TUESDAY, March 24, 2009 — Dan Naddor

THEME: State City — four theme answers contain a city name used as a noun and modified by its state's name

Hey, everybody. Thanks for stopping by to check out our brand spankin' new blog. Rex and Orange are old pros at this blogging thing, but you might have to bear with me from time to time as I figure out how to do this on a consistent basis without being carted off to the loony bin. I'm sure I'll adjust. Oh, and PuzzleHusband wanted me to greet you from him. What he actually wanted me to say was "What up, money?" but then I reminded him that he's the Whitest Guy In America. Also, I don't think people use "money" like that any more. But whatever. Let's talk about the puzzle.

Crosswordese 101: Crosswordese, you'll remember, is what we call the three- and four-letter words that come up time and time again in crossword puzzles. They do not, however, come up so much in real life. So they're just words (or names) that you should try to remember even though you Never Ever need them except when you're solving a puzzle. Several great crosswordese words in today's puzzle, but I think we'll focus on ARA Parseghian, Notre Dame's head football coach from 1964 to 1974. Parseghian is one of many sports figures with three-letter names who pop up frequently in crosswords. In later-week puzzles (which are traditionally more difficult), ARA might be clued as the constellation whose name is Latin for altar. The biggest problem I have with Parseghian is that I can never remember if his name is ASA. Which it's not. Obviously. What I need to remember is that the letter combination ASA is generally clued as a partial meaning "as a" (e.g., [Cool _____ cucumber]), because guess what. There really aren't that many people named Asa.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Centennial State rock? (Colorado boulder)
  • 22A: Wolverine State fire starter? (Michigan flint)
  • 35A: Peach State wide open spaces? (Georgia plains)
  • 47A: Cotton State sculpture? (Alabama mobile)
  • 54A: Cornhusker State Town Car? (Nebraska Lincoln)
The only thing that tripped me up a little with the theme was the Colorado entry. I threw the state names in before I understood the theme. And the Wolverine and Cornhusker clues had me thinking sports. So, when I went back to the Colorado clue all I could think of was the Rockies of Major League Baseball. Of course, that couldn't be the answer since the word rock was in the clue. So it took me a minute to come up with Boulder. Otherwise, no problems at all. I assume these cities are all well-known enough that they came pretty easily to you too.

Like Rex talked about yesterday, I also enjoy when an unexpected or interesting word pops up. For some reason the symmetrical MOLECULES (3D: Minute particles) and UNANIMOUS (33D: Like a 12-0 verdict) caught my eye today. The almost symmetrical pairs of REBUFF / ABUSER (8D: Blunt rejection / 43D: Privilege loser, often) and TOOTLE / TACKLE (9D: Play the piccolo / 44D: Bring down on the gridiron) also tickled me. But not as much as "LORDY!" (48D: "Mercy me!") crossing "EGAD!" (59A: Quaint "Holy moly!"). Heavens to Betsy that's exclamatory!

Other Good Stuff:
  • 14A: Object of worship (idol)

