THURSDAY, September 17, 2009
Dan Naddor

Theme: "Your Table Is Ready" — Ends of the theme answers can be used to describe various types of tables.

Theme answers:
  • 18A: *Singly (ONE AT A TIME).
  • 20A: *Gathering of reporters (NEWS CONFERENCE).
  • 31A: *Workplace gambling group (OFFICE POOL).
  • 40A: *Furthermore (IN ADDITION).
  • 52A: *Negotiating for a lesser sentence (PLEA BARGAINING).
  • 57A: *Credit company with a "Priceless" ad campaign (MASTERCARD).
  • 61A: Postpone, as a motion (and word that can follow the last word of answers to starred clues) (TABLE).
Crosswordese 101: Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of crosswordese in today's puzzle, but we've covered the vast majority of it already. So let's have a little Spanish lesson today. You all know that ORO is Spanish for gold, right? The clue for ORO will always indicate that the answer is a Spanish word. It will often include the word gold with a descriptor like Acapulco, Oaxaca, Barcelona, or today's 22D: Guadalajara. It may reference the Olympics, but always in relation to a Spanish-speaking country. ORO is also the first word of Montana's state motto ("Oro y plata" — "Gold and silver").

This is one of Dan's "why-didn't-I-think-of-that?" themes. I mean, really, so simple with examples relatively easy to find. Notice the seven (!!) theme answers. With a dense theme like this, however, the fill is bound to suffer. I'm a solver who appreciates a little crosswordese thrown into every puzzle. It gives me a little hint to the crosses, which is sometimes all I need. But in today's puzzle, I count ten (!!) words that we've already covered in CW101. And that's too much for a 15x15 puzzle. I also count two really ugly plurals. Look. I get it. There's only so much you can do. And sometimes plurals are just fine. I believe it was Mr. Naddor who recently clued JANETS as "Jackson and Reno." I mean, that's a thing of beauty. But OTTS (1A: Giant Mel et al.) and STEELES (13D: TV's Remington et al.)?? Et al.? That means and others. Which raises the question: What others? Is there another OTT? Oh, wait a minute. I forgot all about Rachel Ott, one of the 2002 Pierce County Daffodil Princesses. Dang. I'm sorry.

Before you start calling me Negative Nellie, though, I have to say that all was forgiven when I got to OLD GOAT (42D: Nasty geezer). Now that is the kind of fill that takes a solver by surprise and has a pretty good chance of causing a chuckle or two. Love it!

Side dishes:
  • 15A: Euripides tragedy (MEDEA). I started the puzzle doing the downs, and entered limb for 8D: Tree growth (LEAF). When I quickly scanned the crosses I saw media here and thought I was doing just fine. So that took a little time to straighten out when I saw the B wouldn't work in 20-Across.
  • 34A: "The Swiss Family Robinson" author Johann (WYSS). Today PuzzleGirl learns that there's a difference between "The Swiss Family Robinson" and "Robinson Crusoe." No, of course I knew that already, but I do get them mixed up.
  • 46A: Stereotypical parrot name (POLLY). Shout-out to my friend Polly who's partially responsible for the best pizza in Iowa City.
  • 26D: Catcher Carlton __, who famously homered to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (FISK). Okay, this is funny. I went to check out Fisk's Wikipedia page and the first thing I see is that he's a pitcher and his nickname is "Pudge." And I think to myself "I know there's another catcher nicknamed 'Pudge.'" Sure enough, I keep reading and learn that Fisk's record of most games played at the position of catcher was actually broken by Ivan Rodriguez. Also known as "Pudge."
  • 37D: Janitor's tool (DAMP MOP). I think damp mop is more in the language as a verb. Just sayin'.
  • 49D: Grammy-winning country star Steve (EARLE). Lucky you! You get an awesome musical interlude today!

