TUESDAY, December 8, 2009
Timothy L. Meaker

Theme: Can you hear me now? — Theme answers end with words that come after the word phone in familiar phrases.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Art class supply (SKETCHBOOK).
  • 35A: *Suitcase attachment (NAME TAG).
  • 53A: *Arcade attraction (PHOTO BOOTH).
  • 11D: *Dreaded end-of-semester handout, perhaps (REPORT CARD).
  • 27D: *Hotel offering (WAKEUP CALL).
  • 61A: Caller's device, and word that can precede the ends of the answers to starred clues (PHONE).
This definitely felt like a Tuesday puzzle to me. The theme was easy enough to figure out but there are a couple things about the execution that didn't thrill me. First, I don't like that PHOTO BOOTH and PHONE BOOTH are two very similar things, plus PHOTO and PHONE share 3/5 of their letters. Also a WAKEUP CALL is a PHONE CALL, so that's a little snoozy. But speaking of snoozy: the clues. I usually leave complaining about the difficulty factor to Rex and Orange, but I don't see anything the least bit interesting about any of these clues. I know it's Tuesday, I know it's supposed to be easy, but there must be a dozen ways to clue WAKEUP CALL that would make it sparkle at least a little. And describing a phone as a "caller's device" is about as boring as you can get. Unfortunately, the rest of the puzzle's clues are also very flat. But let's see if there's anything I liked about the puzzle:

  • 6A: Solheim Cup co-sponsoring org. (LPGA). Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the only tricky clue in this puzzle. The Solheim Cup is the women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup.
  • 16A: McEntire of country (REBA). I've heard she's fantastic in concert but I've never been a big fan.
  • 58A: Furry aquatic frolicker (OTTER). I never think of them as furry, but I always think of them as frolicking.
  • 18D: Slugger's stat: Abbr. (HRS). Home RunS. Not to be confused with Holy Roman Emperors (55D: Any of four Ottos: Abbr.)
  • 26D: Frosting feature (SWIRL). Mmmmm, frosting.
  • 29D: Southfork Miss (ELLIE). This would be Miss Ellie Ewing of "Dallas."
  • 36D: Iowa college town (AMES). Ames is home to Iowa State University. For some reason that's ringing a bell for me today.... Did something interesting happen there recently? Hmm... Oh yeah — the reigning champion Iowa Hawkeye wrestlers beat the #2 Cyclones Sunday night in Ames! It wasn't quite the beatdown we Hawkeye fans are always looking for, but keeping the winning streak (now at 46) intact is excellent. Hey, if you don't really have a feel for how huge wrestling is in Iowa, take a look at the first minute of this clip. It's sooooo cheesy but it actually gives me goosebumps. That's how much of a dork I am.

  • 49D: Schneider of film (ROMY). Never heard of her. Hey, she was once engaged to 32A: Actor Delon (ALAIN). That saves it for me.
Crosswordese 101: I don't know if OPAL really counts as crosswordese because it's a relatively common word, but it shows up a lot so I thought it might be worth it to talk about it today. The OPAL is October's birthstone. People born in October fall under the zodiac sign Libra or Scorpio, so a clue like today's 19A: Birthstone for a [Libra], often is fairly common. It will also sometimes be clued as birthstone after sapphire (September's) or after topaz (November's). Also good to know that the OPAL is the national gemstone of Australia. Other descriptors you want to look for are milky white, iridescent, and translucent.

