SUNDAY, September 27, 2009
Alan Arbesfeld

[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: "Put the Finger On" — Theme answers are familiar two-word phrases with the letters "ID" added to the end of one of the words resulting in wacky phrases clued "?"-style.

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Ella while scatting? (RAPID SINGER).
  • 29A: Bow-wielding Southern god? (DIXIE CUPID).
  • 36A: Cholesterol check? (LIPID SERVICE).
  • 58A: Possible reply to a dentist's "Where does it hurt?" (ON THE CUSPID).
  • 79A: Twisty hair style for active people? (SPORTS BRAID).
  • 99A: Japanese sake, e.g.? (ASIATIC FLUID).
  • 104A: Candy, cookies and soda? (KID RATIONS).
  • 117A: What Depp did, over and over, to acquire the auction item he so badly wanted? (JOHNNY REBID).
Crosswordese 101: ERST is an archaic word that means once / formerly / before. It's often clued just like it is today — 124A: Once, long ago. It's related to ere, which hasn't yet made our CW101 list, but is nonetheless common crosswordese. Ere means before and is mostly clued as a "poetic" word. ERST is also sometimes clued as "Lead-in to while," as in erstwhile.

I had a few trouble spots with this puzzle. The theme was fine. I didn't understand it with RAPID SINGER (thought it had something to do with the letter string "INGER"), but caught on at DIXIE CUPID. SPORTS BRAID is by far my favorite theme answer. JOHNNY REBID? Not so much. I mean, it's cute, but not only does the pronunciation change from original phrase to wacky phrase, but the clue is way past awkward. I was going to say "If the clue has to be that complicated maybe you should rethink the answer," but I'm not sure the clue even needed to be that complicated.

I've never heard of 28A: Singer TERESA Brewer. I thought she might be one of these new whippersnappers that I see in People magazine when I'm at the dentist's office and don't recognize at all. But it turns out she was popular in the 1950s. I'm gonna guess she was a gimme for some of you. I also don't remember ever hearing about 48A: 17th-18th century British poet Nicholas ROWE. Yes, I majored in English. No, I haven't read every single poet ever. The only other person that was kind of tricky was 44A: Renée of silent films (ADORÉE). I think I've seen her in a puzzle before though. There's no way that was her real name.

But my biggest problems were in the Kansas region. First, I had Oyez for OYER (85A: Open hearing, in law). And the 67D: Japanese city known for its beer (OTARU) was unknown to me, so the Z seemed reasonable enough. I also didn't know the Brit-speak TURNUPS (92A: Pants cuffs, to Brits) — kept thinking it was some sort of take on stirrups — so GDANSK wasn't coming (74D: Polish city where Solidarity was founded). I'll be honest with you. There just wasn't anything interesting enough in that section that I wanted to keep hacking away at it, so I finally gave up and started this write-up instead.

