MONDAY, April 6, 2009 — Elizabeth A. Long

Theme: "BE QUIET" (36A: "Shh!" (and a hint to the feature shared by the answers to starred clues) — each long theme answer features a word with a silent "B"

OK, The "BE QUIET" part is cute, but simply having a silent "B" somewhere in the answer hardly constitutes a theme, especially when there is nothing else holding the answers together. The "B" appears in the first word two times, in the last two the other two times. Your theme is So loose that you could have at least made the placement consistent, or maybe made the vowel sound consistent, but no. Just ... silent "B." Meh.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: *Shari Lewis puppet (LAMB Chop)
  • 11D: *Duster's find at a crime scene (THUMB print)
  • 28D: *Precariously situated (out on a LIMB)
  • 52A: *Act all innocent (play DUMB)
Crosswordese 101: Let's just go with the very first Across answer, BOSC (1A: Narrow-necked pear). Normally, crosswordese tends to be vowel heavy. ARIA, OLIO, OREO, AIOLI ... greater than 50% vowels will virtually assure a word's repeated presence in the grid. Sometimes, however, words become common because they have freaky consonant patterns that few if any other words in the language can match. Enter BOSC. No other vowel will go in the "O"'s place. After DISC and MISC., there's not a lot of (reasonably common) stuff that can help you out when you've got --SC to work with. Maybe MASC. or WISC. but those are abbreviations, and generally you want to keep those low - go for complete words if possible. There are no other options for -OSC besides BOSC. What I'm saying is, this pear variety has letter combinations that make it common enough that you need to know it, and think of it every time you get a pear or even a general 4-letter fruit clue. Add an "H" to get a nightmarish painter.

What else?
  • 45A: Jeff Gordon was its 1993 Rookie of the Year (NASCAR) — did realize he'd been around so long. He is the current Sprint Cup leader. I know this *only* because I am typing this while sitting on the couch with SportCenter on the TV right in front of me. I'm watching for the baseball news - Opening Day!
  • 48A: Sold for a big profit, as tickets (scalped) — I thought this was reselling them a. illegally, and b. for Any amount over face value.
  • 57A: Soft-tipped pen brand (Flair) — haven't seen that clue before. The brand name is familiar, I don't use "soft-tipped" pens.
  • 22D: Paw's mate? (maw) — I don't get this. I get that Pa is Ma's mate, but ... is this just a terrible pun? Is there a phrase that unites PAW and MAW that I'm unaware of. Maybe a variation on "living hand to mouth" - "living PAW to MAW?"
  • 26D: Mont Blanc's range (Alps) — another pen clue (unwittingly). Mont Blanc is also the name of a beloved robot who's murdered in the opening pages of the awesome, ongoing manga epic "Pluto" (a 21st-century reboot of Osamu Tezuka's "Astro Boy")
  • 44D: Annoying people (noodges) — man that is one ugly word. Never used it.
  • 53D: Bear among the stars (Ursa) — Perhaps the most common astronomical answer. Also a common bear answer. A bear in four letters is URSA. Or YOGI, I guess.
See you Wednesday. PuzzleGirl tomorrow.

~Rex Parker

Everything Else — 1A: Narrow-necked pear (BOSC); 5A: James who robbed trains (JESSE); 10A: Wine glass part (STEM); 14A: Pasty-faced (ASHY); 15A: Laud, as virtues (EXTOL); 16A: Drive-__ window (THRU); 17A: "Pow!" relative (WHAM); 18A: Immune system agent (TCELL); 19A: Litter's littlest (RUNT); 20A: *Shari Lewis puppet (LAMBCHOP); 22A: '50s first lady (MAMIE); 23A: 50-and-over org. (AARP); 24A: Open-bodied truck (FLATBED); 26A: Moon mission name (APOLLO); 29A: Photo enlargement (BLOWUP); 30A: No-goodnik (LOUSE); 31A: Really punch (SLUG); 32A: Hosp. scanners (MRIS); 35A: Extinguish, with "out" (PUT); 36A: "Shh!" (and a hint to the feature shared by the answers to starred clues) (BEQUIET); 39A: Legal Lance (ITO); 40A: __ away: hide on a ship (STOW); 42A: Hit, in billiards (CUED); 43A: Paquin and Nicole Smith (ANNAS); 45A: Jeff Gordon was its 1993 Rookie of the Year (NASCAR); 47A: Cavern (GROTTO); 48A: Sold for a big profit, as tickets (SCALPED); 50A: Gucci of fashion (ALDO); 51A: Brit's boob tube (TELLY); 52A: *Act all innocent (PLAYDUMB); 56A: Miscellany (OLIO); 57A: Soft-tipped pen brand (FLAIR); 59A: Civil War color (GRAY); 60A: Dole's 1996 running mate (KEMP); 61A: Give up (WAIVE); 62A: This, in Tegucigalpa (ESTO); 63A: Draws away from shore (EBBS); 64A: Force units (DYNES); 65A: Swedish auto (SAAB); 1D: Cry loudly (BAWL); 2D: On-the-job protection org. (OSHA); 3D: Pillow covering (SHAM); 4D: Drummer's crashers (CYMBALS); 5D: Rockers __ Tull (JETHRO); 6D: Many a security guard (EXCOP); 7D: One of AA's twelve (STEP); 8D: Sun, in Spain (SOL); 9D: Building addition (ELL); 10D: Layer (STRATUM); 11D: *Duster's find at a crime scene (THUMBPRINT); 12D: Tennessee-born country singer Ford (ERNIE); 13D: Like a subdued trumpet (MUTED); 21D: Biblical spy (CALEB); 22D: Paw's mate? (MAW); 24D: Transmission stuff (FLUID); 25D: Opera box (LOGE); 26D: Mont Blanc's range (ALPS); 27D: Protruded-lip expression (POUT); 28D: *Precariously situated (OUTONALIMB); 29D: More azure (BLUER); 31D: Cheerleading unit (SQUAD); 33D: "Let's leave __ that" (ITAT); 34D: Mediocre (SOSO); 37D: Pilate's "Behold!" (ECCE); 38D: Late (TARDY); 41D: Trounces (WALLOPS); 44D: Annoying people (NOODGES); 46D: James Bond, e.g. (SPY); 47D: Piercing looks (GLARES); 48D: Stir the fire (STOKE); 49D: Paparazzi target (CELEB); 50D: __ and kicking (ALIVE); 52D: It can be chronic or shooting (PAIN); 53D: Bear among the stars (URSA); 54D: __ Hari (MATA); 55D: "We're not serving liquor," briefly (BYOB); 57D: Bk. introduction (FWD); 58D: Make, as a wager (LAY).


