SUNDAY, July 19, 2009 — Alan Arbesfeld

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times crossword puzzle. It doesn't actually appear in the L.A. Times newspaper. No, it doesn't completely make sense to me either, but there you are. You can download this puzzle from the cruciverb.com website by clicking on the link over on the sidebar.]

Theme: "Den of Thieves" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the letters CON added at the beginning of one of its words creating new wacky phrases which are clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Builder's political clout? ([CON]TRACTOR PULL).
  • 34A: Patronizing part of the digestive tract? ([CON]DESCENDING COLON).
  • 47A: Lacking partners? (OUT OF [CON]SORTS).
  • 60A: Oppose, while tippling? ([CON]FRONT LOADED).
  • 68A: Lawyer in line for a title shot? (LEGAL [CON]TENDER).
  • 86A: "Da" or "ja"? ([CON]SENT ABROAD).
  • 93A: Angel on one's shoulder? (MASTER OF [CON]SCIENCE).
  • 113A: Charge of the TV? ([CON]SOLE CUSTODY).

Crosswordese 101: If you're gonna do crossword puzzles, you're gonna have to know ERLE Stanley Gardner. Gardner was an attorney and prolific writer of detective stories. He is typically clued either broadly (like today's 54D: First name in legal fiction), or specifically in relation to his most famous creation, Perry Mason (and/or Mason's secretary, Della Street). He is also sometimes clued as a contemporary of Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, or Dashiell Hammett.

Smooth and steady solve for me today. Figuring out the theme pretty much immediately helped a lot. I liked all the theme answers although CONDESCENDING COLON is a little icky and MASTER OF CONSCIENCE requires a pronunciation change from the original phrase, so that's a little bump in the road. I'm sure I've said it before: In a puzzle this big, you're bound to find a few clunkers. I really think it just can't be helped. You really don't want to see ATE AT and NAGS AT in the same puzzle (74A: Bothered no end / 95D: Bothers incessantly). And you hate to see a pile-up of ROTA and YOST (117A: Personnel list / 121A: Baseball's "Walking Man" Eddie). And sure, INÉS Sastre (119A: Model Sastre) is pretty and everything but have any of you ever heard of her? Me neither. I also saw a couple plurals I didn't much like. OREGANOS?? (85D: Spaghetti sauce herbs) Well at least that's not as bad as BOOERS (67A: Jeer leaders). Oh I get it. Trying to be cute with the clue: cheerleader —> jeer leader. Okay, maybe. Maybe. But, like I said, I think we just have to accept a few clunkers in a puzzle this big. I mean, there was definitely some good stuff too.

Good stuff (or at least stuff worth talking about):
  • 5A: "Hi and Lois" pooch (DAWG). You remember all the cartoon dogs you need to know, right? If not, you'll want to review this Crosswordese 101 lesson.
  • 27A: Screen names, e.g. (USER IDS). Seems like every puzzle I pick up these days includes the word avatars, so that's where my brain went with this one even though it clearly doesn't make sense.
  • 28A: Pointillism marks (DOTS). I had a huge fascination with pointillism in junior high. Not really sure what that was all about but I remember spending a Lot of time painting little tiny dots onto a piece of paper that eventually became a mediocre desert scene.
  • 29A: Race that once began in Wasilla (IDITAROD). Or, as they now call it in Wasilla, the "I-quit-arod." Heh.
  • 109A: Toasted breakfast brand (EGGO). Mmm ... waffles!
  • 123A: "__ la vie" (C'EST). My friend Drew and I used to say "c'est la vache" (translation: "That's the cow").
  • 3D: Cellulose fiber (ARNEL). This word comes up a couple times a year but it's not one I ever remember. I wish they'd clue it as "Singer Pineda who replaced Steven Perry of Journey."
  • 4D: Like ugli fruit (CITRIC). Me: "Um ... ugly?"
  • 5D: Pooped out (DEAD). To go with the colon theme answer. I know, sorry.
  • 17D: Kent State locale (OHIO).

