WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2009 — Jack McInturff

THEME: A Set of Rules — What the four theme entries have in common is that their first word can precede the word RULE, which appears at 62D.

Hello! Rex and PuzzleGirl already welcomed you here and entertained you. So am I here to wash the dishes and throw away the pizza boxes? Of course not. Let's crank up the music and keep this party rolling! Virtually, that is.

If you're new to the L.A. Times crosswords edited by Rich Norris, let me tell you—you are in for some quality puzzlin'. Here's the lowdown:

Monday through Friday, you get themed puzzles that gradually increase in difficulty as the week goes on, as in the New York Times. If you also do the NYT, you may be familiar with the crazy gimmicks that Will Shortz likes to provide on some Thursdays—things like more than one letter in a single square. The L.A. Times crosswords won't throw curveballs like that.

Saturday is the toughest day of the week in crossword land. Saturday's L.A. Times puzzle has no unifying theme to coax us along, and the vocabulary tends to be more ambitious. Be ready for tricky clues that require you to bend your brain, for alternate definitions for words, and for long answers featuring interesting phrases.

On Sunday, there are a couple puzzles with the Los Angeles Times imprimatur on them. In the dead-tree L.A. Times and on the paper's website, Sylvia Bursztyn's Calendar puzzle is a plus-sized Sunday puzzle that's not too tough. The syndicated Sunday L.A. Times crossword edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis does not appear in the L.A. Times, but it's syndicated nationwide. (Chicagoans may recognize this as the puzzle in the Tribune's book section. Is it still there?) It's typically a bit tougher than Bursztyn's puzzle and a bit easier than the NYT Sunday crossword.

If you'd like to do these puzzles online or print them out on white paper (friendlier than newsprint for ink and graphite), check out the links in the sidebar.

Crosswordese 101: Today's featured ORT of crosswordese is EELY. (ORT is an old word for a scrap of food. It's also classic crosswordese.) At 22A, EELY is clued as [Hard to hold]. Sure, eels may squirm out of your grasp if you try to catch one, but when's the last time you referred to anything as being eely? The crossword loves the eel (often clued as a slippery swimmer, sushi fish, snakelike fish, or electrified fish) because E is the commonest vowel and the little EEL boasts two of 'em. There's all sorts of EEL action in crosswords. A successful EELER has EELED, catching even the EELIEST varmint in an EELPOT. (I wish I were kidding. I'm not. These words do show up in crosswords.) A young eel is an ELVER, and the MORAY eel is the scary one with sharp teeth. Two other fishing words, REEL and CREEL, contain the letters of EEL but don't specifically relate to eels.

Honorable mention in the crosswordese department: 72A: Impressionist is an APER. No, nobody uses the word APER outside of crosswords. If you're good at doing impressions of people, I'm fairly certain you don't boast of your aping/apery skills.

(The song is "Saturday Morning" by Eels. If you've seen the crossword documentary Wordplay, you probably remember this song.)

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Valley girl's "Ick!" (gag me with a spoon)
  • 27A: Cliche framed above many a hearth (home sweet home)
  • 48A: Spaceflight management center (ground control)
  • 64A: Yellow-skinned apple (Golden Delicious)
Government regulations may be a gag rule. Home rule is a system of local government. The ground rules are the basic principles at play. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the Golden Rule. Cute how the Golden Delicious apple and Golden Rule both have a capital G, while the other theme answers and their associated "rules" are lowercase.

One of the clues that snagged me was right there at 1A, Blue or brown follower. It took having most of the crossing answers in place to see EYED. Biblical clues are one of my weak spots, so 31D: Land where Moses died was tantamount to Random four-letter place name in the Bible. MOAB is also a place in Utah. And HATLO! My goodness. 27D: "They'll Do It Every Time" cartoonist Jimmy clues HATLO, which is not a name I recognize from anywhere. Oh, here's why: He drew that cartoon from 1929 to 1963, before I was born. The A in HATLO has a tough crossing, too—33A: Finance major's deg. is BBA, or bachelor's of business administration (the baby sister of an MBA). 10D: School play prop is a PAPER HAT, and that just wasn't coming to mind. I think my kid's school shows have involved real hats, not paper facsimiles. I hadn't seen 23A: Donizetti aria "Regnava __ silenzio" (NEL) while I was working this puzzle, and it's just as well. More commonly, NEL's clue evokes the "Volare" lyrics "____ Blu, Dipinto Di Blu."

