SUNDAY, September 20, 2009
Bonnie L. Gentry and Victor Fleming

Theme: "Signs of Burnout" — Theme answers are familiar phrases with the word ash hidden in them.

[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 answers:
  • 23A: Dramatic device about which Hamlet says "The play's the thing ..." (SHOW WITHIN A SHOW).
  • 37A: Kindness simile (SWEET AS HONEY).
  • 53A: Rare key in which a section of Chopin's "Polonaise Fantaisie" is written (A SHARP MINOR).
  • 72A: World Series of Poker Main Event game (TEXAS HOLD 'EM).
  • 87A: California's first lady (MARIA SHRIVER).
  • 105A: Open one's law office, say (HANG OUT A SHINGLE).
  • 17D: Easily become angered (HAVE A SHORT FUSE).
  • 46D: 2000 Martin Lawrence/Nia Long comedy (BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE).
  • 80A: Sign of burnout hidden in eight puzzle answers (ASH).
Crosswordese 101: Sometimes ETA is clued as the 7th letter of the Greek alphabet, and others it's clued as it is today, as the abbreviation for Estimated Time of Arrival (10D: In-flight approx.). The only really tricky thing about this answer is that ETA and ETD (Estimated Time of Departure) are clued the same way. Unfortunately, you just have to check the cross to know for sure which one you need. What you're looking for in a clue for both ETA and ETD is a reference to flight (plane, pilot, captain, cockpit, airport) and an abbreviation clue (sometimes it's the airport code that serves as the abbreviation clue — not surprisingly, the LAT often uses LAX).

Stuff that jumped out at me today:
  • 29A: Star responsible for eclipsing Venus? (SERENA). Were you tricked by this? Or is it soon enough after the U.S. Open that you got it right away?
  • 30A: North Carolina university (ELON). Not to be confused with England's ETON, which also appears in crosswords quite a bit.
  • 44A: Ed who wrote "87th Precinct" novels (MCBAIN). If you say so.
  • 49A: Territory that became two states (DAKOTA). Cleverly named North Dakota and South Dakota. South Dakota is the one with Mt. Rushmore. North Dakota is the one with ... nothing.
  • 59A: H-bomb trial, e.g. (N-TEST). Is there a difference between an N-TEST, an A-test and an H-test?
  • 61A: Lunar Asian holiday (TET). Remember when we covered this in CW101?
  • 66A: Big name in nonstick cookware (T-FAL). I originally entered K-FAL. I think I was thinking of K-Fed. Which is weird because I never do that.
  • 67A: It starts with enero (AÑO). Big, big controversy about this little word in crossword constructor circles. Some maintain that Ñ is a completely different letter than N and should not be used. Others say, we use letters with diacritical marks all the time, so what's the diff? Well, in this case the word with and without the tilde are very different words. Año means year and ano means a part of the anatomy that is not appropriate to talk about here. It's a family show, people.
  • 90A: Letters before a trade name (DBA). Stands for Doing Business As.
  • 94A: "The Mod Squad" role (LINC). Loved this show when I was a kid. This was on around the same time as Room 222, if I remember correctly.

  • 109A: Instrument shaker at the end of a minstrel troupe (MR. TAMBO). Just learned this recently when MR. BONES showed up in a New York Times puzzle and Rex explained it all over at his blog. I seem to recall that older folks got this answer quite easily and the younger ones were clueless.
  • 111A: Bridge bid, briefly (ONE NO). I don't play bridge, but I think this means "one no trump." Any bridge players out there?
  • 15D: Jazzman known as "Fatha" (HINES). Interesting! Usually we see Fatha in the grid instead of in the clue.
  • 39D: Blue Moon of '60s-'70s baseball (ODOM). He was a good player, but the most interesting thing I could find about him is his name.
  • 41D: "Gymnopédies" composer (SATIE). We covered him a couple months ago in CW101.
  • 49D: Jerk (DOPE). Jerk and dope have two completely different meanings to me, but it was easy enough to get the answer anyway.
  • 65D: Elec. letters (AC/DC).

  • 84D: Torn off forcibly (AVULSED). Pretty sure I've never seen this word before. I'm guessing it's totally fair though.
  • 89D: Gymnast Mary Lou of Olympics fame (RETTON). I believe she was the first female athlete to be featured on a Wheaties box.