  • 20A: Pilot's announcement, briefly (ETA): Estimated Time of Arrival. On occasion, a pilot will announce an ETD (Estimated Time of Departure). You can argue about it if you want, but it's already been decided.
  • 26A: It'll never fly (emu): Cute clue!
  • 27A: Bud's buddy (Lou): That's Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
  • 32A: _____ generis: unique (sui): There are several Latin phrases that will come in handy as you continue to solve crossword puzzles. Off the top of my head: res judicata; ipso facto; nolo contendere (nolo for short), veni, vidi, vici; and "Et tu, Brute?" No, I don't know what most of them mean.
  • 46A: Without precedent (new): My first thought was original? unique? Only three letters? Oh, okay.
  • 60A: John of England (Elton): Remember this one! You will see it again because it's so tricky! I was going to insert an Elton John video here, but you know what? Just go back up and watch David Archuleta again!
  • 62A: Disney dog (Lady): With only the "L" in place I thought, "Lilo? Is Lilo a dog?" ... Oh this is embarrassing. Lilo is actually the girl. Stitch is the ... whatever Stitch is.
  • 4D: One of the deadly sins (sloth): I must say this is my favorite deadly sin.
  • 10D: Synthetic fabric (orlon): I always have to wait for some crosses with this clue. Could also be nylon or rayon.
  • 12D: "Rhyme Pays" rapper (Ice-T): Ice-T and Dr. Dre are your go-to rappers of CrossWorld.
  • 13D: Old salts (tars): Both salt and tar are synonyms for sailor. Sometimes the clue for tar will have something to do with a boat and you might be faked into thinking that the correct answer is oar. Especially if the cross is some volcano you've never heard of. I'm sure that's never happened to anyone here though. (*cough* Rex *cough*)
  • 19D: Words before smoke or flames (up in).
  • 22D: Copy cats? (mew): Okay, here's the thing with the question marks. Usually the term "copy cat" means a person who copies someone else. In CrossWorld, that person might even be called an "aper." An exceedingly ugly word that you will nevertheless be forced to deal with on a regular basis if you want to solve crossword puzzles. But this particular clue ends in a question mark. That means that instead of a reference to the obvious interpretation, you should look at the words literally. In this case, the question is not "What is another word for copy cat?" but "What is another word for the noise you would make if you were to copy a cat?" Get it? Hang in there. We'll continue to talk about the whole question mark thing as we go along.
  • 42D: Derivatives of it are used in sunscreen (PABA): Para-aminobenzoic acid. Apparently, PABA itself has been found to increase the risk of skin cancer, so safer and more effective derivatives are more commonly used now. Which is good because I think for a lot of people when they apply sunscreen they're thinking that they'll be less likely to get skin cancer. Glad the sunscreen people figured that out.
  • 50D: Italian lawn game (bocce): I have no idea what this game entails. But I do know that bocce ball is fun to say. Go ahead. Say it right now. Fun, right?
  • 58D: Rob Roy's refusal (nae): This is the Scottish word for no. Rob Roy is, of course, a colloquial name for Scottish hero Robert Roy MacGregor (also known as the Scottish Robin Hood). Roy Rogers? Totally different guy.
And I will leave you with Ogden Nash so we can find out what happens when we do a block quote on this new, fancy blog:
The one-L lama, he's a priest
The two-L llama, he's a beast
And I would bet a silk pyjama
There isn't any three-L lllama
I'll be back in a couple days. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. And have fun with Orange tomorrow!

Everything Else — 1A: Overactors (HAMS); 5A: In pieces (APART); 10A: Forget about (OMIT); 15A: Ladies' man (ROMEO); 16A: Costa __ (RICA); 21A: Frontier bases (OUTPOSTS); 28A: Wetland (FEN); 29A: One in a "Flying" circus act (WALLENDA); 39A: Sixth sense (ESP); 40A: Baggage claim item (SUITCASE); 42A: Firm way to stand (PAT); 45A: Guy (MAN); 51A: Italian veal dish (OSSO BUCO); 53A: Pah preceder (OOM-); 61A: Bay of Pigs locale (CUBA); 63A: Catches one's breath (RESTS); 64A: To be, in old Rome (ESSE); 1D: Juice drink with a hyphenated name (HI-C); 2D: Big fuss (ADO); 5D: Coach Parseghian (ARA); 6D: Pea's place (POD); 7D: O'Neill's "__ for the Misbegotten" (A MOON); 11D: "A living faith will last in the __ of the blackest storm": Gandhi (MIDST); 18D: Bitter complainer (RAILER); 23D: Reflection (IMAGE); 24D: Bell hit with a padded hammer (GONG); 25D: Auto with a four-ring logo (AUDI); 30D: Cut off, as branches (LOP); 31D: Remote batteries (AAS); 32D: [error left as is] ([SIC]); 34D: Basketball Hall of Famer Dan (ISSEL); 36D: Mountain lion (PUMA); 37D: Neeson of "Taken" (LIAM); 38D: When many go to lunch (AT NOON); 41D: Dolly, the clone, was one (EWE); 47D: Equally yucky (AS BAD); 49D: Watery trenches under drawbridges (MOATS); 51D: Like Ogden Nash's lama, in a poem (ONE-L); 52D: Big name in video games (SEGA); 55D: Place to park (LOT); 56D: Connections (INS); 57D: Barbell abbr. (LBS.).


imsdave said...

Nice write-up PG. Don't you think it was a little harsh to bring back the OAR/TAR thing so soon (it also caught Doug Peterson at the tourney)?

I'm so glad that all of you have decided to take this on. The LAT puzzles are almost always on a par with the NYT, and occasionally I have more trouble with it on a Saturday.

Solid theme well executed. Thanks Mr. Naddor!

Rex Parker said...

Well, there aren't that many ARAs either, are there?

I always want that ASA guy to be IRA.

Question: What did the RAILER say to the ABUSER?

Answer: Man, we are both @#$#y words.

Love WALLENDA (29A: One in a "Flying" circus act).


ArtLvr said...

It's a pleasing format here, except that the column width needs to be narrowed a skosh so that our own puzzle solution fits neatly alongside your commentary as on Rex's and Orange's blogs!

