TUESDAY, April 14, 2009 — Billie Truitt

Theme: Themes "R" Us Theme answers are two-word phrases, the first of which is the same as the second except for an R added after its first letter.

Crosswordese 101: I think I'll go with LEI (16A: Wahine's gift) for today's word. Unless you live in Hawaii, I have to think this word doesn't come up much in your day-to-day conversations. It can be clued many ways from the straightforward "Floral necklace" to the super tricky "Island chain." Early in the week that tricky clue will have a question mark, but in the more difficult puzzles it might not. What you want to watch out for are words like chain, ring, wreath, loop, hoop ... basically anything round. If it's three letters, one of those "round" words is in the clue, and there's anything remotely Hawaiian about the rest of clue, you should be thinking LEI.

Good morning, everyone! PuzzleGirl here taking you through the early-week puzzles. I like the early-week puzzles because I can, ya know, finish them. Sometimes even fast, although I'm aware that's not always the point. I had a Very productive day today, most of which was spent helping PuzzleSon clean his room. And I don't just mean "clean" his room — I mean CLEAN his room. Like going through everything and deciding what to throw out, which is never his favorite activity. The boy does not like change. Can't imagine where he gets that from! Anyway, it was awesome, because he was actually kind of into it. I guess he's maturing. Oh, and then I cut his hair! HA! It was his idea! I guess he forgot the story of how his dad ended up looking like a military guy after asking me to cut his hair early in our relationship and I was ... not very adept with the clippers. He ended up just leaving his hair that way though — it's still the same 10+ years later. Anyway, PuzzleSon's hair turned out okay. I think. I guess we'll find out tomorrow when he goes back to school.

The puzzle! We're here to talk about the puzzle!

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 11:00 a.m. restaurant patrons? (BRUNCH BUNCH).
  • 29A: Fraternity nerd? (GREEK GEEK).
  • 39A: Advice from the auto club? (TRIP TIP).
  • 48A: Whimsical Barbie? (DROLL DOLL).
  • 63A: Quite small-minded? (PRETTY PETTY).
Straightforward, clever theme. Nice fill. Pretty much what you would expect from Billie Truitt. She threw in a couple of those two-different-answers-to-the-same-clue tricks, which sometimes give me fits but went down smooth today.
  • 23A: Caboose's place (REAR); 36A: Caboose's place (END).
  • 37A: Deadlocked (EVEN); 52A: Deadlocked (TIED).
That second one was more difficult than the first because the answers have the same number of letters. I think at 37A I already had the V from the cross, so EVEN dropped in without any trouble. Without that V, it certainly would have slowed me down.

What else?
  • 14A: Fancy calligraphy strokes (SERIFS). Typography Nerd Alert!: When I started putting together the format for this blog, Rex and I actually something of a heated exchange about whether we should use a font with serifs or not. Rex's argument was, basically, that "serif fonts look better," and my view was based on my not-particularly-extensive research on web design, specifically how various fonts are rendered under the multitude of possible (and unknowable) monitor and browser configurations including, but not limited to, size, operating system, presence of Microsoft ClearType (an implementation of subpixel rendering technology) ... What? You're eyes are glazing over? Sorry about that. And don't get me started on Comic Sans.
  • 21A: Em and Bee (AUNTS). Aunt Em is Dorothy's aunt in "The Wizard of Oz" and Aunt Bee is from "Mayberry R.F.D." Is she actually somebody's aunt or is that just what they call her? I really don't know. Oh hey, guess who else is an aunt (again)? PuzzleGirl! PuzzleSister-in-Law had daughter #2 yesterday afternoon. My mother-in-law called about an hour later and I'm all, "Yeah. I saw it all on Facebook already."
  • 53A: Fed. workplace watchdog (OSHA). This was a gimme for you today, right?
  • 66A: Seasoned salt? (TAR). Ooh, I'm guessing this one gave some of you trouble. Both salt and tar are synonyms of sailor. So a "Seasoned (i.e., experienced) salt (i.e., sailor)" might be called a "tar."
  • 68A: Organ knob (STOP). The knob referred to here controls whether pressurized air is admitted to a certain pipe of the organ. In the picture, you can see half of this organ's more than 400 stops. When all the stops are "pulled out," the organ is Very Loud, and this somehow morphed into the idea of using all available resources (i.e., "pulling out all the stops").
  • 70A: Like dirt roads after rain (MUDDY).

