08.21 Sun

August 21, 2011
Pamela Amick Klawitter

[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: "Scrambled Signals" (or "Gal Sins") — Phrases that indicate anagrams in a cryptic way.

Theme Entries:
  • 24A: 91-Across? (GARBLED SPEECH).
  • 91A: Aviary sounds (CHEEPS).
  • 49A: 1-Down? (ALTERED STATES).
  • 1D: Tries (TASTES).
  • 92A: 111-Down? (SHIFTING GEARS).
  • 111D: Barracks bigwig (SARGE).
  • 121A: 58-Across? (MIXED BLESSING).
  • 58A: Lack of sincerity (GLIBNESS).
  • 3D: 129-Across? (TWISTED SISTER).
  • 129A: Put up a fight (RESIST).
  • 61D: 79-Across? (CHANGE OF HEART).
  • 79A: Milky Way planet (EARTH).
Hey, crossword fans. Doug here on Sunday. Wasn't I just here on Friday? I need a vacation. Anyway, today we've got anagrams. You can "garble" SPEECH to get CHEEPS, "alter" STATES to get TASTES, etc. If you solve cryptic crosswords, you're very familiar with this type of wordplay. In fact, some of these clue pairs are easily converted into cryptic clues: [Tries altered states (6)] or [Lack of sincerity is mixed blessing (8)], e.g.

My favorite pairing is TWISTED SISTER / RESIST because Twisted Sister's only hit was "We're Not Gonna Take It." A pretty awful song, but I must have watched the video a hundred times when I was in junior high. Those are some hours I'd like to have back. Check out the singer. He looks like an over-the-top nightmare version of Christina Aguilera. You've gotta love the '80s.

Lots of theme answers sprinkled around the grid, which led to some rough spots in the surrounding fill. The toughest section for me was the lower right, with the baffling AHERN & SERIATE. Let's jump to the bullets.

  • 21A: Venue for newsgroups (USENET). Does Usenet still exist? I used to follow the rec.puzzles.crosswords newsgroup on Usenet, but that was a looong time ago. Hmm, looks like all the old newsgroups still exist on Google Groups. I'd be shocked if anyone under 40 looks at them.
  • 57A: Actresses Gray and Moran (ERINS). I have fond memories of Ms. Gray from the old "Buck Rogers" series. Man, I watched a lot of crappy TV when I was a kid. Though you can see that "Buck Rogers" did have one redeeming feature: Colonel Deering's purple jumpsuit.
  • 60A: With a cast of thousands (EPICAL). Epical? Yikes!
  • 64A: Japanese-American (NISEI). This is an entry you'll run into every now and then, and you might confuse it with ISSEI. It helps to remember that ISSEI is a "First-generation Japanese-American" and NISEI is a "Second-generation Japanese-American."
  • 96A: White Owl alternative (TE AMO). I saw this in the grid just now, and thought it was Team O. Sounds like something to join if you're really into Oprah. I'll stick with Team Jacob. Anyway, White Owl and Te Amo are both brands of cigars.
  • 115A: Some tabernacle singers (ALTI). Plural of alto.
  • 93D: TV's Buffy, e.g. (HEROINE). Yeah, Buffy was cool on "Family Affair," but calling her a heroine is a bit of a stretch. It's hard to look tough when you're carrying around a Mrs. Beasley doll, and I speak from experience.
  • 94D: Where work piles up (IN-BOXES). Thanks for the reminder, puzzle. I took Friday off, so I'll have plenty piled up on Monday.
  • 102D: Shylock's adversary (PORTIA). From "The Merchant of Venice." I thought Portia was from a different Shakespeare play. Well, it's too late to look it up now. The blog is almost over.

See, what did I tell you? All done. I hope you enjoyed today's mixed up puzzle. See you next weekend.

