FRIDAY, Nov. 20, 2009 — Michael Blake

THEME: ADDLE (65A: Confuse — or what to do to four common phrases to form this puzzle's theme answers) — ADD "LE" to the front of four (reasonably) common expressions to get wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style

Variation on the "add-a-letter" theme, where theme is revealed by reparsing of ordinary word, e.g. ADDLE -> ADD "LE". I've seen this done with "SPIN" and "TROUT" and probably other words. Results here are mixed. Good: LEs are all added to the same place, i.e. the front of the answers. I like that consistency. Bad: base (pre-LE) phrases are kind of weak, esp. ON TELEVISION. NO LIMIT's not much better. They're just not strong self-standing phrases. GO CRAZY is OK, and ASH WEDNESDAY is just fine. Final (post-LE) phrases are decent, I suppose, but I like when theme entries are built on rock-solid foundations. Also bad: Adding "LE" to a phrase that Already Has An "LE." Ideally, whatever you're adding was not there to begin with.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Maximum tolerance for a stand-up comic's jokes? (LENO LIMIT) — this LIMIT is asymptotically approaching ZERO for me.
  • 26A: "All Trotsky, all the time" channel? (LEON TELEVISION) — gotta say, I do love this clue.
  • 47A: When dogs can't run loose? (LEASH WEDNESDAY)
  • 63A: Nuts about Danish toys? (LEGO CRAZY)

Hey, you could do an entirely different puzzle with DO IN as the theme-revealing answer (10D: Knock off). ADOPT PUPIL? DORIC OCASEK? TO AND FRODO? Copyrighted!

[LEGO CRAZY + LOLA (1D: 1970 hit by the Kinks) = ?]

Word of the Day: ISAO AOKI (52A: Senior golfer Aoki) — though it gives me no pleasure, I am getting this twofer out of the way today. ISAO AOKI is a golfer whom only golf fans would know about were it not for crosswords. As it is, the fortuitous combination of letters in both his first and last names has assured him immortality, warranted or not.

I did this puzzle in reasonable time, but I had a serious hold-up near the center of the puzzle. Not where you might suspect — I actually knew NORI (44A: Edible seaweed used for sushi), but just a notch higher, right around where SNARF (38A: Wolf (down)) meets BERN. I had entered SCARF effortlessly and without hesitation on my first pass through the grid, and then couldn't make sense of 24D: Capital northwest of Rome. -ERC? I put the "B" in at the beginning only reluctantly, as CRAB as a verb felt stretchy to me (23A: Gripe). Unless it's a noun ... though that actually feels stretchier. But once I accepted CRAB I had BERC in the Down ... and had to change SCARF to SNARF. Yuck. SNARF is a character from "Thundercats." I see that its definition here is straight out of the dictionary. That doesn't mean I have to like it. But no biggie. It all got done.

What else?

