08.18 Thu

August 18, 2011
Don Gagliardo & C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Plus Signs — Three blocks of black squares look like plus signs and the first three (four?) letters of each theme answer can be a word having to do with addition.

Theme answers:

  • 16A: Rikishi's contest (SUMO MATCH).
  • 28A: City known as the political capital of Africa (ADDIS ABABA).
  • 43A: Pacific Northwest cedar monuments (TOTEM POLES).
  • 55A: The three in this grid are a hint to the starts of 16-, 28- and 43-Across (PLUS SIGNS).
First of all, I just want to say Happy Birthday to PuzzleHusband! What are we doing to celebrate? Well, I'm going to drop the PuzzleKids at day camp and drop my van off at the shop. He's going to meet me at the shop and give me a ride to work and then head off on a business trip. I will spend the rest of the day hoping and praying that the shop is able to finish its work on the van today so the kids and I aren't stranded. Oh, and somewhere in there we're hoping the landlord will somehow be able to fix our air conditioner. So, yeah. Looking like a great day ahead.

This puzzle was … not my favorite. I did notice the unusual grid pattern right off the bat, so that helped with the theme. I'm not entirely sure if the relevant part of the last theme answer is TOT or TOTE. Both have dictionary support for fitting with the theme. I want to say it's TOT so that each of the three theme answers starts out with three theme letters to go along with the three plus signs in the grid. So, okay, let's go with that.

Tons of crosswordese and uninteresting fill in this one. A few gems distinguish themselves from the crowd:
  • 35A: Reorganize, and then some (SHAKE UP).
  • 7D: Prom corsage (ORCHID).
  • 11D: Prepare for the hot tub (DISROBE).
  • 36D: Jeter's 3,000th hit, e.g. (HOME RUN).
They're offset by words that just sit there — like AMMETER, LOOKED, OBTAIN, COMPILER — and a couple real clunkers — AEROBAT and AT A TIME, I'm looking at you. So, overall, as I said, not my favorite. Don and C.C. have set the bar pretty high for themselves, though, so that might be part of it.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Altar constellation (ARA).
  • 22A: Bit for the dog bowl (ORT).
  • 25A: Plaintive wind, perhaps (OBOE).
  • 26A: First-year law student (ONE-L).
  • 33A: Polo Grounds #4 (OTT).
  • 47A: Scandinavian saint (OLAF).
  • 29D: "The Clan of the Cave Bear" writer (AUEL).
  • 51D: Strategic WWI river (YSER).
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Everything 1A: Altar constellation (ARA); 4A: Picked locks? (AFRO); 8A: Where to see Goyas (PRADO); 13A: Translating computer program (COMPILER); 15A: Had pizza delivered, say (ATE IN); 16A: Rikishi's contest (SUMO MATCH); 18A: Vice __ (VERSA); 19A: DFW airport home (TEX); 20A: Lei presenter (WAHINE); 22A: Bit for the dog bowl (ORT); 23A: Tapped-out character (DIT); 24A: Popping up all over (RIFE); 25A: Plaintive wind, perhaps (OBOE); 26A: First-year law student (ONE-L); 28A: City known as the political capital of Africa (ADDIS ABABA); 30A: Battlefield display (HEROICS); 32A: King's problem in "The King's Speech" (STUTTER); 33A: Polo Grounds #4 (OTT); 34A: Place to see bull horns (LEA); 35A: Reorganize, and then some (SHAKE UP); 39A: Thrill (DELIGHT); 43A: Pacific Northwest cedar monuments (TOTEM POLES); 45A: NYC neighborhood (NOHO); 46A: Make __ dash (A MAD); 47A: Scandinavian saint (OLAF); 48A: Rascal (IMP); 49A: Like Gen. McChrystal (RET.); 50A: Quite soon (ANY DAY); 52A: Bearded beast (GNU); 53A: What a case may go to (TRIAL); 55A: The three in this grid are a hint to the starts of 16-, 28- and 43-Across (PLUS SIGNS); 58A: Gravy no-no (LUMPS); 59A: Billie Holiday's real first name (ELEANORA); 60A: El primer mes (ENERO); 61A: Houston MLBer (STRO); 62A: "Just kidding!" ("NOT!"); 1D: Rm. coolers (AC'S); 2D: Stand-up performance (ROUTINE); 3D: Current contraption (AMMETER); 4D: Align the cross hairs (AIM); 5D: Fly in the ointment (FLAW); 6D: Slows (RETARDS); 7D: Prom corsage (ORCHID); 8D: Work on the street (PAVE); 9D: MapQuest output: Abbr. (RTE.); 10D: Pilot in a show (AEROBAT); 11D: Prepare for the hot tub (DISROBE); 12D: Painting the town red (ON A TEAR); 14D: "A __ upon thee!" (POX); 17D: Oldies players (HI-FIS); 21D: Gets cozy (NESTLES); 23D: [Facepalm!] (D'OH); 25D: Lay one's hands on (OBTAIN); 27D: Undid the blindfold (LOOKED); 28D: Do more than just consider (ACT UPON); 29D: "The Clan of the Cave Bear" writer (AUEL); 31D: Tabloid pair (ITEM); 35D: Scare (STARTLE); 36D: Jeter's 3,000th hit, e.g. (HOME RUN); 37D: Unit by unit, in succession (AT A TIME); 38D: Coral component (POLYP); 39D: Foreclosure cause (DEFAULT); 40D: In progress (GOING ON); 41D: Author better known as Saki (H.H. MUNRO); 42D: Word with seed or banana (TOP); 44D: Tureen utensils (LADLES); 50D: Besides (ALSO); 51D: Strategic WWI river (YSER); 52D: Gibson need (GIN); 54D: Spring mo. (APR.); 56D: Common word on Brazilian maps (SÃO); 57D: Watched the kids (SAT).