  • 35D: 2008 L.A.-Phila. showdown (NLCS). National League Championship Series.
  • 70D: Neuters (GELDS). I used to spend some time at the track on occasion, and it always struck me as a little harsh when they would be announcing the scratches, equipment changes, etc., and they would say "And the number four horse, whatever-his-name-was, is now a gelding."
  • 86D: Winans of gospel (CECE). Never know if it's going to be BeBe or CeCe, so you put in the E's and check the crosses.
  • 90D: Quite removed (from) (A FAR CRY). My favorite answer in the whole puzzle. Love it.
  • 94D: "All politics is applesauce" speaker (ROGERS). Fred? Roy? No, Will. I kinda wish it was Fred. Does anyone know what this is supposed to mean?
  • 99D: Type of dancer (EXOTIC). I believe this is another example of the type of clue we've been noticing and commenting on quite a bit recently. An exotic is not a type of dancer. An exotic dancer is a type of dancer. Just a little something for you to add to your list of pet peeves. (Did I get that right, Orange?)
  • 106D: Lady __: Tenn. team (VOLS). Not a fan of the "Lady [Whatever]" sports teams. Do they call the men's team the Gentleman Vols? I didn't think so.
Everything Else — 1A: Apple variety (IMAC); 9A: Like a 112-Across game (TIED); 13A: Chalk talk, perhaps (LESSON); 19A: "Me neither" ("NOR I"); 20A: City known for lake-effect snow (ERIE); 21A: Actress Skye (IONE); 22A: Colts fullback Alan who famously scored the winning touchdown in the 1958 NFL championship game (AMECHE); 26A: Hair dryer brand (CONAIR); 31A: Dinosaur, so to speak (RELIC); 32A: Turn down (VETO); 33A: "Right away, boss!" ("I'M ON IT!"); 41A: U.K.'s Gordon Brown et al. (PMS); 44A: Him, to Henri (LUI); 45A: Tiny amount (IOTA); 46A: Hockey East college town (ORONO); 53A: Where to see Hamilton, informally (TEN SPOT); 55A: Bama rival (OLE MISS); 56A: Affectedly dainty, in Dover (TWEE); 57A: Key contraction (O'ER); 58A: L.A.-to-N.Y. dir. (ENE); 59A: Macho types (HE-MEN); 64A: Mainland Africa's smallest nation (GAMBIA); 78A: Judge Fortas (ABE); 79A: Tin Woodsman's prop (AXE); 80A: Tea cart items (CUPS); 81A: Being hunted, perhaps (AT LARGE); 83A: Deodorant choices (ROLL-ONS); 88A: Birch kin (ALDER); 89A: City on the Orne (CAEN); 91A: Auction ending? (-EER); 92A: Scrub sites, briefly (ORS); 100A: Old marketplaces (AGORAE); 101A: Near-eternity (AEON); 102A: On the nose (EXACT); 106A: Exurban resident (VILLAGER); 110A: Honda Ruckus, e.g. (SCOOTER); 112A: Score in a pitchers' duel (ONE-ONE); 116A: Claim holder (LIENOR); 118A: Stereotypical lab name (IGOR); 120A: Burnout cause (STRESS); 122A: Shopper's aid (TOTE); 1D: Run up (INCUR); 2D: Meat favored by Sarah Palin (MOOSE); 6D: Circle fragments (ARCS); 7D: Wilde, notably (WIT); 8D: Crystal-lined rocks (GEODES); 9D: Try to avoid detection, in a way (TIPTOE); 10D: Chits (IOUS); 11D: 8 x 10, e.g.: Abbr. (ENL.); 12D: Separate into fields (DELIMIT); 13D: Pre-skating chore (LACING); 14D: Face with a hyphen for a nose, say (EMOTICON); 15D: Ottawa NHLers (SENATORS); 16D: Easily recalled facial mark (SCAR); 18D: Societal klutz (NERD); 24D: Puerto __ (RICO); 25D: Uniformed campus org. (ROTC); 30D: Aid financially (DONATE TO); 32D: Way to a man's heart? (VEIN); 33D: Solemn vows (I DOS); 36D: Pairs (DUOS); 37D: Gunpowder ingredient (NITER); 38D: Bounded along (LOPED); 39D: Stand __ leg: balance (ON ONE); 40D: Jotted down (NOTED); 41D: Pal of Piglet (POOH); 42D: Prospector's beast (MULE); 43D: Goblet feature (STEM); 48D: First watch on the moon (OMEGA); 49D: Set in stone (FINAL); 50D: Ferret cousin (STOAT); 51D: Dominate, in sports (OWN); 52D: Field zebra (REF); 57D: __ close to schedule (ON OR); 60D: Cannes showing (CINE); 61D: Needing a seat belt extender, say (OBESE); 62D: Toothbrush brand (ORAL-B); 63D: Sirius or Vega, e.g. (A-STAR); 65D: Thom __ shoes (MCAN); 66D: Place to find hit records? (BOX SCORE); 68D: Super Bowl XIV player (L.A. RAM); 69D: Deadly virus (EBOLA); 71D: Low-budget prefix (ECONO-); 72D: "The Sound of Music" extra (NUN); 73D: Around-the-horn MLB plays (DPS); 75D: Switch back? (-EROO); 76D: Thickening agent (AGAR); 77D: Turner and Mack (TEDS); 81D: Suit to __ (A TEE); 82D: Glacier-formed lake (TARN); 84D: Not to mention (LET ALONE); 87D: Kurt refusal? (NEIN); 96D: Utah state flower (SEGO); 97D: "Calm down!" ("COOL IT!"); 98D: Top suits (CEOS); 103D: Say an Act of Contrition (ATONE); 104D: Hands over (CEDES); 105D: It could be cheating (TRYST); 107D: Embroidered ltr. (INIT.); 108D: Sly look (LEER); 109D: Fangorn Forest denizens (ENTS); 110D: Connery, by birth (SCOT); 111D: Medical breakthrough (CURE); 114D: Queenside castle, in chess notation (OOO); 115D: It may be inflated (EGO).


