WEDNESDAY, October 21, 2009—Donna S. Levin

THEME: "I'll take 'Hockey Terms I Don't Know' for $1,000, please, Alex"—Four "blanking a blank" phrases begin with words that double as hockey no-nos

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Electrical worker's action (TRIPPING A SWITCH). This is a kind of icky theme entry, if you ask me. I just asked my husband what sort of "flipping" is a violation in hockey. I'm not an electrical worker, so "tripping a switch" feels like an awkward combination of words to me. I'm sure Dave, my electrician who looks just like Tim Russert, would tell me the phrase is super familiar. If the theme entries weren't all "blanking a blank," this could've been the Dave Matthews Band song "Tripping Billies":

  • 24A: Discount retailer's action (SLASHING A PRICE). You know what? If they're slashing prices, maybe they weren't starting out at a discount price and don't deserve the moniker "discount retailer." Furthermore: They're only slashing the one price? Maybe it would have been better to do without the thematic consistency of the "blanking a blank" structure to allow a more natural-sounding phrase here.
  • 41A: Feuder's action (HOLDING A GRUDGE). I like this one. I kept the first four letters blank for a while because it could've been NURSING A GRUDGE too. And yes, I'd like to see the hockey game in which the players wind up in the penalty box because they were nursing.
  • 54A: Accused speeder's action (FIGHTING A TICKET).
  • 47D: Place where the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers result in a penalty (RINK). Hockey rink, not a figure skating rink. Although I reckon the figure skating judges would not look kindly on any tripping, slashing, fighting action on the ice rink.

I have never seen Slap Shot, but it's a hockey classic. Now that I've watched this clip, I've seen two minutes and seven seconds of the movie. Looks funny. It's been in my Netflix queue for a long time, but we keep forgetting to ever watch Flight of the Conchords, Season 1, so we keep never getting the next movie. Procrastination! *shakes fist*

There's a word in this puzzle that I don't think I've ever seen before: NOVIA (27D: Spanish sweetheart). You guys know this word? I took German and French myself. The L.A. Times crossword does seem to include a few more Spanish-language entries than the East Coast–based puzzles.

The bottom corners of this grid seemed a tad clunky. The CN TOWER is a fantastic entry (50A: Toronto skyline landmark), but yeesh! WKLY and EEEE and RTES crossing ALEE and plural RYES? The southwest corner has a nice intersection between CRASHES and DASHES, plus the start of a theme entry and the capper, RINK, but there's also the possessive SKY'S crossing CFOS and an AGCY.

Oh, hello, BASEBALL! (9D: America's pastime.) Mr. Fiend is watching the Dodgers/Yankees game. My kid noticed that the on-screen scoreboard thingy has two double letters: NYY vs. LAA. Letter patterns! We'll make a crossworder out of him yet. Can't push it. He needs to come to it in his own time. He's only nine, so he could use a few more years to hone his spelling before he gets into crosswords.

Runners know the word SUPINATE (4D: Rotate face-up, as one's palm). I haven't much encountered this word in a hand setting. If your ankles tend to roll outward when you walk, you're a supinator; ankles rolling inward are pronating. The words are related, obviously, to supine and prone, the words for lying on your back and face down, respectively.

When they send the RADIO CAR (37D: Police cruiser) you can expect to see the COPSE (30D: Thicket), right? "Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?"

Crosswordese 101: There are a zillion things that SNEE sounds like it could mean. A sneeze that gets stifled? An exclamation like "whee!"? Something those Monty Python knights might say? A variety of snow? It's none of those. It's a 49D: Dagger of yore. Your family of SNEE clues mostly circles around an old, bygone, or pirate's blade, dagger, or sticker, or possibly Ko-Ko's weapon in The Mikado. There's also the snick-or-SNEE/snick-a-SNEE alternative, which can also be spelled in a less crossword-friendly single word, snickersnee. That, too, is about cutting with a stabby little dagger. (Oh, yeah—there's also a football player for the N.Y. Giants named Chris Snee.)

