FRIDAY, Jun. 26, 2009 — Dan Naddor

THEME: L before D — "L" sound added just before "D" in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Listening to "Thriller" right now because I just learned that Michael Jackson is dead, and despite the child abuse allegations and overall jacko wackiness of the past two decades, I'm still oddly sad. He was off-the-charts talented. His whole post-"Thriller" life has been one giant, slowly growing "WTF!??!" Kind of tragic. SAD CASE, as it were (13D: Tsk evoker). So I choose to remember the album that Blew My Mind when I was at my most musically impressionable (13, to be precise). I remember the first time I saw him moonwalk. It was like I'd seen someone levitate. Anyway, I'm in a weird, down, nostalgic mood at the moment. No idea how that affected my view of the puzzle.

I took a while to get going on this puzzle because after I got HELD QUARTERS, I figured I was looking at a simple letter-swap puzzle. A goes to L. Ta da! But no. Other answers weren't shaping up that way. I was way down at PIE A LA MOLD before I figured it out, and the others were easy to set straight. Otherwise, nothing too tough, and whatever was tough could be pieced together from crosses, e.g. NOLA, a huge ??? for me (21A: Historic Italian city near Naples), despite the fact that I've probably seen it in puzzles before.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Rhinovirus kept under wraps? (SECRET COLD)
  • 24A: Saved up for the slots? (HELD QUARTERS)
  • 34A: One great baseball play after another? (FIELDING FRENZY) — all ball-related plays on the field are considered FIELDING, not just great ones, so this clue/answer pair doesn't make much sense.
  • 50A: Flared pants for steelworkers? (WELDING BELLS) — cool
  • 56A: Dessert that's been out for too long? (PIE A LA MOLD)

Crosswordese 101: ILONA (17A: Old-time actress Massey) — you're going to see a lot of old-time actresses in the puzzle, most of whom are there not because of their great and enduring fame, but because of a combination of their former fame and their handy-dandy names (i.e. great letter combos for constructors). ILONA is a textbook example of this. 60% vowels, initial "I," terminal "A" — all good stuff. Look also for POLA Negri and MABEL Normand (there just aren't that many famous MABELs, it turns out).

What else?

  • 36D: Kindles, as passions (inflames) — Michael's hair went up IN FLAMES during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in the 80s. He seems to have survived the following commercial OK, though.

  • 45A: Buttercup family member (ANEMONE) — saw some of these in the woods today. Wouldn't have known that's what they were, but there was a helpful wildflower guide at the entrance to the trails.
  • 30A: "My Boys" airer (TBS) — what fresh hell is this?

  • 58A: Island where Bill and Melinda Gates were wed (LANAI) — where's my "Golden Girls" clue!?
  • 64A: Imperial Oil brand (ESSO) — Who? Man, I thought I'd seen every ESSO clue in the book.
  • 8D: In direr straits (WORSE OFF) — ow, "direr" hurts my ears so bad ...
  • 33A: Muse of memory (MNEME) — whence "MNEMONIC" as in "MNEMONIC device" e.g. HOMES, ROY G BIV, etc.

