THURSDAY, March 18, 2010 — Donna S. Levin

Theme: Smooch! — First words of the theme answers are KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Park warning (KEEP OFF THE GRASS).
  • 25A: 1971 hit for Ringo (IT DON'T COME EASY).
  • 43A: Bone injury in which the skin is intact (SIMPLE FRACTURE).
  • 48A: Regular Letterman show segment (STUPID PET TRICKS).
  • 55D: Popular version of a design principle acronym spelled out by the starts of this puzzle's four longest answers (KISS).

Quick write-up from me tonight. I'm in Omaha getting ready for the NCAA wrestling championships, which start tomorrow morning. It's been a long day of traveling and I still have to pore over the brackets for an hour or two (do I have time to make a spreadsheet??) before bed. So, yeah, I'm a little distracted. Also, I'm on my laptop and forgot to pack my mouse so I have to use the stupid touchpad which I hate. But enough about me. What did I think of the puzzle?

I solved the puzzle just now and I will say that I sure did enjoy it. I had no idea what was going on with the theme, but IT DON'T COME EASY and STUPID PET TRICKS both made me smile. Speaking of Stupid Pet Tricks, I've been looking for a video of my favorite Stupid Pet Trick ever and haven't been able to find it. It's the one where the little Boston Terrier attacks the vacuum cleaner. Anyone remember that one? I'm pretty sure I have it on a VHS tape somewhere in my basement. I've watched it many times and every single time it makes me laugh so hard I cry. If you ever see it, make sure to let me know. In the meantime, you can enjoy this one:

Quick hits:
  • 1A: Relatives of odds (ENDS). The hotel we're staying at tonight is attached to a casino, so I was definitely tricked into thinking about gambling odds on this one. (True story: The ATM in the hotel lobby is "out of order," so when we need cash it looks like we'll have to go to the casino. I'm sure they didn't plan it that way.)
  • 14A: Marjorie Morningstar's creator (WOUK).
  • 38A: First professional musician to become Chairman of the Board of Lincoln Center (SILLS). Sometime in the last couple years there was a puzzle memorializing Beverly Sills. One of the clues asked for her nickname and for some inexplicable reason I knew it. (It's "Bubbles.")
  • 41A: 2009 "Survivor" setting (SAMOA). If you have kids and haven't seen it yet, I strongly recommend the television show "Endurance" — it's kind of a "Survivor" for kids. I don't think it's in production any more, but the Discovery Kids airs old episodes every night. Really fun show.
  • 3D: Shore thing (DUNE). I entered erne and thought, "that's weird to refer to a bird as a thing."
Everything Else — 5A: Presently (ANON); 9A: Attacks verbally (SLAMS); 15A: San __ (REMO); 16A: Fortuneteller's deck (TAROT); 17A: Old Dodge (OMNI); 18A: Diva's moment (ARIA); 19A: More than plump (OBESE); 23A: Flier that had a St. Louis hub (TWA); 24A: Compete (VIE); 33A: Sticking places? (CRAWS); 34A: Ford Field team (LIONS); 35A: Collar (NAB); 37A: Firing chamber (KILN); 39A: Galileo's patron (NASA); 40A: Sumac of song (YMA); 42A: Muslim mystics (SUFIS); 46A: Like (ALA); 47A: Posed (SAT); 57A: Biker's invitation (HOP ON); 58A: Pale tan (ECRU); 59A: Buffalo's lake (ERIE); 60A: Concerned with (ABOUT); 61A: "__ the heck!" (WHAT); 62A: Freelancer's encl. (SASE); 63A: Word that may appear above a silhouette of a man (GENTS); 64A: Not all (SOME); 65A: 1/2 fl. oz. (TBSP.); 1D: Hirsute "Star Wars" creature (EWOK); 2D: Seward Peninsula city (NOME); 4D: Take a powder (SKIP TOWN); 5D: See 32-Down (ARAFAT); 6D: Big name in spongy toys (NERF); 7D: Drop (OMIT); 8D: Genesis builder (NOAH); 9D: Cheroot relatives (STOGIES); 10D: Literally, Spanish for "the tar" (LA BREA); 11D: Vicinity (AREA); 12D: Some spores, all grown up (MOSS); 13D: Jeanne d'Arc et al.: Abbr. (STES.); 21D: Possesses (OWNS); 22D: Alternative to odds (EVENS); 25D: Eliciting an "Ewww!" (ICKY); 26D: Takes a little off (TRIMS); 27D: __ Lama (DALAI); 28D: Weather, in poems (CLIME); 29D: __ Olay (OIL OF); 30D: Back biter? (MOLAR); 31D: Glitch (SNAFU); 32D: With 5-Down, former PLO chairman (YASIR); 36D: Low (BASE); 38D: Word with bar or days (SALAD); 39D: Most crazy (NUTTIEST); 41D: Limb immobilizers (SPLINTS); 42D: Battle reminder (SCAR); 44D: Chart (MAP OUT); 45D: Shrewd (ASTUTE); 48D: Go after, as flies (SHAG); 49D: Choice for Hamlet (TO BE); 50D: "Once __ a midnight dreary ..." (UPON); 51D: Mass seating (PEWS); 52D: Repeat (ECHO); 53D: Monorail unit (TRAM); 54D: Grouch (CRAB); 56D: Ooze (SEEP).