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Everything Else — 5A: Skating jumps (AXELS); 10A: Ballpark figs. (ESTS.); 14A: Beat to a froth (WHIP); 16A: Predicament (SPOT); 17A: Pre-euro denaro (LIRE); 22A: Authorized, briefly (OK'D); 23A: "... the morn ... Walks o'er the dew of __ high eastward hill": "Hamlet" (YON); 24A: Olympian's quest (MEDAL); 25A: Sources of overhead costs? (ROOFS); 27A: Highchair feature (TRAY); 30A: GPS suggestion (RTE.); 35A: Game for one (SOLITAIRE); 37A: Barbecue site (DECK); 44A: "I love," in Latin (AMO); 45A: Topple (over) (KEEL); 47A: __ jumbo (MUMBO); 49A: Cote occupant (EWE); 51A: Mormon initials (LDS); 58A: Boardroom VIPs (CEOS); 60A: Director Preminger (OTTO); 62A: Morales of "NYPD Blue" (ESAI); 63A: Lowly laborer (PEON); 64A: German industrial city (ESSEN); 65A: JFK arrivals, once (SSTS); 1D: Big-eyed bird (OWL); 2D: Envision (THINK OF); 3D: Fed up with (TIRED OF); 4D: Gush (SPEW); 5D: Gas giant that merged with BP (AMOCO); 6D: One of the noble gases (XENON); 7D: First garden site? (EDEN); 9D: Fill to the gills (SATE); 10D: Lauder of cosmetics (ESTEE); 11D: Washer setting (SPIN DRY); 12D: Alley prowlers (TOMCATS); 19D: Military force (ARMY); 21D: Big name in food service (SYSCO); 27D: Bottom line amount (TOTAL); 28D: Turnpike, e.g. (ROAD); 29D: "Put __ on it!" (A LID); 32D: Author Wiesel (ELIE); 33D: Woodsy aerosol scent (PINE); 34D: "What are __ believe?" (WE TO); 36D: Turn red, perhaps (RIPEN); 38D: Try to equal (EMULATE); 39D: Regains consciousness (COMES TO); 41D: Reason to miss work (ILLNESS); 43D: Where Hillary was sen. (NYS); 45D: Lakers star Bryant (KOBE); 48D: It's passed in relays (BATON); 50D: Add lanes to (WIDEN); 53D: Johnson of "Laugh-In" (ARTE); 54D: Victrolas, e.g. (RCAS); 55D: Ties up the phone, say (GABS); 56D: Chills, as bubbly (ICES); 59D: Bro's sib (SIS).


John said...

Good misdirection in the NE. Had LAUNDRY for SPINDRY. Tried OLDFART first, then thought, "No they wouldnt do that" Enjoyable write-up PuzzleGirl!

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Nice write-up, PuzzleGirl. Enjoyed the stacked theme answers on this one, and THINK OF and TIRED OF side by side in the NW was interesting. Was definitely on the easy side for a Thursday, though. The increase in difficulty in the LAT from Monday to Thursday seems almost negligible nowadays.

doc moreau said...

I’m thinking that the LAT doesn’t subscribe to the daily “level of difficulty” much, if it ever did. Either I’m getting more proficient,or it is dumbing down (more likely the latter).

One curiosity. I’m familiar with the term “multiplication table” but never came across an “addition table.”

Charlie said...

Agree OTTS is pretty bad, but we need not even leave the sports world to find others: Ed Ott (unrelated to Mel) played in the Major Leagues in the 70's and 80's; Steve Ott is an NHL agitator extraordinare, currently playing with the Dallas Stars.

gjelizabeth said...

I'm with doc moreau: never heard of an ADDITION table.

Orange said...

@doc moreau: The L.A. Times crossword used to follow an NYT-like increase in difficulty. From a couple weeks in February, before any changes were requested by the powers that be, here are my solving times:

Mon 2:47, 2:34 (avg 2:41)
Tues 3:03, 2:48 (avg 2:55)
Wed 3:36, 3:12 (avg 3:24)
Thurs 2:48, 4:07 (avg 3:27)
Fri 6:20, 5:22 (avg 5:51)
Sat 5:16, 4:59 (avg 5:08)

Compare to my times in recent weeks:
Mon 2:51, 2:35 (avg 2:43)
Tues 3:07, 3:03 (avg 3:05)
Wed 3:21, 2:30 (avg 2:55)
Thurs 3:01, 3:07 (avg 3:04)
Fri 3:49, 3:38 (avg 3:44)
Sat 3:00, 3:34 (avg 3:17!)

Fridays and Saturdays have been flattened out most weeks and are often only as difficult as Wednesdays used to be. I miss the more challenging Fridays and Saturdays. :-(

The Corgi of Mystery said...

Thanks for posting those times, Orange. I do still feel like Fridays are incrementally harder than the M-Th puzzles, but they definitely don't have any of the kick they used to have. Curse you, powers that be!

Anonymous said...

