THURSDAY, February 4, 2010 — James Sajdak

Theme: Distraction — The theme is a witty quotation.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Start of a quote (DID YOU EVER).
  • 23A: Quote, part 2 (STOP TO THINK).
  • 51A: Quote, part 3 (AND FORGET TO).
  • 60A: End of the quote (START AGAIN).
  • 38A: Author of the quote (A. A. MILNE).
I know a lot of people hate quote puzzles. Other people love them. Okay, I've never actually heard anyone say they love them. But some people aren't bothered by them. I kinda like them once in a while. I think the quote puzzles I really like are the ones where I've never heard the quote before (so solving it is really satisfying) or when I know the quote really well (so I feel like I'm totally cool and in on the joke). The ones that aren't so great for me are they ones where I go, "Oh. Yeah. I've heard that before. But didn't really remember it. Because it wasn't all that funny." This is one of those quotes for me. But, ya know what? I liked the puzzle just fine anyway. I'm not really complaining — even though it might seem like I am — I'm just laying out my thought process for you. Probably in more detail than you really care about but, hey! It's my blog! I can do what I want!

Let's see what else I want to talk about:
  • 5A: Grass surfaces (TURFS). Oh the turf wars my husband and his gang, Los Nortaños, are involved in. Things are rough here in the burbs.
  • 16A: Like undecorated walls (BARE). Also like Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard. Not sure why I'm bringing that up except it's what popped into my mind.
  • 30A: It's gnus to the lions (PREY). HAha! An animal pun!
  • 44A: Curly poker? (MOE). I'm not much of a Stooge fan, but I understand they are very popular. See also 45D: Curly group? (STOOGES).
  • 46A: Ragtime piece that became Vincent Lopez's theme (NOLA). Who the heck is Vincent Lopez? Hold on, I'll look it up. ... He was a big band leader in the 1920s.
  • 59A: Cuernavaca crowd? (TRES). In Cuernavaca they speak Spanish. In Spanish, tres = three. And everyone knows that "three's a crowd."
  • 67A: Doesn't put anything away for a while? (FASTS). It seems like I've been seeing this "put away" = "eat" riff a lot lately, so this one came to me no problem.
  • 1D: Six-time Emmy winner Alan (ALDA). He also seems to be quite popular in puzzles these days.
  • 10D: Good time for a beachcomber (EBB TIDE). Started out with low tide until the crosses fixed it.
  • 11D: "Splish Splash" singer (DARIN). I honestly can't think of this song without picturing Potsy singing it. That's sad.
  • 50D: "__ girl!" (ATTA). Yesterday was National Girls and Women in Sports Day. So "ATTA girl!" to all you female athletes out there!
  • 53D: Up for __ (GRABS). I had "OH YAY!" for "OH BOY!" at [64A: "Whoopee!"], which gave me "Up for GRAYS" here. Took me a while to sort that out.
  • 57D: Cautionary data entry acronym (GIGO). Garbage in, garbage out. Apparently GIGO is also the brand-name of a line of men's underwear. I found that out when I went looking for images to include. I'm not going to include any of those.
  • 61D: Twaddle (ROT). The word twaddle sounds dirty to me.
Crosswordese 101: This is going to be a very short lesson. YEGG is another word for safecracker. I don't know where this word comes from or how it came to have the meaning it does. I just know that YEGG means safecracker. And that has been enough to help me out in a few puzzles!