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Everything Else — 1A: Caught some z's (SLEPT); 10A: With 10-Down and "and," rigidly formal (PRIM); 14A: Moth-eaten (HOLEY); 15A: Problems (ILLS); 20A: Words of apology (I'M SORRY); 21A: Left, at sea (APORT); 22A: __ Nostra (COSA); 23A: Not as ruddy (PALER); 25A: Egyptian city on the Nile (ASWAN); 28A: Like some chocolates purchases (ASSORTED); 31A: Graceful bird (SWAN); 33A: Ohio A.L. team, on scoreboards (CLE); 34A: Commercial suffix with Water (-PIK); 37A: Bottom-row PC key (ALT); 38A: Rage (IRE); 39A: Apple models (IMACS); 40A: Soft cheese (BRIE); 41A: In the dark (CLUELESS); 43A: Judaic feast (SEDER); 44A: Fourth estate, as it's known (PRESS); 45A: Thai bread? (BAHT); 47A: Food that's filled and folded (TACOS); 49A: Brockovich portrayer (ROBERTS); 52A: "__ my lips!" (READ); 56A: Author __ Stanley Gardner (ERLE); 57A: San __, Italy (REMO); 59A: Bought, to a retailer (SOLD); 60A: Jet-black stone (ONYX); 1D: NYSE units (SHS); 2D: Mythical trickster (LOKI); 3D: K-6 (ELEM.); 4D: X-ray alternative (PET SCAN); 5D: Business big shot (TYCOON); 6D: Fall sign (LIBRA); 7D: Tricky maneuver (PLOY); 8D: Shine, in product names (GLO); 9D: Inquire (ASK); 10D: See 10-Across (PROPER); 12D: Reinforcing beam (IBAR); 13D: Soda shop buy (MALT); 21D: As a companion (ALONG); 23D: Tests for jrs. (PSATS); 24D: Big land mass (ASIA); 25D: Meat garnish (ASPIC); 28D: Baldwin and Guinness (ALECS); 30D: Discourage (DETER); 32D: Stockpile (AMASS); 35D: "Frasier" brother (NILES); 40D: Promise to marry (BETROTH); 42D: Worn by wind (ERODED); 43D: 1984 Cyndi Lauper hit (SHE BOP); 45D: Wrinkle remover (BOTOX); 46D: Blood typing letters (ABO); 47D: Very, in Verdun (TRÈS); 48D: Prefix with sol (AERO-); 50D: Oz barker (TOTO); 51D: WWII weapon (STEN); 53D: In favor of (PRO); 54D: Egg producer (HEN).


Charles Bogle said...

A whole lot more fun and thoughtful than today's NYT, IMO...the fill is not too standard; w PG's concerns, the theme is workable. Byplay of ROMY/REMO and ASWAN/SWAN nice touches for a Tuesday. Compared to the paper of record, I'll take this one today!

Anonymous said...

I had a slugger's stats should be on base percentage - maybe over-thinking on that one. Love the connection with Romy Schneider and Alain Delon - partners at one time.

GLowe said...

Someone recently gave me a WAKEUPCALL [= Hint that you're headed in the wrong direction][Sign not to ignore] regarding puzzle themes. However, the only one who could save BOOTH would be JOHNW maybe? I'm just asking.

I think this is a pretty good construction that could have been enhanced a bit by cluing. PG's writeup is, of course, an unqualfied success.

gespenst said...

I agree about the clues.

I wasn't sure that it was kosher to have ASWAN directly above SWAN ... what do you think?

I liked wrinkle remover (BOTOX) though, and the nice old fashioned BETROTH.

Oh, but SHS for NYSE units? Looks hinky to me. Of course I work at a Student Health Service so that's what SHS means to me ;)

I also liked PRIM crossing PROPER :)

Orange said...

@gespenst, I'm fine with the unrelated SWAN/ASWAN combo. There's no rule against that—just against including two forms of the same word in the grid, or including a fill word in a clue. So [Caller's device] + WAKEUP CALL is a no-no. My husband works for NYSE and also finds SHS a little hinky. I'm sure there's a dictionary justification for it somewhere, though, as crossword editors do not allow constructors to just make things up.

lit.doc said...

@ Charles Bogle, I'm with you. Wow. The LAT puzz was more fun than was the NYT's today. Wow. Just when you think you've seen it all.

Parsan said...

I have just read the comments of 12/7 and want to express my support for JNH and Sjingi. I once ran an organization and received a scathing phone call about one of our activities. Because the caller would not give her name, I said her comments had no validity if she insisted on being such a coward. I hope we don't continue this unpleasantness today; let this be the end of it. However, I feel I can speak for many of us and say to our friends-carry on! JNH, sign in as often as you like. Sfingi, keep informing us and making us laugh.

And now to the puzzle. The LPGA is an organization promoting golf for women, unfortunately not as popular as the PGA. Three cheers for opportunities for female athletes!

Because BOOK, BOOTH, and CARD are things but PHONE TAG and PHONE CALL aren't, it seemed a little off to me. I'm still learning so perhaps i'm wrong.

Remember ALEC(s) Guiness as Gully Gimson (sic)?

Fun puzzle and good write-up, PG!

Rex Parker said...

This one lost me at SHS and never got me back. No problem with ASWAN and SWAN being in the same puzzle. But on top of each other? Come on. Terrrrible.

Also don't like those long Acrosses that are Longer than the central theme answers but somehow Not theme answers themselves. Inelegant. Lotsa "S"s crammed into the middle there, w/ :( plurals like PSATS and ALECS. About the only thing I liked was the intersecting PRIM and PROPER.


I'm gonna have to work until I'm 75 said...