Everything Else — 1A: Droops (SAGS); 5A: Benchwarmer (SCRUB); 10A: Dull (DRAB); 14A: Spiritual guide (GURU); 15A: Pageant trophy (TIARA); 16A: Tot's first word, often (MAMA); 17A: Electrical worker's action (TRIPPING A SWITCH); 20A: Stuff to capacity (SATIATE); 21A: Like the healthiest corned beef (LEANEST); 22A: White House advisory gp. (NSC); 23A: "Don't tase me, __!" (BRO); 24A: Discount retailer's action (SLASHING A PRICE); 32A: Virginia, for one (STATE); 33A: Sits on the sill, as a pie (COOLS); 34A: Absorb, with "up" (SOP); 35A: Exaggerated publicity (HYPE); 36A: Type of servant or engineer (CIVIL); 37A: Ready for picking (RIPE); 38A: "You __ here": mall map words (ARE); 39A: Arrested (RAN IN); 40A: Parson's home (MANSE); 41A: Feuder's action (HOLDING A GRUDGE); 44A: In the past (AGO); 45A: Actress MacGraw (ALI); 46A: Traffic jam causes (CRASHES); 50A: Toronto skyline landmark (CN TOWER); 54A: Accused speeder's action (FIGHTING A TICKET); 56A: On a single occasion (ONCE); 57A: Two-time U.S. Open winner Fraser (NEALE); 58A: Opposite of aweather (ALEE); 59A: "The __ the limit!" (SKY'S); 60A: Freezing cold (GELID); 61A: Bakery offerings (RYES); 1D: Bilko and York: Abbr. (SGTS.); 2D: Subtle emanation (AURA); 3D: "True __": John Wayne film (GRIT); 4D: Rotate face-up, as one's palm (SUPINATE); 5D: Pain in the side (STITCH); 6D: Movie (CINE); 7D: Tabloid (RAG); 8D: Russia's __ Mountains (URAL); 9D: America's pastime (BASEBALL); 10D: Key of Beethoven's Ninth (D MINOR); 11D: Distance divided by time (RATE); 12D: Gremlin and Pacer (AMCS); 13D: Capital of Thailand? (BAHT); 18D: Out of fashion (PASSE); 19D: Time irregularities, in sci-fi (WARPS); 24D: Prefix with foam (STYRO-); 25D: Boutonniere site (LAPEL); 26D: Cupcake topper (ICING); 27D: Spanish sweetheart (NOVIA); 28D: Continuing to operate (GOING); 29D: "Of Thee __" (I SING); 30D: Thicket (COPSE); 31D: Olympics sword (ÉPÉE); 32D: Peacock Throne occupant (SHAH); 36D: Challenging the rapids, maybe (CANOEING); 37D: Police cruiser (RADIO CAR); 39D: On the money (RIGHT); 40D: Poly- equivalent (MULTI-); 42D: Sprints (DASHES); 43D: Went on a tirade (RANTED); 46D: Corp. money bigwigs (CFOS); 47D: Place where the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers result in a penalty (RINK); 48D: Part of CIA: Abbr. (AGCY.); 49D: Dagger of yore (SNEE); 50D: Colombian cartel city (CALI); 51D: How many employees are pd. (WKLY.); 52D: Hard-to-find shoe width (EEEE); 53D: Numbered hwys. (RTES.); 55D: Word before Friday or pal (GAL).


Gareth Bain said...

The bogus "Theme title" really cracked me up! As did the idea of those activities taking place in a figure skating competition - so long as you keep Tonya Harding away the odds are pretty low though.

It was an interesting theme - put me in the "know zero about ice hockey" category too. Not sure if the extra consistency in the pattern of theme entries didn't actually hurt the puzzle. To me you trip THE switch, and like you said, a retailer is more likely to SLASH PRICES than A PRICE. The other 2 work perfectly and the latter feels decidedly fresh.

