: Beekeeper played by Fonda (ULEE).
  • 65A: On the safer side (ALEE).
  • 18D: Enero to enero, e.g. (AÑO).
  • 45D: SFO info (ETD).
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Everything 1A: Six-pack units (CANS); 5A: Danish director von Trier (LARS); 9A: Select the temperature on, as a thermostat (SET AT); 14A: Dictator Idi (AMIN); 15A: Parent company of half.com (EBAY); 16A: Mother Judd (NAOMI); 17A: In vain (TO NO AVAIL); 19A: Had an eye for figures? (OGLED); 20A: Tallinn native (ESTONIAN); 21A: 1974 Dolly Parton chart-topper (JOLENE); 22A: George Orwell's alma mater (ETON); 23A: Penned (up) (COOPED); 25A: Every, in an Rx (OMN); 27A: Pushed to the limit (TAXED); 28A: Text-scanning technology, briefly (OCR); 31A: Actor Paul and journalist Hughes (RUDDS); 34A: Place to play faves (OTB); 35A: Frère de la mère (ONCLE); 37A: Geologic age meaning "without life" (AZOIC); 38A: Club for GIs (USO); 39A: AOL alternative (GMAIL); 40A: Molten rock (MAGMA); 41A: Offer in response to "Shake!" (PAW); 42A: U.S. base in Cuba, in headlines (GITMO); 43A: Rap sheet initials (AKA); 44A: Many 3-Down users (TEENS); 46A: Fathers and sons (HES); 47A: Hard to comb (MATTED); 49A: Beekeeper played by Fonda (ULEE); 52A: Enjoyed Wrigley, e.g. (CHEWED); 54A: Counted (on) (DEPENDED); 58A: Picture book elephant (BABAR); 59A: 1947 Hope/Crosby film (ROAD TO RIO); 60A: Bring to mind (EVOKE); 61A: Farming prefix (AGRO-); 62A: Singer k.d. (LANG); 63A: Like asters (RAYED); 64A: Qtys. of sugar (TSPS.); 65A: On the safer side (ALEE); 1D: Actress Blanchett (CATE); 2D: Hebrew prophet (AMOS); 3D: System for which Super Mario Land was developed (NINTENDO GAMEBOY); 4D: High-and-mighty type (SNOOT); 5D: "Rosemary's Baby" author (LEVIN); 6D: Simple rhyme scheme (ABAA); 7D: Really come down, as illustrated in this puzzle's circles (RAIN CATS AND DOGS); 8D: Word part: Abbr. (SYL.); 9D: "Ego Trippin'" rapper (SNOOP DOGG); 10D: Postal service symbol (EAGLE); 11D: Gothic Spanish landmark (TOLEDO CATHEDRAL); 12D: "I totally agree!" ("AMEN!"); 13D: Oceanic routine (TIDE); 18D: Enero to enero, e.g. (AÑO); 21D: Average guy? (JOE); 24D: U-shaped river bends (OXBOWS); 25D: Store display suffix (-ORAMA); 26D: Carols at the mall, usually (MUZAK); 27D: Rug with nothing swept under it? (TOUPEE); 29D: Weather, in verse (CLIME); 30D: Moves, to a Realtor (RELOS); 32D: Hard to read by, as light (DIM); 33D: Dispersed, as a crowd (SCATTERED); 36D: Abbr. for John Doe, perhaps (NMI); 45D: SFO info (ETD); 48D: Up and about (AWAKE); 49D: French twists, e.g. (UPDOS); 50D: Gave permission (LET); 51D: Name on a celebrated B-29 (ENOLA); 52D: Radio-active one? (CB'ER); 53D: "__ Nagila" (HAVA); 55D: O.K. Corral lawman (EARP); 56D: A, to Albrecht (EINE); 57D: Old Venetian judge (DOGE); 59D: Dock rodent (RAT).


cathydixson said...