  • 16A: Longship sailors (NORSE) — nice, tricky clue. If you tried putting an "S" at the end of this answer to start, bad move.
  • 4D: You can count on a lot of bucks from one (BRONCO) — took me a stupidly long time to piece this together. Wanted some longer version of ATM.
  • 7D: Songwriter Kristofferson (KRIS) — coincidentally, an answer in another daily puzzle published today. Just rewatched "Taxi Driver," in which a KRIS Kristofferson song/album figures prominently. Here is how Hollywood would promote "Taxi Driver" if it were released today — good stuff.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Symbol of gentleness (LAMB); 5A: Torahs' homes (ARKS); 9A: __ Ababa (ADDIS); 14A: Fridge problem (ODOR); 15A: R-rating reason, perhaps (GORE); 16A: Longship sailors (NORSE); 17A: Maximum tolerance for a stand-up comic's jokes? (LENO LIMIT); 19A: AT&T Park player (GIANT); 20A: Start of a memorable 1961 admonition (ASK NOT); 21A: Force (STRENGTH); 23A: Gripe (CRAB); 25A: Slippery swimmer (EEL); 26A: "All Trotsky, all the time" channel? (LEON TELEVISION); 33A: In favor of (FOR); 34A: Flight-related (AERO); 35A: Clichéd (CORNY); 36A: It's often left in the copier: Abbr. (ORIG.); 38A: Wolf (down) (SNARF); 41A: Mountain ride (BIKE); 42A: Marine threats (ORCAS); 44A: Edible seaweed used for sushi (NORI); 46A: Clear (NET); 47A: When dogs can't run loose? (LEASH WEDNESDAY); 51A: Estuary (RIA); 52A: Senior golfer Aoki (ISAO); 53A: Lover's sweet talk? (NOTHINGS); 58A: Precipitated (CAUSED); 62A: Cuban boy in 2000 news (ELIAN); 63A: Nuts about Danish toys? (LEGO CRAZY); 65A: Confuseóor what to do to four common phrases to form this puzzle's theme answers (ADDLE); 66A: Plus-size supermodel (EMME); 67A: To be, in Brest (ÊTRE); 68A: Hull damagers (REEFS); 69A: Signs of nervousness (TICS); 70A: Interpret, as tea leaves (READ); 1D: 1970 hit by the Kinks (LOLA); 2D: Summer coolers (ADES); 3D: Religious ascetic (MONK); 4D: You can count on a lot of bucks from one (BRONCO); 5D: Stirs up trouble (AGITATES); 6D: CD follower? (ROM); 7D: Songwriter Kristofferson (KRIS); 8D: Den piece (SETTEE); 9D: Saintly (ANGELIC); 10D: Knock off (DO IN); 11D: Big bore (DRAG); 12D: "__ that special!" (ISN'T); 13D: Clockmaker Thomas (SETH); 18D: Doone in Exmoor (LORNA); 22D: Relig. title (REV.); 24D: Capital northwest of Rome (BERN); 26D: He played Ugarte in "Casablanca" (LORRE); 27D: "All My Children" vixen (ERICA); 28D: "___ behold!" (LO AND); 29D: Sad sound (SOB); 30D: Skater Slutskaya (IRINA); 31D: Best way to sing (ON KEY); 32D: Veto from Lenin (NYET); 33D: Mislead (FOOL); 37D: Great time, slangily (GAS); 39D: Rice-A-__ (RONI); 40D: Sistine Chapel features (FRESCOES); 43D: Sacred sites (SHRINES); 45D: "I, Robot" author Asimov (ISAAC); 48D: Come out on top (WIN); 49D: Aerie newborn (EAGLET); 50D: More morose (DOURER); 53D: Adjacent (NEAR); 54D: Quaint retail adjective (OLDE); 55D: Sand castle's undoing (TIDE); 56D: Even share, perhaps (HALF); 57D: Huge hauler (SEMI); 59D: Fill (SATE); 60D: Biblical reformer (EZRA); 61D: Like blue hair (DYED); 64D: Tracker maker (GMC).


Dave said...

@Rex - Your LENOLIMIT was ever non-zero? You probably just wanted to use "asymptotically" in a sentence to impress you math friends.

*David* said...

I had the same issue to finish off, CRAB seemed a major stretch for me for gripe but then I had BERC going down. I didn't get the theme until I was on the last one. Otherwise the puzzle flowed nicely.

Sfingi said...

Finished easily, despite not knowing some words that simply appeared - NORI, SNARF, ETRE, ISAO.

Wonder what happened to ELIAN Gonzalez? Cute kid. The only thing we can be sure of is that he won't die of tooth decay like 12-yr. old Deamonte Driver. Both stories show how children are batted around in this modern world. OK, off my soapbox.

At 5D I entered "efg" as following "cd" - as in the alphabet. Actually thought 15A was "efwd" (f-word). This didn't last, but I don't know where my mind has been this week.

I don't believe 40D FRESCOES is the proper way of pluralizing that word because it's from Latin - like solos, etc. I suppose they'll say it's allowed. Small point.

Orange said...

A couple decades ago, Leno was a gifted comedian. Hence, the asymptotic action.

I had SCARF before SNARF too.

Thanks for the Taxi Driver trailer—I'm loving this new craze of cutting fake trailers for movies, like Uncle Buck as a horror movie.

GLowe said...

Am resisting the urge to look up asymptotically.

Liked the puzzle and theme for the most part. SNARF ... yup, that works.