Sfingi said...

DNF - and gave up early.

I wanted the plusses to be something that looked like plusses, I guess because I got the TOTEM POLE first, and with the eagle wings, they do. Googled Rikishi, but it didn't get me off my visual interpretation.

Also, Googled "facepalm," which I had never heard of.

Didn't get Polo Club #4. His name can be Googled with Polo Club after knowing the connection, but articles on the Polo Clubs I - IV don't make the connection. If you don't know sports, you just don't know sports. Given the choice of putting time into knowing sports and a life w/o, would still choose the latter.

Anonymous said...

@sfingi - Are you joking? It's "Polo Grounds" not "Polo Club". But I can understand the confusion. It must be hard for you to even read a clue about sports without gagging.

Anonymous said...

[facepalm!]????? you've got to be kidding!

Anonymous said...

@sfingi - you don't need to know a lot of sports but anytime it's a three letter answer referred to in baseball, whether it's Giants, or Mel, or Polo Grounds it's got to be Ott - crosswordese - it's the three letter answer that's the clue - and he was one of the greats.

I also DNF - WTF is ammeter and aerobat???

VirginiaC said...

I agree, Boring! not much incentive to finish, tho I did. With help.

Anonymous said...

An ammeter measures electrical current, in amperes (amps).
An aerobat is a stunt pilot who does aerobatics, like at an airshow (loop-de-loops, barrel rolls, stuff like that).

Tom C said...

Agreed, boring puzzle.

Sfingi, if you don't recognize OTT by now, you might want to find a new hobby.

Anonymous said...

Ammeter measures the number of amps in electric current.

Aerobat is a term for a pilot who flies "aerobatics" - those acrobatic airplane shows.

Anonymous said...

I got LEA -- but only by crossfilling. Can someone explain it as an answer, please? Thanks!

Smart Aleck Guy said...

Sfingi: You don't know sports?!?! Waaait a minute, now I remember. You mention it every day.

Anonymous said...

LEA is an open field, sometimes specifically a field with hay

slypett said...

Why is ARA an "altar constellation"?

Anonymous said...

A quick search turned up ARA.

*David* said...

I really didn't want to be a downer but I felt this puzzle played against every stereotype of what I don't want a puzzle to be. Nothing overly difficult assuming you have memorized the requisite crosswordese but nothing too satisfying either.

Anonymous said...

The crossword-ese didn't annoy me as much as it does sometimes, mostly pretty mild examples... It's funny I loved COMPILER: as a hobbyist programmer I had no idea what the clue was getting at till it emerged from the crosses! Liked AMMETER too so put that down to a personal quirk. Still not sure I've encountered the phrase SUMOMATCH, but it was in another crossword... My only encounter with ORTs was in bits >left over< from dog bowls which was discussed in Animal Nutrition... Fun clue for OBOE, though I see it has been done before. How did I still manage to forget you guys are upside-down and try and fit SEP/OCT and NOV for APR!!