Think OF/Tired OF and OTTS...annoyed me right off the bat, so needless to say I wasn't a fan of this very easy for a Thursday puzzle. Far too much crosswordese as well. Might be the worst Naddor I have ever solved.

*David* said...

I didn't count but there were a heck of lot of plurals in there besides all the extended family.

Last week was my easiest DN but this week was a bit eaisier then that. Two erases by WYSS(never spell it right) and PARK instead of DECK.

Bohica said...

I saw Dan Naddor's name in the byline and thought Oh Boy! finally a challenge - only to have my bubble burst.

Nice theme, but nothing else to write home about. I'm with doc moreau and gjelizabeth, ADDITIONTABLE?!

AdditionTable said...

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7..
0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9
2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
3 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

obertb said...

In terms of difficulty, this was like a Mon/Tues NYT. They really have dumbed down the LAT puzzles, haven't they? And this one is just sort of ho-hum anyway, difficulty aside. Personally, I'd like a little more resistance in a Thursday puzzle.

florida grandma said...

I'm a newbie and I finished in record time. Got a few chuckles along the way so that made it better. I tried bowlers for 12D (thought that was a pretty good choice!) but learned very soon that it was tomcats. I did not like NYS for 43D--bad job with abbreviation.
@*David*--I also wanted park for
Thanks for the write up, Puzzle Girl. I love Iowa City!!! Very great place to live or visit. Next time I'm there, I want some Polly's Pizza:-)!

split infinitive said...

It's not cool to drink so much before posting. Showing up all out of sequence like that is embarassing to the whole family. Apologize to the guests and the host and sober up, now. Love, Grandpa Fibonacci


For me this was an extremely simple puzzle. Rarely do I finish before my breakfast is eaten, but today I was finished before the waitress came with my food. Wow, are the Naddor puzzles getting simpler or is my hanging around this blog making me more CW astute?
Now I'm not complaining... don't want to be tagged with "nasty geezer" or worse yet OLD GOAT. Getting an easy puzzle just gives me more time to spend out in my garden on such a lovely day.
I started off this puzzle doing 1a, 5a, and 10a (OTTS, AXELS, And ESTS) and thought, oh no, another cheesy puzzle loaded with the same old crosswordese stuff... then I went on hoping it wasn't true. But, OMG, this puzzle was loaded with trite words and it didn't get any better as I went on. How many times have I seen ESTS, EDEN, ELIE, ESAI, and ESTEE? Are there no other short fill words that start with E? Okay John, enough of your whinning!
I did learn a new-word-of-the-day: Johann WYSS of Swiss Family...and yes, Puzzlegirl, I too get that mixed up with Dan Defoe's Robinson Crusoe.
I seem to always think that COTE has only to do with doves, seldom do I associate that word with sheep. Moreso the word FOLD comes to mind.
Not sure I like the adding of et al to any word just to "force" pluralization.
Oh, and I never saw the theme until I came here... Tables...hmmm!

My mouth should be nicknamed "Oro y plata" — "Gold and silver".

Quentinc said...

Another puzzle where the write-up is far better than the solving. I loved Puzzle Girl's comment about "Otts." Also, I'm glad I'm not the only one complaining about how easy these have gotten. I may have to *table* doing Thursday puzzles from now on. Fri and Sat. are still at least a wee bit challenging.

I didn't know "damp mop" was part of the language at all. I've always heard "wet mop."

Sfingi said...

13D Any name is someone's family name, so a reunion constitutes plurals. Other well-known Steeles are Michael and Shelby - and a tiny branch of my family. I'll bet there's even more than one Esai, or certainly will be soon.

17@ lire is a plural of lira (Italian feminine); denaro would be a singular in either Italian or Spanish (denari and denaros respectively).

37D Dampmop no problem. It has a different use from wet mop; but,I'd like to see mophead. Entered ring first for 8D - tree growth.

I also love Iowa City, and can't understand why a sister of mine lives in Fairfield, IA. I'll have to try Polly Pagliai's Pizza, since most of IA doesn't know what pizza is. I'm so spoiled since Upstate NY has great pizzerias on every block. Towns have Italian specialty festivals. Binghamton - speedie festival, Utica - riggie festival. Also tomato pie, which has no cheese. Pagliai are haystacks. We'll call forth Monet from crosswordese heaven for a picture.

@John'sneverhome - I also think dovecote. And, yes, I am an old nanny goat. Remember, goats have personalities, sheep don't. That's why plural and singular of sheep are the same.

jazz said...

