SUNDAY, October 4, 2009
Robert H. Wolfe

Theme: "Surprise Endings" — Theme answers are movie titles with the last word anagrammed into another word, creating wacky new titles clued "?"-style.

[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:
  • 24A: Film about a soft-hearted creature? (TENDER IS THE THING). "Tender Is the Night."
  • 32A: Film about a computer supervisor? (LORD OF THE FILES). "Lord of the Flies."
  • 51A: Film about Los Angeles losing its NFL team? (A FAREWELL TO RAMS). "A Farewell to Arms."
  • 69A: Film about Broadway beginners? (WEST SIDE TYROS). "West Side Story."
  • 87A: Film about Santa enjoying his holiday cigar? (A CHRISTMAS CLARO). "A Christmas Carol."
  • 105A: Film about a home run derby? (DAY OF THE CLOUTS). "Day of the Locust." If you understand the this answer, please explain it in the comments.
  • 116A: Film about gardening options? (PLACES IN THE EARTH). "Places in the Heart."
Crosswordese 101: There's not much to say about ALEE except that you have to know it. It's generally clued, like today, straightforwardly — 125A: Away from the wind. The clue might also use the word shelter or describe ALEE as "Away from the storm." Simple, right?

Sundays are good days to review the Crosswordese we've already covered. If you had any trouble with these, check out our previous posts:
  • 21A: Being, in old Rome (ESSE).
  • 38A: Port in Yemen (ADEN).
  • 61A: Jack-in-the-pulpit family (ARUM).
  • 113A: Hairy Addams cousin (ITT).
  • 10D: Pol. letters until 1991 (SSR).
  • 53D: Formerly, formerly (ERST).
  • 118D: Quarterback Manning (ELI).
  • 120D: He followed FDR (HST).
I found a few trouble spots in today's puzzle. Over in Northern California, I didn't know biotin was sometimes called 42D: VITAMIN H; I've never heard of 75A Publisher OTIS Chandler; MINIM (for 80A: 1/60 of a dram) was a total guess; and it took me way too long to get from 68A: Picture-taking word ending to CAM. Awkward clue. There was actually a whole mess of other people I didn't know too:
  • 104A: Artist friend of Max Ernst (MAN RAY). We've covered popular crossword artists Ernst, Arp and Miró, but I don't know this Man Ray person, who apparently was part of that crowd. Well, now I know.
  • 122A: Filmmaker Riefenstahl (LENI). Riefenstahl has been haled as "the greatest female filmmaker of the 20th century." Unfortunately, she made her mark by creating a Nazi propaganda film and apparently hung out with Hitler. Probably not a great career move.
  • 12D: Politico Kefauver (ESTES). He was a senator from Tennessee who was Adlai Stevenson's running mate in 1956.
  • 48D: Dramatist Rice (ELMER). Earned a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his 1929 play "Street Scene."
  • 60D: Hall of Fame NFL coach Ewbank (WEEB). It's cool that even a person with a name like "Weeb" can get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The only real clunkers for me today were a couple of made-up adjectives: FEEBLEST (14D: Most frail) and FLUTY (47D: High-pitched). Oh, and I can't say I'm a fan of cutesy clues for COMA (68D: Long time out; paired with NAP, 79D: Short time out). Ugh.

A few other things:
  • 40A: All Saints' Day mo. (NOV.). I started to write in OCT, but stopped myself.
  • 74A: Some NFL linemen (RTS). Because I know someone will ask: this stands for Right Tackles.
  • 83A: Pretended to have written earlier, as a letter (BACK-DATED). Did you all see Gmail's April Fool's joke this past year? They pretended to roll out a new feature where you could back-date your email. It was pretty funny.
  • 96A: Tallahassee sch. (FSU). They were actually playing football on the TV while I was solving this puzzle.
  • 97A: Listless (MOPEY). The eighth dwarf.
  • 1D: Star in Perseus (ALGOL). Whatever you say.
  • 3D: Rose oil (ATTAR). We'll cover this in Crosswordese 301.
  • 35D: Nice notion? (IDÉE). Did you get this one? It's all in the pronunciation. Here, Nice means the city in France (pronounced NEESE), and idée is French for idea (or notion).
  • 50D: "__ lied" (SO I). Clues like this totally make me think of Merl Reagle.
  • 55D: Pre-meal drink (APÉRITIF). Anyone else have spelling trouble here?
  • 59D: Sydney's state: Abbr. (NSW). That's New South Wales in case you didn't know. (I didn't.)
  • 90D: Explorer Ericson (LEIF).
  • 105D: Eatery traditionally modeled after a rail car (DINER). I've been meaning to see this movie again for, like, I don't know ... 25 years or so?
  • 110D: Like a movie seat with a coat on it (TAKEN). Cute clue!
Sunday puzzles always feel really big to me. (I guess because they are big.) And I wouldn't call this one particularly easy. So how did you guys do? Please let us know in the comments!