  • 5D: __ Jackson: rapper Ice Cube's birth name (O'SHEA). I did not know that.
  • 6D: Jean of "Saint Joan" (SEBERG). Hadn't heard of her before. She was originally from Iowa and led a pretty tumultuous life, which ended in suicide at age 40. Sad.
  • 9D: Org. with Patriots and Jets (AFC). I always want this to be NFL. I mean, that should be enough, right? Same with the baseball divisions. I have No Idea which teams are in the American League and which are in the National League. If someone knows an easy way to learn and remember this useful tidbit, I would be grateful.
  • 15D: Predatory lender (SHARK). Is there any other kind?
  • 24D: Out of shape? (BENT). The question mark indicates that you shouldn't be thinking about the common interpretation of "out of shape" (i.e., health) but instead think literally about a shape.
  • 27D: Angler's boot (WADER). Hi, Wader!
  • 44D: Crunchy sandwiches (BLTS). Mmmmmmmm, bacon!
  • 58D: It may be ear-piercing (STUD). I haven't decided if this is "cute" or "too cute."
  • 65D: Flightless big bird (EMU). Anybody remember the Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show? They had a whole emu schtick that I recall was very funny. When I was, like, ten.
Orange will hang with you tomorrow. I'll be back Thursday. Rex is threatening to throw it all away and spend the rest of his life in paradise.

Everything Else — 1A: E-junk (SPAM); 5A: Honshu port (OSAKA); 10A: No.-crunching pro (CPA); 13A: Shakespearean betrayer (IAGO); 19A: The whole enchilada (ALL); 20A: Ocean color (SEAGREEN); 24A: "I'm fuh-reezing!" (BRRR); 26A: Held title to (OWNED); 34A: Ace the exam (NAILIT); 38A: Banned bug killer (DDT); 42A: Ginger __ (ALE); 43A: Noun follower, often (VERB); 45A: Big oaf (APE); 46A: Crocodile hunter of film (DUNDEE); 51A: Future sunflowers (SEEDS); 55A: Military bigwigs (BRASS); 58A: Answer (SOLUTION); 62A: "__ said it!" (YOU); 67A: Patriot Adams (SAMUEL); 69A: The sixties, for one (ERA); 71A: Pigeon-__ (TOED); 1D: Bro and sis (SIBS); 2D: Downsize (PARE); 3D: Juanita's water (AGUA); 4D: Mutt (MONGREL); 7D: Make __ for it (ARUN); 8D: Relatives (KIN); 10D: Extended family (CLAN); 11D: Animal hide (PELT); 12D: Has a bug (AILS); 22D: Egg on (URGE); 25D: Made over (REDID); 26D: Like most movie rentals (ONDVD); 28D: Explosive stuff, briefly (NITRO); 31D: Sidestep (EVADE); 32D: Went sniggling (EELED); 33D: Patched pants parts (KNEES); 35D: Livelihood (TRADE); 40D: Product with earbuds (IPOD); 41D: Upper body strengthener (PUSHUP); 47D: Most spiffy (NEATEST); 49D: Speaks like Daffy (LISPS); 50D: Plundered (LOOTED); 54D: In a furtive way (SLYLY); 55D: Mega- or giga- ending (BYTE); 56D: Lion's warning (ROAR); 57D: Mystique (AURA); 59D: "Leave __ me" (ITTO); 64D: It's used for battering (RAM).


Orange said...

PG, you may recall I had Rex's back in the Great Sans Serif Battle. How did your one vote win out over our two pro-serif votes, anyway? We should put up a reader poll in the sidebar about fonts. (Comic Sans, of course, would not be an option.)

PuzzleGirl said...

Gosh, Orange, I'm not really sure how that ha— oh man ... you're breaking up ... you're breaking up! ....

humorlesstwit said...

@PG It's easy to learn which teams are in the AL vs NL. Just memorize all the pitchers of each team along with their number plate appearances (not, I repeat not, at bats - that's too complicated). Keep track of the number of games played minus the interleague games. Any starting pitcher with at least .4 plate appearances per game probably plays for a NL team!

Simple, no?

Jeffrey said...

A font war. That's PRETTY PETTY.

*David* said...

I think the argument is just a FONT FRONT for what really goes on behind the scenes.

Talking about baseball, Mr. Hudson just hit for the cycle for the Dodgers. First time since 1970 and Vin Scully made the call, sweet. Hudson has a SICK STICK.

Denise said...

