SUNDAY, August 16, 2009 — Mike Peluso (syndicated puzzle)

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

Theme: "On the DL" — Theme answers are two-word phrases, the first word beginning with D, the second with L. (85D: Temporarily not playing, in baseball lingo (and a hint to this puzzle's theme)). (DL stands for Disabled List.)

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Vietnam War program (DRAFT LOTTERY).
  • 29A: Driver's warning, perhaps (DASH LIGHT).
  • 54A: What spies often lead (DOUBLE LIFE).
  • 70A: Desert phenomenon (DRY LAKE).
  • 89A: Place to sign (DOTTED LINE).
  • 110A: Leer or sneer (DIRTY LOOK).
  • 121A: It's no longer spoken anywhere (DEAD LANGUAGE).
  • 38D: Be slain by a stand-up comic? (DIE LAUGHING).
  • 43D: Murray offering (DANCE LESSON).
I really liked about 99% of this puzzle. That would be the first 99% I solved. Then I came to an absolute screeching halt at the cross of LALO and POILU (58A: "Le Roi d'Ys" composer / 53D: WWI French soldier). Didn't help that I can never remember how Ryan O'NEAL spells his last name (37D: Ryan of TV's "Peyton Place") (Me: "It's either the same as Shaq or it's different. Hmmm....") And I wasn't even completely sure about BEEPS (52A: Toots), thinking it might be beers. ("Toot" can be slang for a "drink," right?) So, yeah, that section was a big, fat mess and I'm not going to feel bad about it because I'm sure you all struggled with it too.

In keeping with the DL theme, I noticed a few other baseball clues:
  • 22A: Baseball family name (ALOU). When I was figuring out which answer to use for CW101 today Felipe, Moises, and Jesús were all waving their arms wildly trying to get my attention.
  • 95A: Third-winningest active baseball manager (TORRE). Former Yankee manager Joe Torre. And I'm sorry, he just doesn't look right in a Dodgers uniform.
  • 41D: One of Willie Mays's 20 in 1957 (TRIPLE). He had a total of 140 in his career.
  • 115D: National League division (EAST). The National League, of course, includes several Major League Baseball teams. The American League includes the rest of them. I have no idea which teams belong to which league.
But what I really noticed was all the French! But, hey, let's do today's lesson first.

Crosswordese 101: We've already covered DSCS (8A: Mil. decorations), AGORA (49A: Public place, in a phobia), ENOS (57A: Hall of Famer Slaughter), OTOES (84A: Onetime members of the Winnebago Nation), and SSTS (92D: Grounded fliers). NSA (129A: DOD division) and OSHA (12D: Workplace protection org.) were covered in our government agency roundup. That leaves us with a few choices today. Let's go with SSRS (15A: Ukr. et al., once), which stands for Soviet Socialist Republics (which, as I'm sure you know, used to be United). If the clue refers to a specific country, the ones you're most likely to see are Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, and Latvia. Otherwise, the clue will say something like "Old map letters," or "Former political division."

Okay, back to the French. In addition to LALO and POILU, which I talked about above, there's also:
  • 35A: Toulouse evening (SOIR).
  • 114A: __-France (ÎLE-DE).
  • 34D: Spirit in le ciel (ANGE). I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess this means angel.
  • 44D: Marseilles crowd? (TROIS). Trois = three, and three's a crowd.
  • 90D: Romain de Tirtoff, famously (ERTÉ).
  • 91D: Behind (DERRIÈRE).
  • 102D: "C'est magnifique!" ("OO LA LA!").
That seems like an awful lot of French, even for a Sunday puzzle. How'd you all do with it? Sunday puzzles are so big and there's so much to talk about! But I'm just not going to spend all day on this! Here are a few things that jumped out at me. If you have any questions or want to point out anything else, please be my guest in the comments.
  • 19A: Like an albatross (OCEANIC). Would have liked a "Lost" clue on this one.
  • 51A: Romanov leaders (CZARS). Okay, this is funny. I actually entered tsars here and thought to myself "Maybe I'll explain on the blog how the TS- spelling is so much more popular than the CZ- spelling."
  • 73A: Henry James biographer Leon (EDEL). The sooner you get over the idea that Leon Uris is the only Leon author with a four-letter last name, the better.
  • 92A: Online bulletin board runner (SYSOP). Short for system operator.
  • 101A: So out it's in (RETRO). Great clue.
  • 125A: Some operators: Abbr. (MDS). That is, Medical Doctors, who operate.
  • 128A: Fen-__: banned diet aid (PHEN). Once on "Sports Night" Dana Whitaker was asked if she knew what fenfluramine was and she said, "Well sure, it's the fen in fen-phen." Say it out loud. It's funnier that way.
  • 1D: Wyoming city (CODY). After Casper and Laramie, ya got me.
  • 14D: Queen's neighbor? (BISHOP). Chess!
  • 68D: Brown of song (LEROY). Not a big fan of this song, but I am a big fan of Jim Croce, so here's one of his better songs:

  • 78D: She played Thelma (GEENA). "Thelma & Louise" was an extremely successful female appropriation of the "buddy movie" that really got people talking about feminist issues (not always politely). But, alas, when I think of "Thelma & Louise" I can only think of one thing. Brad Pitt. I stayed to watch the credits after that movie because I thought, "I wanna know who this guy is. We'll definitely be seeing him again." He was hot, is what I'm saying.
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: "In My Own Fashion" autobiographer (CASSINI); 12A: Handicapper's hangout, briefly (OTB); 20A: Conference USA's Miners (UTEP); 21A: __ Lanka (SRI); 25A: Show uncertainty (HESITATE); 27A: Olden days (YORE); 28A: Guitar inlay material (NACRE); 30A: Piston pusher (CAM); 33A: Words after pass and raise (THE BAR); 36A: Daily agenda (TO-DO LIST); 40A: "Ready __ ..." (OR NOT); 42A: Given as compensation (PAID TO); 46A: Singer DiFranco (ANI); 47A: Some pop groups (TRIOS); 59A: Italian scooter (VESPA); 60A: Exhausted (SPENT); 62A: Second century date (CII); 63A: Upper East Side NYC eatery (ELAINE'S); 65A: Recede (EBB); 67A: Contract terms, at times (LEGALESE); 69A: __ Bator (ULAN); 74A: Narrow loaf (BAGUETTE); 77A: Old United rival (TWA); 78A: Rebuke silently (GLARE AT); 81A: __Kosh B'Gosh (OSH); 82A: Belgrade natives (SERBS); 86A: SAS destination (OSLO); 87A: Digestion aid (ACID); 93A: Hole in the head (SINUS); 96A: Old burners in a lab (ETNAS); 98A: Three Dog Night hit written by Nilsson (ONE); 99A: Mesopotamia border river (TIGRIS); 103A: 1066 battle site (HASTINGS); 105A: Take __ (A BOW); 107A: Oxygen-consuming bacterium (AEROBE); 109A: Adm.'s milieu (USN); 116A: Make pictures (DRAW); 120A: Web sellers (E-TAILERS); 124A: Danish shoe brand (ECCO); 126A: Woody's son (ARLO); 127A: The ghost of Mrs. Muir? (SPECTRE); 130A: Like many signers (DEAF); 131A: Syrup, essentially (TREE SAP); 2D: Bat opening (ACRO-); 3D: Precook, in a way (SEAR); 4D: Mariners' park, familiarly (SAFECO); 5D: QB's misthrow (INT.); 6D: Zip (NIL); 7D: Desktop figure (ICON); 8D: Like "aardvark," e.g. (DUTCH); 9D: Entertainment system (STEREO); 10D: Brainy (CEREBRAL); 11D: Thriller hero, often (SPY); 13D: Hair piece (TRESS); 15D: Make fun of (SATIRIZE); 16D: Refinery residue (SLAG); 17D: __ IRA (ROTH); 18D: Haggis ingredient (SUET); 24D: Skin coloring? (TATTOOS); 26D: Connected to the hipbone (ILIAC); 29D: Anticipates in a big way (DROOLS); 31D: Hgts. (ALTS.); 32D: Russian for "peace" (MIR); 36D: It may be periodic (TABLE); 39D: Opposing teams (SIDES); 45D: Actor Davis (OSSIE); 48D: More than great (SUPER); 50D: "I'll do it for __" (A FEE); 55D: Term of endearment (BABY); 56D: Marx collaborator (ENGELS); 59D: Let off steam (VENTED); 61D: Cry of accomplishment (TA-DA); 64D: Dundee denials (NAES); 66D: Lunch initials (BLT); 70D: Visa user (DEBTOR); 71D: Getting unauthorized R&R? (AWOL); 72D: Anchor Couric (KATIE); 74D: "Veni, vidi, vici," e.g. (BOAST); 75D: Computer acronym (ASCII); 76D: Equine gait (TROT); 79D: Go __: agree (ALONG); 80D: Has a few too many (TOPES); 83D: Winning or losing run (STREAK); 88D: Length of time (DURATION); 94D: Soothsayer (SIBYL); 97D: Tempe sch. (ASU); 100D: Like most church services (SOLEMN); 104D: Bring about (INDUCE); 106D: "Eating __ has never given me indigestion": Churchill (WORDS); 108D: __ roses (BED OF); 110D: Profound (DEEP); 111D: Restless desire (ITCH); 112D: Dash, for one (RACE); 113D: Mount of Greek myth (OSSA); 117D: "Darn it!" ("RATS!"); 118D: Indian tourist city (AGRA); 119D: Cry (WEEP); 121D: Family nickname (DAD); 122D: "All Things Considered" airer (NPR); 123D: "Golly" ("GEE").