@SF funnily enough, thought of ELIAN the other day, as I was contemplating BALLOON BOY. Some days I hide in the attic too.

Tinbeni said...

So you get your cup of coffee, turn on the TV to MONK for background noise, scan the blank puzzle, notice a few things right off the bat and think to yourself "This is going to be a breeze."

But you TOO fall into the 'scarf
- snarf' snafu at 38-A.
(I think this one may be a generational thing. The older you are, the more likely you ORIGinally went with the former, only to correct to the latter.)
In the NE I had to fix 11D from drip to DRAG.
In the SW I had to fix wave to TIDE.
In the SE it was fix 50D from soured to Doured.
But I got the seaweed, the plus-sized model and a few other CORNY answers with no problem, and the theme's with the corrections.

Yet as I finished the puzzle (and my 2nd cup) I was left with a mixed feeling ... was this an easy of tougher Friday LAT CW today.

Since my ADDLEd grey matter did have to engage, I'll vote simply ... better.

RP Good job! I especially enjoyed 'The Taxi Driver' clip.

Dave said...

@Orange - you've got cred with me, but I still don't belive it. Further, if you are right, the well known Leno Limit function

HumorIndex = {100*(1989 - year), year < 1990, 0 year >= 1990 } technically doesn't approach zero asymptotically. It simply equals zero for all dates subsequent to 1990.

Re SNARF - Is a word really a word when its origin was at a pot party in 1968 and the neologist simply had his mouth full of Cheetos when he tried to say Scarf? Doesh't some thought/effort have to go into this kind of thing?

Orange said...

@Dave: I can't argue with your Leno Limit formulation.

Joon said...

thanks for the yoda vid. i think that's my favorite weird al song, but i'd never seen the lego version. hijinks all around.

as for "the taxi driver," it just seemed like a movie trailer to me. i'm probably missing the joke because i don't know what the movie is actually about. isn't it about a taxi driver?

as for the puzzle, SNARF rules. i am not kidding when i say i use that word on a regular basis. i'm also reasonably pleased to see STRENGTH in the grid. it's a perfectly common word, of course, but look at that crazy consonant-to-vowel ratio.

Orange said...

@Joon, I haven't seen the movie, but the trailer's "long-lost daughter" is actually a young teenage prostitute in the film. And I'm guessing the romance-with-Cybill-Shepherd part is also way off base.

Burner10 said...

I'm with the bloggers and masters on trouble spots - and even though I knew it wasn't correct (and I made the correction) isn't trash wednesday a better day to keep the dogs in? Does leash wednesday have anything to do with invisible collar?

Rex Parker said...

How Have You People Not Seen "Taxi Driver" !?!?!? [/conniption]

Let's just say the music in the posted clip does not fit the tone / content of the movie. At All.

Real soundtrack to film is actually important / amazing. Bernard Herrmann (of "Psycho" fame).



Well I don't know if it was asymptotic, but I starting to think I divided by zero with the LENOLIMIT. After I got that, every thing else got harder and harder... wait, shouldn't it get easier once you unlock the theme?

I too agonized over the BERN/SNARF cross, because I was absolutely sure that the right word for "Wolf down"(38a) was SCARF (still do). Nowhere in the dictionary did I find SNARF in that context. I think constructors often take great liberties with slangy words, because who knows nowadays what the heck some words mean anyways.

I thought NOTHINGS for "Lovers sweet talk" was pretty clever.
Also liked "LO AND behold".

CORNY for Cliched?
GAS for "great time" (Isn't what I think of when I see the word GAS).
BIKE for mountain ride... I kept thinking JEEP (I'm in the wrong generation, I guess).
ADES, there it is again, the obligatory CW entry.

ELIAN Gonzalas
Al GORE (R-rating reason) heheh!

Would someone please tell me what EMME (66a) means?

Fun stuff:
LOLA, "she walks like a woman and talks like a man..."
The Kink's tranny song gets a double-chuckle today (and a chortle).

Good reminder! I need to clean out my refrigerator today (ODOR!!!)

Speaking of ODOR, have a GAS of a weekend y'all!

backbiter said...

