FRIDAY, Jan. 29, 2010 — Dan Gagliardo

Note: cruciverb.com (where many people get their LAT puzzle online) is down for reasons I don't fully understand. No word on when it will be back up. We haven't received permission to post the .puz ourselves, so those who get the puzzle online will just have to wait. [UPDATE: Permission granted — go here for your .puz]

Puzzle write-up below ... after the Spoiler Whales (stolen from the amazing Matt Kish).

THEME: THE WALLS HAVE EARS (38A: "Be careful what you say," and a hint to a feature shared by this puzzle's perimeter answers) — every word on the perimeter of the gird contains the letter string "EAR"

This is a clever idea, one that required an extra-wide grid to accommodate its theme-revealing answer (16x15 instead of normal 15x15). This was my fastest LAT Friday of the year by a full minute and a half, but that doesn't mean there weren't significant thorny patches. I was particularly vexed by the NE, where neither the clue at 13D: Mahdi, in Islam (REDEEMER) nor the cross at 20A: Thompson in the Theater Hall of Fame (SADA) meant anything to me. I had EMMA for the Theater clue, and that was enough to slow me down but good. Further, went with NAP instead of LAP at 24D: Sitter's offer to a tot. Cheap trick, but it worked. Also got slowed down at the (aargh) tilde-free LA NINA (49A: Oceanic phenomenon that affects weather) — needed every cross before I got it and saw that it was a. two words and b. a phrase I definitely know. Not much more luck on the western seaboard, where TEAR-AWAY meets RAMEAU (53A: Baroque composer Jean-Philippe). I figured the jerseys were TEAM-something, and I just don't know the composer in question. I know that his name means "branch."

Theme answers:

  • 1A: Poet Edward and a king (L EAR s)
  • 6A: "Like Mike" actress (M EAR a) — wtf is this!?!?! I've seen MEARA clued a million ways, but have never heard of "Like Mike." I hope it's a Michael Jordan biopic ... um, well, close:

  • 11A: Make on the job (EAR n)
  • 14D: Close one (n EAR miss)
  • 52D: Show up (app EAR)
  • 71A: Promise (sw EAR)
  • 70A: Tough test metaphor (a b EAR) — :(
  • 69A: Wine industry reference point (y EAR)
  • 38D: Like some football jerseys (t EAR -away)
  • 1D: Shoe co. founded in Venice Beach (L.A. G EAR)

Crosswordese 101: ALOP (57A: Unbalanced) — one of those words that no one ever uses but that appears in crosswords with pretty good frequency. Functionally equivalent to "lop-sided." Many dictionaries don't feature this word, and if you enter [define alop] into Google, you get no dictionary sites, no definitions ... almost unheard of. Can't think of another word where I've seen that happen. Type [define kakistocracy] and you get scads of dictionary sites. [Define alop] = bupkus.

What else?

  • 19A: Lindsay's "Bionic Woman" role (Jaime) — why oh why does she spell her name like that of a Spanish man!?

See you Monday.