Everything Else — 1A: Clip contents (AMMO); 10A: Whirlpool (EDDY); 14A: Wagered (LAID); 15A: Slanted (ATILT); 19A: Slammer at sea (BRIG); 20A: VIP roster (A-LIST); 21A: With no margin for error (EXACTING); 26A: Grifter's easy mark (LIVE ONE); 29A: Prohibition action (RAID); 31A: Prohibition __ (ERA); 33A: Pilgrim's destination (MECCA); 37A: Understood (GOT); 41A: Greet warmly (HUG); 42A: Photographer Adams (ANSEL); 45A: Geisha's cupful (SAKE); 49A: Hit, as flies (SWATTED); 54A: Quivering (AFLUTTER); 55A: Salad bar pair (TONGS); 63A: Raced (TORE); 65A: Logician's word (ERGO); 66A: Empire until 1991: Abbr. (USSR); 68A: Harbor hauler (SCOW); 2D: Send (MAIL); 3D: Skirt length (MIDI); 4D: Homeric inspiration for Joyce's "Ulysses" (ODYSSEY); 5D: Ancient cross shape (TAU); 6D: Beehive State native (UTE); 7D: Bit of bridge-building hardware (RIVET); 8D: Biceps, e.g. (FLEXOR); 9D: Sedimentary rock layers (STRATA); 12D: Manhattan, for one (DRINK); 13D: Safecracker (YEGG); 18D: Name of four Holy Roman emperors (OTTO); 22D: Doorbell sound (CHIME); 24D: Four-F's opposite, in the draft (ONE-A); 25D: Wave maker (PERM); 26D: Women's links gp. (LPGA); 27D: Pressing need? (IRON); 28D: Examiners of boxers (VETS); 32D: Objective (AIM); 34D: Make small talk (CHAT); 35D: Greek salad slice, briefly (CUKE); 36D: Like good bourbon (AGED); 38D: High, as a kite (ALOFT); 39D: Get rid of (LOSE); 40D: Ex-Speaker Gingrich (NEWT); 43D: Retail computer buyer, e.g. (END USER); 47D: Much (LOTS OF); 48D: First name in soul (ARETHA); 51D: Jackson 5 dos (AFROS); 52D: 'Stros, for example (NLERS); 54D: Alaskan island closer to Russia than to Alaska (ATTU); 56D: DEA raider (NARC); 58D: Winter blanket (SNOW); 62D: Baseball's Cobb and Cline (TYS).


Tinbeni said...

A while back we had a puzzle that lead me to google Winnie-the-Pooh quotes, and one of them was todays "quote theme."

That notwithstanding, I HATE quote theme puzzles.

Noticed they had AGED DRINK in the grid, still no reference to Scotch.

YEGG & EDDY I learned from CW a long time ago.

NLERS for 'Stros = crap fill (again!).

PREY, PERM & LIVE ONE were cleverly clued.

Nothing difficult, interesting or learned. This was GIGO.

Best moment came when I said to myself;
"OH BOY, I'm done."

hazel said...

Harshing on Pooh? That's just wrong.

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known."

So true.

Van55 said...

Add me to the "hates quote themes" side of the room. I haven't seen one in the LAT for quite some time, for which I remembered I am grateful when I attacked this one. I solved it easily enough but with no joy or great sense of accomplishment.

Sfingi said...

To quote the 3 Stooges, "I resemble that remark." That is, the AA Milne remark.

Is there no end to the A- words? AFLUTTER ATILT.

"Nola has twinkling eyes of blue..." 1927, after Arndt 1915. I asked hubster to sing it for me. Sometimes I think he's secretly cent'anni.

I'm glad the lions didn't eat the "pony" for PREY.

Don't like CUKE, another iffy iffier iffiest abbreviation. And why Greek?
Am getting bone-tired of ALDA.

TONGS. There's something un-pairish about them. They're attached, so single; but have an "s" at the end. I don't know. We used to say pair of pants for one piece of clothing with 2 legs (usually). Now I hear "pant," meaning the same thing. It's OK. I won't last all that much longer.

@Van55 - Guys! I think this is the first ever I've disagreed with what you said. The quote was quite clever and real and not known to me. And what's not to love with Il Pu? Now, what was I saying?

@Tinbeni - Agree - NLERS is both sports and the dreadful and dreaded "ER."


Super duper puzzle. Hey, I finally got my quotation puzzle. OHBOY!!!
Of course, I like anything written by A. A. MILNE. I just wanna give Sajdak & Norris HUG.

And to top it off, there’s Vincent Lopez playing NOLA on the piano. I’m all AFLUTTER with happiness today.

Then there’s the STOOGES and MOE, very clever entries and clues.

I loved the clue for TRES (Cuernavaca crowd) and also for FASTS (Doesn’t put anything away for a while).

@Tinbeni I was sure that you'd love this puzzle with DRINK, AGED (bourbon), and SAKE… maybe even “High as a kite?” I guessed wrong. I think the lack of Scotch got you pissed right off. Or maybe it was the Prohibition ERA thing?