Other Proper Nouns in Today's Puzzle:
  • 14A: City north of Carson City (RENO). I don't happen to know anyone who ever killed a man in Reno to watch him die. Hey, have you heard of the Nevada town called ELY? Watch for it in the puzzle someday.
  • 20A: Senator Hatch (ORRIN). Hockey great Bobby ORR, baseball legend Mel OTT, Charlie Chaplin's much-younger wife OONA O'Neill, and baseball pitcher OREL Hershiser are other O names that populate the grid.
  • 53A: 007 creator Fleming (IAN). Other noted Ians include actors McKellen (Gandalf!) and Holm and Olympic swimmer Thorpe.
  • 60A: Jacket type worn by several Bond villains (NEHRU). Named after early Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who made those collarless jackets known to the wider world.
  • 67A: "A cat must have three different names" poet (ELIOT). Of all the things T.S. Eliot wrote, I'd have to say the work that inspired the musical Cats is right up there on the list of things I don't want to read. Give me "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" over that any day.
  • 13D: Discman maker (SONY). Did you know SONY bought AIWA? Those two and BOSE are the crossword's predominant four-letter electronics manufacturers.
  • 29D: Hard-to-find guy of kids' books (WALDO). Do you get angry at Waldo when you can't find him in the drawing? I kinda do.
  • 30D: "Love Story" costar (O'NEAL). That's Ryan O'Neal. His daughter Tatum O'Neal is also an actress. Giant basketball player Shaquille O'Neal has been in movies, but as far as I know he is not part of an acting dynasty.
  • 34D: 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate (BARR). I might've known this last fall, but now? I needed the crossings to resurrect his name.
  • 41D: Jacques of "Mon Oncle" (TATI). TATI is probably the most common French actor in crosswords.
  • 51D: New York tribe (ONEIDA).
Tomorrow, the delightful PuzzleGirl will be here. I'll be back on Saturday.

Everything Else — 5A: Rubik creation (CUBE); 9A: Dalmatian marks (SPOTS); 15A: Jet-black gem (ONYX); 16A: It's prohibited (TABOO); 21A: Wagon pullers (TEAM); 25A: Storyteller (LIAR); 35A: When repeated twice, "et cetera" (YADA); 36A: Regal home (MANOR); 37A: Latticework piece (LATH); 39A: Fish order (FILET); 42A: Eye drop (TEAR); 43A: Sweater synthetic (ORLON); 45A: Unheeding (DEAF); 47A: "Washboard" muscles (ABS); 52A: Proximate (NEAR); 54A: Eager (AVID); 57A: Realize (REAP); 68A: Savings choices (IRAS); 69A: Give sparingly (DOLE); 70A: Play area? (STAGE); 71A: Voice quality (TONE); 1D: As a result (ERGO); 2D: Century unit (YEAR); 3D: Caltech sr.'s goal, often (ENGR); 4D: Rectangular game piece (DOMINO); 5D: Holy animal? (COW); 6D: Mile or meter (UNIT); 7D: Eight bits (BYTE); 8D: Breathe out (EXHALE); 9D: MA and PA (STS); 11D: Philharmonic reed (OBOE); 12D: Kit thing (TOOL); 18D: Foe (ENEMY); 19D: Yves's girlfriend (AMIE); 24D: Table section (LEAF); 26D: Bank feature (ATM); 28D: Star Wars letters (SDI); 32D: Goofs (ERRS); 33D: Internet opinion piece (BLOG); 38D: Elvis classic (HOUNDDOG); 40D: Tennyson's twilight (EEN); 44D: 22.5 deg. (NNE); 46D: Old French capital? (FRANC); 49D: Put in stitches (DARN); 50D: Recognition (CREDIT); 54D: Grows up (AGES); 55D: Electrical unit (VOLT); 56D: Hip bones (ILIA); 58D: Prefix with sol (AERO); 59D: Blueprint (PLAN); 61D: Slam dunk site (HOOP); 62D: Govern, or word that can follow the first word of the four longest puzzle answers (RULE); 63D: Rehab admission (USER); 65D: When the French fry? (ETE); 66D: Expert ending? (ISE).