Many thanks to the three of you for adding this site!

Jeffrey said...

I'm only going to comment on PuzzleGirl days, so you can be the new Crossword Idol!

LORDY, Dan ISSEL was new to me and I forgot SUI, so I crashed and burned on the I. Not a good thing to do if you are a WALLENDA.

Joon said...

yes, artlvr, i think thanks are more in order than congratulations.

i think the only famous crossword ASA is {Botanist Gray}. there's also an old testament king name ASA but he's not what you'd call a towering biblical figure.

so, am i the only one who's never heard of PLAINS, GEORGIA? ... i am? okay.

Anonymous said...

The only ASA I'VE run across is Asa Buchannon in a soap opera./ Junk TV indeed!

mac said...

Wow, PuzzleGirl, you are a born teacher! Fun to read your comments. Fun puzzle, too. I have to figure out how to keep the solved puzzle on my screen when I'm reading the blog and comments, I am a dead tree person at heart....

Anonymous said...

@Joon, the only reason I ever knew about Plains, Georgia, is that Jimmy Carter and family were all born there and live there still!

Orange said...

Yes, indeed, John—One Life to Live's patriarch Asa Buchanan. It blew my mind when I saw the actor a few years ago on an old All in the Family rerun playing a gay football player.

ArtLvr, it might be your monitor resolution and not our layout—the puzzle grid occupies 40% of the column width for me, with text to the left of it.

Joon, hon, you're such a baby sometimes. Jimmy Carter (former leader of the free world) was from Plains, Georgia (which is otherwise not famous). Your '70s knowledge has many gaps, but that's when Rex and PuzzleGirl and I were kids. At least we can all agree that '30s and '40s movie trivia and songs are before our time.

Orange said...


Anonymous said...

Glad to see this blog on the LATimes Xword. I, too, find Rich Norris's puzzles on a par with the NYT's. Norris and Shortz have some history, don't they?

toothdoc said...

You mean Rob Roy didn't spend his retirement years traveling around the Scottish countryside singing songs and "spinning yarns" ;)

Great writeup PG.

Joon said...

jimmy carter? is he related to chris carter? or cris carter? or chris carter? or the other chris carter?

seriously, i'm sure i knew that he was from georgia, but his hometown? nope. i don't think i know reagan's hometown, either. or really, any president's, at least since martin van buren's. does everybody other than me know where nixon is from, too? and ford? and reagan?

Doug P said...

Fun puzzle with 5 solid theme answers and a delightful write-up by PuzzleGirl. What more could you want? Well, Mr. Naddor could have included MONTANA BILLINGS or NORTH DAKOTA RUGBY. With his impressive grid-making skills, he could have squeezed in 2 or 3 more answers, believe me.

I know Nixon's from Yorba Linda, CA. Not sure about Reagan and Ford.

@IMSDAve: Thanks for reminding me, buddy!

Sandy said...

So, am I going to have to learn all those 3-letter sports people? Like, put them on flashcards? Can't I just wait for the crosses?

The most striking thing about this puzzle to me was that there was only one way down to the bottom half, so if you broke down in Plains, Georgia, you were screwed. Usually on a Tuesday, wouldn't 28A be a four letter word to let you come at things backwards if you needed to?

chefbea said...

I agree - a great write up puzzle girl. And I loved the puzzle. Had a Natick moment with sui and issel. Maybe I shouldnt have said that since some of our new classmates don't know what that means.

Anonymous said...

I've been to Plains Ga. All I remember is that it was very flat with lots of red clay soil, and lots of tall pecan trees. And really, is it any harder to remember than Lamar MO, home of Harry Truman?

I was in a bocce league last summer. On a long court you throw a small ball, and then the two teams try to throw their large balls close to it. And you score it just like a curling end. I watched the old Italian men play it in Boston's North End once, they had some moves in them.

I thought it was a cute theme.

jeff in chicago said...

Well done, PG. I look forward to more. But EGAD! No more David Archuleta. Please. You had the opportunity to have Elton or David sing that song and you chose David? LORDY!

ESSE belonged in your Latin lesson as well. And OSSO BUCO? Ha!

This puzzle has everything from Ogden Nash to Eugene O'Neill. Nice!

On a drive from Ohio to Florida once I took a side trip to see Plains. Blinked and almost missed it. That's one tiny town.

Funky-looking grid, but lots of 6+ non-theme fill. Works for me.

Rex Parker said...