Crockett1947 said...

Good morning, all.

PG, thanks for the write-up. What the heck is TWEE all about?

Have a great Sunday.

Geek said...

Cruised all the way through until I crashed and burned on ROTA and YOST. Could not see A FAR CRY to save my soul... TWEE is a word I first learned on BBC home-improvement shows -- a perjorative term meaning overly sweet (that's how I interpreted it, anyway). So it was a gimmee for me. Not sure of the origin, tho. Had a bit of trouble wanting Legal Contester for a while -- thought there could be extra suns in The Sound of Music and that TPs for Triple Plays was a more accurate description for Around The Horn. Ah well. Worked it out eventually. THANKS PG for the write-up - daily reader and will try to be a daily commenter too, if only to say thanks for everyone's efforts. Using an alias for now - I'll try and figure out how to get an identity (sounds funny when you write it out like that)...

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hey - I got an identity (FINALLY - now I know who I am)! Had to compromise - apparently lots of people want to be known as some kind of GEEK. This is me, now! :-)

pgriff241 said...

Politics and applesauce is Will Rogers, an early 20th century humorist and a contemporary of Mark Twain, so I often get their quotes mixed up. Since I rarely post, just wanted to say how much I enjoy this blog, especially when I have no clue as to what the final answer means. Thanks,

gjelizabeth said...

Good Morning. Glad of the puzzle nod in 48D to the moon landing anniversary but I had ZAMBIA rather than GAMBIA for Mainland Africa's smallest nation, which made the watch brand OMEZA. I figured that there was some space-age watch brand out there that flew past me. The simple irony here is that a year before the moon landing I gave my first husband an Omega watch as a wedding present. So, I should have known, right?
Recently finished reading Muriel Spark's A FAR CRY FROM KENSINGTON for my book club. Lovely short book. Her prose style is perfectly clean and precise; her humor brutally restrained. I think she writes with a scalpel.

Ruth said...

Warning: do not listen to that CSN&Y clip if your ears are at all sensitive to badly sung harmony! Sheesh. They were really good at harmony in the studio, so it must be they just couldn't hear each other on that stage. Painful.

Orange said...

I like doing the quizzes at Sporcle.com. There's one with a map of Africa, and you have to guess all the country names. GAMBIA is a teeny fingerling of a country poking Senegal in the belly like it's really angry at the Pillsbury Doughboy. It's on the Western bulge of the continent. I didn't know it was the smallest, because Africa's got a bunch of really teeny countries.

Amen, PuzzleGirl, on the "kind of" clue. As for the lack of Gentlemen Vols, check out Stephen Colbert's satirical explanation of the Sotomayor hearings and how white male = neutral in the minds of the Republican senators questioning Her Honor. Savagely on point.

In my generation, the most famous "applesauce" quote is from The Brady Bunch. Say it with me: "Pork chops...and applesauce."

As for CECE Winans, she owns the Winans clues in crosswords. When the answer is BEBE, it's usually clued with Ms. Neuwirth or, back in the day, Mr. Rebozo. But can you name another famous CECE?