Everything Else — 1A: Poet Edward and a king (LEARS); 6A: "Like Mike" actress (MEARA); 11A: Make on the job (EARN); 15A: When Polonius says "brevity is the soul of wit" (ACT II); 16A: Outdoor seating area (ARBOR); 17A: Old knife (SNEE); 18A: Equatorial African country (GABON); 19A: Lindsay's "Bionic Woman" role (JAIME); 20A: Thompson in the Theater Hall of Fame (SADA); 21A: Notable period (ERA); 22A: Scrooge's visitors (GHOSTS); 24A: "Ta-ta!" ("LATER!"); 25A: "L.A. Law" extras (ATTS.); 27A: City near Provo (OREM); 28A: Chaos (MAYHEM); 29A: Swipe again? (RE-SCAN); 31A: Found, as tabloid fodder (DUG UP); 33A: Rec. label across the pond (EMI); 34A: The duck, in "Peter and the Wolf" (OBOE); 36A: Liver oil source (COD); 37A: Home of the Big 12's Cyclones (AMES); 38A: "Be careful what you say," and a hint to a feature shared by this puzzle's perimeter answers (THE WALLS HAVE EARS); 43A: Thought patterns, briefly? (EEGS); 44A: Guitar cousin (UKE); 45A: Shade (TINT); 46A: Latin I word (AMO); 47A: It's not on the level (SLOPE); 49A: Oceanic phenomenon that affects weather (LA NIÑA); 53A: Baroque composer Jean-Philippe (RAMEAU); 55A: Jump in a rink (AXEL); 57A: Unbalanced (ALOP); 58A: Ever (AT ALL); 59A: Lens holders (FRAMES); 61A: Back talk (LIP); 62A: Erosive force (WIND); 63A: Like candied fruits (GLACE); 64A: Revolutionary Chopin piece? (ETUDE); 66A: Play to __ (A TIE); 67A: Dull (MATTE); 68A: Where gobs go (TO SEA); 69A: Wine industry reference point (YEAR); 70A: Tough test metaphor (A BEAR); 71A: Promise (SWEAR); 1D: Shoe co. founded in Venice Beach (L.A. GEAR); 2D: French card game similar to whist (ECARTE); 3D: Casey's turns (AT BATS); 4D: Ipanema's city (RIO); 5D: Do a number (SING); 6D: College choice (MAJOR); 7D: Undid (ERASED); 8D: Adequate, and then some (A BIT MUCH); 9D: CD-__: computer inserts (ROMS); 10D: "You __ what you eat" (ARE); 11D: Blue book entry (ESSAY); 12D: Object of loathing (ANATHEMA); 13D: Mahdi, in Islam (REDEEMER); 14D: Close one (NEAR MISS); 23D: Frequent Pro Bowl site (HONOLULU); 24D: Sitter's offer to a tot (LAP); 26D: Garbage haulers (SCOWS); 28D: Casey's team (MUDVILLE); 30D: Org. for 25-Across (ABA); 32D: Bearded butter (GOAT); 35D: Nevada city on I-80 (ELKO); 37D: Health Net rival (AETNA); 38D: Like some football jerseys (TEAR AWAY); 39D: Iron ore (HEMATITE); 40D: Dorian Gray's flaw (EGOMANIA); 41D: Like exes (SEPARATE); 42D: Bambi relative (ENA); 47D: __ Paradise, "On the Road" narrator (SAL); 48D: Parimutuel bet (EXACTA); 50D: Mishandling (ILL USE); 51D: Shrugger's comment (NO IDEA); 52D: Show up (APPEAR); 54D: Respected one (ELDER); 56D: Arab potentate (EMEER); 59D: Tightening target (FLAB); 60D: Jazz sessions (SETS); 63D: "Today" rival, briefly (GMA); 65D: Haul (TOW).

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Parsan said...

Oh brother! Sailing right along until I hit the right side of the puzzle. Had THE WALLS HAVE EARS early and 3 EARs but still couldn't figure out the NE for a long time. Knew EMI and SADA, thought AMES was Iowa, wage for EARN, had LAP, and a brain freeze at MAYHAM, knew it but forgot how to spell it. Blue book?-car or boat value? NCAA teams? no,ESSAY (you dummy!). A mess of letters.

Did not see the two words in LA NINA until Rex pointed it out. ETUDE seemed strangely clued. ALOP? yuck!

But I liked this puzzle that went fast until I hit the wall.
TEAR AWAY jerseys easily gave me WIND, RAMEAU, and YEAR. (Aren't they illegal in games?) Did not know SAL. Delighted at being reminded of Casey and MUDVILLE. GOAT and FLAB funniest clues. NE felt like Sat., the rest like Wed.

Thanks Rex!

Tinbeni said...

What you said (mostly).
The El Nino correction to LA NINA finally got me my MUDVILLE, as Casey's AT BATS EARNed them their name.

The "TEAR AWAY" jerseys have been out of use for a long time.

SADA, GLACE, RAMEAU were all new.

Had jams before Jazz SETS filled in.

GOAT was a cleverly clued, bearded butter.

Two Mugs necessary. Its A TIE between being A BEAR or not liking this puzzle AT ALL.

@Rex - I liked the whales and the clips.

Jeb said...

Liked the puzzle a lot, though t'was easy.
I do question the need to explicitly spell out the theme though. The puzzle was easy enough for a Friday so that the help provided by giving away the constructor's artifice wasn't necessary for the solve, so why do it?

Joon said...

jeb, if it weren't spelled out, probably well over half of the solvers would miss it. i bet many will miss it anyway. that's as good a reason as any to spell it out.

parsan, the ETUDE clue is less weird if you know about chopin's revolutionary etude. if you're like most people, you'll recognize the music even if you don't recognize the name. the guy playing it in the clip has crazy head-jerky motions that i can't really defend in good conscience. he plays rather well, though.

totally agree on ALOP. the first time i saw it in a crossword, i tried to look it up without success. i think it fails the minimum criterion necessary for a word to be legit crossword fill.

