WEDNESDAY, May 20, 2009—Bonnie L. Gentry

THEME: "Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do After All"— Three phrases contain the hidden word UP, broken in half across words

There've been plenty of crossword themes involving hidden words split among the words in a phrase, but how many of them mandate phrases that include words ending in U? Not so many. And how often is the first square in the puzzle filled with a V? Not much of the time, so crossing VALID (1A: Still in force) with VAMP (1D: Seductress) felt fresh. The theme contains just two 10's and two 13's, leaving wiggle room for Bonnie to include a cool dozen 7- and 8-letter answers in the fill.

You know what happened to this constructor one time? Even though she includes that middle initial in her byline to help set herself apart from singer Bobbie Gentry, an NYT crossword credited Bonnie as Bobbie. Here's the other Ms. Gentry singing "Ody to Billy Joe":

Crosswordese 101: Sure, ERTÉ the Harper's Bazaar artist (19A) is in the puzzle, but Rex covered him on April 27. So we move on to REA (55D: Stephen of "Citizen X). Stephen REA first became semi-famous among Americans when he was in The Crying Game. The Irish actor's other clueable movies include V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Romeo and Me, Still Crazy, and In Dreams. Given the L.A. Times's Hollywood slant, it seems that REA almost always gets clued with actor Stephen, but N.Y. Times clues for REA have mentioned the phrase mens rea (criminal intent), New Yorker cartoonist Rea Irvin, and CNN's Rea Blakey.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Pancake-wrapped Chinese dish is MOO SHU PORK.
  • 23A: More food. Peppered entree is STEAK AU POIVRE. It was way too short, but I still wanted STEAK DIANE here. (DIANE, it turns out, was lurking below as 59A: "Cheers" waitress.)
  • 46A: Judge's query after charges are read clues "HOW DO YOU PLEAD?" This has legal echoes with two other answers: 6A: Serve with a summons (CITE) and 14A: O'Connor's successor (ALITO).
  • 54A: BREAKING UP is clued with 54A: Disbanding, and a literal hint to the hidden theme in 17-, 23- and 46-Across.
An olio of answers and clues:
  • 15A: Partly revitalized sea (ARAL). Hey! It's coming back! After all these years of "shrinking sea" clues, the Aral Sea (an inland sea) is partly revitalized.
  • 29A: Knotty and twisted (GNARLED). Gotta love a silent G.
  • 3D: Pride's quarters (LIONS DEN).
  • 6D: "RUR" playwright (CAPEK). Karel Čapek was a Czech writer, and R.U.R. is short for "Rossum's Universal Robots." Čapek coined the word "robot."
  • 12D: Old explosive device (PETARD). I beseech you, do not get hoist by your own petard.
  • 24D: Suffers humiliation (EATS CROW). Great colloquial answer here.
Everything Else — 10A: Gullible sorts (SAPS); 16A: Chart with ancestors (TREE); 20A: Transportation secretary under Clinton (PEÑA); 21A: Nickelodeon dog (REN); 22A: Father of Paris (PRIAM); 27A: Goodyear offering (RADIAL); 30A: Sound from a nest (TWEET); 31A: Fill with bubbles (AERATE); 32A: Dusk, in verse (E'EN); 33A: "Uncle" with a red bow tie (SAM); 35A: Lyricist Gershwin (IRA); 36A: "Little Red Book" writer (MAO); 39A: In need of aspirin (ACHING); 41A: Court sport, for short (B-BALL); 43A: Italian innkeeper (PADRONE); 45A: Bent, as to show off a muscle (FLEXED); 48A: Good __: fixed (AS NEW); 49A: Cup with crumpets (TEA); 50A: Mild reproofs (TUTS); 53A: Climb, as a tree (SHIN); 57A: Work at the bar (TEND); 58A: Cougar maker, briefly (MERC); 60A: Work measures (ERGS); 61A: Laundry (WASH); 62A: "No surprise to me" (IKNEW); 2D: Facial tissues additive (ALOE); 4D: Shout evoked by a dead heat (IT'S A TIE); 5D: 2001 OED addition that cites "The Simpsons" (D'OH); 7D: When forging started (IRON AGE); 8D: Road-surfacing goo (TAR); 9D: Fraternal society member (ELK); 10D: More than just clean (STERILE); 11D: Get there (ARRIVE); 13D: Teacher's note next to an F (SEE ME); 18D: Eurasian boundary river (URAL); 22D: Like laptops (PORTABLE); 25D: Strip, as a ship (UNRIG); 26D: Early late-night host (PAAR); 27D: I-80, e.g. (RTE); 28D: Astound (AWE); 31D: Protein building block, for short (AMINO); 34D: "Hey!" to a mate (AHOY); 36D: Title character who "returns" in a Neil Simon title (MAX DUGAN); 37D: Brewpub order (ALE); 38D: Antiquated (OLD); 39D: Numbers to be summed, in math (ADDENDS); 40D: Spays (NEUTERS); 42D: '50s-'60s counterculturist (BEATNIK); 43D: More swanky (POSHER); 44D: Storefront shade (AWNING); 45D: Harsh criticism (FLAK); 46D: Waste maker? (HASTE); 47D: Georgia's state fruit (PEACH); 51D: Do some piano maintenance (TUNE); 52D: Emulate a geyser (SPEW); 54D: 5 Series automaker (BMW); 56D: Infamous Amin (IDI).


