MONDAY, Jun. 15, 2009 — David W. Cromer

THEME: Radio Lingo — theme answers begin with words used in radio communication: ROGER, COPY, OVER, and OUT

A smooth, easy puzzle. I can't imagine what those who have resisted the switch from the TMS to the LAT puzzle (in syndication nationwide) could have to complain about with this one. Straightforward, very doable. Nothing to write home about, from a creativity standpoint, but solid as a rock. I speed solve these early-week puzzles, and this one fell a little quicker than the average Monday, even with slight trips here and there. For instance, I couldn't come up with BLAST (4A: Great time) until I got the damned "B" from "BAR" (4D: Tap room). Also, I misread the clue at 13D: Kids' book connectibles (DOTS) as [Kids' book collectibles]. No idea what I could have filled in for a clue like that. I started to write in DRY UP for 37A: Go through rehab, in a way, but knew that Had to be wrong. Good answer for [Shrivel, in a way], bad answer for this clue. I guess I'm not used to thinking of DETOX as a verb. Lastly, as snags go, right at the end I hesitated at 50A: Popular jeans (LEE'S). The possessive seemed wrong. I can see the word "LEE" written on the back tag ... is it really "LEE'S"? No it is not. It's "LEE." I guess "LEES" is a plural here? Bah. NARTHEX! (sorry, still channeling another puzzle I did recently).

Theme answers:

  • 18A: "Framed" toon in a 1988 film (ROGER RABBIT)
  • 27A: Xerox product (COPY MACHINE)
  • 47A: In an awkward position (OVER A BARREL)
  • 61A: Like oysters in summer months (OUT OF SEASON)

There were some nice juxtapositions in today's grid. EMO (40A: Funny Philips) crossing HUMOR (31D: Funny business) was nice, though EMO Philips hasn't been funny (or seen by anyone) in fifteen years at least. DETOX over NARC (41A: Pusher chaser) gives you a nice drug-related subtheme for your Monday morning. Did Abe VIGODA (26D: Abe of "Barney Miller") wear a RUG (36A: Toupee, slangily)? He could have. His hair was at least thinning — though every time I remember seeing him, he was unrugged. Not that thrilled that the puzzle missed a chance at a "Three's Company" clue with ROPER (68A: Lasso wielder). Also not thrilled about POD (44A: Pea holder) and IPOD (58D: Music-playing Apple) in the same grid. Recently accepted a Facebook IPOD challenge — hit "shuffle" on your IPOD (or iTunes) and simply record the first 20 songs that come up. These were my results:

  • 1. My Man's Gone Now - Nina Simone
  • 2. Oh! You Pretty Things - David Bowie
  • 3. Omerta - The Phoenix Foundation
  • 4. That's Really Super, Supergirl - XTC
  • 5. Behind the Mask - Eric Clapton
  • 6. Piano Concerto No. 4 In G, Op. 58: III. Rondo (Vivace) - Beethoven (c/Brendel, Chicago SO / James Levine)
  • 7. Goodbye to Love, The Carpenters
  • 8. Concerto in E Major for Violin, BWV 1042 - I. Allegro - Bach (d/Manze, Academy of Ancient Music)
  • 9. I Love My Leather Jacket - The Chills
  • 10. Let's Get It On (Big Daddy Mix) - Steinski
  • 11. Drive Slow - Kanye West
  • 12. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz.106: II. Allegro - Bartok (c/Reiner, CSO)
  • 13. Magic - Olivia Newton-John

  • 14. Two Pictures Sz. 46, II. Village Dance: Allegro - Bartok (c/Xiao, Budapest Phil.)
  • 15. Kidnapped - B Herrmann, "N by NW" soundtrack
  • 16. One Minute - Kelly Clarkson
  • 17. Rock Star - N*E*R*D
  • 18. Postcard Blues - Cowboy Junkies
  • 19. Love For Sale - Billie Holliday
  • 20. Evangeline - Matthew Sweet

Crosswordese 101: PLATS (29D: Land maps) — there are other, perhaps better candidates for a Crosswordese lesson, but I'm going to leave them for another day and take this guy, if only because I learned the word from crosswords and it has come in handy on multiple occasions. You don't see it too frequently, but frequently enough for it to be worth knowing. PLATS are typically maps of municipalities made by surveyors for an official purpose (showing streets, property lots, etc.). A PLAT is also a braid (see also PLAIT, which appears to mean virtually the same thing). And PLAT can be a verb, "to braid," but typically if it shows up in your puzzle, it's clued as a map.