Regarding this puzzle, I was going to say “IT DON’T COME EASY”, but ain’t that just bad grammar?

Best part of the Letterman Show (and NUTTIEST) were the STUPID PET TRICKS.

I thought the clue for 63A was hilarious: “Word that may appear above the silhouette of a man” = GENTS.
And MOLAR for “Back biter” was pretty funny too.

I thought SPLINTS crossing with SIMPLE FRACTURE was kind of clever.

A DUNE is not always a “Shore thing.” For example, the Kelso Dunes are right in the middle of the Mojave Desert… no shore there!

Where did the word SNAFU come from? I think I once heard, but forgot.
And, what about NERF?
Anyway, I love saying those words.

The great Beverly SILLS sings an ARIA (Sempre Libera) on The Muppet Show---
From the opera, "Pigoletto"

Time for SOME Mocha coffee with Swedish Pancakes and Ding-a-ling Berries.

Y’all, have a fun day!

John said...

Cruciverb is busted again, so I had to do the puzzle at the LAT website. It was an easy romp thru the meadow.
Have a great day all!

Tinbeni said...

Great photo. But if you had taken it just 250 million years ago, you would have found the Mojave Desert under the sea.

SNAFU is a circa 1941 Military expression. Situation Normal, All F**Ked Up.

Donna Levin this was just ABOUT a perfect puzzle. The right amount of difficulty, clever clues, a little misdirection, nothing ICKY. Very ASTUTE!

@PG Great write-up & clips, enjoy the matches.

Sfingi said...

I don't think the yung'uns use the word SHAG to mean swatting flies. But, I knew bikers weren't about to say wOPON, unless they wanted to be pushed off.

SO, I had "swat" before the above-mentioned, and "mold" before MOSS.

To me, this was Monday or Tuesday easy. By Thursday, I usually have at least one Googler. I didn't think the word KISS giving me a first letter would help, but it sure did. Vroom, vroom, vroom. In a fun way.

Liked how odd is opposite EVEN and odds is opposite ENDS. If I'm stuck in a waiting room w/o a cw, I give myself an associative exercise. I pick a word and write down as many other words come to mind. I might continue with "Odd man out", "odds-bodkin," "Odd-ogg -half turtle and half frog." Hmmm. CW theme?

The only word I disliked was CLIME for weather. As we know from global warming, these are not the same. Climate is warming, but weather can still appear to belie it.