PuzzleGirl said...

I didn't finish this one correctly. I had no idea about PETARD or PRIAM and I had gnarley for GNARLED, so the NE was just a big mess.

HOW DO YOU PLEAD is an awesome answer. Also PADRONE.

The very first puzzle I ever constructed had VAMP at 1A (crossing VOWS). Unfortunately, the rest of the puzzle was not quite as spiffy.

Rex Parker said...

Check your crosses - had KAPEK / KITE instead of CAPEK / CITE. Should have read the Across.

Otherwise, low 4s, good time. Didn't know PADRONE. Had PATRONE at first.

Trouble out of the gate w/ spelling of MOO SHU. Thought the "U" sound would be either "OO" / "OO" or "U" / "U".


Denise said...

BMW crossing Merc was hard for a non-autogeek.

Anonymous said...

I never knew what PETARD meant, outside the phrase hoisted by your own PETARD. A quick trip to dictionary.com filled in the blanks, but left me even more confused, or perhaps scared is more accurate.

If you can get hoisted by your own petard, that is one massive fart.

Orange said...

Anonymous, you need a name! I don't know whose joke I'm laughing at.

humorlesstwit said...

Orange - Just trying to not make you cringe.
Anon 8:02

Orange said...

I thought I recognized that fart humor.

*David* said...

The head scratcher for me was SHIN for climbing a tree, I thought of it as SHIM but it didn't fit. Great puzzle with some fresh fill.

The only dislike was the URAL and ARAL terms in near proximity to each other.

mac said...

@"david" wrote exactly what I thought, although I thought it funny to have these bigtime crosswordese members in one puzzle!
Me too re shim.
Nice puzzle, but I had to come to Orange to find out what the theme really was. Expected something a little bigger than "up".

chefbea said...

Never heard of petard. Knew shin...way back when the boys would shinny up a tree.

After the first two theme clues I really expected another dinner party. I could still cook UP some mooshu pork and steak au poivre if anyone is interested.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking food too for awhile in this theme, and anyway, this one ate my lunch a bit. Is there another Amin other than the "Infamous" one we know and love in our puzzles? His cousin from Peru, AMINO showed up today too. UNRIG: ugh.

- - Robert

Jerome said...

ZaSu Pitts would love this puzzle.

Karen said...

I'd been thinking for years that Stephen REA played the cross-dresser on Crying Game. Turns out, Rea was the IRA guy. Poor Jaye Davidson's only other role was the Egyptian god in the Stargate movie.

toothdoc said...