Everything 1A: Popular tank fillers (TETRAS); 7A: First word in many addresses (LADIES); 13A: Aurora borealis region (ARCTIC); 19A: If all goes wrong (AT WORST); 21A: Venue for newsgroups (USENET); 22A: Slain Tejano singer (SELENA); 23A: Chills (SHIVERS); 24A: 91-Across? (GARBLED SPEECH); 26A: Immobilizes, as a perp (TASES); 27A: She played Dottie in "A League of Their Own" (GEENA); 29A: Florentine evening (SERA); 30A: Where to see the Kon-Tiki (OSLO); 31A: Sinusitis doc (ENT); 32A: Give the go-ahead (OKAY); 34A: One with "Esq." on the door (ATT.); 36A: Xing people? (PEDS); 38A: "Woo-__!" (HOO); 39A: Flow slowly (SEEP); 41A: Utah city on I-15 (OREM); 43A: Hi, in Honduras (HOLA); 45A: "__ Peculiar Man": Paul Simon song (A MOST); 47A: React to humidity, in a way (DROOP); 49A: 1-Down? (ALTERED STATES); 53A: __ Friday (CASUAL); 55A: Stir up (AROUSE); 56A: Gave a whirl (SPUN); 57A: Actresses Gray and Moran (ERINS); 58A: Lack of sincerity (GLIBNESS); 60A: With a cast of thousands (EPICAL); 64A: Japanese-American (NISEI); 65A: Sharp dresser's standard? (NINES); 66A: Directional finish (-ERN); 68A: "I get it," humorously ("AH SO"); 69A: Grounded flier (SST); 70A: Three sheets to the wind (SAUCED); 72A: Beethoven's "Pathétique," e.g. (SONATA); 75A: Both of racing's Unsers (ALS); 76A: Seine summers (ÉTÉS); 78A: Colour suffix (-ISE); 79A: Milky Way planet (EARTH); 80A: Things of passing interest? (LANES); 82A: "Do I __ eat a peach?": Eliot (DARE TO); 84A: StubHub competition (SCALPERS); 87A: Wistful remark (OH GEE); 88A: Thing to play (ROLE); 90A: Colored ring (AREOLA); 91A: Aviary sounds (CHEEPS); 92A: 111-Down? (SHIFTING GEARS); 96A: White Owl alternative (TE AMO); 97A: Future, for one (TENSE); 98A: Has second thoughts about (RUES); 99A: Members of the flock (EWES); 101A: Bay Area blues, briefly (SFPD); 104A: NYSE figure (ARB); 105A: Parking area (SPOT); 107A: Spinning toon (TAZ); 110A: Beaux-__: architectural style (ARTS); 112A: __ polloi (HOI); 113A: No longer worth discussing (MOOT); 115A: Some tabernacle singers (ALTI); 117A: Lacking integrity (LOOSE); 119A: 1990s-2000s Irish leader (AHERN); 121A: 58-Across? (MIXED BLESSING); 124A: Arranged in sequence (SERIATE); 126A: Hot months in Chile (ENEROS); 127A: "Stand By Me" director (REINER); 128A: Largest African country (ALGERIA); 129A: Put up a fight (RESIST); 130A: Pull out (SECEDE); 131A: Rice creation (LESTAT); 1D: Tries (TASTES); 2D: Fuel gas (ETHANE); 3D: 129-Across? (TWISTED SISTER); 4D: Drift (ROVE); 5D: Sandbox comeback (ARE SO); 6D: Abbr. on outdated maps (SSR); 7D: Vehicle for supine sledders (LUGE); 8D: Hatha yoga posture (ASANA); 9D: Clear of vermin (DERAT); 10D: Having five sharps, musically (IN B); 11D: Skinny swimmers (EELS); 12D: Skyline highlight (STEEPLE); 13D: Big name in Syrian politics (ASSAD); 14D: Gym unit (REP); 15D: Geppetto's goldfish (CLEO); 16D: Opening stroke (TEE SHOT); 17D: How a macro lens is used (IN CLOSE); 18D: (In) partnership (CAHOOTS); 20D: Fictional author of "The World According to Bensenhaver" (T.S. GARP); 25D: Hates the thought of (DREADS); 28D: Private __ (EYE); 33D: __-Aid (KOOL); 35D: This and that (THESE); 37D: Suddenly paid attention (SAT UP); 40D: Danish fruit? (PRUNE); 42D: Iwo Jima figure (MARINE); 44D: Unrefined finds (ORES); 46D: Craze (MANIA); 48D: Welcome desert sight (OASIS); 50D: Like lungs (LOBED); 51D: Winery casks (TUNS); 52D: Out of gas (SPENT); 53D: Perfumed, as a chancel (CENSED); 54D: Label founded in 1975 by Clive Davis (ARISTA); 55D: Eatery "just a half a mile from the railroad track" (ALICES); 58D: Serengeti roamers (GNUS); 59D: Popular Nissan (SENTRA); 61D: 79-Across? (CHANGE OF HEART); 62D: Dead to the world (ASLEEP); 63D: Red ink entries (LOSSES); 67D: Three cheers, maybe (RAHS); 71D: Garlicky spread (AIOLI); 72D: Palate stimulus (SAPOR); 73D: "... otherwise, you'll be sorry!" ("… OR ELSE!"); 74D: Wailuku welcome (ALOHA); 77D: Feudal laborers (SERFS); 79D: Ancient home of Parmenides (ELEA); 81D: Reminders to conversation monopolizers (AHEMS); 83D: Rainy day brand (TOTES); 85D: Exercise wheel site (CAGE); 86D: "Give it __!" (A REST); 89D: Join the club (ENROLL); 91D: "__ Magnifique": Porter tune (C'EST); 92D: Barely get the words out (STAMMER); 93D: TV's Buffy, e.g. (HEROINE); 94D: Where work piles up (IN-BOXES); 95D: Alley boundaries (GUTTERS); 96D: Saint of Ávila (TERESA); 100D: Isn't anymore (WAS); 102D: Shylock's adversary (PORTIA); 103D: Give business to, as a café (DINE AT); 106D: Longtime beer experiencing a 2000s resurgence (PABST); 108D: Dress with a flare (A-LINE); 109D: Divided into districts (ZONED); 111D: Barracks bigwig (SARGE); 114D: Actress Garr (TERI); 116D: Words with a nod (I SEE); 118D: Grimm heavy (OGRE); 120D: Makes tracks (HIES); 122D: Bob and flip (DOS); 123D: [Not my mistake] ([SIC]); 125D: Allen wrench shape (ELL).