Learned - TRAM. Wish we had one here. Will it be a TRAM on a trac?

Crockett1947 said...

@jnh Hard to believe that you didn't know the origin of SNAFU. Related is FUBAR (F@+%ed Up Beyond Reason.)

Great day, all!


Crockett1947 said...

ALL Reason

Stefania said...

Saving Private Ryan was just on recently and they subbed in "Fouled" for the expletive common in SNAFU and FUBAR.

Dad was a Lt. Col. so I grew up hearing both terms in full expletive manner.

Tinbeni said...

Told myself I wasn't going to be a CRAB today. But if you are going to cite something it should be precise:
FUBAR also originated during WWII in the U.S.Militay.
Like SNAFU its usage has spread to colloquial use and substitutions.
In its basic form: "F**ked Up Beyond All Recognition"

You solved a sports clue!
Outfielders SHAG the flyballs (hit their way).
Yup, a baseball reference.

As I commented late last night, I set the TRAP.
Santa and E.B. (the Easter Bunny) both dropped by, took the Thin Mints, Jameson's Whiskey and the Leprechaun with them to Jamaica. Damn.

Tuttle said...

The Dodge OMNI was another car that sucked in its standard trim level but had a version - the Shelby Omni GLH-S Turbo - that was one of the most famous sleepers of the 80s. And in the spirit of acronym fun, the GLH stood for "Goes Like Hell".

SKIPTOWN seems a bit excessive for "take a powder". I had STEPSOUT at first.

Real Grouchy Today said...

Lovely puzzle, totally ruined for my by the common reinterpretation of KISS, which I hate. As Ms. Levin indicated, it's a reinterpretation of a valid design principle, Keep It Simple andStupid. It was an admonition to remember that the guy fixing it when it breaks down only had a high school education, only has a hammer and a monkey wrench, not a PhD Mechanical Engineer with a full machine shop at his disposal. It's why any army in the world prefers AK47s rather than M16s. Anyone can strip and clean an AG47 in 10 seconds, not so with the M16s.
How that got perverted to Keep It Simple, Stupid I'll never know, and the gratituous putdown there annoys the hell out of me.
Beyond that, thanks for the write up PG.

shrub5 said...

@Sfingi: For the flies, I had SWAT, then SHOO and finally SHAG. Two thoughts of insects before baseball. And I also wanted MOLD before MOSS for grown up spores, but already had the S from KEEP OFF THE GRASS....BTW, why must we keep off the grass at a park? That's where we go to get ON the grass.

@Crockett1947: I'm always glad when you come by to leave a comment 'cause I love your avatar!

Our friend YMA Sumac came back. She appeared here just last Saturday.

I had BATTIEST for most crazy which made Galileo's patron BASA. Thought that might be an Italian benefactor? When I had to google for Muslim mystics (SUFIS), I realized it should be NUTTIEST/NASA....oh, THAT Galileo.

@Donna L: Thanks for this fun puzzle.

@PG: Have a terrific time at your tournament.
I do remember the dog attacking the vacuum cleaner on Letterman. Hilarious!

CrazyCat said...

I'm glad that our constructor Donna Levin was nice enough to KEEP IT SIMPLE for STUPID me today. I was able to breeze though this, unlike the NYT puzzle which gave me a SIMPLE FRACTURE of my brain. Cute theme. Love STUPID PET TRICKS. I have an abundance of those in my life. My little terrier is the NUTTIEST. Very excited that I remembered YMA. Another crosswordese 101 victory! Liked seeing LA BREA again. I guess it really means THE THE TAR TAR pits. So many Spanish names in SoCal, but the CLIME is great. Clues I liked: Some Spores all Grown Up MOSS and Word that may appear above a silhouette of a man GENTS. That reminds me of a pub I used to frequent that had silhouettes of dogs on the rest room doors. One was a Pointer and the other was a Setter. Nice puzzle. I liked it alot more than yesterday's ECRU offering. Thanks for your write up PG. Loved the Letterman SPT clip.