SUPINATE is a gimme if you've done a course in basic anatomy, I'm guessing not very otherwise. It's contrasted with PRONATE... We were told to remember it as holding a bowl of soup...

BTW, is it promote South African musicians week? We had Miriam Makeba in the CS yesterday, and now you're offering Dave Matthews in your write-up. I'll confess describing Dave Matthews as a South African is a bit tenuous since he only lived in South Africa from ages 0-2 and 10-18, but we'll take whatever we can get!

Jimmy said...

Did you mean, "Baht boys, Baht boys?" "Baht" was new to me (as much of the crosswordese still is).

I think of discount retailers slashing retail prices.

Today's puzzle was more difficult for me than recent Tuesday (or even W-F) puzzles. The theme saved me today (not the hockey part, but just getting the "blank a blank" pattern).

Anonymous said...

13D reminds me of a joke of a year ago: What is the capital of Iceland? About $37.40

GLowe said...

Left out kooking, spearing, boarding and high-sticking. But not icing - that's not a penalty, and neither is off-side.

Pretty much anything you can do to injure somone with a piece of lumber has been named, in hockey.

GLowe said...

... HHHHHHHHHHHooking. Sheesh

shrub5 said...

This puzzle gave me a slapshot down in the Texas area. I did not know CALI, SNEE, GELID or NEALE -- however, except for the latter, they did seem vaguely familiar to me after I googled a couple of them. Enjoyable puzzle if for no other reason than it was a little more challenging than other recent puzzles.

Noted both ICING and ISING. I could not get SUPINATE from the clue but the crosses filled it in -- then I remembered the word from anatomy studies. COPSE was another answer that needed all the crosses. @Orange, I did know NOVIA as my sister is married to a Spanish-speaking man and they use "novia" or "novio" as terms of endearment.

Parson said...

Theme came easily. Feuders action, HOLDING A GRUDGE is probably better than throwing a punch, but there is more "action" in the latter. It also might bring the COPSE in their RADIO CAR. (drum beat: ta dah)(groan!)

I think we get off on tangents when the puzzles have direct clues with easy answers and not much to comment about. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Enjoyed the write up!

John said...

Would anybody ever clue 49D as "Smee's weapon"??

Jeffrey said...

Crosschecking, elbowing, kneeing, charging, having your real teeth, insulting Wayne Gretzky, and rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs are also offenses.

Anonymous said...

Can somebody please explain White House Advisory Group NSC? Who are they? As a resident alien I haven't a clue.

Charles Bogle said...

Had experiences similar to shrub5 and Parson...absolutely first-rate write-up @Orange, thanks!

Call a personal Natick on 51DWKLY/58AALEE...don't understand how clue for WKLY works...also had not heard of GELID, SUPINATE...

NEALE Fraser is a great sports answer in my mind since even sports aficionados probably can't recall him; had trouble w CNTOWER...SE corner last to go; happily no googles but write-overs!

Donna Levin has given me lots of fun and challenging outings and this neat and taxing one is no exception

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:44 The NSC is the National Security Council, consisting of military, homeland security & CIA representatives.

CrazyCat said...

I also know very little about hockey (although as a teen I played field hockey) so when I got RINK my immediate thought was, like GB, of the notorious Tanya Harding. Found today's puzzle to be a notch up on the difficulty level. I didn't know NOVIA, CALI, GELID or SUPINATE. EPEE/SNEE - I am learning my sword lingo. @ Orange, loved the video of the Rancho Cucamonga Cops fighting crime out in the Meth capital of America.
I don't watch Cops, but according to my friend from NJ who does, RC is often featured.

Anonymous said...

Slapshot is a must see for even the hockey haters. It's actually a (there is a word I want here but can't find so this will have to do) parody of the violence of hockey. Youtubers will be able to find one of the end scenes where what's-his-name skates the rink while stripping.

