SUNDAY, July 26, 2009 — Nora Pearlstone

Theme: "Midafternoons" — The abbreviation for afternoon, P.M., is found in the middle of the theme answers. (132D: Times of day hidden in eight puz. answers (PMS)).

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at the cruciverb.com website.]

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Temporary solution (STOPGAP MEASURE).
  • 54A: Controversial excavation method (STRIP MINING).
  • 94A: Key equivalent to B-flat (A-SHARP MAJOR).
  • 130A: It can help you organize windows and wallpaper (DESKTOP MANAGER).
  • 17D: Startling Stories, e.g. (PULP MAGAZINE).
  • 29D: One making a large withdrawal? (HOLDUP MAN).
  • 66D: Maker of Marlboro (PHILIP MORRIS).
  • 68D: Laptop power saver (SLEEP MODE).
Crosswordese 101: The problem you face when you see a clue like 86D: "__ girl!," is that you don't know if the answer will be IT'S A or ATTA. It's more likely to be ATTA, because IT'S A can be clued several other ways (e.g., "___ Wonderful Life," "___ shame," and "___ miracle"), but ATTA is almost always clued as "___ girl!" or "___ boy!"

Not a super ambitious theme today, but once I understood what was going on, it did help me figure out the rest of the theme answers, all of which I thought were pretty decent theme entries except for HOLDUP MAN, which just doesn't do a thing for me. The whole puzzle went down pretty smooth except for Northern California where, if I had done the downs first I'm pretty sure I would have come up with SALINE, but I had a few wrong acrosses in there already which made it invisible to me. I didn't know NAHUATL (73A: Uto-Aztecan tongue) or EILAT (85A: Israeli port city). To add to the confusion I had HIP TO instead of HEP TO for 99A: Aware of. So you can see why I had some trouble there.

I would have appreciated the golf mini-theme more if I had heard of more than one of the three answers: LATROBE (26A: Arnold Palmer's Pennsylvania birthplace — who knew?), HOSEL (31A: Golf iron socket — huh?), and MASTERS (137A: Annual Georgia tournament, with "The" — okay, got that one).

As you might know, I'm in Costa Rica right now vacationing for 12 days (but who's counting?) with my kids and parents. Actually, now that I think about it when a stay-at-home mom takes a trip with her kids, can that really be considered a vacation? Yeah, I didn't think so. Anyway. We come down here at least once a year and we spend most of our time reading books and eating really good food. Except for the kids, who also spend a lot of time swimming, surfing, and boogie-boarding. I'm reading a book right now that I'm dying to get back to, so I might shortchange you a little bit today. Hope you understand. I mean, this book is just sitting right here and it's so good it's about killing me not to be reading it. Also, it's 562 pages, so I really do need to stay after it.

Quick hits:
  • 14A: Charts with axes (GRAPHS). Axes in this case is the plural of axis, not the chopping tool.
  • 34A: W, vis-à-vis E (OPP). W(est) and E(ast) are OPP(osites).
  • 36A: Money pile?: Abbr. (MSS). Money is the name of a magazine; MSs is an abbreviation for manuscripts. So, the magazine probably has piles of manuscripts lying around. Someone correct me if I got that completely wrong, but that's how I understood it.
  • 39A: Govt. division (DOJ). Wanted something more generic here.
  • 44A: Year in Augustus' reign (ONE BC). Thought this was going to be our RRN (Random Roman Numeral) of the day, but it sure looked like too many letters for a year that had to have been a long time ago! Never fear though, our RRN shows up at 79A: CCX x V + I (MLI), where I initially had MCI because (a) apparently I'm not very good at math, and (b) it didn't occur to me that MCI wouldn't be clued as an RRN.
  • 47A: Political payoff (SOP). I do not know what this means.
  • 51A: Goneril's victim (REGAN). Sure it sounds like an STD and a former president, but no, it's Shakespeare! (Specifically, King Lear!)
  • 60A: Half of Bennifer (J-LO). At first, I entered BEN. Yes, I did. Yes, I can see how dumb that is. I realized it almost immediately.
  • 64A: Old Boston Garden nickname (ESPO). Since it wasn't "Basketball Jesus," I knew it must be a hockey player and "The Great One" is the only one I could come up with for a while. ESPO is, of course, Hockey Hall-of-Famer Phil Esposito.
  • 82A: Nautical ladder rung (RATLINE). Whatever you say.
  • 93A: Kung __ chicken (PAO). Not a fan of the General Tso's, so I'm happy to see Kung Pao get a little love today.
  • 106A: French military cap (KEPI). That might be a French cap, but it sure doesn't look like a French word.
  • 2D: B.C. neighbor (ALTA.). Learned this abbreviation for crosswords. It looks totally wrong to me. There really needs to be a B in there somewhere.
  • 8D: Actress Tatum (O'NEAL). One of my favorite movie scenes of all time.