Other stuff that gave me pause:
  • 47A: Magnetic Field? (SALLY). I can't think of anything particularly "magnetic" about Sally Field. I mean, she's a great actor and everything. But I think "magnetic" would more aptly describe someone super super popular. Or maybe a super-model or something. I don't know.
  • 109A: Lowlife, slangily (CREEPO). I don't believe I've ever heard anyone use this particular "slang." If they did, I would scoff.
  • 5D: Ocean phenomenon associated with wildlife mortality (RED TIDE). I'm sure this is totally legitimate, it's just that (again) I've never heard of it.
  • 38D: Like steamy films (R RATED). Raise your hand if you entered X rated.
  • And with the not-quite-on-the-tip-of-my-tongue 39D: Hindu scripture (VEDA), the theme answer crossing these two entries was slow to reveal itself.
  • 60D: Wombs (UTERI). I believe that body parts are totally legitimate crossword answers. That said, I do not particularly like seeing UTERI in the puzzle. Come to think of it, I've never been crazy about the word womb either.
  • 87D: Stop dramatically, as smoking (QUIT COLD). Nobody says this. You can "quit" and you can "go cold turkey" but you can't QUIT COLD.
Wait! Wait! I did like some stuff though:
  • 62A: Mason's job? (CASE). Took me a long time. I kept thinking Jackie Mason, not Perry Mason.
  • 66A: Condition that might bring you to tears? (BOREDOM). That's a cute clue.
  • 82A: Cork people (IRISH). Not referring to their (our) penchant for drinking, just the name of a county in Ireland.
  • 13D: South Pacific vacation mecca (TAHITI). I laughed at this one. Do people still go to Tahiti? It seems so ... 70s.
  • 76A: Bad-mouth (DIS). I loved this slang word the moment I heard it. Yes, it was a long, long time ago, but it still does it for me. Paid it up with CUSS (30D: Hurl epithets) and we've got something going here.
  • 37D: Rare altar reply, fortunately (I DON'T). Now that's funny.
  • 41D: Take the honey and run (ELOPE). I think I've seen this clue before, but it's still cute.
  • 66D: Informal eatery (BAR AND GRILL). The cruciverb.com data base only has this entry listed twice — once in 2000 and once in 2001. I say it's about time to resurrect it!
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Everything Else — 1A: Denial on the base (NO, SIR); 6A: Smelling __ (SALTS); 11A: Hummus holder (PITA); 15A: "Oops" ("UH-OH"); 19A: Get away from (ELUDE); 20A: "__ Ben Jonson": literary epitaph (O RARE); 21A: Epps of "House" (OMAR); 22A: Nautilus captain (NEMO); 25A: 1939 Garland co-star (LAHR); 26A: All there (SANE); 27A: Salon supply (DYE); 31A: River of Cologne (RHINE); 33A: __ chi (TAI); 35A: Bull: Pref. (TAUR-); 40A: Cockpit datum (AIRSPEED); 45A: Uses as support (RESTS ON); 49A: Anesthetize (DEADEN); 51A: "The __ the limit!" (SKY'S); 54A: Parlor piece (SOFA); 55A: Prayers are often said on them (KNEES); 57A: __ standstill (AT A); 61A: Orch. section (STR.); 64A: __ bit: slightly (A WEE); 65A: Lustrous fabrics (SATEENS); 68A: Lagged behind (TRAILED); 70A: Hard and soft mouth parts (PALATES); 73A: Duds (TOGS); 75A: Sign of a past injury (SCAR); 81A: Free TV spot (PSA); 84A: Menlo Park middle name (ALVA); 86A: Marcos's successor (AQUINO); 89A: Should that be true (IF SO); 90A: Oldest Little Leaguers (TEENS); 94A: Morning need for many (COFFEE); 96A: Disheartened (SADDENED); 101A: Pleased (GLAD); 102A: Amtrak purch. (TKT); 103A: Deceptive ploys (RUSES); 112A: President between Harry and Jack (IKE); 115A: "Me neither!" ("NOR I!"); 116A: "Just doing my best" ("I TRY"); 119A: Like Nash's lama, in verse (ONE L); 120A: Cast a ballot (VOTE); 121A: Professeur's pupil (ÉLÈVE); 122A: Running score (TALLY); 123A: Blubber (BAWL); 124A: Once, long ago (ERST); 125A: Decisive times (D-DAYS); 126A: British submachine guns (STENS); 1D: Dweeb (NERD); 2D: Skin care brand (OLAY); 3D: The United States, e.g. (SUPER POWER); 4D: First name in dictators (IDI); 6D: Evening party (SOIREE); 7D: ''Rule, Britannia'' composer (ARNE); 8D: Doesn't keep up (LAGS); 9D: Dissertation (TREATISE); 10D: Rev.'s talk (SER.); 11D: __ sci (POLI); 12D: Big-screen format (IMAX); 14D: Overdue thing (ARREAR); 15D: Never before topped (UNSURPASSED); 16D: Pile (HEAP); 17D: Present opening? (OMNI-); 18D: Did garden work (HOED); 24D: Had a feeling about (SENSED); 29D: Conks out (DIES); 32D: New staff member (HIREE); 34D: Sponsor's urging (ACT NOW); 36D: Small songbirds (LARKS); 40D: Egyptian symbol of life (ANKH); 42D: Impish (ELFIN); 43D: Groups of two (DYADS); 46D: Blender brand (OSTER); 50D: Slips past (EASES BY); 52D: Sammy Davis Jr. autobiography (YES I CAN); 53D: Italy's La __ (SCALA); 56D: "Ivanhoe" author (SCOTT); 59D: New Jersey team (NETS); 63D: Schoolyard retort (ARE SO); 64D: Paris possessive (À MOI); 69D: Hockey stat (ASSIST); 70D: H.S. juniors' exams (PSATS); 71D: Words after cop (A PLEA); 72D: Cherished (LOVED); 76D: Capable of being scattered (DIFFUSIBLE); 77D: Japanese immigrant (ISSEI); 78D: Did a smith's work (SHOED); 80D: On Soc. Sec., perhaps (RETD.); 81D: Insect stage (PUPA); 83D: Remington product (RIFLE); 88D: Live in (OCCUPY); 91D: Ward of "Sisters" (SELA); 93D: Tellers? (RATS); 95D: In some respects (OF SORTS); 97D: Like English, to most Americans (NATIVE); 98D: Publishing VIP (EDITOR); 100D: Cara and Castle (IRENES); 104D: Door opener (KNOB); 105D: New York college whose team is the Gaels (IONA); 106D: Sketched (DREW); 107D: Table scraps (ORTS); 108D: Russian refusal (NYET); 110D: Ostrich relative (RHEA); 111D: Covetous feeling (ENVY); 113D: Potter's oven (KILN); 114D: Slow Churned ice-cream brand (EDY'S); 117D: "The Beverly Hillbillies" dad (JED); 118D: Wolf down (EAT).


