WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2009—Peter A. Collins

THEME: "Broken Codes That Require No Decoding"—The circled letters spell out words that can complete "code of ___" phrases, and they're "broken" into pieces rather than appearing as intact words

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Colonial fair artisan is a GLASSBLOWER. "Code of laws" in the plural seems to be the more common phrase.
  • 24A: Reasons for an R rating are SEX AND VIOLENCE. Fight Club had a code of silence.
  • 38A: To Keep an eye on things is to HOLD DOWN THE FORT. Competitors at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are nice people and operate under a code of honor.
  • 49A: LIKE THE DICKENS is just as quaintly slangy as Lickety-split.
  • 60A. Cryptographers' successes (and what can be found in the circles in this puzzle's long answers) are BROKEN CODES. The L.A. Times crossword doesn't seem to run insane gimmick puzzles like we sometimes see in the NYT on Thursday, but it would've been fun if this crossword had some sort of code to break. Maybe a cryptographer would find a code to decipher. Hmm, how about 33D Swirled (EDDIED)? Did Ed die?

Crosswordese 101: Omigod, omigod, omigod! There are two perfect examples of crosswordese that haven't been covered yet in Crosswordese 101. 15A is a Wash basin partner, or EWER, while 2D is OLLAS, or Clay pots. According to previous clues, an OLLA is a Spanish or Southwestern stewpot made of earthenware or clay, and it's good for making paella. The EWER has fine-arts cred as a "still-life subject," which is a common clue for the word. Back in the day, you'd fill up your EWER with water and...do something with that basin/bowl in the process of washing up. How do you remember which crosswordese is which? The OLLA's clue tends to skew Spanish and culinary, while the EWER emphasizes decorativeness and water.

An olio of answers and clues:
  • 1A: Makeshift bookmark is a DOG-EAR, or a turned-down corner of a page.
  • 16A. Romance, the verb, means WOO. Have you ever pitched woo?
  • 29A: It may be roja or verde (red or green) clues SALSA. Would you toss some salsa into your olla? I can't say.
  • 35A. Two-time Indy 500 champ Luyendyk's first name is ARIE. The other famous ARIE is the oddly punctuated neo-soul singer India.Arie.
  • 42A: ACID is a DNA part—part of the phrase deoxyribonucleic acid.
  • 45A. Seder month is NISAN. ELUL and ADAR are other crossword-friendly months in the Jewish calendar.
  • 47A. PSI is so multifaceted. It's a Tire gauge meas., short for pounds per square inch. It's a trident-shaped Greek letter. And it's a noun meaning "supposed parapsychological or psychic faculties or phenomena."
  • 9D. You know what 25% of zero? is? The letter ZEE, which is one fourth of the word "zero." I'm quite fond of this type of clue. Always tricky, often surprising, probably not ever accessible by means of a crossword dictionary. These hyper-literal clues take several forms—"Ireland's start" might be a CAPITAL I, while the "Capital of Colorado" could be the capital C at the beginning of the name. "A third of a banana" consists of ENS (the letter N).
  • 46D. Quarter horse quarters includes two different meanings of "quarter(s)." The place of residence for a quarter horse is the STABLE.
  • 50D. The clue references a song I didn't know. "Monday ___ Friday on my mind": 1967 song lyric is finished by the words I HAVE. "Friday on My Mind" was a classic Australian rock song by the Easybeats (who?), and apparently the band approved of David Bowie's cover version. Let's hear some Bowie!