Everything Else — 1A: Make __: match the scorecard, in golf (A PAR); 5A: Little hooters (OWLETS); 11A: Two pages (LEAF); 15A: Second Greek letter (BETA); 19A: Dieter's word (LITE); 20A: Very proper sorts (PRUDES); 22A: Indiana senator Bayh (EVAN); 23A: Gangsters' guns (GATS); 27A: Studio sign (ON AIR); 29A: Chem., for one (SCI.); 30A: Chicago-to-Louisville dir. (SSE); 31A: Name on an armored truck (BRINKS); 36A: Small surgical knife (LANCET); 37A: Landlocked Afr. land (ETH.); 39A: Done (ENDED); 43A: Heat measure (CALORIE); 47A: Come clean, with "up" (FESS); 49A: Certain Prot. (EPIS.); 58A: Continue after a setback, as one's life (GET ON WITH); 62A: Clean a spill (MOP UP); 63A: Poker action (RAISE); 64A: Scary film staple (MONSTER); 67A: Flat-topped rise (MESA); 77A: Chews out (BERATES); 78A: __ Major: Great Dog constellation (CANIS); 82A: Kennel home (CAGE); 91A: Fishing spot (PIER); 92A: Glaswegian gal (LASS); 93A: Drip from a bad pipe (LEAK OUT); 100A: Salt Lake City Olympics year (MMII); 102A: Command to Spot (SIT); 112A: Maintain (ALLEGE); 114A: Harry Potter's pal (RON); 115A: Wreck completely (TOTAL); 121A: Harley or Honda (BIKE); 123A: Forest feature (TREE); 124A: Setbacks (LAPSES); 126A: LAX listings (ETDS); 127A: Things in locks (OARS); 128A: Ad with a credit card bill, e.g. (INSERT); 129A: Ding, but not dong (DENT); 2D: Grand, perhaps (PIANO); 4D: Dwell (RESIDE); 5D: Pick, with "for" (OPT); 6D: Take away forcibly (WREST); 7D: Something to do with a business associate? (LUNCH); 8D: Comic Izzard (EDDIE); 9D: Elevator on the links? (TEE); 11D: Abate (LESSEN); 13D: Light gray (ASH); 15D: Losing (BEHIND); 16D: Demonstrate (EVINCE); 17D: Failed suddenly, in slang (TANKED); 18D: Emotional strife (ANGST); 25D: __ of Wight (ISLE); 26D: Window over a door (TRANSOM); 28D: Campus recruiters, briefly (ROTC); 33D: Govt. loan insurer (FHA); 34D: Pleasant forecast (FAIR); 40D: Not pos. (NEG.); 41D: Like music composed for a libretto (OPERATIC); 44D: Chou En-__ (LAI); 45D: Frequently, in verse (OFT); 46D: Cheering cry (RAH); 52D: Diminishes (WANES); 54D: CD-__ (ROM); 56D: Attractions not to be missed (MUST-SEES); 57D: Baden-Baden et al. (SPAS); 64D: Tiny parasites (MITES); 65D: Poem of praise (ODE); 66D: Music with many subgenres (ROCK); 70D: Religious factions (SECTS); 71D: Ore cars (TRAMS); 72D: Long tale (SAGA); 73D: Low (SAD); 76D: Round Table title (SIR); 81D: Used-car datum (MILEAGE); 83D: Call to Bo-Peep (BAA); 84D: First rescue boat (ARK); 85D: Speak lovingly (COO); 86D: Actress Joanne (DRU); 88D: Accept, as a marriage proposal (SAY YES TO); 89D: Ad writer's award (CLIO); 94D: Trojans' sch. (USC); 95D: Incline (TILT); 97D: Croquet striker (MALLET); 98D: Off the boat (ON LAND); 99D: Summary (PRÉCIS); 100D: Dull finishes (MATTES); 101D: Tale involving Greek gods, e.g. (MYTH); 103D: "That's a shame" ("TOO BAD"); 104D: Syrup source (MAPLE); 106D: Snares (TRAPS); 107D: Oater ride (HORSE); 108D: Type in (ENTER); 109D: Of service (UTILE); 111D: Winter fall (SLEET); 117D: S&L offering (IRA); 118D: Quarterback Manning (ELI); 119D: Suffix with Caesar (-EAN); 120D: He followed FDR (HST).


