TUESDAY, March 2, 2010 — Donna S. Levin

Theme: Insurance Reform — First word of each theme answers is related to the insurance industry.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Government declaration of its intentions (POLICY STATEMENT).
  • 25A: Vietnam War defoliant (AGENT ORANGE).
  • 43A: Gold Rush villain (CLAIM JUMPER).
  • 55A: High-octane fuel (PREMIUM GASOLINE).
Quick insurance story. PuzzleDaughter fell off her bike last summer and we had to take her to the emergency room for stitches. I paid the $50 co-pay that day. When the bill arrived, it showed that the original charges were $700 but that our insurance company had paid them $900. But after that was a mysterious "adjustment" that made it so I still have to pay them $200. So let me get this straight. The hospital has already received more money than they asked for, but they still want me to pony up $200. I've been trying to find someone to explain to me how that can possibly make sense. The hospital says I have to check with the insurance company. The insurance company says the hospital should be able to tell me. Pretty sure the Insurance Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Virginia is the next person I'm going to ask.

The puzzle. I blew right through this one. Pretty easy with lots of crosswordese. Theme is not particularly sparkly. I mean, when your first theme answer is POLICY STATEMENT? Yeah, zzzzzzzz. But there were some bright spots too. Anytime you get to recall "The GONG Show" is fun (10A: Interrupter of a bad act, on an old game show). ROXIE is an awesome name (32A: Velma's rival in "Chicago"). Unfortunately, there's a dog in our neighborhood named ROXIE, so now ROXIE will forever be a dog name to me. Hate when that happens. And … yeah, that's pretty much it for the sparkle.

  • 14A: Word after horse or soap (OPERA). I don't know what a horse opera is. I'm sure I've heard the phrase before, but I got nothin'.
  • 21A: Modest shelters (HUTS). Since we're already back in the 70s with "The Gong Show" we might as well reminisce about "Gilligan's Island" too.
  • 36A: Pigs and hogs (SWINE).
  • 42A: Betty Ford, __ Bloomer (NÉE). Me: "Betty Ford, Late Bloomer? That's an awfully strange nickname."
  • 47A: Hearing requirements (EARS). Weird clue.
  • 48A: Displaying buoyancy (AFLOAT).
  • 6D: Congregation leader (PASTOR). Raise your hand if you entered priest off the P.
  • 44D: Gold and silver (METALS). These days, of course, seems like the answer should be medals.
  • 46D: Part of NOW (WOMEN). National Organization for Women.

Crosswordese 101 Round-Up:
  • 23A: Variety of lily (SEGO).
  • 29A: Speed Wagon maker (REO).
  • 42A: Betty Ford, __ Bloomer (NÉE).
  • 51A: Periodic table no. (AT. WT.).
  • 61A: School on the Thames (ETON).
  • 2D: Each (A POP).
  • 4D: "Entourage" agent Gold (ARI).
  • 8D: Mauna __ (LOA).
  • 19D: One-named Deco designer (ERTÉ).
  • 48D: Church recess (APSE).
  • 51D: Culture medium (AGAR).
Everything Else — 1A: Palindromic title (MADAM); 6A: Ashen (PALE); 15A: Elvis __ Presley (ARON); 16A: Mayberry kid (OPIE); 20A: Prefix with gram (EPI-); 22A: Madison Square Garden et al. (ARENAS); 23A: Variety of lily (SEGO); 24A: 1998 animated bug movie (ANTZ); 29A: Speed Wagon maker (REO); 33A: Chat room chuckle (LOL); 34A: Detained at the precinct (HELD); 35A: Electrical network (GRID); 38A: Etcher's need (ACID); 39A: Leer at (OGLE); 40A: Scepter's partner (ORB); 41A: Emulate Cicero (ORATE); 46A: Jockey's tool (WHIP); 51A: Periodic table no. (AT. WT.); 52A: Protrude, with "out" (JUT); 58A: Having all one's marbles (SANE); 59A: Rotary phone feature (DIAL); 60A: 1988 film farce fish (WANDA); 61A: School on the Thames (ETON); 62A: Bobbles the ball (ERRS); 63A: Taboos (NO-NOS); 1D: Sulk (MOPE); 2D: Each (A POP); 3D: Supermarket section (DELI); 4D: "Entourage" agent Gold (ARI); 5D: Bushwhacker's tool (MACHETE); 7D: Humanities (ARTS); 8D: Mauna __ (LOA); 9D: Involve, as in a sticky situation (ENTANGLE); 10D: Morticia's mate (GOMEZ); 11D: Bid one club, say (OPEN); 12D: "Project Runway" judge Garcia (NINA); 13D: Understands (GETS); 18D: '80s-'90s Serbian auto import (YUGO); 19D: One-named Deco designer (ERTÉ); 23D: Insinuating (SNIDE); 24D: Soon, to the bard (ANON); 25D: Fluorescent bulb gas (ARGON); 26D: Stuff (oneself) with food (GORGE); 27D: "The Man Without a Country" hero, for one (EXILE); 28D: Suspect's excuse (ALIBI); 29D: Sports show summary (RECAP); 30D: Upper echelon (ELITE); 31D: More strange (ODDER); 34D: Injures (HARMS); 36D: Isolation (SOLITUDE); 37D: Sandwich in a tortilla (WRAP); 41D: Thornton Wilder classic (OUR TOWN); 43D: Spiced Indian beverage (CHAI); 45D: Shark flick (JAWS); 48D: Church recess (APSE); 49D: Toga party setting (FRAT); 50D: Jay seen at night (LENO); 51D: Culture medium (AGAR); 52D: Arabian folklore spirit (JINN); 53D: Reverse (UNDO); 54D: 43-Down et al. (TEAS); 56D: Space station for about 15 years (MIR); 57D: Vientiane native (LAO).