Anonymous said...

missing the "O" in aloha on the answer grid. tough puzzle until the theme came out.

Anonymous said...

I believe the 'Buffy' was 'Buffy, The Vampire Slayer', who was a heroine.

Gene said...

Finished without help from wacky theme. Got no satisfaction. Save me from anagram cw's.

CoffeeLvr said...

@Doug, the best part of this puzzle is the giggle I got thinking of you with a Mrs. Beasley doll.

Actually, I liked this grid a lot. Good theme density, and the theme did help me in a couple of places. It was slow to work in the LA Times software (for some reason the print function doesn't work for me) given the cross references. Still, the timer says 29:21, so I am happy.

Words I really like: CAHOOTS, ASANA, PABST (great clue). I hung out mostly with townies for a couple of years in college, and their motto was "Red necks, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer." This was when "red neck" meant hick, not racist.

Great clue for LESTAT, was thinking of food right up until the end. I finished up in the SE, as it took awhile for me to shake AHERN out of the memory bank. I only learned his name from crosswords. Other entries I learned from solving: NISEI, ARB, TSGARP, ARISTA.

Odd, unknown entries: TE AMO, ELEA.

And the parade of the awkward (some of these were noted by Doug, but annoyed me enough to repeat them): DERAT, EPICAL, ALTI (wasn't looking for Latin or Italian with a clue referencing cantors!), CENSED, SERIATE. I tried a short version of SERrATEd, as I have knives with blades like that, a series of teeth.

This puzzle has ETES at 76A with the alternative definition in the cluing to 104D in the Reagle grid. No wonder I am so easily confused.

I had CLOSEup before INCLOSE. Of course, none of the letters matched up.

When I finished the puzzle very early this morning, I could not make sense of TETRAS as tank fillers. So I Googled it this afternoon. As soon as I saw aquarium in the references, I had a forehead slap moment. I have even considered neon Tetras for an aquarium.

Enough already. I do want to restate that I really liked this puzzle. Very clever, if vaguely familiar. Thanks, Ms. Klawitter. And thanks to you, @Doug. Give that doll a hug for me.

Anonymous said...

There were two Portias in two Shakespearean plays. One was in The Merchant Of Venice( woman dressed as a man defending Antonio) and the other was Brutus' wife in Julius Caesar. I was very frustrated with puzzle due to lack of experience with anagrams.

Tuttle said...

And PORTIA in tMoV is named after PORTIA (PorCia properly) the wife of Marcus Junius Brutus and daughter of Marcus Porcius Cato.

Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued
To Cato's daughter, Brutus' Portia.

I think the constructor missed a good mini theme by cluing SST so... typically. SST Records was a very influential punk-rock label in the early 80s and crosses ARISTA.