Everything Else — 7A: Relax (LAZE); 11A: Sta. that might show a Bogie flick (TCM); 14A: "Let me find out" (I'LL'SEE); 19A: Baja bear (OSO); 20A: Marquis de __ (SADE); 21A: "Lord, is __?": Matthew (IT I); 22A: Stage awards (OBIES); 28A: DJ's array (CDS); 30A: "The Zoo Story" playwright (ALBEE); 34A: QB's goof (INT.); 43A: Place to crash (PAD); 44A: Took another plunge? (RE-WED); 55A: Old-time actress Bara (THEDA); 56A: Galoot (APE); 57A: Look down (MOPE); 59A: Drift (about) (GAD); 64A: "The Loco-Motion" singer Little __ (EVA); 65A: Mother of Helen of Troy (LEDA); 66A: Tennessee team (TITANS); 67A: Tennis winner's hurdle (NET); 68A: Even once (EVER); 69A: Trim (SVELTE); 1D: Home, informally (DIGS); 3D: Maker of PlugIns (GLADE); 4D: County north of Kent (ESSEX); 5D: Two-time loser to DDE (AES); 6D: Put a new book cover on (REBIND); 7D: Pope during the Battle of Ostia (LEO IV); 8D: "How cute!" (AWW); 10D: "Misty" composer Garner (ERROLL); 11D: Streak beginning? (TWO IN A ROW); 12D: Trig ratio (COSEC); 13D: Long-headed mammal (MOOSE); 18D: Former Fords (LTDS); 23D: "Don't take silly chances" (BE SAFE); 25D: Served past (ACED); 26D: "That __ fair!" (ISN'T); 27D: Hand-on-the-Bible vow (OATH); 30D: "Found it!" ("AHA!"); 31D: It stops at each sta. (LOC.); 32D: Reacted to, as sudden bright light (BLINKED AT); 33D: Swirled (EDDIED); 34D: Evansville's st. (IND.); 36D: Dander (IRE); 37D: LAX posting (ETD); 39D: Moonfish (OPAH); 40D: Subside (WANE); 41D: The Phantom of the Opera (ERIK); 47D: Plumber's piece (PIPE); 48D: Sachet emanations (SCENTS); 49D: Three-star mil. officer (LT. GEN.); 51D: Senegal's capital (DAKAR); 52D: Wax theatrical (EMOTE); 53D: Situated at a junction (NODAL); 54D: Ran through (SPENT); 58D: In __: actually (ESSE); 61D: Gun (REV); 62D: Pindar opus (ODE); 63D: Kind of engr. (CIV.).


PuzzleGirl said...

I did this puzzle late last night and didn't understand the theme. I thought cryptographers must have some kind of oath they take (like Boy Scouts?) that includes their sworn fidelity to the principles of law, silence, honor, and ethics. Did I mention it was late?

I caught onto the "25% of zero" right away and thought "How do I know which letter it is? It could be any of them?" Turns out it's the only one that's you can spell out with three letters.

Why do I continue to tell all of you how dumb I am sometimes?!

Thanks for the Bowie. I think he really took that song and made it his own, showing his own special style and proving himself a true artist. But, for me, it was a little pitchy. Dawg.

Rex Parker said...

One Crosswordese 101 Word per day!

I liked this puzzle despite the prevalence of crosswordy will (ARIE ... LEOIV ... LOC ...)


Jeffrey said...

Uh, oh, SEX AND VIOLENCE in the puzzle. Watch two more papers drop it for that other one.

Joon said...

i can understand the rationale behind one per day, but OLLA and EWER in the same grid is just begging for a double-dip. at least she didn't name every major world river this time.

Carol said...

Orange - loved the pic of the dog & kitty.

I was excited to finish it in under 15 minutes on a Wednesday (I know, for you speed solvers, quite slow) and was also happy to have figured out the theme before reading the blog. Maybe I'll be a crossworder yet!

Gary Lowe said...

Can you do anything with 'woo' besides pitch it? It's like,

"Hey, I'm throwin' heater of woo right over the plate!", or
"I've got this big fork and a stack of woo - stand back and I'll fill the house with it.", or
"If you accept this offer of woo before midnight tonite, you'll receive a free ginsu knife."

*David* said...

This puzzle went slow for me. The themes fell readily but I had lots of one spaces to fill in the corners. Loved to see the word SVELTE maybe next time we'll get BUXOM or ZAFTIG.

I think if Orange double-dips, once we can give her the benefit of the doubt but the rules are the rules. Self-control is important.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a BROKENCODE be a cryptographer's failure?

Lime D. Zeze said...

The online version that I solved didn't have the circles, so that didn't come into play for me. Still, not a bad puzzle. Went pretty quick.

gjelizabeth said...

Did the puzzle online as I'm out of town playng with a new grandchild. The grid on the LA TIMES website didn't have the little circles in the squares to pull out the letters for the theme so I spent a bit of time trying to figure what the letter O's in the longer answers could possibly hold that would be relevant (air? space? nothing?) but LIKETHEDICKENS had no O's, so I gave up and came here. I really appreciate this blog. I've done crossword puzzles for years but had no way to check an answer that I didn't understand or even notice a theme that got past me. My embarrassing admission for today is that I had GOOSE for "Long-necked mammal" for a fairly long time. Yes, all those fur-covered, gosling-nursing geese look so cute running around the barnyard!

Sandy said...

I like a puzzle where you have to work a little, but it all makes sense in the end. Theme didn't do a lot for me either way and it took way longer than it should to parse the many multiword answers.