Rex Parker said...

I got smacked around good on the HATLO coast. BBA and HATLO. Deepest irony - could Not get BLOG. Had EMAG there for a bit. I do Not like the clue on BLOG. A BLOG is not a "piece" - it contains "pieces," called "posts." Yuck.

And yet ... GAG ME WITH A SPOON makes any problems this puzzle might have seem small.


Sandy said...


I thought 22.5 deg was a nice change from the ususal Reno to Someother Town direction.

That's a very pretty eel.

PuzzleGirl said...

I laughed about APER. Didn't I just talk about that yesterday? Love when that happens. And, Orange, that is one scary looking EEL!


SoWal Beach Bum said...

Dear Orange! cool you're doing a bit more in the way of mixed media on this site: that paper hat is priceless. Cheers/

Anonymous said...

Did a double take on seeing the blank grid for today's puzzle-- it looks a lot like yesterday's grid.

Orange said...

PuzzleGirl, you are wrong and Sandy is right about that eel. Egad, did I look at a lot of eel pictures to find one that wouldn't terrify people. (Standard moray showing its teeth = nightmare fodder. They're bigger and uglier and have spiky teeth.)

On a blustery winter day, I appreciate HATLO. It keeps my ears warmer that way.

PuzzleGirl said...

Okay, okay. I probably just have a lower tolerance for marine life than most people.

Sandy said...

I'll admit, it is a pretty scary eel.

Puzzle Mom said...

Great job, Orange. I laughed out loud at all the help you gave us for future eel-related clues.

I was sure that "nose" was the correct follower for blue and brown, so had a lot of trouble in the upper right; though PuzzleSister lives in Reno, so that came easily. (I'm quite certain she never killed a man for any reason.) Ever seen Carson City? It's a tiny little frontier town; looks not at all like it should be a state capital. But then, there's Bismarck.

Joon said...

i can't decide whether the eel is pretty, terrifying, both, or neither. it is definitely EELY though.

glad to know i wasn't the only one who was confounded by BLOG/BBA/HATLO and even BARR.

Jeffrey said...

Nice write up, Orange. You should think of doing more crossword blogging.

This was an EELY puzzle.

Here's a tip for all you new solvers - if none of the crossings work, that answer you are "sure" of may be wrong. I started with EYES and never doubted it, so DOMINO wasn't happening.

HATLO? Really?

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Hatlo first drew "They'll Do It Every Time" in 1929 for a San Fran paper, it was first syndicated in 1936. Hatlo would often give a "tip of the Hatlo Hat" to contributors to the strip, as it relied heavily on observations of the American public. In the early 1940s Hatlo spun off a recurring character named Henry Tremblechin into a strip spotlighting his daughter, Little Iodine. After Hatlo died in 1963, Bob Dunn took the strip over. He died in 1989, and Al Scaduto finished the run off, having died in 2007 but having submitted enough episodes to run to February 2008.

The panel was often confused by scholars with "There Oughta Be a Law", which was done by Al Fagaly and Harry Shorten. Strangely, Al Fagaly also died in 1963, like Hatlo. I smell some sorta conspiracy.

Orange said...

Oh, great—just what we needed here. Yet another Hatlo/Fagaly conspiracy theorist! I don't buy it. I think Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone to kill the cartoonists.

Unknown said...

Give me "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" over just about anything...man, that's a good poem.
And it's not often when I actually lol, but I sure did on your last comment there, Orange.

Matt M. (apologies to the legions of other Matts that Google blogger seems to only want to let me post with my first name -- let the confusion ensue...)

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Doug P said...

You're really good at this, Orange. Have you ever blogged crossword puzzles before?

This isn't my favorite type of theme, but today's puzzle was very well-done. I found HATLO in some dim recess of my brain, so that section wasn't too gnarly for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I ever wore a PAPER HAT in a school play. I didn't even read that clue, thankfully.

I'm another one who got stuck with the BARR/HATLO/MMA area, a trio of answers I haven't heard of before.

I like Cats. I read the set of poems by T.S. Eliot many years ago (it's not a book, there's no plot, just individual cats) and I saw the play somewhere. A little bit of sap never hurt anyone, and they had cool costumes. Maybe Orange is just a dog person.

mac said...