Call me a brown-nose, but...

I like it!

Agree that OTTS and STEELES were a little contrived, but there was a fair amount of 7-letter fill, and not too many "cheats" (abbrevs and acronyms). Pretty easy fill for a Thursday though.

And of course, SEVEN theme answers! Thanks, Dan!

Unknown said...

11D: Spindry? Is that really a setting on a washer? I know washers have a spin cycle, but I've never heard of "spin dry" as a setting. I guess I have a cheap washing machine!

CrazyCat said...

Thanks for your write up Puzzle Girl. I really like this blog and find it very enlightening. I also am concerned that the LA Times puzzles are getting dumbed down. I have only been solving for about a year. The Thursday puzzles used to take me forever and now I'm down to about 8 or 9 minutes. I know this blog has helped a lot, but I don't think I've made all that much progress. However, it does give me a boost of confidence until I try a late week NYT puzzle and get totally humilated. Thanks again for the blog. I also think of DAMP MOP as a verb.That may possibly be a gender issue.

mac said...

Your write-up beat the puzzle today, PG! Just taking a wild guess, but is that handsome young man with the medal a wrestler??

I like my puzzles (much) harder as well, especially late in the week, but do appreciate the high number of theme answers.

@Johnsneverhome: LOL!!

SethG said...

Please, please, let me never see WYSSES.

Bored Solver said...

@Orange: Who ARE the powers that be? I'd like to write a letter about this puzzle difficulty issue. I don't get the puzzle from a newspaper but instead go to the LA Times crossword website and print it out daily. There has to be a happy medium here somewhere.

OK, now on to healthcare reform.

Sfingi said...

@If you want a difficult Thursday puzzle, try today's NYT.

Charles Bogle said...

I got the feeling the fine constructor Dan Naddor just phoned this one. Lots of tired old fill, eg ELIE, OTTO, OTTS (I knew it would be disaPpointing when that one was 1A. Liked: COMESON, MEDEA, WYSS. Poor old ARNE Johnson appears same day as Henry Gibson's obit; how ironic. Did get a kick out of SYSCO--amazing how often when we think we go "out" to a restaurant we are just getting SYSCO. Ask the server: is that fruit/veggie/fish really fresh, or warmed-over Sysco

Charles Bogle said...

I got the feeling the fine constructor Dan Naddor just phoned this one. Lots of tired old fill, eg ELIE, OTTO, OTTS (I knew it would be disaPpointing when that one was 1A. Liked: COMESON, MEDEA, WYSS. Poor old ARNE Johnson appears same day as Henry Gibson's obit; how ironic. Did get a kick out of SYSCO--amazing how often when we think we go "out" to a restaurant we are just getting SYSCO. Ask the server: is that fruit/veggie/fish really fresh, or warmed-over Sysco

Bored Solver said...

I can't get the NYT puzzle on line and I don't subscribe. So...I'm hoping to see some end-of-week puzzles that are just a little more difficult in the LAT.

Orange said...

@Bored Solver: We may be screwed. The group that syndicates the L.A. Times puzzle needs to keep its subscribers happy, and its subscribers include newspapers whose readers miss the arid, non-clever puzzles they used to have. Those papers get complaints from their readers and pass the complaints up the chain. The trick is to identify the cities where people are complaining about this crossword, and swamp the newspaper with letters praising the puzzle in general but begging for tougher puzzles. I don't know how to go about that, unfortunately.

@Charles Bogle: He didn't phone it in. The theme is structured such that the fill had a lot to work around. See how the top and bottom pairs of theme answers are stacked together? And how the middle pair are sandwiched around SOLITAIRE in an open stretch of white squares? And how TABLE is stacked under that bottom pair of theme entries? That's incredibly challenging to pull off. The trick is to look for reasons that fill is less than stellar. Is it laziness or an ambitious theme structure? If it's laziness, I make no allowances. But Dan Naddor made the puzzle harder to build by including so much thematic material and stacking it that way.

GLowe said...

I agree Orange. I didn't solve this puzzle because I got home late, but I know a certain mentor who would have flamed me if I submitted a grid like this because it's not in any way defensive.
It's ambitious, and it works nicely, and I wish I had taken the time to solve it instead of just peeking here to see what was up.

Anonymous said...

Overly ambitious with lousy fill. If you want to construct a puzzle such as this, then it needs less crosswordese/plurals, etc. Disappointing for a Naddor puzzle.