  • 16D: Phrase indicating small progress (A TO B). Parsing!
  • 45D: Exquisite gem (BIJOU). Sounds like a movie theater to me.
  • 53D: Headlands (NESSES). Again, I do not know what this means.
  • 83D: Classic toothpaste (IPANA). Learned it from "Grease."
  • 88D: Parents (FOLKS). Was only thinking of parents as a verb here, so it took a while to come into focus.
  • 110D: State of Grace? (MONACO). As in Grace Kelly.
  • 121D: Korean border river (YALU). I'm hopeless with the European rivers, so you can bet a lot of money I'm not going to know any in Korea.
Okay, back to my book! Oh, I almost forgot! My very favorite clue in the puzzle. This one is a classic. 109A: Vegas contraption offering the best odds? (ATM). Ain't that the truth.

Pura Vida, PuzzleGirl

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Everything Else — 1A: Mollusk shell materials (NACRES); 7A: "Piece of cake" ("NO SWEAT"); 20A: Maintain (ALLEGE); 21A: What a stalwart won't give? (ONE INCH); 22A: Liturgy (RITUAL); 25A: Harlem theater (APOLLO); 27A: "Lemme __!" (AT 'EM); 28A: Physicist with a law (OHM); 30A: Fraternal org. (BPOE); 32A: Do not disturb (LET BE); 37A: With 81-Down, game played on a three-walled court (JAI); 41A: Hardly an idler (DOER); 42A: Title woman about whom Clapton sings "You've got me on my knees" (LAYLA); 49A: Felt contrite about (RUED); 58A: Not sing. (PLU.); 59A: Bit of folk wisdom (ADAGE); 61A: Erotic god (AMOR); 62A: Recipe meas. (TSP.); 63A: Pencil puzzles (MAZES); 67A: Like horseshoes (U-SHAPED); 70A: Both: Pref. (AMBI-); 72A: Connections (INS); 75A: Capital of Yemen (SANAA); 77A: Not too soft (AL DENTE); 80A: Long-necked runner (RHEA); 84A: Court period: Abbr. (SESS.); 87A: Fantasy sprite (ELF); 89A: "Sleepy Hollow" actor (DEPP); 90A: "Say what?" sounds (EHS); 92A: Piques (SNITS); 100A: In the 60s, say (MILD); 102A: Chemical suffix (-ANE); 103A: Shortsighted one (MYOPE); 104A: Snapple's __ Madness (MANGO); 111A: Whammy (HEX); 112A: USCG rank (CPO); 114A: Jupiter, e.g. (GOD); 115A: East German secret police (STASI); 117A: Violinist's aid (ROSIN); 120A: Not stifling (AIRY); 122A: 109-Across charge (FEE); 124A: Emerald Isle (ERIN); 125A: Woozy (IN A DAZE); 128A: Low-level clouds (STRATI); 133A: Puts on ice (CHILLS); 134A: Best (OPTIMUM); 135A: It's fixed by a bank (CD RATE); 136A: Per se (AS SUCH); 138A: La Scala offerings (OPERAS); 1D: Pelé's org. (NASL); 3D: One concerned with duds? (CLOTHIER); 4D: Printer's proof (REPRO); 5D: Toaster waffles (EGGOS); 6D: Lobster habitat (SEABED); 7D: __ de plume (NOM); 9D: Not off one's rocker? (SEATED); 10D: Not tricked by (WISE TO); 11D: Digital food additive code used in Europe (E-NUMBER); 12D: Horiz. (ACR.); 13D: Kojak, to friends (THEO); 14D: Family nickname (GRAMPA); 15D: Pants problem (RIP); 18D: Saintly rings (HALOS); 19D: Tart fruit (SLOES); 24D: Speaker since 2007 (PELOSI); 33D: Blow one's stack (ERUPT); 35D: Giza attraction (PYRAMID); 37D: "__ Boys": Alcott novel (JO'S); 38D: Colony resident (ANT); 40D: Whale of a guy? (JONAH); 43D: Yeats's "__ and the Swan" (LEDA); 46D: Rank above Pfc. (CPL.); 48D: Early Arizona natives (PIMAS); 50D: Joy Adamson lioness (ELSA); 52D: Bond and others (AGENTS); 55D: Sass, with "off" (MOUTH); 56D: Stock phrase (NO PAR); 57D: Caribbean nation (GRENADA); 64D: Tangle up (ENMESH); 65D: Intravenous solution (SALINE); 69D: Goes out with (DATES); 71D: Censor's insert (BLEEP); 74D: Schubert vocal work (ART SONG); 76D: First in a series (ALPHA); 78D: Think piece (ESSAY); 81D: See 37-Across (ALAI); 91D: "I wonder ..." ("HMM..."); 95D: Spruce up again, as a hedge (RETRIM); 96D: "Sands of Iwo Jima" costar (JOHN AGAR); 97D: Unveil, in poems (OPE); 98D: T. __ (REX); 101D: Can't abide (DETESTS); 105D: Simple card game (GO FISH); 107D: "Sit!" ("PARK IT!"); 108D: "Am I the only one?" ("IS IT ME?"); 112D: First to stab Caesar (CASCA); 113D: Cores (PITHS); 116D: "__ Time": Hemingway work (IN OUR); 118D: Wall St. "500" (S AND P); 119D: "Do __ to eat a peach?": Eliot (I DARE); 123D: Ancient Dead Sea land (EDOM); 126D: Sixth Greek letter (ZETA); 127D: "__ Tu": 1974 hit (ERES); 129D: Tot's need, often (TLC); 131D: Govt. emissions watchdog (EPA).