Sfingi said...

Never watched Entourage or Chicago, so had to Google. Didn't know NINA Garcia and forgot YUGO. Still don't know what it means to bobble the ball, but I guess it's to ERR.

My genius sister (she was a Fulbright Scholar; the rest of us were Halfbrights) got her first masters in etching in the late '60s. At the time, it was dangerous. She transferred from Pratt to Penn State because of the safety factor, both of the neighborhood and the art labs. I found one of her etchings on the internet:
Dedree Drees, Sheep May Safely Graze, hand-colored etching

On My Soapbox Today said...

The first $200 was the "Oh, they've got insurance, hit them with a surcharge so we can afford to give treatment to those who don't have it" surcharge. Usually 20-30%. To all those whose mentality is "I got mine, screw you" please recognize that you're paying an extra 20-30% for yours.
AGENTORANGE doesn't pass the breakfast test around here. The VA has finally admitted that AGENTORANGE was hugely dangerous, they've got a list of approximately 50 maladies that the Vietnam Era vets have which are directly attributable to AGENTORANGE. There are 10 forms of cancer which they now admit responsibility for. If you spent even one day in-country and come down with lung, prostate, etc. cancer, the VA recognizes that AGENTORANGE was a presumtive cause of it. Fortunately, they'll now provide treatment.

mac said...

Nice puzzle, especially agent Orange and claim jumper. Lots of movie and tv references, but for once that didn't get me stuck.

@Rex: I've given up trying to understand communications from the insurance company. It does seem to help to push a little, though.

@sfingi: that is a beautiful etching.

Van55 said...

I agree. Good effort with no sparkle.

mac said...

Sorry, PuzzleGirl, for confusing you with Rex!

Jeffrey said...

The Canadian version of your story:

PuzzleDaughter fell off her bike last summer and we had to take her to the emergency room for stitches. I gave them her Medicare card number. The end.

On My Soapbox Today said...

I thought Canadians were too polite to gloat.


Donna Levin, you constructed an excellent grid…. I enjoyed everything about it.

Until I got to Puzzlegirl's writeup, I didn't even recognize the insurance theme. Duh! I kept looking for some wordplay thing.

Some cool proper nouns, like GOMEZ (Morticia’s mate), WANDA, ROXIE, ARON (Elvis Presley), OPIE, ARI (Gold), ERTE, NINA (Garcia), LENO, Thornton Wilder (OUR TOWN), and JINN… and yay, none of them were sports figures!

How many of you remember the old GONG SHOWS? American Idol is like a remix of the old GONG show, except there’s no gong, no Chuck Barris and no zaniness… just
three judgmental characters on ego trips and a bunch of boring contestants, IMO.

And speaking of duds, how many of you remember the YUGO? Did anyone even drive those? At least the EDSEL had flair.

The Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii) is a bulbous perennial which is native to many western states, in fact it’s the state flower of Utah. It’s in a sub-group commonly referred to as Mariposa Lilies. It’s a very beautiful wildflower!