See you all Monday.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Fast (SWIFT); 6A: Uses a Singer (SEWS); 10A: GE and GM (MFRS); 14A: One who never gets out (LIFER); 15A: "__ Rappaport": 1986 Tony winner for Best Play (I'M NOT); 16A: Neighborhood (AREA); 17A: Old-time actress Massey (ILONA); 18A: Rhinovirus kept under wraps? (SECRET COLD); 20A: Pink lady liquor (GIN); 21A: Historic Italian city near Naples (NOLA); 23A: Quaking? (SEISMIC); 24A: Saved up for the slots? (HELD QUARTERS); 27A: Bond rating (AAA); 28A: Auditions (TRYOUTS); 29A: __ Hashanah (ROSH); 30A: "My Boys" airer (TBS); 31A: Contest (VIE); 32A: Bungler (OAF); 33A: Security concern (MOLE); 34A: One great baseball play after another? (FIELDING FRENZY); 39A: Kitchen supplies (POTS); 40A: Blowup source, briefly (NEG); 41A: Affirmative vote (AYE); 42A: Reading and others: Abbr. (RRS); 43A: A, in communications (ALFA); 45A: Buttercup family member (ANEMONE); 49A: D-H filler (EFG); 50A: Flared pants for steelworkers? (WELDING BELLS); 52A: Public face (PERSONA); 54A: "Naked Maja" painter (GOYA); 55A: Passbook abbr. (DEP); 56A: Dessert that's been out for too long? (PIE A LA MOLD); 58A: Island where Bill and Melinda Gates were wed (LANAI); 60A: Type type: Abbr. (ITAL); 61A: Black tea (PEKOE); 62A: Car dealer's offering (LEASE); 63A: Where el sol rises (ESTE); 64A: Imperial Oil brand (ESSO); 65A: Certain NCOs (SSGTS); 1D: Affront (SLIGHT); 2D: More cunning (WILIER); 3D: "I wish!" (IF ONLY); 4D: Boggy locale (FEN); 5D: Serene (TRANQUIL); 6D: Not spread carefully (SMEAR); 7D: SASE, e.g. (ENC); 8D: In direr straits (WORSE OFF); 9D: Keeps the car on the road (STEERS); 10D: Apple products (MACS); 11D: Completely (FROM A TO Z); 12D: In a way you can count on (RELIABLY); 13D: Tsk evoker (SAD CASE); 15D: __ Canarias (ISLAS); 19D: Mrs. Addams, to Gomez (TISH); 22D: Exposed publicly (OUTED); 25D: Peace advocates (DOVES); 26D: "Perry Mason" lieutenant (TRAGG); 32D: Early first century date (ONE A.D.); 33D: Muse of memory (MNEME); 34D: Gives up (FORFEITS); 35D: Words before "to be alive" or "to be back" (IT'S GREAT); 36D: Kindles, as passions (INFLAMES); 37D: Slender and long-limbed (RANGY); 38D: Looks over closely (EYEBALLS); 39D: Private school teen (PREPPIE); 43D: MP's quarry (AWOL); 44D: Delaware tribe (LENAPE); 45D: Battery terminal (ANODE); 46D: Racing has-been (OLD NAG); 47D: Place for Marlins, briefly (NL EAST); 48D: Glimpses (ESPIES); 51D: Block house (IGLOO); 53D: Rep's success (SALE); 57D: Gives the nod (OKS); 59D: JFK's UN ambassador (AES).


Charlie said...

Well, if the theme didn't pop right away for the likes of you, RP, then my ego is spared somewhat.

Couple the theme trouble with mistakenly opting for Erato as soon as I saw "muse" and this one took twice as long as yesterday.

I also had to consult with Google on Bill Gates's wedding site, despite having the "AI" in place. I had forgotten about all the crazy privacy measures they took, like renting out the entire resort, and my brain kept leading me to more distant locales.

*David* said...

Well done for a Friday by DN. It took me as long as a typical DN. How many people put in LONER for LIFER on 14A, that was a cutesy clue. TRANQUIL looked odd to me in the puzzle but there it was. My cross that I wasn't sure of was NEG/TRAGG.

MJ, is kind of a schizo reaction for me, his music/dance/artistry 20years ago was amazing to be part of as a tween. The rest is going to be a Howard Hughes type biopic.

Gary Lowe said...

ONEAD - man, that IS an early date. I put it in after I realized that ZEROAD wouldn't fit.

I wonder if, eight years later, the scroll-makers got together and said, "we prolly shoulda thought of this earlier, but we gonna need TWO spaces for the date next year".

gjelizabeth said...