Pretty easy for a Wednesday morning. Two clues threw me - every in RX and "like asters" - who knew the answer was "rayed?"

Pete said...

One point off for SNOOPDOGG, as the DOGg involved is, well, a dog.

So, when dealing with unnamed people, how do they differentiate between John Doe and Joe Q Public? Do they somehow know when an unnamed person has a MI?

Matthew said...

Hmmm. Not overly difficult today, although I was entirely clueless about what NMI meant, which I got from the crosses. Now I get it. Although google came up with "nautical mile" as the more common abbreviation. Perhaps John Doe is a sailor?

Gene said...

Entirely screwed up midwest bloc.(i.e. arama, amn, musak,asoic.)Other than that, brilliant!

Rojo said...

Smooth sailing for me today, which is nice as I was beginning to harbor suspicions about my skills slipping. I did immediately stick a "G" in after TOLEDO, thinking that was where a DOG would be hiding, but that didn't trip me up for long.

Last letter to fill was the Z in MUZAK/AZOIC, as I wasn't sure about the spelling of MUZAK, but my original hunch was correct. RUDDS took a moment as well as my brain kept seeing ObAMA, even though that was clearly wrong.

*David* said...

Pretty smooth puzzle and liked the ambition. We miss Naddor and his puzzles with blocks of long fill. This one felt similar to that and I would like to see more of these in the LAT. I can deal with some crap fill in order to get something different on occasion.

Sfingi said...

Was annoyed with the abbrevs., esp OCR, OMN, NMI, RELO. Just seemed like he had to think of something to finish it off.

Had CAse before cans for a short time, and yazOos before OXBOWS.

Didn't know von Trier, though LARS was a good guess. Didn't know the RUDDs, but the Paul one has nice eyes.

Started filling the CATs and DOGs in after a bit.

Very Wed., though.

Anonymous said...

one caveat - my 6 year old grandson plays Nintendo Gameboy - teens I think are past it these days. And yes, he is NOT glued to it.

Always enjoy a Julian Lim puzzle

Steve said...

Middle left took some work today, I finally took a guess with ORAMA and then everything else slowly fell into place. Never heard of the RUDDs, didn't know OMN, only got AZOIC with the crosses.

I think NMI is way too obscure, but that's probably because I've just never heard it before.

Agree @Pete about DOGG.

My quibble - OXBOW - it's not a U-shaped bend in a river, it's a u-shaped lake created when a river forms a large meander and then breaks through the "neck" of the bend isolating the meander.

Difficult to describe without drawing a little picture.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was just adorable! Having the "Rain cats and dogs" come down like that in the middle, with all the "dogs" and "cats" like little raindrops all over the puzzle, was utterly charming.

Did have to get biologist husband to help me with "magma" and "azoic," though. Before his stroke in 2008, he did the LA Times puzzle himself every morning. His right hand is now paralyzed so I've inherited the puzzle, which makes me sad because he would have loved this blog. Nonetheless, we're delighted that he still has his smarts and can still help me out when I get stuck.


Helpful Guy said...

@Anonymous 9:54 - If your husband can type with his left hand, he can do it on the computer, no?

If so, you can go to www.cruciverb.com register (it's free), then download Across Lite (PG has a link to it in her FAQs). Once you register he can get the puzzle from cruciverb.com every day.

Rojo said...

Or you can just do it on the LA Times' web-site.


CoffeeLvr said...

Well, OMN and AZOIC were both new to me. And I though MUsAK was correct, and aRAMA looked okay. Still can't quite link ORAMA to "store display" either, sale, yes, display, no.

I had rEseT before SETAT.

Enough griping. I like an occasional vertical theme, just to keep on my toes, so to speak.

I love the word EVOKE.

Did anyone else see the PAW in the middle of the grid?

Steve said...

Oxbow lake - little pictures!

How an Oxbow Lake Forms

Gareth Bain said...