Jeb said...

@Joon - Yeah, I know that's why they did it, just questioning whether it was really necessary to say "Hey, look - Every word on the perimeter has EAR somewhere in it". It's Friday, and the puzzle was already easy for a Friday. Maybe Rich could have split the difference and just said 38A was the theme of the puzzle.

Just felt that an interesting and elegant puzzle was dumbed down by this clue.

Charles Bogle said...

enjoyed this puzzle and thought the theme was fun...had exactly the same missteps Rex had (and then some); must be getting better

totally agree w @parsan and @tinbeni

AMES is Iowa. Teams are called Cyclones and they play in the Big 12 (am I correct?). Did not know OREM

A lot of work went into this well-crafted puzzle: eg, ESSAY in NE for blue-book entry (do college students still write exam answers in a blue book) w "ABEAR" down below describing a hard exam; college MAJOR too. There is little if any tired fill (AETNA an exception). I can forgive ALOP

SADA and RAMEAU...unknown to me and usually come across these types only in NYT; LAT definitely seems to be tightening for the better...also did not know REDEEMER, MATTE, ECARTE...but fortunately recalled SNEE from a CW101

What did Ann MEARA have to do w Mikey?


DougHinko said...

This is interesting.... My newspaper was delivered today without the Calendar section and now there are problems w/ the online version, too? It looks like the LAT forgot to pay the bill? HAHA

*David* said...

There was nothing to fear on this puzzle, it came together early and with minimal smear.

Van55 said...

Once again I thought this puzzle offered just the right amount of resistance. There were things I didn't know (e.g. RAMEAU) but could get with the crosses. The misleading clues (e.g.sitter's offer)were not frustratingly misleading as were those in this morning's NYT entry. I didn't mind ALOP, having seen it often in XWords. Generally the fill was decent or better.

Tinbeni said...

Played your clip, recognized it almost immediately. So now I know the name of the piece. Thank you.

True story about ALOP and college.
When I took my first computer class we wrote the programs on 'punch cards' a true test of my typing ability. Type a period as a comma and everything in the program changed.

For whatever reason, at the top of my Balance Sheet program was the following:
**** ALOP ****
Well I re-typed the cards twice, still happened.
Couldn't figure it out, so I changed the name of the company to "ALOP"
Prof. thought it was original but deducted it down to a 'B' ... he was picky.

Like Mike, actress, Anne MEARA, never heard of this movie, doubt it was a major hit = lousy clue.

Was in college 36 years ago, have no kids, therefore 'Blue Book entry' being for an ESSAY exam is a bit obtuse. When I hear blue book, I think of Kelly and used car values.

"L.A.Law" extras are actors not really attorneys (ATTS), equivalence to an abbr. is not indicated, and they are NOT members of the American Bar Association. Maybe SAG not ABA.

Tinism finished.

shrub5 said...

I promptly put in EL NINO for the oceanic phenomenon but once I got an L from MUDVILLE, I knew it had to be LA NINA instead. Had much of the same trouble @rp and others have mentioned (and more) so my solve time was long. Thought the LAP clue/answer was clever when I realized the "sitter" is not necessarily a babysitter.

I knew SADA Thompson from the 1976-1980 TV series "Family" (she played the mother) but that did not prevent me from entering EMMA at first.

@joon: Thanks for the info on Chopin's Revolutionary Etude.

@rp: Loved the pic of the cute dog with ears ALOP.

Kudos to Don G. for a wonderful puzzle.

lit.doc said...

Another hand up for struggling a bit in NE. EMMA before SADA (who?), NAP before LAP (wanted SLAP), DIRK before SNEE (CW 101 is well worth the [in]tuition!), etc. Remembered EMI due to a flogging endured a while back for sticking with BMI too long. Saved from EL NINO only by having spotted the Mighty Casey thingy early on.

I’m a piano geek, so etude was a gimme, as was my favorite harpsichord composer. First encountered Rameau in music school, when a visiting harpsichordist performed “Les Cyclopes” as an encore (I wish I knew how to embed audio clips).

Gotta grouse about ALOP. @Joon, I was glad to see a constructor also expecting a CW answer to actually be at least almost a real word, even if flansir. And it was so avoidable. How ‘bout “Balding, in short?” for the clue?

@Joon (and any other constructors present): shouldn’t “Arab potentate” have had “var.” appended to it?

Parsan said...

@Joon--Thank you and yes, one recognizes it immediately. If I remember correctly from Music 101, Chopin only named his compositions sonata, etude, waltz, etc. and others attached descriptive names to his music. The excellent movie "The Pianist" (Polanski) features a number of his works.