Just went through my most recent brokerage statement and, through my tears, was able to read 2000 SHRS Eaton..

So, ditto on the SHS dimay.

Carol said...

Liked OPAL as I'm a LIBRA and that's my birthstone. Love 'em!

Liked PRIM and PROPER cross.

Some blah fill, but liked ONYX, CLUELESS, and BETROTH.

Easy Tuesday.

GLowe said...

Recipe of a troll: make a contrary statement, the more outlandish the better. Inflame using loaded language. Throw out a personal attack against someone who doesn't deserve it. Post anonymously. Let bake for a while, checking back occasionally until your mom calls or net-nanny tells you "time's up".

If you want to test this theory, watch what happens to comments during school breaks.

I missed it originally, but I thought the 'never shuts up' comment was funny - JNH contributes a lot to blog and always starts out on topic. It's the riff raff like me who start digressions.

Tinbeni said...

SHS - Too obtuse, though acceptable, to comment on further.

Really liked seeing my favorite "god." LOKI 2d, make a return appeearance. Mischief & discord guide my life this season.

As to the theme's answers not all being "device's" ... well the constructor did also throw in the fact that he is CLUELESS, 41a.

gespenst said...

@Orange, thanks for the explanations :)

@Rex & I'm gonna, I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't like SHS

I forgot before, I liked having OPAL and ONYX in the same puzzle :)

@Rex ... I just noticed that PSATS and IMACS cross at the 'S' and as such, the 'S' could be left out entirely (other than destroying symmetry). That sorta seems wrong. I'm not a big fan of plurals anyhow.

Sfingi said...

I felt SHS was a made up abrev. I liked ASWAN and SWAN above each other since it looked like a twill pattern. I began to think of further ones, like wane and gaswar (OCD reflections, again).

Did not know this ELLIE or CLE (since it didn't mean Continuing Legal Ed.) thus creating a personal Natick. Didn't know the other sports clue, LPGA, but none of this slowed me down.

@Orange - Is there a list the rules youse have come up with?

Romy Schneider was from a German acting family and appeared in mostly foreign films. Her first husband was a suicide. Then her son died in a bizarre accident, and she drank herself to death. Delon was probably the father.

Alain Delon was a very handsome man when young. He was in mostly French movies. However, he was in Visconti's 1963 The Leopard, after the novel by Sicilian di Lampedusa, starring Burt Lancaster and (Sicilian) Claudia Cardinale. This is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, and the beauty of the actors adds to this. I had to pay a higher than usual price to purchase a DVD of it, and it never came out on tape. Italian movies are always dubbed in all languages.

Sfingi said...

The Leopard

gespenst said...

@sfingi: those 3 letter abbrev. for baseball teams are a must know if you look at box scores ;) Since we're all Cleveland fans in my family, CLE is a very familiar one ;)

Which reminds me, in yesterday's puzzle, I wouldn't let myself write the Y-word (meaning that other baseball team). I forced myself to fill it in via the crosses. In fact, the Y-word is banned in our home. Any reference to such a team must be "the Minions of Satan" or "the Minions" for short. (tongue in cheek - please don't hate me, Y-fans, it's all in good fun!!) ;)

Orange said...

@Sfingi: Will Shortz's "Basic Rules" say "Do not repeat words in the grid." I don't think anyone's rules spell out "but it's OK for otherwise unrelated letter patterns to appear together" because such guidelines tend to say what's not allowed.

Pat Merrell assembled crossword clue rules at his blog. He says this about repetition: "An answer word won’t be used in its own clue. Generally speaking, no answer word from the entire grid will be used in any of the clues, except for common words like THE, OF, AND, and so on. The same answer word won’t appear twice in the same grid, although sometimes small parts of answers, such as ON, might appear more than once. These rules do vary depending on the editor and circumstances." The full clue rule list is a useful resource for any solver.

Tinbeni said...

Though I am a life-long,'til I'm dead New York Yankee fan, I would never, ever hate you for loving your Cleveland Indian's. And your explanation of having difficulty filling in the Y-answer yesterday is respectfully understandable.

When a certain team finally won in 2004, I accepted an Ex-Pat position in Zagreb, Croatia. Just couldn't bear hearing on opening day "World Series Champion's Boston Red Sox."

This year was more enjoyable.

gespenst said...

@Tinbeni - I can understand your having to move out of the country, even hemisphere, in 2004. I'm considering same this year ;)

My beloved Indians have had good years and bad, and fortunately we were able to see them play in sold out Jacobs Field during one of their good years (2000) [despite being a CLE fan, I live in the northeast]. I have great hopes of seeing their return to greatness :)

Parsan said...

gespenst--Also an Indian fan going back to my girlhood. Loved the Bob's (Lemon and Feller), Larry Doby, etc. There's always next year!