Anonymous said...

Theme should have been D.L or initials not injured.

Too many French words and a few English words not commonly used.

Anonymous said...

Love the French words! Keep 'em coming!

My only problem with this puzzle was the plural/singular inconsistency with 54A "What spies often lead" and "DOUBLE LIFE." It should have been "LIVES" so I kept second guessing myself there.

Sam Donaldson said...

Whew--glad to see the Lalo & poilu intersection near O'Neal was problematic for someone else too!

A tad too much French for my general tastes, too, but otherwise I found it a breezy and enjoyable solve.

Carol said...

I still have trouble with what Russia used to be - USSR, CCCP, SSRS. When I was growing up it was USSR. Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When did it become SSRS? I just depend on the crosses to get me through.

Pretty good Sunday puzzle, even with the French.


I really enjoyed this puzzle... liked the baseball stuff. The puzzle was fun , but once again Puzzlegirl makes it even more fun... especially Jim Croce clip and that great French lesson.

Are you finding that CWs are getting more and more French lately?

Favorite clues:
- "Words after pass and raise" THEBAR (33a).
- "Hole in the head" SINUS (93a)
- "Bat opening" ACRO (2d)
- "Like aardvark, e.g." DUTCH (8d)

PG, we need a special CW101 lesson on all the new computerese words, like ETAILERS and SYSOP.

30a says CAM is a "Piston pusher".
Sorry, Mike, but ROD or CRANK is the piston pusher. For the CAM its VALVES, LIFTERS, or VALVERODS.

Has anyone eaten at ELAINES (63a)?
Is it a good place to eat?
I'm going to NYC soon and I need some eatery recommendations.


Yesterday we got into a discussion of politically incorrect words/phrases. Well, here's one for today's puzzle--
"Term of endearment" BABY (55d).
I was told once, very curtly, that I should never call my chick (er, I mean, wife) "baby" as it's very demeaning and should not be considered a term of endearment.

docmoreau said...

I, too, thought the title "injured" unfortunate. And, say, "DL" would've been a giveaway. Hmmm. How about "Dreadlock," for dreaded brain-lock most of us suffer often doing these puzzles.

Eric said...

Great puzzle mostly except for the Natick moment at LALO/POILU.Agree with JOHNSNEVERHOME and had ROD in place for PISTON PUSHER until the very end.
Found this one easier than the NYT today which is unusual for me. The theme in NYT is usually a great help and makes it somewheat easy whereas the LAT is a huge grid and often takes me longer. Today I beat my 30 miniute target by 2 minutes. Would be faster in print or Across Lite I'm sure.

shrub5 said...

Thanks for the entertaining and instructive write-up, PG, and also for the clip of Jim Croce. My favorite tune of his is "Operator." So sad... another talented musician gone too soon.

I completed the entire puzzle (without googling!) except for that darn "O" at the intersection of LALO and POILU. I had no idea and a run through the alphabet didn't help. Despite that, I totally enjoyed the puzzle and its theme.

For anticipates in a big way, I had DREADS before DROOLS and for skin coloring? I had TANNING before TATTOOS, but these were easily corrected. I liked periodic TABLE and the veni, vidi, vici BOAST. The Churchill quote is a reminder (to politicians and the rest of us) that it is best to admit one's errors.

Well, I'd better get off my DERRIERE and get something done on my never-ending TODOLIST.

Joon said...

this was a really fast solve for me. it did help that i took french, and also that i knew édouard LALO. back in february (just before this blog started), i was defeated by a section of a friday dan naddor LAT where {"Symphonie espagnole" composer} LALO and {Jazz singer Diana} KRALL crossed BASAL, clued as just {Primary}. i had BASIC/KRILL/LACO and boy, did it smart when those all turned out to be wrong. anyway, i learned my LALO then and there. also be on the lookout for film score composer LALO schiffrin.

but POILU? yikes. i see it's been used before, but i had no idea.

was it just me, or did this puzzle have a lot of clue-fill duplication? SPY in the grid and clue for DOUBLE LIFE; DASH in the clue for RACE but also in DASH LIGHT; {Some operators} but also SYSOP. that last one isn't so bad, i guess, although SYSOP stands for system operator. but the other two definitely jumped out at me, especially since they involved the theme.

i also thought THE BAR was clued as a six-letter partial, which is generally a no-no. i think it can stand on its own, clued as something like {What lawyers must pass}.