@Rex: I don't understand it either. There's no way Joon and Orange haven't seen "Taxi Driver". I think they are just trying to drive you crazy.
Anyway. "Snarf" tripped me up big time. Like everyone and their grandmother I entered in "scarf". Now I'm gonna have to use "snarf" every chance I get today. lmao


Weird Al Yankovic's cute takeoff on LOLA (YODA) ties in well with today's puzzle in two ways, LOLA and LEGOCRAZY. I nearly went LEGOCRAZY earlier this year when I went to LEGOLAND up in the Mall Of America.
A new CW101 word for "LEGO look-alikes" is K'NEX.

Tinbeni said...

google: Emme model, and it will explain everything.
In a nutshell, she is the "super-model" for fashion's directed at real ladies, those who have actually had a meal in the last week. Complete opposite of Twiggy.

Once again, I enjoyed your observations and agree that the English language takes a beating in CW's and the liberal use of obtuse slang isn't "cute" but just stupid.

Anonymous said...

Melissa Aronson, better known as Emme Jacob (born 1963), is a plus-size model, and is largely recognized as the leading model in the profession, as well as its highest earner.


Charles Bogle said...

RP: thanks for a great write-up and the Yoda, Taxi Driver and Weird Al vids...I liked the write-up a whole lot better than the puzzle. Themed answers, eg LENOLIMIT, struck me as too contrived

CrossWise said...

I too fell into the SNARF-hole, but I got the ADDLE clue early, which helped with the themed answers.

As for Taxi Driver, you've go to know that anything involving Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro AND Harvey Keitel is going to be twisted. And nothing like that hilarious fake trailer.

shrub5 said...

I LOL'd at "All Trotsky, all the time" channel (LEON TELEVISION). Very funny!

One dictionary has SNARF a combo of snort and scarf, so I guess this would be noisily wolfing down. Like my dog does.

Re: 36A It's often left in the copier: Abbr. (ORIG). I bet most of us have a "Hey, look what I found in the copier" story. Mine: I came in to work very early one morning to get things ready for a presentation and needed to make some copies. Found a dark, somewhat fuzzy picture in the out slot. After intense scrutiny, I determined it was a bare derrière. Didn't know whose, but it was male. I suspect it was left intentionally so I posted it on the bulletin board. High-jinks on the night shift...

Took me a while to realize DOIN, which I got solely through crosses, was DO IN. I thought something must be wrong but couldn't find it.

Does anyone use the word SETTEE anymore? I think it belongs in a Victorian 'parlour' with a davenport or a chesterfield.

Tinbeni said...

Well, boys-will-be-boys, great story.

When I think of a DEN, I think of the 'man of the house's room' ... ergo, I don't think SETTEE would describe any of his furniture. We would just say couch.


Sure, my SETTEE sits right next to my DIVAN and my MORRIS CHAIR.

You young wippersnappers just don't know anything!!!!

Joon said...

some of us whippersnappers know both SETTEE and SNARF. but no, we haven't seen taxi driver. you'd be amazed at the other movies i haven't seen. i think when the AFI list came out, i'd seen 15/100. (it's probably more like 20 or 25 now.) there are more things in heaven and earth, horatio, than old movies.

i know rex likes to complain about words, but he at least makes a distinction between "i don't like it" and "that's not a word." saying "nobody uses that word" and "it's not even in the dictionary" belies the evidence you've seen right here, from me (as i said, i use that word all the time) and rex (who looked it up, and there it is). crossword constructors, and more importantly editors, Do Not make up words and definitions for the fill. (of course, they might make up words for theme answers and maybe an occasional punny clue.) if it's not in dictionaries, it's not in the puzzle*. if you don't find it in your dictionary, look in other dictionaries.

*: except for ACER and IRED, which don't deserve to be exempted from this rule but somehow are.

CrazyCat said...

Really enjoyed the Taxi Driver trailer. I was watching it and thinking what the heck is this music, then I realized it was a joke. DUH. If you like GORE, you'll love Taxi Driver.

I also got messed up with DOIN because I was thinking Knock Off as either a fake or to Quit for the day. So then I kept looking at DOIN wondering what it meant. I have fuzzy brain this morning. Also included with those who thought SNARF was SCARF.
A SETTEE in the den? That doesn't sound very comfortable.

obertb said...