@GLowe--So true and so funny! Just wanted our guys to know it was one person's opinion. Silence can often unintentionally seem to be agreement. Words can sometimes
hurt even when you consider the source.
The puzzle and the comments about it are the meat and the digressions are the sauce!

Anonymous said...

@tinbeni - Cleveland Indian's with an apostrophe?

Orange said...

@Anonymous 10:54:

1. Get a name.

2. If you're the same one who griped about one commenter yesterday, please knock it off and find somewhere else to work out your aggression. (Maybe sign up for boxing classes?)

3. Calling people out on their typos is in poor form and adds nothing to the discourse here.

hazel said...

I actually liked this puzzle - although I see it has broken a few rules, and is otherwise inelegant in places.

Just needs a little BOTOX, maybe, and there could be high fives all around.

@Mean-Spirited Anonymous - I echo the sentiments that have already been expressed - while you're out getting a name, grab a heart and a spine while you're at it.

Tinbeni said...

The comment by @Anon 10:54 needed no response. There is a certain possession of the Cleveland Baseball Fans by their team.

And as to typos, well you DID mean Boring Classes? My error if I misunderstood.

@Anon 10:54
Too much trouble to add an identifier?
"Hey, I'm Anon, nobody's here, so listen up."
I also used the word "obtuse" in an earlier comment. Feel free to use it since it would be an appropriate characterization of your point of view.

A salute to @GLowe, who I believe used that response to a previous gutless @anon a while back.

CrazyCat said...

@Glowe love your comment re: Troll recipe. So true. I enjoyed the puzzle today, not great, but pleasant Tuesday fare. Have no idea what SHS is. Does anyone have a definition? Enjoyed seeing NILES Fraiser's brother. Also thought HOLEY was kind of funny. IMSORRY, but I'm CLUELESS about the difference between a PETSCAN and a CATSCAN. I'll have to look that up.
@Sfingi Thanks for the story about ROMY Schneider. I had never heard of her.
@Parsan Enjoyed your remark about digressions! I absolutely agree LOL.

Tinbeni said...


SHS = Shares.
As I stated earlier, this is an acceptable abbr. but the preferred would be SHRS as noted also by @Work 'til I'm 75.

I enjoyed that with your sobriquet you had PET or CAT scan. Seems about right, but at first all I could thing of was MRI until the 1st cup of coffee kicked in.

CrazyCat said...

@Tinbeni Thank you. Now it makes sense. There should be an R in there. I've had a couple of CT scans so that's what popped into my mind at first, but did't work with the P in SLEPT.

gespenst said...

@crazycatlady: A CAT scan stands for computed axial tomography. It's essentially a ton of tiny little x-rays coming at you from all directions (which is why you have to be put through a circular machine). Computed means the computer puts all the info together, tomography means it shows you "slices," and axial means these slices are along your long axis (horizonatal slices if you were standing up). You can get relatively fine detail on a CAT scan.

A PET scan is a nuclear medicine test, positron emission tomography. So it's slices again, but instead of getting the data by aiming an external x-ray source at your body, you're given some substance which has a radioactive element in it. So what it measures is the positron emission from that substance in your body. Depending on what they're looking for, you might eat, inhale, or receive the substance by IV. It will go preferentially to different parts of your body, which will then emit more gamma rays, and the gamma ray emissions are picked up by the "gamma camera" and again, the computer puts it all together to create a picture of your body.

In general, x-ray based studies give you more physical/anatomical detail, but nuclear medicine tests like the PET scan show function, b/c they will show, for instance, which areas of the body are taking up radioactive glucose and are thus metabolically active.

Ok, that was WAY more information than you were looking for, but I had some time on my hands and thought I'd share ;-b

ddbmc said...

Anon.7:30/31 from yesterday, we banish you! All of us at L.A.C enjoy the CW discourse, along with the digressions, as there are generally some uproarious moments, along with serious ones. Puzzles are catalysts for thought. All of us come here to discuss puzzles, construction, solutions, meh and brilliant clues. As you appear to be above all this, you really don't need this blog. Away with you! "Out, Out, damn spot!"
@Glowe, loved your recipe for a troll. Where are those Three Billy Goats Gruff when we need them?

BTW, it's EC Segars birthday today! Check Google's artwork out. Heyghghghghgh!