I already said what i wanted to say at docf, but I did notice something from your comments, Rojo. Because you used the applet not al, you didn't get circles to tell you where to put the cats and dogs. Whether that's a minus or a plus in this case I don't know...

Anonymous said...

M-W.com defines "oxbow" as "something (as a bend in a river) resembling an oxbow." As Steve said, an "oxbow lake" is formed when the river breaks through the "neck" of the bend isolating the meander.

Enjoyable puzzle, even though I did not know what nmi and omn meant.

shrub5 said...

I'm trying to decide if this puzzle would have been more interesting without the circles (which I think made it too easy.) Nevertheless, a cute idea and many fresh clues and answers. Finished with one error aRAMA/aMN. @Steve: my desktop dictionary differentiates between oxbow and an oxbow lake. I think the clue is OK.

C said...

Enjoyable puzzle, I appreciated the downward flow to the puzzle.

I got JOLENE in a roundabout way by recalling that White Stripes covered the song and THEN remembering it was a Dolly Parton cover. I don't think I have ever heard the original version (didn't click @PG's hospitably provided link yet)

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your suggestions, @Helpful Guy and Rojo. I've been trying to get my husband to see if he can type in puzzle answers online. Maybe this will motivate him!


Nighthawk said...

Had the same natick as @shrub5, with whom I agree about the OXBOW clue. The CBER/RAYED cross was a bit of a speedbump too.

In Across-Lite, no circles. But more fun, in a way, to ferret them out later. Just not much help during the solve.

Wondering if the expression "Holy Toledo" comes from the CATHEDRAL?

Fun, but DOGE was, I thought, pretty obscure for a Wed.

Catdog is one of my fave cartoon shows. Thanks Mr. Lim.

CrazyCatLady said...

I thought this theme was a lot of fun, especially with, as CoffeeLvr mentioned, the PAW in the middle. MATTED and CHEWED kind of fit in with the theme as well. I did the puzzle in the LA Times and was able to get the theme early on with the circles.

I had the same problem as @Shrub5 with ARAMA crossing AMN. I still have no idea what OMN means. I've tried looking it up on Google, TO NO AVAIL. I also have the question as to what ORAMA has to do with a store display, although there is a store called LiquORAMA near here.

Paul RUDD is in a new movie opening later this month called "Our Idiot Brother." They've shown the trailer the last three times I've been to the theater.

Nice Wednesday puzzle!

Steve said...

Humbly accepting OXBOWS. Thanks @shrub5 et al for correcting me.

No circles in the online version of the puzzle at latimes.com - I prefer it that way.

On the "ORAMA" subject, I think it's interesting that the whole store name thing - we've all seen stores called something like Fruit-0-Rama, Liquorama, Burg-o-rama, all those kinds of names which imply to us that the outlet has a wide selection of those products - obviously coming from the word "panorama" which is greek in origin, literally meaning "to see all".

The funny thing is that the names are based on the wrong half of the word - it's the "pan" piece which means everything, the (h)orama bit means "to see". I suppose the mattress store called BED-O-RAMA wouldn't be so attractive if it were called, more correctly, BED-PAN.


Anonymous said...

Not entirely unlike the NYT April 5, 2011 puzzle. Fun solve nonetheless.

mac said...

Nice theme, with the dogs and cats actually coming down, but I too was bothered by the abbreviations, some of which were pretty esoteric.
I did enjoy to no avail, Road to Rio, and especially the paw in the middle!

I'm sure circles would have helped me a lot!

Rojo said...

Oh yeah, no circles here either at the LA Times site. Thought PG had added them. Agree that they were completely unnecessary to this puzzle, although there are occasions when I do the puzzle online and there's explicit reference in the cluing to circles, like on a Saturday, and then I get annoyed that I didn't get the circles.

Rojo said...

Adding, circles were not just unnecessary but would have been less fun in this case, as I was more pleased with myself about fixing the hidden, but incorrect DOG I had guessed at (that I mentioned above) than if I had known from the start where the CAT or DOG was in the answer.