What else?

  • 22A: Keystone lawman (KOP) — as in "The Keystone Kops," a series of films about incompetent policemen. The KOPS debuted in the silent era, but Wikipedia says that the "KOPS" spelling was not official in any way until the 1955 film "Abbot and Costello and The Keystone Kops." It's not clear to me that the "KOP" spelling was used in any official capacity except in the Abbot & Costello movie. But ... I have no real way to verify that. The "K" spelling has come to be commonly accepted, but ... appears not to have been original. I think. Maybe.
  • 53D: Peseta replacer (EURO) — the puzzle loves its foreign currenncy, and with 75% vowels, EURO is likely the most common puzzle currency there is. RIAL and RIEL are right behind.

See you Friday,



Gareth Bain said...

Boy do I feel stupid now, I couldn't get the theme even after staring at it post-solve. But a nice theme and yes a solid Monday... PLATS was a new one for me though, hopefully it'll stick. A ditto for me with BLAST and misreading "connectible" as "collectible" (I'm a great misreader I am, I managed to misread Jack White as Jack Black a while back, I don't know how either.) Oh, I'm the last person in the world not to own an iPod (and not be on Facebook) so I can't help you there... but seriously that's the most diverse combination of music I've seen, classical, jazz, alt rock, rap and about everything in between it's all there!

Over and Out (sorry I couldn't resist)
Gareth B.

Carol said...

Ditto on your combination of music - Wow!

Pea pods brought to mind my uncle's favorite poem:

I eat my peas with honey,
I've done so all my life.
It may taste rather funny,
But, it keeps them on my knife.

Gary Lowe said...

What's the vector, Victor? Didn't see the theme. Didn't see the NYT synd. theme today, either, although this one I was trying to make some kind of Warner bros. hay out of RABBIT SEASON.

hazel said...

Had no idea a plait was also a plat. Good to know. Its in the vault.

Anonymous said...

I thought Detox might get us Warren Zevon's Detox Mansion. Oh well!!

PuzzleGirl said...

We've adopted the phrase "What the hell, over," from PuzzleHusband's boss (an ex-marine).

Yes, I think the jeans are "LEE jeans" so LEES is plural (like if it was Levis, same thing).

Zipped through this one filling in most of the acrosses. The ones I didn't know right off the bat came easily with crosses. Pretty sure I didn't notice any clunkers in the whole puzzle. Great Monday!

Olivia Newton-John! (I'll try to post Nickelback tomorrow.)

gjelizabeth said...

Delighted to find the LAT puzzle back in my SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS this morning! Whipped through it and then felt disappointed that it seemed themeless. Came here and said "Oh, yeah" (and me the daughter of an old radio station engineer who still uses his ham handle for his personalized license plates!). The PAYOLA bit fit right into the theme as well. I remember the great scandals of the late 50's, early 60's and wondered if this is still an issue in the industry, and still called PAYOLA.

Orange said...

I have never, ever seen PLAT clued with respect to braids, so you probably won't need that particular piece of knowledge, @Hazel.

PLAT's crosswordese cred made me put in REPLATS instead of REPLANS (both are horrible words, aren't they?) in an ACPT puzzle #1 several years ago. Sure, that made the crossing TOWAWAY ZOTE, but I was in a rush at my first tournament and didn't take a half second to check that so I cost myself a lot of points. "Pla-a-a-a-at!" *shaking fist*

@gjelizabeth, I trust you'll be writing a delighted letter to the Mercury News editor thanking them for a better crossword? I just know somebody is going to complain that this puzzle was too hard for them.

I once got an e-mail from the Lee Jeans people. They wanted to give me free (!) jeans in exchange for writing about their jeans on my non-crossword blog. I was tempted to whore myself out for apparel, but then I looked at the jeans on their website and OMIGOD THE HORROR. They were very much "mom jeans," some with elastic waistbands, and I'm a low-rise jeans proponent. Plus, their e-mail said they'd be "greatful." So I mocked them in a blog post instead of promoting their product.

@GaryLowe: I was rather hoping Rex would give us an Airplane! clip.

Joon said...

did someone say airplane!?

Charlie said...

Rex, I share your opinion on Emo Philips as well, except I'm left to question whether he was funny 15 years ago.

Denise said...

When I was in high school, we actually used to say, "I had a BLAST!" Those were the days . . .

I put in LEVI, but the crosses were all so wrong that I barely had the letters in when I changed them.