From wikipedia:

People named Asa

Asa of Judah, third king of Judah, son of Abijam, grandson of Rehoboam

Asa Gray, 19th century American botanist

Asa Candler (1851–1929) founder of the Coca-Cola company

Asa Mader, artist / filmmaker

Asa Coon, perpetrator of the 2007 SuccessTech Academy shooting

Asa Dotzler, founder and coordinator of Mozilla's Quality Assurance and Testing Program

Asa Hartford, (Richard 'Asa' Hartford) Scottish former professional footballer

Asa Philip Randolph, a prominent twentieth century African-American civil rights leader and founder of the first black labor union in the U.S.

Asa Hutchinson, a high-ranking bureaucrat in the second Bush administration.

Asa Briggs, British historian

Asa Jolson (pronounced Asa Yoll-son), Real name of Al Jolson early twentieth century Jazz singer whose hits included "Mammy" and "April Showers"

Puzzle Mom said...

Great start, Puzzle Girl, but I can see we should have insisted on Latin in your High School curriculum.

Res judicata: the thing has been adjudicated (i.e. we won't take it up again);

Ipso facto: by the fact itself (i.e. the outcome is a direct consequence of preceding act);

Nolo contendere (nolo for short); it will not be contested -- as in a criminal charge;

Veni, vidi, vici: I came, I saw, I conquered (any one of which might show up as "one of Caesar's trio);

"Et tu, Brute?" Literally, "And you, Brutus?" but generally translated, "You, too, Brutus?" Caesar's expression of dismay upon seeing his friend Brutus among his assassins.

Love, Puzzle Mom

Anonymous said...

If I had Doug Peterson helping me, I'd have happily used MONTANA BILLINGS (never thought of it). That would've ousted GEORGIA PLAINS (only noted for Carter) and put a 15-letter themer in the middle. That would've gotten rid of that ugly black square pattern many of you mentioned. Good call, Doug.

Dan Naddor

Doug P said...

Hi, Dan. I grew up in Billings, so that's the first entry that came to mind for me. (The North Dakota suggestion was a shout out to PuzzleGirl. I had to google for that one.)

I look forward to solving your next offering. Your Battleship puzzle is one of my all-time favorites.

SoWal Beach Bum said...

Wow. Puzzle MOM too!?! And two cents from Puzzle Husband?! You rock, PG--thanks for the fun.

jeff in chicago said...

Oh...and I always waste a few moment thinking that Mr. Parseghian's first name is ARI.

mac said...

@jeff in chicago: I'm with you on David. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. How are your lines coming?

@PuzzleGirl: where's PuzzleSister? You will really blow this crowd away when she and PH comment.

xyz said...

This was a really fun puzzle to me, did it this morning now just getting around to it here.

Learned a few things from crosses explained here. Sometimes I really prefer the LAT to the NYT puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Asa Hutchison's definitely tops on my Asa list. (Ranked by name recognition...) And there's a guy named Ara Dinkjian who's one of the top oud players in the world--I don't expect to see him in the puzzle any time soon, but maybe we'll see OUD?

I thought Reagan was born in Dixon, IL, but I guess he didn't move there until he was 9. Ara Dinkjian was born in New Jersey, and he played the doumbag before the oud. I was born in Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

This puzzle went through very clean. There really wasn't much head scartching even old Dan Issel from the Kentucky Wildcats came easy. He had the Wildcats highest single game scoring record until just this season broken by Judie Meeks.

The Wallenda trapeze artists was my only double take and my favorite fill.

Torbach said...

Hey there, gang - our cups runneth over! Thanks for this - and what a nice turnout already!

Chiming in very late here, but I had to recommend this utterly ridiculous clip of Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw covering the possible death of Gerald Ford - Nixon and Yorba Linda figure in, and I was happily reminded of it by Joon and Doug:


Looking forward to checking in here - good luck in your new venture!

Tony Orbach

Anonymous said...

Hmm... Looks like I'm always going to be tail-end Charlie around here. Thanks for the fun write-up PG. Just seeing "Heavens to Betsy" cracks me up it does. That theme was easy for me as well, and I'm not American, but was breezy too. In fact a generally easy puzzle (almost broke 6 min.) but was no less a crossword for it, so much theme!

addie loggins said...

I'm with Seth: Asa Hutchinson is the one who always comes to mind for me.

Sorry I didn't post yesterday: I was at work responding to a defendant's petition for a writ of audita querela, which I believe is Latin for "I have no chance in hell of being successful with this petition"

great blog, love that you're covering the basics.

Addie (aka PuzzleSister)

SethC said...

Any new yorker who watches the news should know Asa Aarons too!