An easy, enjoyable should-have-been-a-Monday level puzzle.

I got SNARF because I already had BERN. SCARF seems a better answer in retrospect, but whatta gonna do?

M West said...

@TinBeni - When I think of Den, I think of iniquity.

Anonymous said...

No one had a problem with ON KEY? Shouldn't it be IN KEY?

Anonymous said...

As usual Rex a great write up and for me Yoda by Weird Al was most enjoyable. Puzzle not so much.

SethG said...

Best part of the day was joon's comment. Worst part is coming now:

I haven't seen Taxi Driver.

But I have (and have had) a standing request at the library for a copy.

Sfingi said...

@Rex - Are you talking to me? - of course I remember Taxi Driver! If not - see it! Great psycho study, that. And Scorsese is Sicilian and worshiped since Mean Streets.
But what is that weird cat-alligator cartoon animal?

@Crazycat - no settee in den. Double Barcalounger. Guys made this puzzle. (Davenport can also be a small desk.)

I never liked "scarf" for meaning eating fast because the noun has nothing to do with it. I'm glad there's a new word.

Remember, Leno's humour only infinitely approaches zero. There's still good stuff. At least he's not so in love with himself the way 2 other night hosts are.
But, re: Leno and Emme, I still like Leno, but not when he assumes everyone thinks Monica Lewinsky is ugly because she's a "fat broad." I always thought she was luscious.
(Signed, Fat Broad since 30)

Tinbeni said...

'efg' for 6-D should have worked, but alas, the CD was capitalized. My first thought was DVD but I already had the 'R' from ARKS @5-A.

LOL @ your efwd (F-word) @15-A (R-Rating reason) it was even better!

But I always thought Leno thought Monica Lewinsky was 'ugly' because of what and where she SNARFed (or is it scarfed?).

On the word controversy ... well in Fla, I rarely (if ever) wear a scarf. As for the other (snarf) I think I'll just continue to nosh in a polite manner.

@SethG - Hope you get Taxi Driver soon, bring the kids ... IT's a "Great Family Movie" ...enjoy!


The best way to sing is, ON KEY, or not "pitchy" as Randy on American Idol would say to Sanjaya, but I think you're right, it should be INKEY. But then that would screw up that marvelous LEON TELEVISION theme entry.

CrazyCat said...

@sfingi - I have resisted going the recliner route, but at this point in life I'm having second thoughts. I do have a big comfy sofa, however. No Settee....

Finally had a chance to watch the Yoda LOLA LEGOCRAZY video. That was just perfect for this puzzle! Thanks R.P.

ddbmc said...

Asymptotically and Toto, Too? I have no math side to my brain, but I get zero sum.

Snarf made me laugh uproariously! My family snarfs constantly! I'll go in for that last little tid bit of wonderful leftovers and it's been SNARFED!

Loved Leon Spinx sans frontal bridge. Nice look!

Agree with JNH-in key not on key. But a squid would be inky, if bothered.

And the modern den would have a Barco lounger, not a Settee, ala Archie Bunker. Dens of old were libraries or smoking rooms, no? Where the men retired to tell ribald stories, snort on cigars and snarf port.

Sadly, I have not seen Taxi Driver. Came out when I worked in DC, so probably had an aversion to the subject matter. But it will go on the "must see list." Did finally see "Midnight Cowboy."

"Darth Vader's got you annoyed, but if you kill him you'll be unemployed..YODA" My kids forced Weird Al on me and I ended up thinking he was quite clever.

Funny, I thought Wednesday was Prince Spaghetti Day!

Here comes the weekend!

mac said...

Good puzzle, enjoyed it although in hindsight I missed some of the funnier answers because I did it online/downs first/filling in after.

Liked "lo and behold" and "nothings" a lot. I had T-bar for mountain ride for a bit.

CrazyCat said...

Whoa here's one last tidbit to chew on. Weird Al graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obisbo. He's one of their many famous grads, including my fabulous daughter.



My den (WITH recliner) is my house!
I spend about 95% of my time in my Den (aka Study). In there are my computers, TV, book shelves, even a place to eat my meals. I often wonder why I have a 9 room house. I could easily live like Henry David Thoreau... well, but then, where would I have those big parties!!!