Classic movie.

Carol said...

@Charles Bogle 51D How many employees are pd. - weekly. Clue is abbreviated; therefore, so is the answer WKLY.

@Orange - nice writeup. I certainly agree with the 2 theme answers you commented on. Got the answers, but seemed stilted.

Knew SUPINATE as daughter is a physical therapist. Liked some of the other answers that were less common.

Lime D. Zeze said...

Not to pick nits, but Mr. Fiend probably wasn't watching the Dodgers/Yankees game, unless he lives in the future, a future where the Dodgers actually come back and win 3 in a row against the Phillies, or in the past...the way past (1981). He was probably watching the Angels/Yankees game. That would be the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Anonymous said...

Really like clues like 13D, very Baht.
NYY / LAA were the Yankees -v- Angels, the "OTHER" LA team looks like Calif will be shut out of the Series.
Nice Thursday puzzel, thankful for the crosses to get Supinate, Gelid, Novia.
Tired of shoe width clues ... EEEEEEEEE !

Orange said...

Can you tell I really don't pay much attention to baseball? Ha!

Jason Voorhees said...

I saw SLASHING as part of the theme and I thought that this puzzle was going to be about me. I got my hockey mask and saw. Unfortunately the rest of the puzzle didn't slice the way I expected it, maybe next time. Come visit me by the lake.

The Happy Hooker said...

@crosscan, you left out "nutting".

Tinbeni said...

A better Baht Thursday puzzel. Are they getting a bit more interesting clues? Probably just me.
Again (this is getting redundant) nice Orange write-up, love your added features.

At this time of the year 'Baseball'9D would probably a more PC choice as the theme but hockey season did just get underway and I enjoy their penalties that in any other endeavor would probably cost you more than 2 minutes in the box.

Bohica said...

@Orange: Agree about the first two theme answers, they were awkward. And the SW corner was ugly. But it's better to suffer through a couple (few) clunkers than to not even put your brain in gear for a solve. I'm just glad to have a Wednesday feel like a Wednesday, it's been a spell since we could say that.

Thank you, LAT editors for hearing our shouts from the darkness.

Also, thanks to our hosts for keeping this blog going during the vapid periods.

Jeffrey said...

@HappyH - That's legal.

Tinbeni said...
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Tinbeni said...
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Tinbeni said...

OOPS !!! The joy of the flu ... thought it was Thursday. Good little WEDNESDAY puzzel for a change.
Now I can look forward to actually being awake to do these contraptions.

Tinbeni said...
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Donna L. said...

Yes, everyone, EEEE is indeed ugly. Desperate corners sometimes call for desperate measures, I'm afraid. :-)

FWIW, this one started out as a very different puzzle with just three theme answers: BOARDING SCHOOL, CHECKING ACCOUNT and ICING ON THE CAKE (with PUCK in the bottom corner). Rich was okay with a hockey theme, but needed more consistency (i.e., all infractions, not just vague hockey-related terms). While the fill suffered for it, I think he was right about the consistency element.

As always, thanks for the comments, even the less-than-enthusiastic ones. It's always good to get feedback.

GLowe said...

I'm curious Donna why you didn't go with ICING/COP in the east. It would have balanced nicely with 18-D as "Pass, eh?", another hockey term I'm sure.

mac said...

@Orange: great comments, you had me LOL at your remark on 41A!

I always enjoy Donna Levin's puzzles because of their loose language, their irreverence. This one was also of a real Wednesday level.

I don't know much about hockey, just a little more about baseball, but I actually got the sports section and checked who the Yankees had been playing! In the scores it is L.A. for both teams, so I was not sure either...

Donna L. said...

@GLowe: ICING was already in the puzzle at 26D (clued non-thematically because of the absence of a symmetric theme entry at 28D). Cupcakes are more fun than hockey anyway, right?

ddbmc said...