Unknown said...

Lots of great clues/answers today. Made some of the same slips as PG, like Ben for JLO and struggled with NAHUATL. Thought it was Nahuitl - should have gotten that one. My high school mascot was an Aztec and we had to learn lots of those sorts of names - nearly all ended with atl. Really, really wanted Pulp Fiction - hard to let that one go. LAYLA saved the day for me. CLOTHIER seemed too obvious - thought Duds must have something to do with fireworks/firecrackers. All in all a fun puzzle - on the easy side, but a nice Sunday offering. Thanks PG for the write-up! Enjoy Costa Rica and the novel! Get some sun for me!

Orange said...

Hello, PuzzleGirl!

Observant readers may have noticed that PG included editor Rich Norris in this post's labels at the bottom. Nora Pearlstone is an anagram of "not a real person" and it's one of Rich Norris's pen names. Other Norris pseudonyms include Gia Christian ("it's Rich again"), Lila Cherry ("really Rich"), and Samantha Wine ("what's in a name?").

Anonymous said...

Some of the words used as answers are just too far-fetched. I don't enjoy this type of puzzle at all.
I wish our newdspaper would return to its previous syndicated puzzle. For me, this is no fun.

Joon said...

PG, just a week ago NESS was the feature in crosswordese 101, clued as {Headland}. i didn't know it at the time, but i'm glad i learned it then, because i used it again today. then again, i know i've seen EILAT before but i didn't know that today. it was probably more than a week ago, though.

i only know LATROBE because of those old rolling rock beer commercials. gah. i don't even drink beer, but i guess advertising works, considering it must be at least 10 or 15 years since i've seen one of those. anyway, isn't there also some famous frank lloyd wright house there? maybe?

KÉPI looks more french if you put the accent in. i mean, just look at it now. how can that not be french?

i know rivers, but i don't think i'd know YALU if i weren't korean. on the other hand, i feel like it might have been strategically significant in the korean war.

utter mysteries: HOSEL, RATLINE.

fun puzzle overall. SLEEP MODE is a great crossword answer—i was going to single it out as sparkling fill until i realized it was part of the theme.

Rex Parker said...

I had that "WTF?" reaction to NESSES and then remembered "Oh, I think that's one of the definitions Amy mentioned – One I'd never seen til now.

I remembered EILAT from some other xword.

I had MAGOO for MYOPE at first.

This puzzle was just OK.

But the LAT remains better than any other syndicated alternative out there (besides the NYT). By a longshot.

Denise said...

Well, my husband was a Poli-Sci major in the "cold war" days -- one early summer in our marriage, we spent a summer with two single beds pushed together (in very HOT & HUMID DC). My husband called the space between the beds the Yalu River. So, I knew that one.

I also knew "sop" from Classical Mythology -- a "sop to Cerebes" -- you would throw a snack to the two-headed dog(?) if you wanted to enter the Underworld for some reason.

gjelizabeth said...

