FRIDAY, April 17, 2009 — Daniel A. Finan

THEME: A riff on the classic breakup line "It's not you, it's me" as "it's not U, it's ME" — Four familiar phrases that contain the letter U are changed by swapping in ME for U

Hello again, fans of the L.A. Times crossword puzzle! Orange here. If you're in the Chicago area, come to this Saturday's Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament at Marbles: The Brain Store. I'll be there as a tournament judge and will sign any copies of my book, How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, that should be fortunate enough to find buyers. Hope to see a few of you there! There's not a ton of difference between the NYT and the L.A. Times crosswords, so the book is relevant even if this here puzzle is the one you go steady with. Okay, this concludes the event- and book-plugging portion of our broadcast. Stay tuned for crosswords...now.

Crosswordese 101: Remember Dave Letterman's poorly received turn as host of the Oscars? The "Uma, Oprah. Oprah, Uma" bit? Today's 32D: Chaplin's last wife (OONA) would have fit right in with them. OONA was the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill. When she was just 17, she began dating Charlie Chaplin, 36 years her senior. They wed and had eight children together, one of them actress Geraldine Chaplin. Until today, I don't think I'd ever seen a picture of her, though I've seen her name in crosswords for eons. If the name is unfamiliar to you, don't fret! Soon enough, you will have known her for eons through crosswords, too.

Theme answers:

  • 16A: Step in a pizza recipe? (MOMENT OF OLIVES). Mount of Olives is a biblical place and a place in Jerusalem. The concept of a MOMENT OF OLIVES is a goofy one. Goofy is good in crosswords.
  • 20A: Simpson dad with a dozen donuts? (HAPPY HOMER). Who doesn't appreciate happy hour?
  • 35A: Hook's mate in his formative years? (A BOY NAMED SMEE). This plays on the Johnny Cash song by poet Shel Silverstein "A Boy Named Sue." (Cash video below.) Smee is the name of Captain Hook's first mate.
  • 49A: Headline about carpentry work for a new financial institution? (BANK FRAMED). Bank fraud...nope, nothing of topical interest there. 
  • 56A: Classic breakup line, and a hint to the formation of this puzzle's theme answers (IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME). 

I took a wrong turn right at 1D: One in Tarzan's family tree? (SIMIAN). I started out with APEMAN. Inaccurate and just plain wrong! Tarzan's birth family was human. His adoptive family were apes. There were no apemen.

For 24A: Floor covering (WAX), I contemplated RUG. Nope.

I had no idea what to put for 41A: Paul who played the principal in "The Breakfast Club". The late actor's last name is GLEASON. You know what this clue tells me? That constructor Daniel Finan is probably fairly close in age to me and came of age in the John Hughes movie era. Jackie Gleason is left on the cutting room floor this time.

Clues from the animal kingdom: Swimming STROKES are 1A: Butterfly units? and 17D: Dogs in shoes? are FEET.

Duplications of words are supposed to be taboo in crosswords. Two forms of the same verb appear in 55A: "Must've been something __" (IATE) and 6D: Satisfy the munchies (EAT). You know what's being scarfed down, don't you? It's QUICHE, 61A: Brunch fare. I often don't notice such duplications while I'm doing a puzzle, but if I don't mention it here, someone is sure to kvetch about it in the comments. Ditto for the number of black squares (40) in the grid. Someone will cry "inelegance" because there shouldn't be more than 38 black squares. Mind you, the stated limit for an L.A. Times puzzle is 43 black squares. Rarely will the count go that high, but editor Rich Norris can tolerate it if the puzzle warrants it.

An Olio of Other Answers:

  • 32A: Milo of "Barbarella" (O'SHEA). Milo O'Shea backed up Jane Fonda's Barbarella.
  • 39A: Pooh pooh-bah (MILNE). A.A. Milne wrote the Winnie the Pooh stories. Pooh-bah ranks right up there with pasha in my list of Words I Like.
  • 62A: Actor whose birth name was Aristoteles (SAVALAS). Telly Savalas played Kojak in the '70s. Bald + lollipop = timeless classic. Try that look out yourself and you will see.
  • 4D: Cockney anticipation? (OPE). That's HOPE without the H, as pronounced by Cockney folk.
  • 11D: Dynamo (LIVE WIRE). Don't touch one, okay? You could get electrocuted.
  • 38D: German town (DORF). The German word for a bigger town is Stadt.
  • 42D: __ dictum: passing remark (OBITER) is Latin. Obiter dictum is legalese meaning "a judge's incidental expression of opinion, not essential to the decision and not establishing precedent." Do we have any Latin scholars out there who can shed light on whether this is etymologically related to "obituary"?
Everything Else — 8A: Home in the Alps (CHALET); 14A: "Again ..." (IREPEAT); 15A: Rock salt (HALITE); 18A: Cotton plant originally from Peru (PIMA); 19A: Tranquility (REPOSE); 27A: November winners (INS); 28A: Suffix with Caesar (EAN); 29A: Touchy? (TACTILE); 34A: Broadcast (AIRED); 40A: Farmer's concerns (CROPS); 44A: Dander (IRE); 45A: Filmdom's Lupino (IDA); 48A: AOL rival (MSN); 52A: "Awakenings" Oscar nominee (DENIRO); 63A: Thermometer, e.g. (SENSOR); 64A: Gold or silver (ELEMENT); 2D: Routs (TROMPS); 3D: Chart again (REMAP); 5D: Muscular doll (KEN); 7D: Tempest (STORM); 8D: "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind" author (CHOPRA); 9D: Saintly ring (HALO); 10D: Father-daughter boxers (ALIS); 12D: Quartier d'__: July/August Parisian festival (ETE); 13D: Some NFL receivers (TES); 18D: 21st Greek letter (PHI); 21D: Enthusiastic agreement (YESYES); 22D: Chemistry Nobelist Otto (HAHN); 23D: Fit for service (ONEA); 25D: Sailor's heading (ALEE); 26D: Crossed (out) (XED); 30D: City with a view of the Laramie Mountains (CASPER); 31D: Allen and Burton (TIMS); 32D: Chaplin's last wife (OONA); 33D: Film buff's station (AMC); 35D: Suffers (AILS); 36D: Assimilates (BLENDSIN); 37D: Actor Estrada (ERIK); 39D: Vegas's __ Grand (MGM); 43D: Old-timey "not" (NARY); 45D: Bo Diddley hit (IMAMAN); 46D: Loathe (DETEST); 47D: Lime ending (ADE); 50D: Western omen (NOOSE); 51D: Grocery section (AISLE); 53D: Env. contents (ENCS); 54D: Manhattan area above Houston Street (NOHO); 56D: Lex Luthor's 200, and others (IQS); 57D: Datebook abbr. (TUE); 58D: Chi.-based flier (UAL); 59D: "__ been had!" (IVE); 60D: Scot's topper (TAM).


John said...

This puzzle Drove me NUTZ!
Fun workout for a friday! I wonder what Saturday will bring??

Gareth Bain said...

ITSNOTYOUITSME is genius, that's all I got to say...

Joon said...

i think "tarzan's family tree" is intended in the same vein as "the reynaldo family home": the tree that his family lives in. hence the ? in the clue.

Shamik said...

It's not that this puzzle is bad. I just don't like it.

Jeffrey said...


HAPPY HOMER. I was just thinking we don't see enough Simpsons clues in puzzles.

Orange said...

Shamik, I really like your critique, and no, I'm not being snarky. Too often people think something must be bad if they didn't like it, when sometimes it's just a matter of taste and personal perspective. One is always entitled to dislike a work of art.

Unknown said...

Just found this blog the other day, and I must say, I enjoy it a lot.

I'm fairly new to crosswords (read, just started completing them on a regular basis) and this blog actually helps me understand the nuances of the puzzle AND the crossword puzzle world.

I am a college Student in Cincinnati so i usually get to the paper at around 10am, and then this blog at about 11. Keep up the great work!

gjelizabeth said...

Hi! I discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and it's added greatly to my enjoyment of the morning crossword. I think 7D is a nice double clue, "tempest" and "storm" being synonyms and Tempest Storm being a noted mid-century stripper.

John said...

Isnt there a KINK'S song about an APEMAN??

Denise said...

I had "Sappy Homer" for such a long time -- I guess I was picturing those gooey glazed doughnuts.

That's because I had "psi."

I liked this puzzle a lot -- I am so interested when I have a new mental leap from clue to answer, as happens in the long answers in this puzzle.

But, why was Milne Pooh's "Pooh Bah"?

John Reid said...

I'm just wondering if anyone else had trouble at the intersection of 18across/18down. It was the last letter I put in, and I guessed a C there at first. Is PIMA cotton well-known? (It sure isn't to me!)

Great puzzle - it was tougher than the last few Saturdays have been!

Orange said...

Welcome, all new-comers to this new blog! Especially the younger ones, like Cyrus—young solvers and constructors keep crosswords from being a pursuit only for our grandparents.

Denise, a pooh-bah is a high official, possibly one who's pompous but ineffectual. Winnie the Pooh's highest-ranking official would be his creator, author MILNE. The clue wouldn't fly for any other character, but the Pooh/pooh-bah combo is cute and apparently was irresistible to the constructor/editor.