Over and out. My next door neighbor had a CB radio, which he used to let his wife know exactly what time he would get home from work so that she could have his drink waiting.

hazel said...

@Orange - I actually looked it up on the NYT Crossword Info website before I posted. Didn't want to risk the READING! admonishment. It HAD been used in that way twice - albeit a long time ago. One was related to dreadlocks and the other just a plain braid I think. Unlike obscure operas and lizards, its an easy variation to keep in the vault.

I still have PACA and PIKA, though I think they're fading. Need to see them again in a puzzle, soon.

Rex Parker said...

Klahn, Estes, and Salomon have all used the "Braid" meaning of PLAT (actually, Salomon clued it as [Dreadlock feature]?). So it's much rarer than map-PLAT, but not at all unheard of.

Chexy said...

Narthex indeed!

Orange said...

Holy crap re: PLAT = braid! I must've missed all the puzzles that had that combo, because usually I know the old-school crosswordese tricks.

Burner10 said...

Hmmm plots worked for me for about 2 seconds but even I knew orol wasspelled wrong...

*David* said...

Nice easy puzzle with just enough, to make it feel like I was doing a crossword. I liked the African country references with Sierra LEONE and MALI.

eileen said...

Pretty easy Monday but I did get stuck on PLATS so thanks for the crossword 101 tutorial.

@orange: good for you for not selling out to a company that makes totally unhip jeans! I remembered my mom got me a pair when I was a teenager and I was mortified when she made me wear them. After that, she stuck with levis.

Crockett1947 said...

@eileen Unhip? groan

gjelizabeth said...

@Orange: I certainly did send a delighted letter to the MERCURY NEWS welcoming the return of the LAT puzzle. For other MERC subscribers who would like to comment favorably on the change the contact is Katherine Fong kfong@mercurynews.com. The "Contact Us" page on their website is (quite) user-unfriendly. I found Ms. Fong by emailing the Entertainment editor and asking him to forward my original complaint to the proper person.

embien said...

In the online fantasy game I play Asheron's Call, one of the common forms of currency is platinum scarabs. These are commonly referred to ingame as PLATS.

Not that you'd ever see that usage in your crossword...

Charles Bogle said...

Historic day for me BUT HELP!!

nothing to do w time-

local paper didn't have LA puzzle today. Went looking on-line. For first time ever, did this one on-line

Very afraid not to have a pencil w an eraser. Thank goodness it was a Monday

Extra pressure from time on display...

But lo and behold I had a secret helper...each time I put in a wrong letter, it would come up red instead of black!

So: LEVI for LEES..PC told me right away

RAG for RUG Likewise

And three or four others...the kind where you have to go back at the end and walk the cat back finding out where you tripped up, which to me is half the fun and challenge

Can anyone clue me in on whether this on-line method is the preferred?

Otherwise, I really enjoyed this Monday fare. It largely avoided the common-place; had some truly great words like KOP, and...

well, now I can't remember because I don't have a piece of hard-worked paper in front of me>>>

mac said...

Easy puzzle, which I did almost completely Across only. Thank you for the shout-out, Mr. Cromer.
I have to admit that I didn't even look for a theme, but that made it a nice surprise when I came here.

Crockett1947 said...

@charlesbogle You have two possible sites to get the puzzle online. At the LA Times Crossword site, which is where you solved this puzzle, you can use the Master level (no red letters -- you need to have the entire puzzle correct before you receive a Congratulations screen) or the level that you used, which gives you instant feedback when you have an incorrect letter. You can also print out the puzzle (which is what I do -- there's something about having it in-hand that is more satisfying). The puzzle is available at 11:00 p.m. Pacific time the night before it appears in the papers.

The other choice is cruciverb.com, where you have to download Across Lite, an application that allows you to solve the puzzle. You can set the program to tell you if you have an incorrect letter immediately (the letter is Xed out) or you can solve like the Master level and not get any notification. When you fill in all of the letters and don't get a congratulations screen, then it's time to revisit. In the Archives section, the puzzle is available at 7:00 Pacific time.

chefwen said...

@garble - make that the last two people who don't have an ipod, I don't have one either, nor am I on face book.

Thought the puzzle was really easy and was done before I even knew it, only white out was entice for ENTRAP, silly me.

Charles Bogle said...

@crockett1947, many thanks for the help! I think I'll try each way depending on day of the week..much appreciated

Crockett1947 said...

@charles bogle You're very welcome.

fenco said...

My wife and I love cheating a little bit every Sunday with David Cromer's help and wit. crosswordcorner.blogspot is the best!!