Okay. I give up. What the BLEEP do "Horiz." and ACR (12D) have to do with each other? I really liked "One concerned with duds?" and, like OhioGeek, wanted it to be about bad fireworks or something else that explodes. I printed out the puzzle, which placed the clues for 73A and 138A outside the box line and dropped the clue for 75A altogether. I figured I'd try it from crosses but had to go back to the website finally because I couldn't imagine what clue would give me AA at the end of the answer. Did others have this printing problem?

shrub5 said...

@PG: A cynical person would say SOP for 47A) Political payoff means Standard Operating Procedure. If the constructor had this in mind, I think it would need (abbr.) in the clue. My Mac desktop dictionary defines sop as: a thing given or done as a concession of no great value to appease someone whose main concerns or demands are not being met.

I put MOM in for 129D) Tot's need, often -- which was the beginning of the mess I created in that corner. I also fell into the ITSA girl before ATTA girl. Thought 133A) Puts on ice could be DEFERS before the more obvious CHILLS came into focus.

MSS for 36A) Money pile? Abbr. stinks, IMHO.
MYOPE is new to me in the noun form.

Did anyone else notice ASHARPMAJOR crossing REX?

A very entertaining puzzle. Thanks to pseudo-Nora.

Orange said...

@gjelizabeth: HORIZontal = ACRoss.

I saw non-dud fireworks yesterday, part of Chicago's Venetian Night celebration. My kid and I were on the 94th floor of the Hancock building, watching the fireworks from above! There were plenty of smiley-face fireworks—a ring of one color, with a smile and two eyes of other colors. Those were cute.

@shrub5: I almost always fill in *T*A for the [___ boy!} and [___ girl!] clues. Never know if it'll be ITSA or ATTA without the crossings.

gjelizabeth said...

Orange: Thanks! Now, of course, it's obvious.

Carol said...

Good tough puzzle for Sunday. Still had to Google a few, but managed some crosses I wouldn't have gotten before reading this blog on a daily basis.


shrub5 said...

@gjelizabeth: I had the same printing problems you described. It has happened to me before on Sundays when the puzzle is larger and thus many clues. I don't know if it is an LA Times problem or something I can fix by adjusting the printing parameters on my computer. I'm not very tech-savvy, but I think it may have to do with the puzzle being set (forced) to print on one sheet. When I have more time, I'll tinker around with my margin sets, etc. to see if I can eliminate the problem.

mac said...

I think the LAT puzzles have gotten better lately - this one was pretty dense, with plenty of theme answers and good fill. That JLO caught me too!

I once stayed in a former Stasi hotel in East Berlin - there were many walls that looked like they were 2-way mirrors, and I was so worried we were being watched.
Needless to say we behaved and spent as little time as possible in the room.....

Noticed how desktop manager and optimum were stacked together. "Park it" is a new one for me, don't think I'll adopt it.

mac said...

@Orange: thanks for the reminder about Rich's aliases! It is really a riot; glad I didn't comment on the woman constructor this time....


Well here it is Sunday night and I just finished all three puzzles that the Chicago Tribune now provides in their new Puzzle Island section. Whew !!!!
I usually start with the simple puzzle first. I like this new feature of the Trib, besides I can also read "Ask Amy" as I have my supper. It felt good that I was able to complete the difficult puzzle (as cited), but I sure wore out my pencil eraser with all those alternate answers. I thought the SSS thing was a bit trite, but it sure helped with those 8 long phrases.

Now for my big complaint: Regarding the Uto-Aztecan tongue (73a), supposedly to be NAHUATL. I have always thought that the language of the Uto-Aztecs was YAQUITI. This messed up four of my crosses, so I dwelt a long time in this area of the puzzle... finally resorting to the Google Emergency Room.

Crappy fill, such as MSS (36a), SOP (47a), EHS (90a), HMM (91d), and OPE (97d) really bothers me.
In every puzzle that I do, I write down the "word of the day", the one clue which taught me something new. Today it was CASCA (112d), Caesar's assassin... I never knew that before.

Puzzlegirl, put that good book down for a day and go zipping through those marvelopus jungle canopies. Too much reading and you'll become a MYOPE (another new word for me).

Anonymous said...

B.C. neighbour is a snap for a Canadian like me; B.C. is British Columbia, and it's neighbouring province to the east is Alberta (ALTA).

Joe Vaughan said...

Nice blog. I've been so tied up with cryptic puzzles for a long time that I have ignored Sunday puzzles. This last week I worked on the NY Times Sunday puzzle and the puzzle you are addressing (which here is called the Baltimore Sun Crossword)and I had a good time on both ... and bent my mind a bit. I enjoyed your comments on the LA puzzle, as well as those of your commenters. I will be following you on Twitter. Thanks.