@JNH,Sfingi, Parsan, Glowe,Shrubb5, Tinbeni, Mac, gespenst,CCL,lit.doc, et al, continue to post, as I will continue to read and enjoy! You all "Make my Day."

@gespenst, thanks for the PET v CAT explanation.

Thanks, Orange, for defending fellow posters!

CrazyCat said...

@gespenst - Wow! Thank you for that explanation. I googled PET vs CT scan and sort of understood the difference, but you really cleared it up for me. This is why I think this blog is so great. And thanks Orange for giving that creepy Anon the what for. I hope he/she isn't the reason why we haven't heard from JNH today.

Tinbeni said...

@CCL ... @crazycatlady ...

I just hope JohnsNeverHome reads these comments today and realizes we enjoy his input.

I don't think anyone can make too many comments, if they have something to add to the discussion of the Day's puzzle or comments herein.

I'm sorry (see, I got that 20a in!) that the @Anon 10:54 did not make his 'Identifier' ... OBTUSE ANON ... as I suggested in my 11:46 comment.


mathcapt said...

Anon--If you don't have anything to add to any of the discussions and you don't like the discourse--why are you here?

Rex Parker said...

People need to get over this hostility toward some jackass "anonymous." If something is truly offensive, we'll delete it. If it's just assholish, you can (and should) ignore it. Internet 101.

I can't believe John would let himself be driven off by one complainer.

I'd prefer it if people limited comments to 3/day, but I don't really think over-commenting has been a serious issue here, frankly.


split infinitive said...

Despite a couple missteps, I found this puzzle less dreary than the weather here in the midwest. PRIM crossing PROPER gave the grid a little class, along with the two French actors. Delon's leading role in the 1960 film "Plein soleil" --renamed Purple Noon in English was a star turn. Lots of beautiful scenery/men/ women. The Matt Damon remake called Talented Mr Ripley was lame by comparison. Put Soleil on your Netflix queue if you've not yet seen it! Nowadays Delon plays mostly himself on some pretty lousy French TV shows.

I thought OPALs were considered unlucky gemstones unless it's your birthstone. Like LOKI, may be just an Old Norse myth.

Orange, thanks for the reminders/links re: rules of puzzle construction. And for putting trolls in their place. @JNH and SFingi, we got your back! @GLowe, amen! on your recipe/theory. Well said, too.

Sfingi said...

@Orange - thanx for the 2 sites. Am checking them out. Much to learn.

Yesterday, I think the anon waited til it thought everyone was in bed. I was up with a sore throat. My throat is ok, but I have a slight pain in my axis - the one that passes through my brain.

ddbmc said...

@Sfingi, this is why we love you! Hope you're feeling better soon!

There is a pretty bad storm in Chicago right now, tho. Hope all is ok with our Chi-town bloggers. Got power? East Coast gets the storm later tonight.
(Have I reached my post limit?)

GLowe said...

Rex is right; John will be back; and trolls will only come back if they're engaged. I wish I'd have said that in my original post.

I'd prefer to see everything that's posted, unless it's offensive to others (As a card-carrying original member of FC I'm kinda hard to offend).

Scroll past anything that has the anon. label, and I guarantee you, your blogging experience will be that much better for it.

CrazyCat said...

You're all getting the CA storm we had yesterday. I had to wear a coat, scarf, mittens and boots today - in SoCal-brrrrr!

shrub5 said...

I'm late to the party but just in time for dessert. ASSORTED chocolates for all (except mean anonymous commenters.)

SHS for NYSE units seems OK to me. The place I see sh. for share is on the tax form 1040 Schedule D examples.

BAHT and LOKI were unknowns to me but got them via crosses. Thought of Rob Schneider of film at first but had four spaces; figured his first name was spelled ROBB.

Thanks to @gespenst for the CAT scan / PET scan explanation. Very elucidating.

@crazycatlady: Noticed your new avatar. Did this kitty get stuck up there in the tree, necessitating a call to the fire dept? Extremely cold here also (Sacramento). Didn't dress warmly enough, went out and about froze my a**. We Californians are rather wimpy weather-wise.

xyz said...

PETSCAN is not really an "alternative to an X-Ray" as we Orthopedic (Bone Doc) fellows rarely if ever order the former but are the major user of the latter.

Just a little medical nitpick ...

BONESCAN is a good Ortho scintograpic test (Cousin of PET)

CATSCAN is as above

MRI (also NMRI or NMR uncommon) uses large Gaussian Fields and ~microwaves i.e. non-ionizing rads

ROENTGEN-(ograms) is a Saturday-worthy clueing for X-Ray, I suppose, but Röntgen would be far too cruel ....

I'll stop now