This took me way long to do but I finished it without googling, which gives me great satisfaction! I had to go away, take a shower, and dress before WELDING BELLS finally dropped. I did confidently fill in AAA for "Bond rating", then paused wondering if there actually are any AAA-rated bonds left in this economy. Really liked the SEISMIC and SADCASE cross. Happy Friday!

Dan said...

NITA Naldi and UNA Merkel are disappointed that you left them out of today's lesson!

"My Boys" is a cute show, and features Jim Gaffigan, which is always a bonus.

Orange said...

Thanks for the "Free to Be...You and Me" clip.

I think INA Balin is also in the old-timey actress crosswordese club. She's been largely replaced by two words, as in [___ pig's eye].

NOLA is usually clued as the Vincent-somebody song. Cruciverb clarifies: [Vincent Lopez's theme song]. I know it better as a nickname for New Orleans, Louisiana (N.O., La.), and the name of an Emeril restaurant there.


A miserable puzzle!
Although I got all the so-called theme words right, I still can't figure it out. L before D just makes no sense.

Never heard of NOLA (21a), not even in dictionaries or atlases... so what is historic about this Italian city?

A, in communications (43a) shouldn't be ALFA, it should be ABEL. Ask any airline pilot.

How many of you used LONER for LIFER (14a)?

Have you ever referred to a slender and long-limbed person as RANGY (37d)? Or, does LANKY make more sense?

Every once in a while I muddle through a puzzle that I consider a total bummer... this is one of those!

eileen said...

Thanks for the MJ clips. I know what you mean, I also felt kinda mixed when I heard the news.

I had no idea what the theme was until I went to the blog. Does this type of theme very common?

Rex Parker said...

ALFA is correct. Unimpeachable.

Check it out.

RANGY is a perfectly good word, as is LIFER.

Rex Parker said...

And NOLA, though I couldn't come up with it, is clearly a real place, easily verifiable in two seconds with Professor Google. Got its own sizable Wikipedia page and everything.

And "L before D" is literal. Literally, that is how the base phrases are changed. By the addition of "L" sound before a terminal "D" sound. Sound modifications are a std. form of xword theme. Not sure what there is not to get.

Higs said...

Cute, twisted word play theme. Interesting that it took a 16x15 grid to make it go.

PerilloTours said...

Hey gang, what say we all take a vacation to Nola Italy this summer - on me! The Wikipedia article made it seem edenic:


Nola today is an important town close to Naples. However, most of its territory and economy are well under the control of the Camorra.

A major Camorra's activity is the illegal treatment of urban, chemical and industrial wastes in the countryside located in the region between Nola, Acerra and Marigliano. This formerly rich and green countryside is sometimes now called the "Death Triangle".

The scientific journal The Lancet Oncology published in 2004 a study by the Italian researcher Alfredo Mazza, a physiologist at the Italian CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche): this study revealed the terrible situation in the countryside around Marigliano and the negative impact on the people's health. He demonstrated that the deaths by cancer are much higher than average in that region compared to the European average.

eileen said...

@ Rex: Thanks for the clarification. Even with your blog explanation I still didn't get it until your comment. Please remember I am a newbie and approach the puzzles with the thought that they are trying to trick me, thus I screw up more on the literal themes.

Orange said...

Eileen, the constructors often aren't trying to trick you—but you're wise to be suspicious on Friday (for the LA Times—Thursday for the NYT) as that's when the tricky themes are likeliest to appear. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but sometimes it's an exploding prank cigar, or a bubblegum cigar, or a Freudian phallic symbol.

We bloggers try to be concise in explaining themes, but sometimes an extra sentence or two of detail can make things clearer.

Charles Bogle said...

I had some issues/moments similar to those expressed by @charlie, @eileen, @*david*; did have to resort google...NICE going @glelizabeth!

Was left w good feeling of accomplishment and mental workout, but pt no pot warmth or mirth or smiles or "hey, how about that!" kind of feeling,..