Unknown said...

This was a great puzzle for a drizzly morning in Maine, with a fire in the woodstove and Sandi's cinnamon rolls. Got a chuckle out of Lord of the Files and it was a pretty quick jog through the rest, slowed at the same points you were. Re: "Day of the clouts" - clouts can be used as another word for home runs.

Van55 said...

I raced through the top of the grid and slowed a bit at the bottom.

As usual, I hated the random compass clue (Chicago to Louisville dir.) Lame.

Didn't know Manray or Man Ray.

Fluty Tyros cross was dicey, but I know tyro from crosswords, so I got it

Day of the Clouts -- a home run hitter "clouts" home runs.

doc moreau said...

A chilly, overcast Sunday in the Windy City... perfect for puzzle solving. So I did Merl Reagle's and this one back to back. What was I thinking?! I'm spent.
I must mentioned that I was unfamiliar with the word TYROS, meaning beginners and the word CLARO for cigar.

shrub5 said...

I did this puzzle in spurts between various chores, so it's hard to say how long it took. It seemed a little tougher than the weekday puzzles and I needed a couple of googles to finish: did not know PRECIS or LENI, so I had to google the latter. I must have cut class on the CW101 day for ARUM because I did not know that or the cross of ELMER Rice so another google was needed to get ARUM.

MINIM: got it from crosses -- my desktop dictionary adds that in addition to being 1/60 of a liquid dram, it is "about 1 drop of liquid." A dram (also drachm) is 1/8 ounce. It sounds like use of these terms is obsolete as dram is described as "a unit of weight formerly used by apothecaries."

@PG: LOL'd at the photo of Doug Flutie by your discussion of the pseudo-adjective FLUTY. And I thought NAP and COMA (short and long time outs) WERE kinda cute.

Well, I'd better GETONWITH my day. Thanks PG for your excellent write-up. I can't say often enough how much your efforts and those of RP and Orange are appreciated.


A big howl for the Wolfe. I thought this Sunday puzzle was wonderful! A little hard for me, but I still didn't need Google, however I did have to look in my dictionary to see how MINIM was spelled. The theme construct was absolute genius! These are my kind of puzzles.

I learned some new words, like VITAMINH for {biotin} and MANRAY for {friend of Max Ernst}.

Was delighted to see ARUM for {Jack-in-the-pulpit family}... I see this often in CWs, but I'm a botanist, so I love seeing plant words.

I too erroneously put OCT for 40a, duh, I was thinking of halloween, but that's the eve of all hallowed day.

PG, it's the cutesy clues that make solving fun... I love COMA for {Long time out},IDEE for {Nice notion}, TEE for {Elevator in the links}, and OARS for {Things in locks}. I hope constructors do even more of these clever and cute clues.

You have no idea (and don't wanna know) how many other words I tried for 5a, before I got OWLETS for {Little hooters}... sheesh!

This to me was an extremely entertaining puzzle AND Puzzlegirl's writeups are just super! Thank you, PG, and today I say thank you to Bob Wolfe, Rich and the LAT also.
John H

Orange said...

ALGOL, as SethG could tell you, is (was?) the name of the Carleton College yearbook. I still needed most of the crossings to get this one, but at least I knew that ALGOL was a star name.

Fun anagram theme!

Anonymous said...

I take BIOTIN and the bottle says"Biotin is an essential B vitamin that is involved in the immediate metabolism of carbohydrates"
Where are you getting Vit. H?


Also, ALGOL is a method for writing computer algorithms. I think it even preceded Fortran.