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Everything Else — 1A: Deferred payment at the bar (RAN A TAB); 8A: Flies over Africa? (TSE-TSES); 15A: Alternatives to Twinkies (HOHOS); 20A: "Cool!" (AWESOME); 21A: Upgrades the factory (RETOOLS); 22A: Pocatelloís state (IDAHO); 25A: Work of fiction (NOVEL); 26A: Type sizes (PICAS); 27A: Made, as a basket (WOVE); 28A: Soak (up) (SOP); 31A: Pick (SELECT); 33A: Pandora's boxful (ILLS); 35A: Missile's path (ARC); 36A: Site of an impromptu nap (DEN); 40A: "... so long __ both shall live?" (AS YE); 41A: Extends across (SPANS); 42A: Line of bushes (HEDGE); 43A: Regal initials (HRH); 47A: Loving: Prefix (PHILO-); 52A: Highest class (ELITE); 57A: Grammar school basics, briefly (RRR); 58A: Kelly's co-host (REGIS); 60A: Back of the neck (NAPE); 62A: Broadway auntie (MAME); 63A: Concerning (ANENT); 64A: Enjoy a hot tub (BATHE); 68A: Sch. near the Rio Grande (UTEP); 69A: Peru's __ Picchu (MACHU); 70A: Unrefined oil (CRUDE); 71A: Suffix with real (-ISM); 75A: Gets licked (LOSES); 76A: Put down (DEMEAN); 78A: Prefix meaning "spiral" (HELIC); 79A: Fizzles (out) (PETERS); 81A: "__ fired!" (YOU'RE); 83A: Vaughan of jazz (SARAH); 85A: Siberian metropolis (OMSK); 93A: "Well, __-di-dah" (LAH); 95A: Ready to be driven (TEED UP); 96A: "Buenos __" (DIAS); 97A: Dangerous compound in Agent Orange (DIOXIN); 99A: General Arnold of WWII (HAP); 102A: PC key below Shift (CTRL); 103A: Frenzied (MANIC); 104A: Vertical (PLUMB); 108A: Chorus platform (RISER); 110A: Made of clay (EARTHEN); 112A: Black Sea port dweller (ODESSAN); 113A: Unemotional (DRY-EYED); 1D: Spoke like Don Corleone (RASPED); 2D: Not long, timewise (AWHILE); 3D: Recent rightist (NEOCON); 4D: Nile dam site (ASWAN); 5D: Hauls to the shop (TOWS); 6D: "Who __ to argue?" (AM I); 7D: ___ a rock and a hard place (BETWEEN); 8D: Hot-dish holder (TRIVET); 9D: Iroquois Confederacy member (SENECA); 11D: Throw easily (TOSS); 12D: Trendy London area (SOHO); 13D: Marrying on the sly (ELOPING); 14D: Cincinnati-to-Nashville dir. (SSW); 16D: Febreze target (ODOR); 18D: Short story writer known for irony (O. HENRY); 19D: Comforting words (SOLACE); 24D: Green targets (HOLES); 29D: Conniving (SLY); 31D: Ballet bird (SWAN); 32D: Rock concert memento (T-SHIRT); 34D: 1862 Bull Run victor (LEE); 37D: Undercover agents (SPIES); 38D: Lend a hand (HELP); 40D: Subject of Indiana Jones's quest (ARK); 43D: Fabled napper (HARE); 44D: Disney's Ariel, e.g. (MERMAID); 45D: Make pure (CLEANSE); 47D: Fen-__: withdrawn diet-drug combo (PHEN); 48D: Dost possess (HAST); 50D: One staying afloat in place (TREADER); 51D: Lacking guile (ARTLESS); 53D: Building addition (ANNEX); 54D: First instruction (STEP A); 55D: Words before black or red (IN THE); 56D: Book after Micah (NAHUM); 63D: "... two fives for __?" (A TEN); 64D: Island east of Java (BALI); 66D: Marriage promise (TROTH); 68D: Bonneville Flats state (UTAH); 69D: Harass (MOLEST); 70D: Fair, in forecasts (CLEAR); 73D: Feng __ (SHUI); 74D: Wife of Zeus (HERA); 77D: Alas. native (ESK.); 79D: Scrub up, say (PREP); 81D: PBS chef Martin (YAN); 82D: Fruit tree grouping (ORCHARD); 83D: Libya's Gulf of __ (SIDRA); 85D: Veteran (OLD PRO); 86D: Submit with a stamp (MAIL IN); 87D: Hr. part (MIN.); 88D: Queen of Troy (HECUBA); 90D: Lake fisherman's boat (DINGHY); 91D: Receiver of property, in law (BAILEE); 92D: Climb (ASCEND); 94D: Book, in Bologna (LIBRO); 96D: Beatrice's admirer (DANTE); 98D: Mutant superhero group of comics (X-MEN); 100D: Kitty starter (ANTE); 101D: Annual major golf tournaments played in August, familiarly (PGAS); 103D: Boglike (MIRY); 105D: Med. care group (HMO); 106D: Mantric sounds (OMS); 107D: Guffaw syllable (HAR).


imsdave said...

Nice write-up! I thought it was a very solid puzzle until the S-SE. A few desperate entries:

PGAS (there are indeed multiple tournaments, but only one Professional Golfer's Association)
MIRY (I use this word almost daily)
BAILEE (I'm sure it's legit, but...)
MRTAMBO (reminds me of MTAPO for some strange reason)

Greene said...

This is one of those puzzles where I didn't even notice the theme until I had finished. Went back and actually had to look and then say "Oh, is that all?" Still and all, a very well constructed puzzle which provided no major hang-ups.

@IMSDave: Thought of you instantly with TEXAS HOLD 'EM.