AGENT ORANGE… hmm! Looks like our venerable blogster has joined the ranks of James Bond.

Hey, hey, the Jay LENO Show is once again AFLOAT.

The ELITE (Sfingi et al) within the ARTS community would know that “MADAM Butterfly” was an OPERA written by Puccini and that “Butterfly Lady, Grace” was a sculpture done by ERTE.

Here’s a treat for y’all---
Some lively performance arts from OUR TOWN, Chicago: ROXIE & VELMA

Drinking some new coffee… amaretto flavored. Yummy!
It’s time for my Breakfast Burrito… so, off to Mother’s Cafe.

Jeffrey said...

@OMST: That was before the 14 gold medals. Sorry.

shrub5 said...

@PG: First off, eeewwww for pig kiss picture. Hope that was an internet picture, not a puzzlekid. Sorry you are having insurance woes. I swear some of these outfits keep things going, hoping you'll get tired of the fight and just pay the amount in order to be rid of the hassle.

Didn't know JINN but got it from the crosses. I see that it is related to genie. A few false starts: POUT for MOPE and MEAT for DELI but everything eventually fell into place. Thanks Donna L. for a smooth Tuesday puzzle.

@Crosscan: Sigh.... I like the ending of your short story.


Wow, that's an interesting mandella-like etching that Dedree did. Care to give us an interpretation?
I got a kick out of your "Half-bright" thing, but judging from your usual comments, I would revise that to "Doubly-bright"


The Canadians are indeed polite people... I've found them to be delightful. I've spent my last two summers in Canada (2008 Nova Scotia and 2009 in Banff). I'm sort of rebelling against overseas travel (airports and airlines). Wanted so bad to hit Vancouver for the Olympics, but oh well.
Now I've discovered @Crosscan and his nice blog and I feel like I've made another Canadian friend... forget about those 14 Gold Medals, your countrymen were lovely hosts.

OMST said...

@Crosscan - I was going to make some snide comment that Canadians' superiority was predicated on continuous snow/ice coverage, then realized you had that 10 months per year. I hereby concede, and simultaneously offer my condolences.

Jeffrey said...

@OMST - too bad February wasn't one of those months with snow!

@John - Thanks for the kind words. You are an example of how politeness transcends borders. Not really a surprise to someone who spends most vacations down south.

@everyone else - Nice puzzle today.

CrazyCat said...

Very fast puzzle for me today. Not really zippy, but fine. I got to the end and remembered to look for the theme. Insurance - well ok. Not my favorite industry. Crazy Cat husband and I are in the midst of changing insurance due to Anthem Blue Cross raising their rates up to 39%. I'm sure you've heard about it on the news. Two years ago we had a major medical issue. Turns out we over paid our yearly out of pocket cap. Try to get that back - oh yeah right!

OK back to the puzzle RECAP. Nice but lots of crosswordese. Didn't we have MIR yesterday. JINN was my new word of the day. Now off to GORGE myself on strawberries. March is the beginning of the CA strawberry season. Good with a little AGAVE nectar. Love the baby kissing the SWINE. Probably wouldn't be too thrilled if I were the mom, but at least we know you can't catch SWINE flu from kissing pigs (or is that from eating pigs?).

CrazyCat said...

@Sfingi - That's a very pretty etching by your sister. Is she the one in Baltimore?
@JNH - I remember the GONG show. It was pretty silly. I like IDOL. I've been watching it since season 1. It might be an acquired taste - kind of like @Tinbeni's single malt scotch.

Sfingi said...

What's not to like about Canada. Maybe the mayo on French fries. But since I don't do sun, heat, etc., and sonster speaks French I will list some of the great Canadian treasures: They have a great Sicilian community in Hamilton, Ontario. The Canadian side of Niagara Falls is better than the American. The zoo with monorail in Toronto is excellent as well as underground shopping in the winter. The subways are spotless. Best of all, I can get a huge bottle of Tylenol with codeine for under $10 O.T.C.

Dede's etching (probably mandela) was her interpretation of the Bach aria Schaffe können sicher weiden (Sheep may safely graze) with words by S. Franck, The sheep are nestled in the landscape nestled in the cosmos. It reminds me of those agates that are cut open and used as bookends; when you stare at them long enough you see things like landscapes and sheep.

Charles Bogle said...