@Anonymous 8:25
Wikipedia does a pretty good thing on Biotin:

Sam said...

PG, I find your negative comments about FLUTY and FEEBLEST a bit odd, though of course you're entitled to your personal opinion. Clunkers? Made-up?

FLUTY is exactly the way a critic described Meryl Streep's voice when she played Julia Child recently. So it's not really a weird word, and very descriptive.

FEEBLEST is a word heard in probably every nursing home across the country. So what's made-up about it?

Both words are in all standard dictionaries.

GLowe said...

"Seems made-up" is different than "is made up". And the dictionary is full of clunkers, cwp-wise.
I think long-time solvers have very high antennae for crappy fill. Adding the prefix "re" to any old verb or the suffix "est" to any adjective (eg REJUMPED or HORRIBLEST) clunks.

In my obnoxiousest opinion.


I agree, those bad constructors by reusing ER and EST keep reclunking perfectly good words in these crosswords making English look like the crappiest language.

John said...

I've heard of MANRAY as an evil villan on SpongeBoB SquarePants, not the Max Ernst guy. you just cant escape that show if you have cable or satalite! Never heard of LENI. Everything else was in my wheelhouse, as they say.

split infinitive said...

Despite a few clunkers, listed above, this was a nice respite from so many sub-par puzzles the last few weeks. Clues and fill made it fun, and "not just another humdrum Sunday." Maybe a few too many obscure names for my comfort zone, but they rarely crossed other unknowns so everything fell into place without too much angst. It's a good workout for the brain and to tiptoe out of the comfort zone, plus learn new stuff.

The theme answers were clever, 'tho CLARO wasn't on my radar and CLOUTS was the sole anagram for 'locust' that even looked like it could work. I did like the clues for COMA and ARK. Hmm, the clue for 5a, "little hooters," felt a little out of place, but clue for TEE as "elevator" got the grid humming. Very little caffeine required. I emerged with no dents or dings.

PG: I appreciated the crosswordese 101 review this morning. Nicely crafted commentary, too. Thanks to you, Orange, and Rex for helping us become better and less mopey solvers and for making the blog more interesting than the puzzle on so many days.

docmoreau said...

Don't let's be placated by a formidable Sunday LAT puzzle. Email the editors and request a progressively challenging puzzle throughout the week. Consumerservices@tribune.com.

mac said...

This puzzle gives me hope that the LAT CWP will improve during the weekdays. Just a little smaller, yes, yes you are almost there.....

I enjoyed it, and managed to do it without help although there were a lot of new words for me: biotin/vit.H, minim, claro, but I knew Man Ray and was just lucky it wasn't clued through SpongeBob!

@Sam: I know the word fluty used to describe voices, and the Meryl Street/Julia Child example is perfect!

Glowe said...

According to academic legend, a professor once stated that "English is the only language that a double negative always makes a positive".

I disagree with this statement, in that a double negative always makes a positive, philosophically, but I know no other languages.

To continue the legend, this alledged professor said "and a double positive can never be negative". (True, in philosophy or math: a double positive can never be negative) but to which some back-row wag answered "Yah, right...".

Too cute to be true ...

split infinitive said...

GLowe: great story. Just goes to prove the adage that "Sarcasm is a sharp object with which to run; grammar is a dull subject, from which to flee." That's a 'repurposed' line from my 'bitter half,' but it's the best I can do at this late hour.

Sent two letters about the recent decline in the LAT/TMS puzzles. One to the consumer affairs people, to rant, and one to the Sunday Tribune folks at:
sunday@tribune com
to say that today's puzzle was a step in the right direction and much appreciated, so keep'em coming. Mom always said that you catch more flies with sucrose than acetic acid!

mac said...

@GLowe: In Dutch a double negative is a positive, as well. Oddly enough, Afrikaans, which is a form of Dutch, repeats the negative in the sentence, one of them at the end.

Tuttle said...

Algol, the star not the programming language, is pretty much the prototypical variable intensity star due to it being an easily visible eclipsing binary (a trinary system actually, but the 3rd star does not eclipse the big two). This feature and its location as the head of Medusa in the constellation Perseus is where the name comes from. In Arabic it is Ra's Al-Ghul - the head of the demon. In English it is commonly referred to as The Demon Star.