DataGeek said...

I hope the fact that I'm the first blogger of the day (I rarely comment) is not a reflection of yesterday's exchange. For the record, it took me 42 minutes to complete today's puzzle and I still had two errors. I also wrote OYEZ - Otazu seemed as plausible as OTARU. I couldn't get PBA (Public Broadcasting Announcement??) out of my head even though I know PSA. Ouch. Thus the hockey clue (of which I am clueless) ELUDEded me. I do hope the LAT returns to graduated difficulty as stated yesterday. Did anyone think today's puzzle was a "baby" puzzle?? I enjoyed it, even though it was definitely easy than the NYT.

DataGeek said...

That would be "easier." oops. There, now there are TWO comments.

shrub5 said...

I had to leave two holes in this puzzle: one at the ARNE/ORARE intersection and the other at OYER/OTARO. Had no idea on these four words. I haven't seen ARREAR used in the singular.

I knew TERESA Brewer as my parents watched her on The Ed Sullivan Show (or was it on Perry Como?) Her signature song was "Music! Music! Music!" (Put another nickel in, in the nickelodean, all I want is having you and music, music, music.)

REDTIDE is a phenomenon in which large amounts of algae "bloom" causing discoloration of the water, mainly in coastal areas. This may result in the death of fish, birds and marine mammals due to algal production of toxins or depletion of dissolved oxygen. Red tides are caused by an increase in nutrients that algae need, often due to farm runoff, causing an overpopulation. (wiki)

I worked with some Japanese women who taught me:
ISSEI: Japanese immigrant to North America
NISEI: Person born in the US/Canada whose parents were immigrants from Japan
SANSEI: Person born in the US/Canada whose grandparents were immigrants from Japan

@PG: Cute pic of turnips for TURNUPS! (LOL) Thanks for the entertaining write-up.

John said...

Had trouble with the OYER/OTARU crossing also.Puzzle was better than yesterday, but still could have a bit more bite

PuzzleGirl, Always enjoy your write-up. You are the most down-to-earth of the bunch! Thanks for Posting!

gespenst said...

Anyone else notice this: 8D: Doesn't keep up (LAGS) and 68A: Lagged behind (TRAILED)

Seems they could have used a different word in defining "trailed" which didn't involve an inflection of another answer (in the same sense of the word, even!)

The oyer/otaru and orare/arne crosses were also my bugaboos.

Overall, though, I liked it.

Carol said...

Finally found out via Google that 114D Edy's ice cream is known as Dreyer's ice cream west of the Rockies. Knew Edy's only from crosswords so wondered how they had the same "slow churned brand." Here in California we eat Dreyer's! Kind of like Best Foods Mayonnaise west of the Rockies and Hellman's to the east. Interesting.

Unknown said...

I don't think anyone remotely in touch would say RAP SINGER. They're rappers.

Charles Bogle said...