Steve said...

A little late to the party, but I knew when I was solving today that @Sfingi would be miffed about OTT, but interestingly doesn't seem so upset about HOMERUN which I thought needed more specific sporting knowledge. Maybe because the event was so newsworthy it filtered into the non-sporting knowledge base.

I kinda liked the theme, I wasn't too upset about the fill - it is Thursday. Learned ELEANORA, AUEL and ARA. Had riO before SAO, DoT before DIT, LOOsED before LOOKED.

I love GNU - whenever I see the word it reminds me of a silly drawing done by English comedian Spike Milligan - two gnus are show with a clock face drawn on their flanks with the hands pointing to 9PM. The caption reads "The Nine O'Clock Gnus".

@PG - didn't see the grid pattern. Thanks for pointing that out.

Not at all sure about AEROBAT - sure, aerobatics are airplane stunts, but I've NEVER heard the pilot described as an aerobat. My neighbor some years ago was a world-famous aerobatic pilot named Randy Gagne (sadly no longer with us, he died in a plane crash teaching aerobatics to a pupil) and he was a stunt pilot.

Anoa Bob said...

The LAT puzzle has been available in Across Lite (AL) format on cruciverb.com for some time but today I see that the cruciverb page layout has changed and the AL section doesn't have the LAT. I wonder if this is temporary and the AL option for the LAT will return? Anyone have any info on this?

mac said...

OK puzzle, lots of longer answers needed a few crosses, but it was doable.

Isn't it amazing, all the sports clues, considering CC is a female, and born in China?

Pretty grid, although I have to admit I don't usually pay much attention to it until it's pointed out.

JIMMIE said...

I thought that working in ADDISABABA, the capital of Ethopia, was rather awesome.

As an old Morse code operator, I had DoT before DIT, noting that the dots and dashes of the code are also known as dits and dahs, like "C" being dah-dit-dah-dit. It seems like dots, dits, dashes, and dots should all be crosswordese 101.
Seemed like a ROUTINE cw.

Anonymous said...

@Anoa Bob - It was there two hours ago, and is there now.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that PG pointed out the black square plus signs, I think this theme was actually kind of cute. But I did have some trouble and still don't understand:

onel? How is that a first year law student?

What is a Facepalm and why is it in brackets?

And I've heard of Soho but not of Noho

Would appreciate any help with these.

Hope your day ended better than it started, PG.


backbiter said...

I almost didn't have a go at this one. I saw the grid, and my first reaction was "oh jeezuz". Not very inviting. Puzzle was OK but nothing great. I wish the clue for 6d was "Supervisors at work".



C said...

Hands up for DOT before DIT, easily corrected by crosses.

I'm not feeling the ennui for the puzzle as most are, thought there were some good things in it like AMMETER and COMPILER, things that I have used during my career. Its differences in perspectives coupled with witty crossword write-ups that keep me coming here.

Keith Fowler said...

Well, I count it as a finish, although I left it open as to whether there is such a thing as a COW PILER. I had AM METER, and just didn't like it. My electric meter doesn't say Amperes on it, but shows KW for kilowatts consumed.
A fairly dull one, I thought. Mainly because of a lack of discoveries!

Tom said...

Thanks, PG, for pointing out the plus signs in the grid. Big "facepalm" (DOH) that I didn't see it right off, too.

Anonymous said...

Soho means south of Houston St., so can only Noho means north of. But I've never heard it referred to that way.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:23 First year law students are refered to as One Ls. Turow wrote a book titled One L... about his first year in law school.

Facepalm is described here The brackets indicate, in this case, the reaction rather than the definition.

Anonymous said...

Mel Ott, #4. Played at the Polo Grounds. S.F. Giants retired his jersey.

Ron Worden said...

I have never heard of the astros refered to as the stros before. seems like another cute punfest from mr.gagliardo. He probably should try a standup routine.

KJGooster said...

[Facepalm] is just awesome. Exactly the sort of modern cluing these puzzles could use more of. Now we just need an answer for [Headdesk].

'Stros is a fairly common abbreviation, at least on SportsCenter and the like. Not sure how often it's actually used in Houston, though.

HumbleBrit said...

'STROS is used all the time in Houston.

Houston_Brit said...

Either way, Astros or 'Stros, but they're affectionately known here as the DisaStros... :-)

Keith Fowler said...