Sandy said...

I left one of the "o"s in NOODGES blank because I have never ever ever heard that word.

PuzzleGirl said...

Agree on the theme. Only moreso because it took me a while to figure it out. Hate that.

Love the word NOODGES. Reminds me of my friend Robin who I used to hang out with in New York in the early 80s. Recently reconnected with her on Facebook. Yay Facebook!

Okay, see? I can't even stay focused on this puzzle.

SethG said...

Sandy, that's probably because you didn't have a Jewish grandmother. I did, so no problem.

Jane Goodall and I are not friends, but have mutual friends.

Jeffrey said...

I'm with SethG on Jewish mothers and NOODGES.

xyz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
xyz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hazel said...

@ redanman - just read through yesterday's posts. Here's some advice for you, courtesy of Lao Tse's Tao te Ching (bit of crosswordese in both the author and the work to boot!)

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

Regarding today's puzzle, wasn't as put off by the theme's "looseness" as Rex seemed to be. Thought the concept was cute also - and liked all the theme answers as well as the general fill.

Seemed pretty typical - maybe above average to me - for a Monday LA Times puzzle.

*David* said...

I would have liked ALDO as the crosswordese 101. I've been seeing him a lot. NOODGES and MAW were a bit ugli. The FLAIR section was the only one where I had to think twice.

Good timing with Jeff Gordon he just won his first race on Sunday in a LONG time. It was the longest drought in his career and on a track he had never won on(one of only two remaining on the circuit).

Rex Parker said...

Weird. I do most all the daily / weekly puzzles, and I haven't been seeing ALDO that much, esp. not clued as Gucci. Usually ALDO Ray. Some day we will have a Crosswordese 101: Italian Names Edition. ENNIO, ENZO, etc.

Greene said...

Something deep inside of me wants the 5A train robber to be James Joyce. Once I had the J in JETHRO, it took everything I had to keep from typing JOYCE in at 5A. They have trains in Dublin, right? Oy, what a NOODGE.

xyz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Parker said...

Highly logical does Not equal good, interesting, entertaining, thoughtful.

You let me know when you see "approval" of "bad" stuff. You aren't just trying to do what you say... you are putting others down along the way. That's what bugs me.

Anonymous said...

NOODGES at firsts was NAGGERS inspired from the South Park episode. which probably closer to what people might call [Annoying People] today and hopefully not what what Stan Marsh says.

chefbea said...

New all the clues had MB in them but couldnt figure out what that had to do with being quiet... til I got here.

My Jewish grandmother and mother always used the word noodge.

hazel said...

@redanman - sorry for the misunderstanding. To be honest, i really didn't understand what you were asking, but you seemed to have a lot of anxiety about it - so i thought that bit of wisdom would help out - which to me, means - don't fret - just enjoy the ride - and it'll come.

I still think its good advice!

SaminMiam said...

I can't see what's wrong with the group of theme clues. Two in front, two in back -- that's organized to me. I think thousands of themed puzzles may have that arrangement.
Big deal. You don't have to get snide about it. It's only a puzzle. New one tomorrow!

toothdoc said...

As a midwesterner, I immediately got the Maw/Paw connection. Otherwise, just basic "theme" puzzle that I didn't notice till I was done. Apparently yesterday was a good comment day, I'll have to look.