I liked this puzzle well enough, and didn't really have a problem. Ever since Karen, above, gave me the tip to do the downs first, I miss a lot of tricky clues. I also miss some great clues and answers, though, like yesterday's trapeze artists :-(.

Great job, Orange, I wish I had teachers like the three of you two years ago!

Anonymous said...

Orange! Good to see you in expansion mode, giving more love per puzzle. I've never done the LA Times puzzle, and since I already saw the grid, I decided to try something different and try to guess the clues from the answers. I did okay, but messed up on 36A, where I guessed "_____ a mouse?"

Anonymous said...

I remember reading "Theyll do it every time" AND "There Outta Be a Law" in the Herald Tribune, growing up in NJ.

chefbea said...

I remember all of Hatlo's cartoons. But didn't know Barr or BBA.

Good job Orange

fergus said...


You're not intentionally slighting the Conger, are you?

Stuck in sort of a Nylon Mesh in Northern Calif, I was wondering if IMHO counted as an Internet opinion piece.

Anonymous said...

The themes were quite easy today. Only issue came in the Hatlo/BBA/Barr crossings, thankfully LATH came to me at the end.

addie loggins said...

All sorts of shout-outs to me today. Yes, I live in Reno, and no, I've never shot a man just to see him die (although, if I had, I probably wouldn't admit it here, what with my sister and mom watching. :)

Also, Ryan O'Neil is the father of Tatum O'Neil, who played my namesake, Addie Loggins, in Paper Moon. I realize that the puzzle wasn't really talking about Ryan O'Neil or Tatum O'Neil, but I still consider it a shout-out, in a Kevin Bacon six-degrees sort of way.

After reading three days of write ups, I've decided that I will start solving the LA puzzle. Is it available on-line the night before (like the NYT)? That would help, as I have a hard enough time doing one in the morning before work.

@orange: I was in the bookstore yesterday looking for Patrick Berry's Crosswords for Dummies book (which I didn't find, but found on Amazon) and came across your book, which I bought. Can't wait to read it, especially because, just flipping though, I saw your tip about looking at the fill-in-the-blanks clues first. I'm always tempted to do that, but thought it was wrong strategically to jump around, and now I feel like I have permission. So, thank you.

Addie (aka PuzzleSister)

addie loggins said...

Oh wait, it WAS Ryan O'Neil...the picture of Shaq threw me off. I promise I won't post comments about the puzzle again until I start solving it.

SethG said...

Orange, you party with the best of them. I like paper hats.

Ooh, and you gave me a great (read: horribly punnic) theme idea. I'll work on it, and if anything comes of it you'll all hate me.

Howard B said...

BBA/BARR was nasty, but this time I guessed right; I think I recall a BARR poster on a telephone pole during election season, somewhere in my subconscious.

I'm in the pro-eel camp, by the way. That one's on the cute side of terrifying. Just keep swimming....

Anonymous said...

I like the eel, but my wife disturbs me by saying they're cute _and_ tasty.

liquid el lay said...

Nice write up!

I have been to Ely. Elko, too. Elko's the one with the 10' 4" Polar Bear. He's supposed to make the slot machines look tame. Doesn't work. Ely.. smaller name, smaller casino. no bear.

I thought it was a pretty good puzzle. GAGMEWITHASPOON does not offend because I havent heard it even refered to in 20 years. YADA bugs me, though. It's an ugly word. Stop it, people. Say- "and so on."

22.5 deg for NNE, very cool and scientific, and, appropriate for GROUNDCONTROL

HOUNDDOGs, PAPERHATs, DOMINOs, and ONEIDA. I can dig it. NEHRU APERs in colorless shirts- I can dig it.

The NE with its OBOEs, TABOOs, and EELY TOOLs is lurid but interesting.

Bill from NJ said...

When I lived in DC in the late 50s - early 60s, the crossword puzzle was in the middle of 5(!) pages of comic strips so as a young teen that was the first place I turned and, let me tell you, those were quality comics!

Steve Canyon, Terry and the Pirates, Apartment 3G and on and on into the night. And yes, Jimmy Hatlo's "They'll do it Every Time." which often was a one image cartoon with all kinds of dialogue lampooning the human condition.

When I think about "the good old days", it's the puzzle and those 5 pages of comics I'm thinking about.

I really enjoyed this puzzle and particularly the fill