Now I did know ATTU (the island closer to Russia than to Alaska), but when I did a little research I found that the Big and Little Diomede Islands are only 2.5 miles apart. One is owned by Russia, the other by Alaska. So see, all you stupid uninformed newsmen who ridiculed Ms. Palin… she was right when she said "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

This weekend I am going to a two day workshop given by the famous photographer, Willard Clay. It’s all about Advanced Black & White Nature Photography. Hoping Will will turn me into the next ANSEL Adams!

Time to stop my JABBERING and get on to eating my waffles with Door County cherries.

*David* said...

I refuse to simply hate on a quote theme. I have similar gradients depending on what the quote says and whether I've heard it before.

If I haven't heard of the quote and its interesting it changes the dynamic of solving. It teaches you to rely on crosses and how to intuitively fill in empty white squares when you see the direction the quote is going. This comes into play with more difficult puzzles and simlar solving techniques to get around roadblocks.


That Arligton: The Rap video clip that was in your writeup had me in stitches.

BTW, a good resource for where words come from (eg. YEGG) is the ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY

Tinbeni said...

I did like the AGED DRINK, but as you noted, a Manhattan is made with bourbon.
Scotch and bourbon people are different folks. Kind of like gin and vodka, both are liquor but not the same.

I remember you asked for a 'quote' theme a while back. Personally, I have never liked them. Even when I knew the quote (like today, I could not write in the 4 line quote and AA MILNE any faster), or thought I was in on the "joke" or whatever.
Just not my cup of SAKE, even if delivered by a Geisha.

Your analysis of quote theme puzzles is very astute, I may have to re-evaluate my position.
And you are right 'hate' is too harsh. Is mildly dislike OK?

I was not "Harshing on POOH" ... it is because I liked the books as a kid I looked up the Pooh quotes a while back. Ergo, knew the theme quote immediately.

I said this was GIGO because it began with ALDA and ended with SCOW, both have appeared to often in the puzzles I do.

Maybe everything just hit 'right' for me today. I thought it was Mon. or Tues. again.

gespenst said...

Well, this is my first post to the blog in a bit. Missed you all ;)

I had a hard time with this puzzle. Once I got the theme quote, I was in good shape, but it took forEVER to get the quote. That's the problem w/ the quote puzzle, you rarely get halfway there. At least w/ multiple theme answers, you can get the answers individually and chip away, but with the quote it's often all or nothing.

The rest of it I found so-so. I had to resort to oneacross.com to make any headway.

biceps=flexor screwed me up for a while b/c I had the more general MUSCLE which didn't work w/ any of the crosses. Also did the LOWtide before EBBtide, which is weird b/c I already had EDDY in place.

maybe I'm just out of practice.

chefbea said...

I don't mind quotes. Haven't seen a step quote in quite a while.

Thanks for the explanation of gigo - never heard of it

hazel said...

@Tinbeni - Apologies. I misinterpreted your GIGO remark. Thought it applied to the puzzle, which was built around Pooh, who was sadly (in my mind) reduced to the Garbage In, our solving experience then reduced to the Garbage Out. Which just sounded (to me) harsh. Glad to see I was mistaken.

The Pooh abides.

Orange said...

What PuzzleGirl said about quote themes.

A note on terminology, for chefbea: A "step quote" puzzle hasn't been seen much in years. Those quotes stairstepped in one uninterrupted path through the grid from top left to bottom right, bending where they hit black squares rather than breaking between words. Wherever the quote turned a corner, you had an unchecked square—there was no crossing word to help you get that square.

Today's puzzle has a quote theme: a quote or quip broken into symmetrical chunks of Across answers.

lit.doc said...

Hand up for love quotation puzzles. When the quotations are funny, cute, or in egregiously poor taste. Expected harder for Thursday, but enjoyed solving this one.

@hazel, never heard the verb "to harsh [on]" before. Love it!

lit.doc said...

@Puzzle Girl, what I forgot to say first time through (stayed up way late to solve NYT and LAT puzzles, so not firing on all cylinders yet) was that your write-up was hysterical! [embed pic of students giving funny looks to teacher sitting at computer giggling uncontrollably]

C said...

I am not a fan of quote puzzles, I still solve them but they generally fall on the lower end of my fun scale. They tend to be "all or nothing" in their solving, i.e. you either immediately get a large chunk of the puzzle solved because you know the quote or you grind every single down. Neither outcome is appealing to me. I solve across so probably only read about 60% of the down clues so solving quote puzzles where I am not familiar with the quote grates against my normal practice.