I know I have been reading rex, orange and PG blogs for too long when I do a puzzle and try to imagine what food ChefBea will make that night for dinner. This puzzle hits the gastronomical sweet spot for me.

Only complaint is 40D, my wife being a veterinarian would point out that Spaying and Neutering are 2 very different procedures (like the clue being Histerectomy and the answer being Vasectomy). Otherwise, fun puzzle.

Anonymous said...

@Toothdoc - Neuter means to either perform a hysterctomy or a testiclectomy (sp? gasp, cringe), so when you spay a dog, you neuter them. You just can't spay males.

David Marlow said...

I too found myself wondering what a PETARL was. Then I remembered the sticky bomb scene from Saving Private Ryan.

Had CARLA before DIANE. But I don't think you can TULE a piano. At least not yet.

toothdoc said...

@anonymous12:03 - gave me a good excuse to go see my wife and she confirmed that it is a common misnomer to refer to a neuter as a spay. You only "spay" females and "neuter" males (and having watched both procedures I can tell you it is a power shift in the family). Trivial, I know, but here in crosswordville don't we deal in trivialities.

Anonymous said...

This puzzle drove me nuts, until I called my Mom and she said she had done it all without me - ugh. I had to get busy. Goggled a few and then was able to fill in. Also didn't know PETARD, couldn't remember ALITO or PENA. I better start taking Ghinko Balboa and try to improve my brain - LOL
@ChefB thanks for the cookie recipe will try soon and let you know. Love this blog everyone.

Orange said...

Toothdoc, those vets are a dainty bunch. The dictionary tells me that neutering is a unisex desexing word. What you're doing to neuter the female dog is spaying, and what you're doing to neuter the male dog is castrating. I suspect vets go with "neuter" for male dogs to avoid alarming owners with the word "castrate." (What man wants to be in charge of deciding to castrate Fido?) And the Price Is Right sponsors might've objected if Bob Barker were exhorting people to castrate their pets.

Anon 12:03 said...

@Orange - To top that off, my research shows that castrating is in fact a unisex term, it refers to either removing the testes or ovaries.

Norm said...

Rex, moo shoo pork is actually an alternative spelling, I think, so your instincts were sound -- of course, i say that only because i had the same reaction and had to go "shu" to make pork fit.


By the way, Karel Čapek has some wonderful sayings. I use his quotations quite often in my writings.
Someone mentioned CORACLE (I think it was several days ago)... the little Welsh boat. When I was in Wales I had the opportunity to ride one on the River Tywi (ughh !). Remember in the Bible the little tar-lined basket that the Pharoah's daughter found Moses? Well the CORACLE is a step above that, but not very much. The water-line was like an inch below the boat's brim and I held my breath the whole time I was in it. Did I call it a boat? It was more like floating on a bottle cap. I even bought a souvenir model of the coracle so I could always remember that harrowing event.
If you ever go to Wales, don't let anyone ever talk you into taking a "gentle float trip in a coracle".

Charles Bogle said...

This was only my second LA Times puzzle attempt, and it was a real treat! Except for not getting Iron in Iron Age-because I stuck w Rea for Nickelodeon dog-I was delighted to "finish" it, while enjoying a Little League game on a sunny day in CT

Good thing I wasn't doing it for time, else the "mercy" rule--used here four times today-would have disqualified me

I look forward to getting to know you. Wonderful puzzle and funny group, scatological and all

Orange said...

Welcome, Charles! Glad you're enjoying the L.A. Times crosswords so far. Don't be discouraged if you have a tougher time the next three days—the puzzle gets progressively harder through Saturday (as does the NYT crossword), and returns to easy on Monday.

Charles Bogle said...

Thank you @orange for the tip. Managing my inner expectations at this stage is very helpful!

Btw, I knew I was no longer in NY when I tried to fill in "O'Connor's successor" w the name of the Church Cardinal who followed him here in NYC and himself just stepped down! When in Rome...

chefbea said...

@charles Bogle glad to have another Ct. blogger. Where in Ct are you?