Greene said...

I so totally did not know the phrase ON THE DL. I didn't piece it together via crosses until the very end, so my solving experience was very much "Where's the theme?" I really thought it was a themeless Sunday until the very end. Then came the "ooohhh" followed by the red face.

I actually knew LALO (I've played in orchestras doing "Symphonie Espagnole" more than once), but it didn't help me much with POILU since ULAN was unknown to me and I can never remember how to spell BAGUETTE (forgive me @Mac).

Speaking of @Mac, she can definitely give you some recommendations for NYC eateries @JOHNSNEVERHOME. I could give you some recs as well if you want to send me an e-mail. Where to eat depends on what you like, where you're staying, how much you want to spend, and how much you're willing to travel.

I have been to Elaine's, largely because it is a famous location which has been much favored by celebrities in the past (and was featured in the opening scene of Woody Allen's Manhattan). Frankly, I found it overpriced with fairly mediocre food. Didn't see Woody, or anybody famous for that matter. The place does have a certain charm factor though...and Elaine still greets you at the door.

GLowe said...

Funnily enough, I never think about the legal profession or standards first when looking at THEBAR.

I once solved a sunday puzzle in a small town pub (a 2-pinter!) where I was on a business trip. Billy-Bob and Jethro kept a wary eye on me for a while, uh huh.

mac said...

Breezy puzzle today, but I agree with some of your grumbles.

I feel very happy that Oleg finally got his last name in. I did want Armani, though, after I got the final i first.
For digestion I had "spit" for a little bit, again because I had the i. I had Churchill eating "my hat", after yesterday's discussion, I guess.

@Johnsneverhome: I completely agree with Greene re. Elaine's. There are so many nice little restaurants in New York. It depends where you are staying and what you like to eat, of course. Let me know if you need any help. "Eater NY" is a good website according to my foody son.

Aardvark is not Dutch, it's probably Afrikaans. It would be Aardvarken in my language.

rorygmw said...

My paper published this last week, so I had to wait to read your comments, although I did manage to do the thing without the opportunity to cheat. Dear Puzzle Girl: In the current best-seller, "The Girls From Ames," read about the girl who knew Brad Pitt in college and what she said. Amazing!

Sfingi said...

In case there's someone who still doesn't know, "On the downlow," refers to married men secretly gay.

Afrikaans is a derived from Dutch - a creole, as it were. Hence the double vowel. Aard means earth.

USSR - Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. So, each one of them is an SSR, a Soviet Socialist Republic. CCP is what Cyric letters for SSR look like to us US.

edith b said...

For once, my knowledge of WWI came in handy as POILU was a neon and LALO I had a letter at a time. No other problems as I found this one easy to fill in and I use those words carefully. No joy in Mudville on the LA Times puzzle today.

Anonymous said...

1D Cody, Wyoming - probably named after "Wild Bill"

John said...

This puzzle was worse than the NYT!!! absolutely NO redeeming value in the fill, No zip in the theme answers Not one moment of elation in solving! Just ONE BIG SLOG through the mud!!

KJGooster said...

I'm always hoping when I hit a serious snag (e.g. LALO/POILU) that I'll come here and find out I'm not alone, so thanks.

Also, I couldn't remember for a while what country SAS flew out of, so I had ORLY instead of OSLO, which led to a delayed arrival down there in the Carolinas. Otherwise, a pretty steady solve for me.

Bohica said...

Not a big fan of this puzzle. Too much French, and why, when the theme was related to "America's Past Time"? As someone else said a muddy slog through the solve. Perhaps Mike should try to forget 6 or 7 of the languages he knows!

Soozy said...

I really enjoyed the first 75 percent of this puzzle, because like @PG that was the only 75 % I got. I thoroughly enjoyed all the French but I can imagine it posing some problems. At the bottom middle there were 3 French words all crossing (DERRIERE, ILE-DE, and OOLALA) which would be problematic if you were lacking the vocab. I do sort of take issue with the OOLALA though, as the French don't spell it that way. It's also more commonly used in a negative sense, despite what most of us are led to believe.

I was psyched to see POILU and had no troubles with it, but I live in France and am familiar with the word. For those who don't know, it means "hairy" and was used to describe all WWI vets who were distinctive for the unshaven appearance. The last POILU passed away this past year and there was quite a to-do in all the newspapers.

Too many baseball clues for me, though I figured out the theme pretty quickly and it certainly made life easier.

Thanks for the write-up, as always!