Anonymous said...
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Sfingi said...

Great theme and arrangement, but took a while. Agree with @Joon.

I loved the "ears" on all sides. There was a minor theme of Casey at the Bat.

Had "Emma" for SADA, "crows" for SCOWS, "belt" for FLAB. I kind of prefer my crows as the answer for garbage haulers.

Had eventually to Google for SADA and AMES (sports). Couldn't remember ELKO for a while, though we've had it before.

Resolved - or re-solved - a lot by filling in ears all around.

Wanted "Sonia" from Disney or "Anitra" from Italian for OBOE- voiced duck.

Knew right away that 49A was either El Nino or LA NINA, so had to wait for MUDVILLE.

RAMEAU's stuff is sort of all alike. It makes pleasant background music for a certain type of get-together where minuets would seem right.
I grew up in a Polish neighborhood where Chopin was considered a saint, along with Stanislaus, Ladislaus, Casimir, etc. I've been told his sacred music reflects the Polish mass of alternating joy and sadness.

Only thing I didn't like was ATTS as a plural abbreviation for attorneys, but abbreviation is my pet peeve on puzzles.

What is a TEAR AWAY jersey, sportsters?

The Gipper said...

@Sfingi - In days of yore, football players wore shirts that could easily be torn so that when someone was trying to tackle them by grabbing their jersey the shirt would fall apart rather than enabling them to be tackled. They were banned quite some time ago.

Sfingi said...

@Gipper - why? Sounds like a good idea to this wimp.

@Rex - what is the significance of the whales on the diagrams?

Joon said...

i don't think {Balding, for short} can rescue ALOP. random abbreviations are not good crossword answers, especially abbreviations for a word (ALOPecia) that many solvers won't know anyway. the solution is to redo the grid so that you don't need ALOP in the first place. easier said than done, i understand, what with APPEAR and SWEAR constraining the fill in that corner in two directions.

as for EMEER, ... yeah, i'd say it's a var., all right. words from foreign alphabets get translated in lots of different ways, but EMIR is sooo much more common than EMEER (or AMEER, or AMIR which is at least a common proper name)... 11 million to 40,000 on google. that's not even a contest. EMEER did make merl reagle's list of flansirs, so we're not the only ones who feel this way.

i think i forgot to mention how much i liked this puzzle in spite of its shortcomings. a truly original theme goes a long way.

JIMMIE said...

The NE was ABEAR to me. MAYHEM to me is not chaos, but extreme damage. ALOP is in my unabridged Webster, and not archaic.

Rex, I enjoyed the Like Mike clip, which Maltin gave three stars.

Fun puzzle. Had to be a hard construct.

chefwen said...

Good Friday puzzle, just the right amount of difficulty for me. Biggest write over was 28A, started with bedlam, changed it to MAYHaM, finally got it right with MAYHEM. Also had minor in before MAJOR.

Thank you Don G.

mac said...

I liked this puzzle a lot! I think it would have taken less time if I had stopped to figure out that all the outer words had "ear" in them...

Lots of beautiful words like redeemer, mayhem, anathema and LANINA, which I had a hard time parsing.

I wrote in Emma first as well, but I do know Sada from the really well-acted series "Family".

Tear-away jerseys? I thought that was just for Chip and Dale.

Not crazy about e-things, but .puz or dotpuz is funny.

Charles Bogle said...

@sfingi:Ican't speak for @gipper, but my best guess is that the Rules Committee wanted to return some part of the modern game to uits root essentials, ie, a runner or receiver should have to physically and with ability evade would-be tacklers--having them get away w torn shirts brings the game a notch lower to flag football

Sfingi said...

@Bogle - Thanx

@Joon - funny, alop

Jan said...

Sailed right along on this one until I put "bedlam" instead of "mayhem", which caused a lot of mayhem!

I didn't get the theme until I looked more closely at the 38A hint. I would have been at a total loss without it.

I get my LAT puzzles at their website: http://games.latimes.com/index_crossword.html?uc_feature_code=tmcal

Margaret said...

I am also missing the significance of the whales on the diagrams.

xyz said...

I really enjoyed this puzzle and its theme. This was my first LAT on newspaper ever as the Palm Springs hotel had the paper for me. Fun on paper and I do like to solve them that way.

I was slower than Rex, but better looking.

Also, what's supposed to be the deal with those silly whales?????? I'm slow on the uptake anyway. Not my style if it's art for his own sake...