John, you must not have spent much time perusing white-bread clothing catalogs. PIMA cotton is smoother and silkier than your standard cotton. There are also the PIMA Indians of Arizona—the word is sometimes clued with reference to them.

ArtLvr said...

The Grand Pooh-Bah is old-fashioned for a top official, like a High Mucky-Muck, and probably came from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado".

Loved this puzzle almost as much as yesterday's! A clever theme and fun fill too. I tried Psi and Kahn at first, but Sappy Komer was a no go for HAPPY HOMER. Like CrossCan, I DETEST seeing Simpsons clues in the puzzles, would ban them for a year or two... or send them to a Dorp, old English relative of DORF, wrapped in PIMA cotton and WAX and sprinkled with HALITE.

I wouldn't quarrel with EAT and I ATE showing up in the same grid though, as the forms are different and 3-letter choices limited. Better those than odd names from the you-know-who comics...

Anonymous said...

I like completing Friday puzzles and I liked this puzzle. Lots of "Noodling" opportunities that were fun to break. RHO for PHI and ERIC for ERIK (always mess up Estrada)were my only real mishaps. "Moment of Olives" is pretty clunky though and doesn't sound like a "Step" to me.

- - Robert

Jeffrey said...

I was being ironic and about the Simpsons. I don't have a problem with it. Sorry ArtLvr

Chorister said...

My family grew and ginned Upland cotton (the regular kind.) Pima cotton has longer strands and has a whole different ginning process. It is commonly thought of as smoother and silkier, as Orange says, but regular cotton can be spun and woven very silkily too. You won't find dishcloths made of pricey Pima, but the underwear is divine.

Jackie said...

The German word "Dorf" really means "village," and implies a kind of provincial, rustic quality. Towns and bigger cities both fall under the term "Stadt," though people from Berlin or Munich may specify that they're from a "Grossstadt" (big city) as opposed to a "Kleinstadt" (what we would call a town).

As for obiter/obituary, they are definitely related. "Obiter" literally means "by (or along) the way/road" -- thus, "in passing." "Obitus" can mean "an approach," as well as "a decline" or setting (like the setting of the sun), and thus is sometimes used figuratively to mean death. And there you have "obituary" -- which I suppose has the double-meaning of "record of someone's passing (through life)" and "record of someone's passing (into death)."

Jackie said...

Oh, also:

Mmmmmmm, Pima cotton.

Rex Parker said...

Costa Rica is far friendlier to the LAT than it is to the NYT, in that computers here will let me do its puzzle.

Had DORP, ugh. Also thought the HAPPY HOMER phrase was playing on HAPPY HOME, and so was wondering why adding an ¨R¨ to the end of a phrase was interesting.

New readers! Hot. Welcome.


Anonymous said...

Lots of struggles with this puzzle; without the red letters of doom online I'd have never finished it.

Lots of new vocabulary for me, and I didn't get the theme until I came here.

I think younger solvers, such as myself, are on the rise. Maybe I'm just projecting a false trend though.


Anonymous said...

Lots of struggles with this puzzle; without the red letters of doom online I'd have never finished it.

Lots of new vocabulary for me, and I didn't get the theme until I came here.

I think younger solvers, such as myself, are on the rise. Maybe I'm just projecting a false trend though.


SethG said...


Orange said...

Seth, thanks for the bonus Paul GLEASON clip. (And no, I won't feed the shags. I won't. You need not worry about me.)

Strict-9er said...

I know it's Monday and I'm just now getting around to filling in all the ones I missed for Friday's puzzle... what can I say? I was so pumped when I nailed (IT'S NOT YOU IT'S ME) right of the bat... however my luck ran fairly dry after that. A very tough solve this rookie!

Should anyone happen to read this, I was hoping for clarification on a few answers:

27A: November winners (INS)???
44A: Dander (IRE)???
23D: Fit for service (ONEA)???

And beyond that the theme still seems super hazy to me?!?

Orange said...

Strict-9er, you have hit on three classic Crosswordese 101 candidates. I was thisclose to featuring INS, in fact.

In crosswordland, INS are the people who were voted in and are holding elective office.

IRE is anger, and dander is part of the phrase "get your dander up," meaning to lose your temper. I hereby move to replace the phrase "road rage" with either "road dander" or "road ire."

ONEA, or 1-A, was an old draft classification. If you were classified as 1-A, you were deemed most fit for military service. There were other categories for people entitled to deferments for various reasons, but I don't know 'em. A man in his 60s who was subject to the Vietnam draft could probably fill you in.

The theme changes "you" into the letter U. Take out a U in the original phrase, put the letters ME in its place, and you get the theme entries.

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