Hockey! Hockey! Joy! Joy!
@Ms. Levin had a lot of hockey-related words in this puzzle! CN Tower is in Toronto, where the Hockey Hall of Fame is located (Sorry,@Crosscan!) not to mention "Gretzky's" restaurant--if it's still there!

On top of the obvious answers, there was 'icing" (the puck), "ranted"-what parents do to refs on a bad call; "scrub"-a bench warmer or in hockey lingo: "riding the pine pony."--(Scratch--if the player's name is crossed off of the roster.) A player "Crashes" the net when on a power play(wom/man up); "Dashes" down the ice with the puck, probably dekeing other players (a bob and weave). "Right" as in Right Winger, Left Winger Center...

"Holding a Grudge" plays nicely into the hockey theme, too. It keeps players from acting "civil!" Stitch(es) are what some players at the older ages need, after a rough game. "Radiocar" is what has to be called when the fights get out of hand! The "hype" before rival high school team games can also add to the mayhem!

In the US the hockey are levels are: Mites, Squirts, Pee Wee, Bantam and Midgets! Mites being the youngest. The Midgets aren't too midgety, running 6', 170lbs and up! Go figure! In CN, you've got your Mites (in utero!!),Tyke, Novice, Atom, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget, Juvenile--
Juniors is a level used in the US an CN.
@CC, "nutting" is more of a "Beer League" term,in US hockey....
Sorry,I know, TMI!
"Slap Shot" is very funny, but don't watch if you're easily offended. "Mystery, Alaska" is another funny one, but "Miracle on Ice" is by far the best-about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. "I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."~Rodney Dangerfield.

Look forward to a wrestling themed puzzle for @Puzzle Girl to drool over!
Loved "supinate" (if you're checked from the front, that's how you'll land) "satiate"(only if the game is won) You have to "copse" with it, if your team has lost...Winning is the best revenge....(lol)

Anonymous said...

So, if I were 13 and living in Thailand, I'd be having a Baht Mitzvah??

Sorry, can't help myself. I love puns.

Rex Parker said...

Definitely icky in the SE, but OK otherwise. Much as I love BASEBALL, it can't really claim to be "America's pastime" anymore. But the phrase is conventional, so OK.

RADIO CAR!? I got crap for PROWL CAR once, even though there are examples aplenty in Chandler and Spillane. Don't know that I've seen RADIO CAR before. Maybe I have.

PACE for RATE. Guessed right on BAHT (I tend toward BHAT for whatever reason). SUPINATE / NSC made me Word. Don't see NSC a lot. Yay, for a Wednesday that was harder (at least a little) than most Saturday LATs of late.


GLowe said...

@ddb - you forgot one. If you can't cut it in the NHL, you get sent to (10d) DMINORs.

@Donna - Oh yah, swap those two and you might have a tough time getting SOOLS past Rich.

ddbmc said...

@GLowe, my bad! How could I forget? John MacLean is coaching the Devils DMinors in Lowell! We forgot one more: A player "cools" in the penalty box, while serving his/her infraction.....

Anonymous said...


Highly recommend Slapshot. First date for my wife and I was that movie, at the Patio (I used to call it the PAY SHEE O), NW Side of Chi in Sept., 1977. Sat under the faux nightscape of stars and clouds there and still remember that night and place whenever I hear or see of that movie.

- - Robert

Sfingi said...

Learned SUPINATE today, as well as much hockey.
@Gareth - prone and supine, I guess, as so famously mixed up by Stokely Carmichael when asked what a woman's place in the civil rights movement was ("Prone"). He may have also been kinky.

All in all, it was very hard for me because it was sports. And as if the theme wasn't enough, there was someone named 57A NEALE Fraser. The best sports for me are horse racing and the fights because they're over fast. I remember my husband once PayPerViewed a match for $20 that lasted 2 minutes.
@ddbmc - very interesting. I'd hate to subject kids to this teeth-wrenching sport. I've watched college hockey at RPI, Dartmouth, etc., and auto races are worse - I "saw" (from a hill) a deadly crash in Limerock. I'll never understand some effects of testosterone.