Anyone remember Perry Mason? I went w DRAKE (his PI) for his "lieutenant" and finally had to go google for "real" PD 3:50:32 PM

RANGY for "slender and long limbed..." True, but couldn't get off LITHE

AES for JFK UN Ambassador /very tricky, initials for Adlai E. Stevenson, who rarely used middle initial...story goes he didn't want the job, was beneath him. His stare-down of Soviets during Cuban Missile Crisis capped any amazing life

As was Goya's. Interestingly enough, the great Spanish master was huge influence on New Yorker illustrator Chas. Addams, creator of characters in 19D. In fact, if you look closely at Chas. Addams's cartoons, in every one you can find "Goya" inked in somehow!

Anonymous said...

Alfa, bravo, charlie, delta, echo, foxtrot, etc. Ask any military person.

mac said...

Didn't enjoy this puzzle much for some reason, the theme answers just were not very funny. Plenty of crosswordese and abbrevisations. I have a different understanding of the word "preppie", Lily Pulitzer anyone? Brooks Brothers?

@Orange: LOL. Also, odd how the NYT and LAT puzzles both have a pretty unusual answer in common on the same day.


@Rex Re: 43a
ALFA, Bravo, Charlie is the NATO phonetic alphabet.
Able, Baker, Charlie is the U.S. phonetic alphabet.
I am more accustomed to flying aircraft in the U.S. than with NATO forces, so I don't use ALFA.


Also see Wikipedia for explanation of phonetic alphabets---

Anonymous said...

Easy puzzle though I didn't really care for the twist on words, except for a la mold. I keep hoping the LA Times puzzles are going to be more difficult in the future.

Orange said...

@JOHN: See, that's where we're different. I am equally accustomed to flying aircraft with NATO forces as with the U.S. (I.e., not at all.)

Rex Parker said...

Clue is [A, in communications] - so it's a clue with multiple potential answers, it seems, but "shouldn't be ALFA" is an odd / wrong conclusion to draw. You got confused by your very specialized knowledge. Happens to the best of us. That's not the puzzle's fault.


PuzzleGirl said...

This was a tricky theme for me to figure out too. I had HELD QUARTERS and SECRET COLD and couldn't see how they were related. It all came together eventually. Like Charles Bogle, I entered LITHE for RANGY, so that took a while to sort out. EYEBALLS as a verb — I like it.

embien said...

So, Gary Lowe, that would be the great "Y-Ten" SNAFU? It's a good thing the scroll writers got their act together before Y2K came along, isn't it?

Chevis Ryder said...

Do you make up the themes, or are they published somewhere? I do it online and have wondered this for a while, cause they don't seem to be online.

hazel said...

I didn't really "get" the theme either - in the sense that it just seemed random. Removing an L when it comes before a D to make up a nonsense phrase? and in one case a pretty gross one (PIEALAMOLD) That's it? Just didn't do anything for me. I guess I just like more theme to my theme.

Anonymous said...

@Alisterio - The hosts just make up the theme title.
@Gary Lowe - Good point, but since it's AD, i.e. Latin, I'm guessing the sequence would be I, II, III, IV, V,...
The need more/fewer columns for the year is mind-boggling. Thank you Arabs!

Rex Parker said...

Adding an L, not removing.

Themes are easily inferrable. Look at theme answers, identify commonalities. Today's theme did not lend itself to a snazzy title (that I could think of)

hazel said...

You're right. My bad. I was "removing" the L in my head to come up with the non-wacky or familiar answer.

I do see the commonalities, but I still need more theminess to be satisfied!

Sfingi said...

Corrections for the puzzlemaker:
Years Anno Domini should be expressed AD one, or AD 1; that is, AD comes first. On the other hand, BC(Before Christ) or BCE (Before Common Era - for those not Christian) is set second, as in 4 BC.
Mneme/Mnemosyne is a goddess and mother to the 9 muses.
But I loved that yummy moldy pie!

eileen said...

All I can say is Orange is a dear.