No problems with today's puzzle, the quote was ... a quote so I guess I have no complaints ;^)

Tuttle said...

Ach. Had TRIBE instead of DRINK for a while. Only real problem today.

Referring to the USSR as an empire is purely rhetorical, but no problem getting it. MIDI is a computer interface or a region of France, never heard it used to refer to skirts. I suppose because I was too young to truly experience the 70s... thank the gods.

shrub5 said...

This quote puzzle was a refreshing change. I didn't know the quote but had enough letters of each part to figure out the words.

@Sfingi: I had the same thoughts on TONGS and pants that you did!

Learned YEGG from a puzzle about a month or so ago. Luckily I had the Y already to get me started or I don't think I would have remembered it.

I liked the two Prohibition clues and the two Curly clues. Used GIGO often at work when requesting a replacement for a poor quality/compromised lab specimen. Liked LIVE ONE for grifter's easy mark.

Thanks to James Sajdak for this entertaining puzzle!
@PG: Loved the Arlington rap!

Van55 said...

@sfngi -- nice to know that someone agrees with me most of the time.

I don't like quotation puzzled generally for many of the reasons already expressed. That said, I agree with you that A.A. Milne and Il Pu are eminently quotable and that the quotation in this puzzle is "cute."

wilsch said...

Quote puzzzles are reminiscent of the old Tribune Media Services puzzle that preceded the LA Times puzzle in syndication. I'm not crazy about quote puzzles, but this one was a good puzzle anyway.
Solid Thursday difficulty level.

CrazyCat said...

If I may CHIME in, I enjoyed the puzzle and theme. I don't think I've done many quote puzzles. Since the quote came from Pooh, I was happy. I know we had YEGG awhile ago, but I just couldn't pull it out of my brain. My only complaints are ALDA (again), AFLUTTER, ATILT and MIDI. I remember MAXIS and MINIS, but don't think I've ever heard of a mid length skirt referred to as a MIDI. I do remember MIDDY blouses though. Loved Curly Poker and Curly Group for MOE and STOOGES. Originally had DIETS for FASTS. At least I was on the right track. Never heard of Vincent Lopez, NOLA, GIGO or ATTU so those were new for me.
@Tinbeni - You immediately came to mind at AGED and DRINK. I was sure you were thinking how come no Scotch? By the way I like both Scotch and Bourbon, just not at the same time or I'd be ALOFT.
@Sfingi - I was AOK with CUKE. I always refer to cucumbers as CUKES and I do use them in Greek salads along with radishes, olives and feta cheese.
@PG - loved the rap video. Very funny.

ddbmc said...

Haven't read AA Milne in a while, but always enjoyed the stories. Haven't done enough puzzles to dislike quote puzzles, but I can see the points raised here, if it is not a familiar enough quote, makes for a messy solve. I figured it out with the crosses.

@PG-I lived in Roslyn/Arlington back in the '70's! I cannot believe the changes in the "turf." Lived in Arlington Towers, now River House. Was there just as the Metro was being built. I think the Metro station in Arlington had one of the longest escalators in the world, next to one in the USSR? I cannot believe the amount of Starbucks (then again, yes I can) What a riot! I passed the video on to my other family members who still live in the Arlington area!

Enjoyed the STOOGES clues. Curley cues?

We did have YEGG in a puzzle back in the fall, at some point, along with ATTU.
Splish Splash
@Tin- can't get no respect for his scotch!
@gespenst-welcome back. As I remember you have one in the oven?Hope everything is ok.

Hey, at least I learned GIGO today!

Anonymous said...

I HATE quote puzzles!

Sfingi said...

@Gespenst - I also had "muscle" first.

@Crazy cat - I've never used the abbreviation, but then, I'm the opposite of a cook. If it's common, I'll use it. I had no trouble getting it in the puzzle. My problem is, they aren't limited to Greek salads.
I try to get CUKES in all salads, as well as olives and radishes. Italian salads also have much oliveness, but no one shares my love of radishes. My father-in-law sincerely believed they caused heart attacks.

Has anyone noticed re: word verification, that:
1. The words can all be pronounced
2. The first one you try is almost always unacceptable?

What, are a lot of youse drunks/briagus', or what?

Parsan said...

diThe only time I like a quote puzzle is when I'm in a hurry, like today. You can often fill it in even if you have never heard the quote.