Aunt Bee was Sheriff Andy's aunt, who was his housekeeper and Opie's caretaker.

So many great stories feature orphaned or semi-orphaned children.

I didn't know Ice Cube's name, but I knew Jean Seberg -- great actress.

chefbea said...

Fun easy puzzle. I expected them all to rhyme - the first three did!!.

My daughter designs web sites if you need help with fonts

jeff in chicago said...

Yes...fun and easy.

For some reason I did not see 39A as a theme answer at first. Having used the AAA service many times, I put TRIPTIK in. But as KUSHUP is not an exercise, that didn't quite work.

A minor clarification. "Pulling out all the stops" on an organ won't necessarily make it loud. Combinations of stops make the organ sound like different instruments, like a clarion, flute or trumpet. So "pulling out all the stops" is more like "using all the instruments available" rather than being loud. Ya gotta use the volume pedal to make it loud.

xyz said...

Excellent clever, even devious puzzle, I likes the NFL/AFC etc. and even EELED although went slithering might be better. Had NAILED before NAILÌT, etc. and enjoyed every deceptive moment. Rare day LAT more fun, better *and* harder than NYT.

Joon said...

jeff, you can be forgiven, perhaps, for not noticing the central theme answer. usually there are no across fill answers which are longer than theme answers, but this puzzle has SEA GREEN and SOLUTION (both 8), longer than TRIP TIP (7). then again, the ? in the clue should have indicated to you that it wasn't going to be a straightforward clue/answer pairing.

honestly, the best way to know which teams are in the AL/NL and AFC/NFC is to follow football and baseball extremely closely. i could easily rattle off all 30 MLB teams and all 32 NFL teams organized into their leagues and division, and really, there must be millions of others who could do the same. for crossword purposes, though, i've noticed that when the clue is something like [Org. with Patriots and Jets], the answer is usually going to be AFC, not NFL. NFL is usually clued less specifically, or sometimes more sneakily. but late in the week, all bets are off.

with the NBA it's a little easier because the conferences are east and west; milwaukee/chicago and everything east of them are in the eastern conference, whereas memphis/new orleans and everything west of that is in the west. but this knowledge is pretty much never going to help you do a crossword puzzle, since you are not going to see NBA conference or division names in the grid.

i think they also still play pro hockey. somebody correct me if i'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Once I figured out the theme things pretty much fell into place. I did this one faster than yesterday's, don't know exactly what that means maybe I'm made for Tuesday?


Don G. said...

What appealed to me was the varying lengths of the theme answers, starting long, then medium, short in the middle, etc. I like anything that rhymes, so I can't help but not like this. I didn't realize that the R always dropped out until I read PuzzleGirl's notes. Thanks.
Lastly, many of the clues were fun. Any time a puzzle mentions a cartoon character (Daffy), I'm really happy.

Anonymous said...

Nice Tuesday puzzle. And a fun writeup, PG. Where is Rex anyway? Anyone else try to fit "OKIE" into 60D?


- - Robert

Dan said...

@Anonymous #1: I, too, did this one faster than yesterday's (0:08:35 versus 0:10:12).

Sniggling. I like it.

Wayne said...

I, too, found this puzzle quite easy. As for the sports stuff, I'm not going to bother memorizing things like that because I have a hard enough time remembering a lot of other things. So if I get stuck, I just check the sports section of a crossword dictionary. Luckily, this time it just fell into place.

It was a fun puzzle, though.

jeff in chicago said...

I must confess that since first reading this blog this morning I have been obsessed with that "Bacon is meat candy" image. I finally went to baconfreak.com, and found they have t-shirts. (I expected as much.) I will probably buy one.

The site also has a crossword puzzle!!! Well...not really. It's one of those vocabulary crosswords. And two of the words don't connect at all to the rest of the words! They just hang out in space above the rest of the puzzle.

It was a toughie, though, with clues like: "Pork, the other white ____" and "Sound a pig makes."

You can also buy a bacon lunch box, bacon placemats, bacon air fresheners and bacon bandaids (they look like strips of bacon!)

This place also "specializes" in wine. Bacon and wine. Go figure.

Badir said...


A few weeks ago I decided to just learn the teams be area. I sat down and learned all the National League teams by region. A few days later, after I had all them down, I went to the American League by division. And it's already paid off a couple of times with a free A or N!

I'm stoked today, because this was a Tuesday _LA_Times_ record for me by 34 seconds and was the second-fastest crossword I've ever solved!