Rojo said...

Adding again, although they do make the RAIN theme pop just a bit more.

Steve said...

@Pete - the difference between Joe Q. Public and John Doe (to me anyway) is that Mr. Public is hale, hearty and walking around, and John Doe is, well, dead.

JQP is also American. In my native UK he's called Joe Bloggs.

An unidentified body in the coroner's office is John (or Jane) Doe.

Strictly speaking, Wikipedia doesn't agree with me, but that's my take on it. If I saw John Doe walking around I'd be screaming "ZOMBIE!!!!" and running away.

Rojo said...

John Doe is any male person, dead or alive, who is unidentified. The female equivalent is Jane Doe.

Also I've always heard John Q. Public, not Joe Q. Public, but in either case, that person could be identified by name, but also serves as a stand-in metaphor for, obviously the public. In that way the metaphor can and often gets abused (in fact is always abused, I would argue), as the public never has a monolithic opinion about any thing, except for the fact that Congress sucks. Why and in what ways Congress sucks, however, 'nother story.

CP said...

@Shrub5 and @CrazyCatLady: Well I whipped right through this one.... Oops, had ARAMA, not ORAMA since i didn't know 25A every in Rx clue. So a one square DNF for a pretty fun and straight forward puzzle. Aargh! Nice to do the Dog/Cat puzzle with my Boston Terrier sleeping at my feet.

Rojo said...

@ Gareth: hadn't noticed that you had commented on the circles issues 'til just now, anyway, consider my later comments responses.

Rojo said...

@ Gareth, Oh, except you're telling me the al (across-lite, I assume) would have had the circles? Hmmmmmm, maybe I should investigate that. Not a resource heavy program I assume?

Rojo said...

@ Gareth & peanutters that use across-lite

Are there any other significant advantages to across-lite, as opposed to just the applet on the LA Times site?

Rojo said...

Also, looking over comments just now, my comments specifically, and since no-one else took PG up on her challenge, I would like to say: "Obamaorama!"

Not that I'm a fan. Although I won't say from what perspective I'm not a fan. Still: "Obamaorama!"

Try it, it's pretty fun! I think both critics and supporters can use it with just slightly different inflections.

Steve said...

@Rojo - IMHO - stick to the regular latimes.com site. No circles, no extra help. I'm a purist, I guess.

Even the little fish "bubbbles" circle puzzle a couple of months ago didn't convince me that I needed circles, but it was cute when I saw it on this blog.

I don't need to be hit over the head with a theme - LOOK! CIRCLES SPELL DOG OR CAT! Yeah, get over it already, we're kinda having fun solving over here.

IMHO, obviously.

KJGooster said...

Jumping in late, but I did mostly like this one. Where I work (a large urban hospital), most Saturday nights turn into a Trauma-O-RAMA.

Not sure what to make of the stack NAOMI OGLED JOLENE...

And hey @PuzzleGirl, as I recall, your first published puzzle had a vertical theme, no? Hmmmm: Why yes, it did!

Rojo said...

Ooooh, PG is busted, hilarious @KJGooster!

@Steve, that fish one came to mind, but I seem to recall one where the circles were actually fairly crucial to the solving. Can't remember for the life of me what it was though. I'll probably just go with your advice and come kvetch here if lack of circles do cause me problems in the future.

...and when was the last time we saw "kvetch" in a crossword? Can I propose a theme where we have matching Yiddish and English words with similar beginning sounds and similar meanings, like "kvetch" and "cavil"? I don't know if it's even possible, and I'm definitely not smart enough to do it, but as the late, great Bill Hicks used to say, "Just planting seeds here."

Gareth Bain said...

I much prefer across lite's layout and navigation to any of the applets' solving layouts. Starting to appreciate the new york times' one. You also get to keep a copy of the puzzle on your hd and can pull it into a crossword program if you so wish...