I have definitely heard NOHO mentioned in Manhattan, apparently a back formation of Soho. It's squeezed in between Greenwich Village & the East Village.

I believe DOH is Homer Simpson's verbal equivalent of [facepalm]:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your responses to my questions, everybody! That's why I love this blog--because I learn something new every day!


xxpossum@html.cm said...

@ Keith and Anon: Thanx for clearing up NOHO for me.Now, how's 'bout 52D?

CoffeeLvr said...

Hey, guys, lay off @Sfingi! I got OTT out of the 3 letters and the #4 in the clue, but wasn't confident until I checked the crosses. Who knew they played baseball at a place called Polo grounds? Isn't polo that sport for the rich and royal and their horses?

I really liked this puzzle, not sure why, except I spent a few years early in my careering TOTing up numbers. This was before personal computers or even smart terminals, kids. We used abaci. No not really, adding machines with a tape. I also remember using a COMPILER when I wrote computer programs in college/grad school.

@xxpossum, as to 52D, a Gibson is a cocktail made with GIN, and some other stuff.

John Wolfenden said...

DNF, but found some stuff to like about this puzzle:

- "Picked locks" for AFRO
- I thought "Polo Grounds #4" was a pretty original way to clue the ubiquitous OTT. Requires more sports knowledge, sure, but it is a Thursday.
- [Facepalm] for DOH was my favorite.

Not so positive about ACS, and when have you ever seen an ORCHID as a corsage? I figured it was TOP banana, but TOP seed was quite a head-scratcher. Another sports reference.

Puzzle constructors must thank their lucky stars for Jean AUEL. She's probably enabled more crosswords to be completed than any other name.

badams52 said...

Puzzle was ok. Got the theme right away with the plus signs in the puzzle. Wrote in PLUSSIGNS before any crosses even though I was hoping for cross[something] But I feel like I've seen this theme somewhere before, not too long ago.

Unlike @PG I liked AEROBAT and got it with the E and O filled in. It's like an acrobat but in the air.

Love the Blog. Always helps me know something I didn't before.

Mary in Bend, OR said...

@John Wolfenden: "Not so positive about ACS, and when have you ever seen an ORCHID as a corsage?"

Air conditioners are usually called "A/C" in ads for apartments as an enticement.

Back in the day (1950s), your date would customarily give you an orchid corsage for the prom. Now it's probably a nosering or tatoo.

pamela said...

Didn't George VI have a "stammer" rather than a "stutter"? Isn't there kind of a point about that made in the movie? OK, maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks for explaining the theme. Second day in a row I've needed that.

Anonymous said...

In Great Britain, a stutter is referred to as a stammer. Sometimes a layperson might refer to a stammer as a milder form of stuttering, but technically, there is no difference-other than the country in which it's used...
...A speech-language pathologist

Sfingi said...

@Anon656 - yes.

@Anon744a - where do you learn this stuff? Actually, I like this new word, facepalm.

@Anon744b - Or Orr.
But, hahaha on the other 2. Did you play hooky from science to play one of your stupid sports?

@Tom C - Sports is not my hobby. Why would a baseball arena be named Polo anything? Don't answer, sports has no logic; what am I thinking?

@Steve - figured out HOME RUN and STROS. Don't know why.

Has anyone known anyone who stops stuttering/stammering when they sing? Beautiful.

NOHO is newish.

Not every law school refers to Freshmen as ONEL.

Hoyt said...


Steve said...

@Sfingi and the other STUTTER/STAMMER issue question - I am/was/kinda still am a stammerer or stutterer.

One thing you guys won't know - it's tougher to say "stutter" than "stammer". No clue why.

However st(utt)(amm)erers have a rather wide vocabulary of word-substitution - if I'm ever describing my speech problem, I'll describe it as a stammer - it's easier to say. Add in alternatives to every word you find a problem to say and you've got yourself a whole bunch of crossword answers.

Never thought of it like that before. Who'd a thunk it?

Oh - and @Sfingi - never stammer/stutter when I sing/sang. It's pretty ugly being as I can't hold a note, but I'm pretty fluent.

And I LOVED [Faceplant].

Bill said...

@Keith - your electric meter displays KWH (kilo-watt hours). Watts are calculated by volts x amps, so the meter is actually measuring amps and integrating them over time to record kwh (since the voltage is essentially constant).