Vincent Lope (NOLA) was a very well known band leader of schmaltzy pop music into the 50's. He had a popular radio show when radio was king, and he was well known to WW2 soldiers and their girlfriends when he played at the Taft Hotel in NYC in the 1940's. Many young band members (the Dorsey Bros., Glenn Miller) later formed their own bands and played music that was considered hipper at that time.

@genspenst--Welcome back! How are you?

Always write CUKEs on a grocery list but never say it. I guess USSR is the "evil empire". GIGO a mystery. YEGG a given.

Funny rap, PG. How many different locations were in it?

lit.doc said...

@Sfingi, I noted the "what, is this thing programmed to snub us the first time?" thingy a while back and someone said that a timer is running on it that invalidates it without refreshing your screen. And I'm skeptical that there exists a handful of letters that this crowd couldn't find a way to pronounce. :)

Pseudonymous said...

I LOVE quote puzzles!

gespenst said...

@ddbmc and @parsan, thanks for the welcome back :) I'm trying to get used to my work schedule again, after some time off between semesters. And yes, I'm expecting ... 22 weeks now, so more than halfway there, woo-hoo!

@sfingi, glad I wasn't the only one :)

@C, ITA about either getting everything off the bat or having to rely totally on downs.

Whitney said...

Here's my two cents re: quote puzzles. I love them. I can't really put my finger on why. I think it's that (unlike some names and places) you can figure it out even if you have no idea who said the quote or why or what it's about. I guess I like parsing stuff out. I also do the word jumble daily...so I'm not sure how those two are related but somehow they are in my mind...

@Puzzle Girl that video is hilarious. Rainbow sandals are simultaneously obnoxious and ubiquitous. I have two pairs :)

Rube said...

I'm on record as disliking quote puzzles. Wasn't it @Joon who said a couple of weeks ago that Rich Norris didn't allow quotes in his puzzles?

No new words for me in this puzz, but, thanks to @genspst I learned a new abbreviation, ITA, which I am with @PG. (That's a job for the participle police.)

And tx to he who pointed out the timer on the captcha. Was wondering about that.

gespenst said...

@Rube - ITA is a *very* useful acronym when you frequent debate boards :) Which I do. Almost as much fun as the crossword ;)

Tinbeni said...

The number of times I have ever had bourbon you could count on your fingers, and you probably would only need one hand.

@Sfingi and others:
If I did mix the Scotch & bourbon I believe I could come up with definitive definitions for my Word Verifications.
For instance, the one I have now is leniati, An Italian Sports Linai?

@Parsan & Rube
ITA - my mind goes blank, I have not a clue.

Final verdict on quote puzzles:
I enjoy doing crosswords.
ERGO, if todays has a quote theme, I'll either do it or not do it.
IT IS what IT IS.

Rube said...


In Total Agreement.

1-1/2 Hrs 'till Laphroaig time for me.

mac said...

Indoor Tanning Association? No, I know, I totally agree. But I had to look it up...

I like quotes as long as they are decent, and I think this one was. It sure helped me in a few spots.

Thanks for the Gigo explanation, PG, but I still don't quite understand where you use it.

HAHA, my WV is "minicat"! Won't be the last one, I bet.

CrazyCat said...

@Rube & Sfingi
Word Verication/CAPTCHA Thank you for finally giving those annoying things a name. ITA about having to enter it at least 2 times or sometimes even three. After looking up CAPTCHA, I now understand the reason for their use.

@Sfingi LOL about your father-in- law and radishes! I love them also, the hotter, the better.
@gespenst Welcome back. Glad all is well.

CrazyCat said...

My current one is BALIBRA! Subliminal advertising maybe?

Sfingi said...

Just read all the last comments.

GIGO FIFO LIFO,etc. come from old-time computer programming, where one had to personal program every bit, byte, stack, etc. One could make many a mistake, so garbage in means garbage out. First in first out, might seem fairest, but in say loading a metaphorical truck it might be last in first out.


I just noticed the link you made to that Splish-Splash clip. Sooo cute! That got me rolling on the floor. Not a good thing just before going to bed.

Jan said...

I LOVE quote puzzles - it's like getting something extra, and I enjoy the fun of figuring out what the quote says. Maybe I've just been lucky, but most of the ones I've done have been delightfully funny or interesting and thought-provoking. I really liked this one!