Also new to me - BAHT, NOVIA.

Wanted a pie more than a 61A RYE, today.

Held onto Nightingale for most of 54A FIGHTINGATICKET, since a little bird told me these Nightingale boys were all over hockey.

Mini-theme 26D ICING 29D ISING as homophones; and ICING is another cause for not quite a penalty. 59A GELID is very up North.

@Glowe - "Eh" shoulda been somewhere in there.

@Anon: Robert - Everyone says Slapshot is great, and it was filmed at Colgate in Hamilton, NY, an hour to the south. But I can't stand all guy cine, such as Hunt for Red October. I'll take the McKenzie Bros., though.

PJ said...

Still trying to figure out 'gelid,' should have been 'solid' darn it.

Charles Bogle said...

@ddbmc, thanks for the very interesting hockey terms add-ons; @carol thanks for explaining WKLY. For some reason I misread the clue by putting emphasis on "many" and trying to figure out a word to cover "salaried" v "non-salaried" UGH. Thank heavens things crossed Donna congrats and thanks for joining dialogue!

Fred said...

RADIO CAR was a commonly used term for police cars in the 1930s and 40s.Back then it was considered very hitech and cutting edge. It's not used at all today as far as I know.
There was even a hit newspaper strip called Radio Patrol centering around radio cars and it became a movie serial from Universal Pictures. I actually have a copy of the serial.


Orange, you're a NOVIA... you provide us with lots of entertainment and we appreciate that.

Wow! Lots of blog comments today must mean people are enjoying this puzzle. Or maybe it's Orange's great writeup. In either case, it's good to see highly spirited responses once again... maybe the "better" LAT CW is coming back.

Some really good fill: SUPINATE, STYRO, NOVIA, COPSE, and BAHT.

I found this to be a great puzzle, but I really think Ms. Levin could have tried a little harder to build that SE corner, without screwing up the theme or that great CNTOWER.

To me, a great puzzle is one where you learn something. Today I learned all about hockey and several new words: SUPINATE, NOVIA, BAHT, and NEALE. I think this is a record for me.

Found that CRASHING crossing DASHING was a bit novel. Also, EPEE and SNEE in the same puzzle. Oh yeah, and ICING and ISING directly opposite was a bit strange.

Once again, my botany has paid off with COPSE.

The clue base today was absolutely superb! Clues like {Peacock throne occupant}, {Poly equivalent}, {Gremlin and Pacer}, and {Toronto skyline landmark} shows real creativity with the clue construction.

So, okay Rex, what then IS America's pasttime?

I love the name CUCAMONGA... glad that Orange put that "Bad Boys" clip in the writeup.

I'd rate this puzzle A-.

And, let's all applaud three excellent internet services which make this blog possible: YouTube, Google, and Wikipedia.

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi, my son actually played at RPI when he was a mite! Love Upstate! He's played in Lake Placid at both the 1923 Rink and the 1980 Rink-(site of 2 Olympics, right, @Joon?) He played at Glensfalls, where we saw the Adirondack Red Wings play their version of "Slap Shot." No one removed any clothing, but there was plenty of blood! Yuck. Tier I hockey is pretty intense, as Little Johnny IS going to the NHL, right? Tier II is much more laid back and fun. Juniors and Minors is brutal.

Add to "Eh" Oot and Aboot. Love me some Canadian talk! "Slap Shot" was also filmed around the Johnstown,PA area.

@Fred, interesting info on Radio Cars. Nowadays, the police cruisers have on board computers and video cams! Probably a microwave and mini fridge stocked with Tab would be welcome for those long nights on patrol! :) Sorry to be so chatty today....