@johnsneverhome: you nicely captured my sentiments. Used to watch the GONGSHOW back in the apt for lunch while at law school--a real de-stressor. Loved Gene, Gene The Dancing Machine. The US gold medal 4man bobsled driver has a similar strut. The recent movie about Chuck Bariss was good..CIA?

The NW gave me fits. I'll take OATERS over Horseoperas any day

Donna Levin, IMO, alwats delivers a delightful puzzle and today's outing, aside from tired filled cited by PG, was no exception

Tinbeni said...

Until I came here I didn't see the theme. Though Donna's GRID was an appropriate Tuesday LAT.

@Sfingi - Great ETCHing!

@JNH RECAPed what I liked about this puzzle very well. Thanks for the SEGO info.
The YUGO s/h/b named the NOGO.

@Crosscan - Go ahead and gloat over the 14 Gold.
Being from Florida most (all) of the sports never really caught on here. Why ski on frozen water when I can ski in Lake Tarpon? Barefooting is really fun and yet it's avoided in the Olympics. Oh, well ...
Admit I'm going through Curling withdrawal.

Liked the LOA/LAO, my initials, ARI (again), JINN & NINA that I got from the crosses.

@Crazycatlady - Near OUR TOWN the Strawberry Festival starts here this week in Plant City. Go ahead and enjoy yours with AGAVE Nectar. I'm a bit ODDER so I'll have mine with cream, Bailey's Irish Cream.

xyz said...

mothsay GONG

I had way too many interruptions whilst doing this puzzle to know whether or not it was easy puzzle or not, but it came around cleanly (except with all the interruptions a blind write-in of EMILE for EXILE led to a mistake since I didn't check it over when done. Tsk, tsk, tsk on me

Got the theme, agree it's sort of so-so ... BUT! ... I have to commend Rich Norris for a consistently clean set of fun puzzles that have an absolute minimum of cr*p in them. I really really like doing these puzzles even if an occasional one is pretty easy, I won't complain. Really liked the clue for ORATE for some goofy reason and LENO's back in the grid as he is back on the telly.

Having lived in So Fla, I love saying the word MACHETE. Muh-shet-eeee, indispensible in the Everglades whilst looking for your golf ball or a fish not named WANDA.

xyz said...

@Tinbeni I keep forgetting that you're near Tampa, but thanks for the reminder of ... Strawberry Festivals in western peninsular Florida. Plant City's the best. These were one of my favorite things of my four or five years there, they are undoubtedly the best strawberries this side of real fraises du bois

Try strawberries with basil (of all things!), believe it or don't all yee fellow foodies

bluebell said...

I also didn't see the theme until I read it here. Probably instinctive protection--insurance companies are not my favorites.

My first thought for a show interrupter went way back to Groucho Marx and the duck (?) falling on the end of a string. But that wasn't a game show--and gong quickly became apparent as the answer.

An ok puzzle.

Tinbeni said...

Re: Plant City and THE Strawberry Festival
The funny thing is it starts about 2 or 3 weeks after the Fl. State Fair (in Tampa) yet the Strawberry one is way more fun.
Now I will not try them (even on a bet) with basil.
But I'm a gamer, Scotch seems to go with everything else (in my life) maybe I'll try ...
Strawberries with Scotch.

xyz said...


I first had the combo as Strawberry-Basil Gelato, TheBasil is way better than it sounds, but try them with maple syrup (MS), too. Authentic MS is not so sweet as it is great-tasting.

We learnt it in Quebec several trips ago (It's drivable from here). The Quebecois put MS on everything, although blueberries + MS is probably a little better than strawberries +MS.

CrazyCat said...

@redanman - I think the strawberry basil combination sounds good - maybe drizzled with a well aged balsamic. Hmmmm I'm going to try it. Thanks.

chefwen said...

Thanks everybody, now I have to go out and buy some strawberries, I have basil growing like gonzo out it the garden. Nice to hear of another use for it, and the balsamic drizzle sounds great. Tried to grow strawberries last year but the damn chickens got to them first. GEEZ I hate those chickens.

Liked the puzzle but was finished before I got to enjoy it. Just a skosh too easy.

capcha - berysess, strawberysses HA!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's time to make a big batch of chicken soup... it's good for the soul ya' know.

chefwen said...

How to make Kauai Chicken Soup.
Put chicken in a pot, fill with water, put in a couple of lava rocks, when the rocks are tender, the chicken is done.