@Tinbeni I guess that Leprechaun trap was multi purpose. If you had added a few STOGIES, you might have been able to NAB the Tooth Fairy or an EWOK as well. Too bad they all had to SKIP TOWN. SNAFU also reminded me of FUBAR. Funny it turned into a hippie expression to describe someone who had hit the bong a few too many times.

Rube said...

I too found this to be a very enjoyable puzzle, if a little too easy for a Thursday.

Like @crazycatlady was happy that I remembered YMA from last week. I originally had YMA in my crosswordese list from months back as "Peruvian sumac" thinking of it as a plant, (and a very obscure word as well). Last week that definition didn't make any sense so I Googled and found out about the singer. She apparently had a stupendous range of 4-1/2 octaves. Most impressive as my range is barely one octave.

Thinking of voice ranges reminded me of Nelson Eddy who was both a teen idol for his pop singing as well as a reknowned opera singer in the '30s and '40s. (Think Jeanette MacDonald.) He also had a wide range and sang soprano, tenor, and baritone simultaneously in his role as The Whale that Sang at the Met, an early Disney movie.

Back to the puzzle. Was I the only one who had Woki for 1D. Caused a very slow start, furthered by, FWIW, there is a Seward Park on a peninsula in Seattle, but Seattle wouldn't fit in 2D. Also, not sure to what SALAD "days" refers. Anyone?

No new words again today in the LAT puzzle. Apparently, after about 8 mos of puzzling, I've seen much of the standard crosswordese and the learning curve of words is beginning to flatten out. Now it's a matter primarily of remembering those new words and figuring out the obtuse late week clueing. Quickly now, a Turkish hostel and a harem girl.

lit.doc said...

Another hand up for a very enjoyable and well-executed puzzle that was just too easy for Thursday.

@Tinbeni, dang, you beat me to it re "...All Recognition".

@Real Grouchy, ditto re "...and Stupid".

@Rube, re 38D: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/salad-days.html

Rube said...

@lit.doc, tx for the info... don't think I've ever heard the expression before. Could have looked it up myself, lazy dog. BTW, after all the discussion last week about the timing of Chevys with 4 barrel carbs, I saw My Cousin Vinnie last night, (instant play Netflix). Definitely worth watching. Also found out that in a poll the ABA rated this the 3rd best legal movie after To Kill a Mockingbird and Twelve Angry Men. (Don't remember if this was on the NYT or here... probably there.)

John said...

As of 9:50 tonight, Cruciverb is still busted, so tomorrow will be a total guess, Oh well......

badspellor said...

I still don't understand relative of odds. Are they referring to "odds and ends"? How does that make them related? Probably some simple stupid old me is missing.

I sailed through the theme even without getting to the KISS theme because I am too lazy to scroll down
on the computer.

Seemed a bit easy for later in the week.

Here's another war acronym, I think it's from Vietnam: FUGAZI.
I wonder if it ever shows up in
the crosswords.

Bohica said...

As long as we're talking military acronyms, where is BOHICA? Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

CrazyCat said...

Ok I have tried to comment twice and they have both vanished into cyberspace.

My captcha is PUKIN

CrazyCat said...

@badspellor - it's one of those partner/relative/cousin clues. Odds and Ends. I, too, thought it had something to do with betting at first.
@Rube My parents had a Nelson Eddy Christmas album when I was a kid. I remember it well.

Crockett1947 said...

@shrub5 Thanks. I was thinking of changing it to another of his poses, but I'll hold on to this one for a while longer.

Unknown said...

Yeh it was very easy to get started on this one if you watch a lot of tv! I definitely finished this one a lot faster than last Saturday. I think it was a little quirkier though,but for some reason my brain was clicking. I have been cramming a bit though, I got some books from LA Times Crossword.com Studying definitely helps. I have to admit it is fun too!