Drat! I wrestled a good part of the afternoon over today's print puzzle by Robert H. Wolfe, "Surprise Endings," successfully pinned it, only to come here and find two completely different puzzles. Surprise ending indeed

anyone know anything about the nifty Wolfe puzzle?

backbiter said...

Well, I guess that's it then. I gave the L.A. Times syndicated version one last chance. This was it. I will no longer be solving this "crap for brains" puzzle. Somebody wake me when the dumbing down is over. I will send PG, Orange, and RP my e-mail. You guys let me know when it's safe to come back. SEE YA!

Bohica said...

I was glad it was Sunday after the week of dull/easy puzzles the rest of this week!

Needed some help, but still solved it before coming here.

Speaking of that, the best reason for doing the puzzles the last few weeks is in coming here to read this blog and the comments.

That being said, I did take the iniative last Friday to actually write an e-mail to the editor of our local paper regarding the difficulty level of the Thursday-Saturday puzzles. I will post his reply (if I get one) in the comments.

Thanks to Rex, Puzzle Girl and Orange for still maintaining this site through these "troubling times".

CrazyCat said...

Thanks Puzzle Girl. I think both LA Times puzzles were a challenge today, at least for me. I've just finished the second one now. Went to see Bright Star tonight, the Jane Campion film about John Keats, the poet. I think he was a subject of discussion last week, or was it Yeats. At any rate, a lovely film, if you like English period type movies. My husband actually liked it even though he generally prefers explosions and gore. Whoa that backbiter person was angry. Also I'm glad the Edy's/Dreyers conundrum was solved. I was at a loss about EDYS since I live in CA. Well off to have some Chunky Monkey.


Well I guess Rich got the message. This was a great great puzzle... somewhat difficult to solve, clever clues, and a super theme. Alan Arbesfeld is very ambitious with a 21 x 21 puzzle, 8 theme clues that were "pleasant", and lots of funny/twisted clues. The puzzle took me a bit of time today, but hey, today's a leisurely Sunday. Today I give the LAT a standing ovation.
Thank you, Rich, for giving us a goodie... I just hope you're not just "throwing us a fish" to shut us up for a while. Keep going with the goodies.

Fun/clever clues:
Denial on the base = NOSIR
Mason's job = CASE
Duds = TOGS
Pants Cuffs, to Brits = TURNUPS
Dweeb = NERD
Present opening = OMNI
Sponsor's urging = ACTNOW
Rare altar reply = IDONT (a huge haha here... a phrase I should have used 49 years ago)
Take the honey and run = ELOPE
... and all the theme clues were delightful

Learneding: OYER is a new word for me.

Love the word, DWEEB. Now today I need to find someone that I can use that word on.

Unfave entries:
ARESO. I'm starting to hate those ubiquitous playground retorts.
BDAYS for Decisive times?? Ugh!

Wow, NORI (115a), we get a clue that has nothing to do with sushi wrap... I like that.

I guess I've learned ISSEI (Japanese immigrant) in the past, perhaps in CW101, but I had forgotten, so out comes the A to Z Dictionary on that one.

Favorite clue: ORARE (Ben Jonson epitaph).


Oh, I forgot to say how much I appreciate the blog trio.
Orange, Rex, and Puzzlegirl desrve a huge applause for continuing with very positive, upbeat, and pleasant writeups; even during these troubling times with the LAT puzzles. PG, once again I need to compliment you for a fun writeup today. Doing a fine puzzle is like eating a good meal, but reading your blog is like having a dessert that you savor afterward. Even if the meal is just mediocre, the dessert always blesses us. Thanks for the yummies!

fermatprime said...

@REX Really loved the lack of serious complaining about this puzzle. It takes me much longer than most people as I lost the use of my right hand several years; also, I am plagued with fibromyalgia and arthritis in just about every joint. Maybe you should switch to more unfriendly puzzles, such as the Saturday stumper and Sylvia's and Merl's Sunday puzzles. I have never found a thorough blog about the SS with lots of comments.

Although I am an "old fogy" I really enjoy learning new facts and despair of those bloggers that say that they have never heard of such and such (or so and so) and don't CARE. I am somewhat of an expert on older trivia and really enjoy it.

I really enjoy the blogs that I encountered PRIOR TO THE LAST 2 WEEKS OR SO. Less complaint and angry egotism in the future please!