Imagine if boxing announcers introduced the contenders with reference to the status of their testicles. Are there any geldings in the boxing world? No?

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of these types of themes since it's easy to figure them all out after you get the first one. Newbies should enjoy it though as the overall fill was good.

ArtLvr said...

I enjoyed the theme, cleverly done! I'm hardly a newbie, just a fan of good wordplay....No need to be TWEE or condescending if something isn't your cup of tea, Anonymous.

And I found CONDESCENDING COLON to be very funny, even though I'm missing a goodly part of mine thanks to mangling by a seat belt in an auto vs. truck collision years ago. Unlike Humpty Dumpty, I got the rest stitched back together again just fine, no problem.

shrub5 said...

I completed the puzzle in about an hour and found it to be both entertaining and challenging. The theme answers were clever -- especially condescending colon and out of consorts! CONAIR for 26A) hair dryer brand was not part of the theme answers but I wondered about that one.

I like that the clue for PMS (UK's Gordon Brown et al) was fresh and wasn't afternoons or female ailment (abbrev.)

I had a couple of d'oh moments. At 57A) Key contraction, I got the answer but didn't really understand the clue. It dawned on me later (by the early light) that this is Francis Scott Key's contraction in The Star Spangled Banner. Then at 68D) I got the answer through crosses and thought geez some unknown (to me) football player named Laram!

I had never heard of ROTA or ORONO (sorry, U of Maine-ers). Nor had I heard NITER used for KNO3 tho' I'm not up on my explosives.

There were two too many Sarah Palin-related clues (2D, 29A). Three if you count the 5D) clue.

Denise said...

I think that TWEE means a little bit gay. Not really a slur, sort of a style comment.

Liked the puzzle and finished pretty quickly, considering the fact that 1 yr. old darling grandchild kept toddling by.

I didn't think I would get the baseball/chess cross at the bottom, but somehow the word YOST jumped into my brain.

Eric said...

@ Orange. Nothing wrong with boosting the egos of you and your fellow bloggers. I know what it is like to have to commit to do something every single day regardless of how you feel - and make it both interesting, informative and sometimes critical. You, PG and Rex are much appreciated.

Gary Lowe said...

@Orange - Dunno exactly what your comment is about, but I'll take the bait.

"In this corner, wearing the pink trunks, Karl 'the Eunich from Munich' Kessler".

"And in the other corner, wearing a leopardskin thong and fresh from a bikini-wax, Matthew 'Matti the castrati' Soprano."


mac said...

I think I liked this one better that the on on the other coast today. Out of consorts was my favorite, but there were no real clunkers at all.

I asked my husband if he knew an old baseball player called Laram.... Our son is having lunch with a friend called Rami Karam right now Talking about names, I happened to meet, for the first time, an oriental antiques dealer called C.C. Wong this morning. He pronounces his name Cece!

I don't like the oreganos plural either, but in fairness, at Gilberti's Herb Garden I saw many different flavors of oregano, some lemony, orange-flavored, some medicinal, some culinary.

@gjelizabeth: I loved A far cry as an answer, and I also love that book! Try some more of Muriel's work, she's good.

Oh, yes, for 99D I had erotic dancer. Just for a few seconds.

chefwen said...

Finished this on a lot faster than the NYT which seemed to take forever and then some. Wasn't crazy about the colon one though.
A few write overs - IM ON IT over i got it, LIENOR over lienee, and AGORAE over agoras. Not too bad for a large Sunday puzzle. Yeah!

Bohica said...

First Sunday LAT puzzle I've solved without the help of this blog. It took me about an hour and a half. Loved "condesending colon" and "a far cry". Didn't like "arnel" and "twee". Great write-up as usual. I come to this blog daily, but just figured out how to post with a "user ids". Keep up the outstanding work!

Bohica said...

P.S. Puzzlegirl why did you change you cursor color, didn't it used to be purple?

Orange said...

@bohica: Congratulations on the solo finish!

JaJaJoe said...

TWEE twas new to me too. Thence this morning I saw an apt use of it in this opening-line of Roger Ebert's review of the film I viewed last evening: "'Greenfingers' is a twee little British comedy in which hardened prisoners become gifted gardeners".

Anonymous said...

Note misuse of "Atone."(103D) "Say an act of contrition" is REPENT (express sorrow for). ATONE is to make up for:do penance (e.g. say 5 Hail Marys).