Rex Parker said...

I like to hurl my WOO.

Crockett1947 said...

@anonymous @8:46 I think it's the cryptographer's job to break the codes of the foes. Thus a broken code is a success, no?

@*david* If we get ZAFTIG, can CALLIPYGIAN be far behind? Yes, that was intentional, LOL!

Anon 8:46 said...

@Crocket - Sorry, cryptography is encrypting, cryptanalysis is reading encrypted writings.

chefbea said...

Fun easy puzzle. Is this the first time the LATimes has had a puzzle with letters circled? or should I say letters circled?

eileen said...

I find nothing wrong with 2 crosswordese 101 lessons in one day every now and then. As a matter of fact, I really appreciated that Orange covered both words as I was clueless about their connections to the given rules. Thanks again Orange!

mac said...

@Anon 8.46: I'm pretty sure a cryptographer is a decoder. What's an encoder?

Nice easy puzzle, with good long answers. Didn't have any circles on-line, so I was happy to come here and find out what it was about. Nice write-up, let's forgive Orange, how could she possible have picked one. How's your boy?

Nice Bowie video, with his old teeth.

Anon 8:46 said...

You know that 3 letter word, super secret agency? Starts with "N"? Here, the cryptography department comes up with encryption schemes (codes) to protect (encode) messages. One floor below us, the cryptanalysists try to break others crypts, i.e. to decode encrypted messages.
A broken code is a failure for a cryptographer, a success for cryptanalysists.
Try Dictionaries

Orange said...

@eileen is my new best friend.

@mac, you know...I finally dug out the glass oral thermometer and found his temp was totally normal, though the ear thermometer continues to show a 100+ temp. The doctor has no idea why his ear canals are warm now. They weren't before! So he's back at school this week, well rested from his lengthy recuperation at home.

mac said...

@Orange: I'm glad he's better. Funny how those old things work best. On the other hand, why do I always a few pounds more on the old slide sort of scales at the doctor's office?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of codes, do any of you remember the character on (I think it was) The Electric Company. He was a private detective, and his name was
Fargo North, Decoder.

Anonymous said...

So embarassing. 25% of zero is zee. Duh? Where was my head. Funny about olla and ewer in the same puzzle. Perhaps that is why I had trouble ewer.

Really was not sure where the circles were going til I got to 49across and saw there really was no gimmick to the circles.

Anonymous said...

As a beg puzzler - how pleased I was to recognize that there was some crosswordese connected with 2 down - and (happy me) went immediately to the croswordese section for my first hint...with kind of a faint memory that there was some kind of a clay pot that began with a vowel and ended in 'as' - but no luck this morning. So this afternoon when I picked it up again for the bus ride home I actually got ollas from the crosses and googled it to find out that ollas are very neat irrigating. pots with thin necks and fat bodies that apparently one places underground and water seeps out slowly through the clay into the earth. So now I am hoping to use olla more frequntly in life than in crosswords and on my scorecard that's only one crosswordese for the day - which ewer definately is and I always forget.
Thanks much!

Wayne said...

I want you to know that I didn't get bored with this blog, I do read it every day, I just don't always feel like commenting. I suffer from a chronic pain condition & between that and the meds it takes me a while to do the puzzles. Although, last week I did do two puzzles in which I did not use any outside references (other than my brain)!

So, I do see some improvement in my puzzle solving & I attribute it to this blog. Between the Crosswordese & the background info on other answers I'm building a bigger word bank.

As for today's puzzle, I found the clue "Took another plunge?" rather odd. I know when I was a kid I occasionally heard someone ask, "so you're going to take the plunge?", when someone was engaged to be married. It didn't make sense to me then & it still doesn't. What does taking a plunge have to do with marriage? Swimming, yes, or plunging a toilet, but matrimony? I guess it's another one of those weird American colloquialisms.

Jan said...

Is there a website that includes the circles in puzzles? I always play online.

Anonymous said...

@Wayne - Yeah, it's a weird American colloquialisms. It's referring to jumping into (dangerous) waters instead of wading in. Come to think of it, it's not so weird.

@Jan Hunt - Do you use Across Lite to solve? It shows the circles.

Jan said...

Thanks for explaining about the circles. I've been printing out the puzzles. Where can I see the Across Lite version?

Anonymous said...

@Jan - HTTP://www.cruciverb.com has a link on the right for the LATimes in Across Lite, as well as access to Across Lite itself on the left hand side under Resources/Software. I believe you have to register, for free, to be able to access the puzzles.