The Chopin "Polonaise Fantaisie" is a beautiful work. I tried to learn it years ago, but just didn't have the technique to pull it off. It is quite harmonically adventurous and that may be one reason it's not as popular as some of his other more accessible pieces. I often wonder if Chopin would have continued to move in this direction if he had lived longer. Here's Italian pianist Roberto Poli with an excellent take on the piece.

shrub5 said...

There were several new words for me today: NAHUM, HAP, SIDRA, MRTAMBO, MCBAIN but I eventually got everything filled in (and correct!) without any lookups. I spent some time pondering 24D Green targets before the crosses led me to.... HOLES! I was trying to think of something eco-friendly-related. Another stumble at ONENO -- I had ONENT for one no trump, but LIBRO straightened that out.

Before HECUBA came into focus, I had HELENA as the queen of Troy. Not knowing MRTAMBO or SIDRA made that south central area tough to pin down. I wanted HANGupASHINGLE but had one extra space. Eventually remembered that the phrase is hang OUT a shingle.

OMSK - I like to say that word.

Joon said...

had to stare for a while at D_A/_AILEE. i've seen DBA but it was not coming to mind, and i normally think of those letters as meaning "database administrator." BAILEE... never seen that, and i'm not sure i'd like to ever see it again, as it's both ugly and lifeless. the rest of this went down pretty smoothly.

Joon said...

oh yeah, bridge. yes. one notrump.

AVULSED is not a common word, but an avulsion is a kind of (particularly gruesome) injury you sometimes hear about. it's when the ligament tears completely off the bone, or something like that. i'm no doctor, and i am particularly squeamish, so maybe the less said about it, the better.

PuzzleGirl said...

imsdave: I think the plural is intended to mean, for example, the 2007 PGA and the 2008 PGA. Those are two PGAs. It's still not pretty, but it works a little better.

@shrub5: I, too, was thinking eco-friendly rather than golf. And I tried to fit HELEN where HECUBA belonged.

@joon: I'm with you on BAILEE. And avulsion sounds lovely.

Joon said...

i don't really follow golf, but i know that the NCAA basketball tournament (singular) is often informally called "the NCAAs." but i suspect this is not the case with the PGA championship.


PG, a very nice writeup and Gentry/Fleming, a very nice puzzle.
Well, we've been asking for a toughie for awhile, and today we got it. A tight 21x21 puzzle with a nice theme (Burnout/ASH), has to have been a real challenge to construct. No wonder it took two people to construct.
The fill was excellent, the clues were clever and humorous, and there were many new words... I'd rate this puzzle A+.

Fave clues: SERENA (29a) = "Star responsible for eclipsing Venus", and RASPED (1d) = "Spoke like Don Corleone". Got a huge LOL from me.

New-word-of-the-day: Wow, there were at least five for me---
ANENT (63a), MRTAMBO (109a), AVULSED (84d), HECUBA (88d), and BAILEE (91d). A good puzzle always teaches you new words.

Unfave words/phrases: RANATAB (1a) yech!

Problem with SOLACE (19d) where I was expecting two or more words from the clue (comforting words).

I just don't understand HOLES (24d) for "Green targets" and ONENO (111a) for "Bridge bid", but then I'm not a bridge player.

I still get ELON and ETON mixed up for college names.

How many times have you heard "I pledge you my troth" at a wedding and wondered, what-the-heck does that mean? A marriage promise?? Why not just say "I promise to you"?

I always thought type sizes were FONTS... today we get PICAS (26a) and that threw me off.

I'm just happy that I FINISHED!!!!

Cleo said...

"Bailee" is a legal term, meaning a person who is obliged to care for a bailed item. We commonly hear of someone bailing, say, jewelry, but in the law the term has a broader meaning. I could leave my car in someone's garage and, in the right legal circumstances, the person would be the "bailee" of my car and couldn't just go sell it with impunity.

Bohica said...

@John: Font is the "type" of type i.e. Times New Roman, Arial, etc. Font size is determined in pica or pico.

Had ABOUT for ANENT initially (which is weird because my first thought was ANENT) but soon caught the mistake.

I thought it was a good puzzle overall. Not too hard, but long enough to make it challenge. Liked the fill at 57A: Grammar school basics, briefly - RRR. Usually the solution is ABC's or some such. South gave me some problems as well.

Hopefully we'll ramp up from here during next week, I think that everyone will agree that last week was underwhelming in its solvability.

John said...

Cool PuzzleGirl, You Captured the BLUE MOON beer logo. It's served in several bars here in Louisville, KY. Great write-up, Soso puzzle. Fun Nonetheless.

shrub5 said...


HOLES for green targets -- refers to golf.

ONENO for bridge bid, briefly -- ONE NO is short for a bid of "one no trump."

OHT said...

A nice Sunday puzzle, actually a bit tougher than today's NYT. Love it when I can look at the clue for 1A & get it right off the bat. As I tend bar for a living, people wanting to run tabs is something I have to deal with. Loved seeing Ed McBain. As a teenager, I read his mystery novels voraciously. Still remember the names of the primary characters.