FRIDAY, Apr. 30, 2010 — Gareth Bain

THEME: "NEWBIE" (49D: Tyro, and a hint to this puzzle's theme)— add-a-"B" to beginning of familiar phrases, get wacky phrases, clue appropriately

Add-a-letter puzzles, as you know, do little-to-nothing for me. But at least this one has a clever theme-revealer — one more interesting than "BIN" or "BON" or whatever other answer might have been used. NEWBIE is a bit misleading, as only one of the answers actually has an OLD "B," but I can deal with that. Today, 3/4 of the theme answers are actually reasonably interesting, with only BOLD TIMER just taking up space. I wish I had a BLOG CABIN. Nothing but books, food, a bed, my dogs, and a computer. I'd probably miss my family inside of 48 hours, but ... I don't know. They can visit.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Daring track official? (BOLD TIMER)
  • 10D: Clinton enjoying some R and R? (BILL AT EASE)
  • 31D: Immortal comedian's donkey imitation? (BRAY OF HOPE)
  • 63A: Online journalist's retreat? (BLOG CABIN)
I found this puzzle much harder than recent LAT Fridays have been, and, insofar as the difficulty came from cluing, I welcome the change. Today, much of my struggle had to do with not knowing what a KOKO (24A: "The Mikado" baritone), a GREBE (30A: Dabchick, for one), or a VERGER is (36D: Church caretaker, in Chelsea). Only way I knew KEKO was wrong was that I had the grilled filled in and yet — no Mr. Happy Pencil (actually my software doesn't give me Mr. Happy Pencil ... I miss him). I also misspelled SHARI (57A: First name in puppetry) (as SHERI), but that was easily fixed in the cross.

Crosswordese 101: EMIL Zátopek (1A: Four-time Olympic gold-medal runner Zátopek) — Probably not the most common EMIL you'll run across in the grid, but common enough for me to have encountered him multiple times. If you've never heard of him before, just be glad you didn't encounter him the first time the way that I did — as a last name. Yeesh. Try figuring out the letters in ZATOPEK on a tough Friday. Nightmare. EMIL Jannings is probably the most common EMIL — he's an olde-timey actor. There's also the title character from "EMIL and the Detectives," pianist EMIL Gilels, and Expressionist painter EMIL Nolde.

What else?

  • 47A: Matriarchal nickname (GRAN) — I call my GRAN "Grandma," so this took a long time. I actually had "-RAN" and thought "... FRAN?" I'm going to my Grandma's 90th birthday party in St. Maries, Idaho in just three weeks. Can't wait. I may or may not have created ... something ... for the occasion, which I may or may not share with you. Eventually. As longtime readers know, my Grandma is the first person I ever saw work a crossword puzzle.
  • 7D: Jennyanydots's creator, initially (TSE) — my thoughts: "that name is so stupid that it must be one of those stupid cats from "Cats"; other thought: "just write TSE; it's the most common literary monogram in puzzledom."
  • 40D: Juju or grigri (TALISMAN) — seriously, between this clue, and the GREBE clue, and the TSE clue, it's like Silly Word Day up in this puzzle. "Grigri!"
By the time you read this, I will be on a plane to Los Angeles, or (if you read late in the day) already there, basking in the warmth of Santa Monica and the friendship of my friends who live in the area (as well as that of PuzzleGirl and PuzzleSister, with whom I'm having dinner). I'm in CA for the "Crosswords L.A." charity tournament, which takes place at Loyola-Marymount University tomorrow, 5-1-10. I'm judging. So is frequent LAT puzzle constructor Doug Peterson. Tyler Hinman and Andrea Carla Michaels are doing color commentary for the finals. All L.A.-area folk should definitely consider turning out. A low-key good time will be had by most, I figure. For more info, go here.

See you Monday,


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

Everything Else — 1A: Four-time Olympic gold-medal runner Z·topek (EMIL); 5A: Park way (PATH); 9A: Shame (ABASH); 14A: Hacking knife (BOLO); 15A: Rebel (RISE); 16A: Petulant mood (PIQUE); 17A: Daring track official? (BOLD TIMER); 19A: Zaftig (PLUMP); 20A: Trouser measurement (INSEAM); 21A: "Twilight" heroine (BELLA); 23A: Introduction to a former self? (NÉE); 24A: "The Mikado" baritone (KOKO); 27A: Give a hand to (DEAL IN); 30A: Dabchick, for one (GREBE); 32A: Cost an arm and __ (A LEG); 34A: Do a garage job (TUNE); 35A: Cannes's region (RIVIERA); 37A: __'acte (ENTR); 38A: They're usually in the 80s and 90s (OCTANES); 41A: Toon who played Scrooge (MR. MAGOO); 43A: Maker of Definity skin care products (OLAY); 44A: Works on, as a novel (REVISES); 46A: Sport with riders (POLO); 47A: Matriarchal nickname (GRAN); 48A: Core belief (TENET); 52A: Put the kibosh on (STIFLE); 54A: Suggestive look (LEER); 56A: Two-legged meat source (EMU); 57A: First name in puppetry (SHARI); 59A: Battles with bombers (AIRWAR); 61A: Stars travel in them (LIMOS); 63A: Online journalist's retreat? (BLOG CABIN); 66A: Get used (to) (ADAPT); 67A: __ Grey tea (EARL); 68A: Dam buildup (SILT); 69A: X-ray targets (BONES); 70A: Whitehall whitewall (TYRE); 71A: Tijuana tender (PESO); 1D: Flowing back (EBBING); 2D: One offering his seat? (MOONER); 3D: "Let me check" ("I'LL SEE"); 4D: Bonanza (LODE); 5D: A-one (PRIMO); 6D: End (AIM); 7D: Jennyanydots's creator, initially (TSE); 8D: Mint, say (HERB); 9D: User of the prefix "i-" (APPLE); 10D: Clinton enjoying some R and R? (BILL AT EASE); 11D: Inspiring apparatus (AQUALUNG); 12D: Result of considering the pluses? (SUM); 13D: With it (HEP); 18D: Consume (TAKE IN); 22D: Awards named for a writer (EDGARS); 25D: Kind of roll (KAISER); 26D: Fútbol game cheer (OLÉ); 28D: Intrigued with (INTO); 29D: Ruler from LIV to LXVIII (NERO); 31D: Immortal comedian's donkey imitation? (BRAY OF HOPE); 33D: Fur that's a symbol of royalty (ERMINE); 36D: Church caretaker, in Chelsea (VERGER); 38D: "__!...I Did It Again": Britney Spears album and hit song (OOPS); 39D: Blood __ (CLOT); 40D: Juju or grigri (TALISMAN); 42D: Like a tonne of bricks? (METRIC); 45D: Kilmer of "Top Gun" (VAL); 49D: Tyro, and a hint to this puzzle's theme (NEWBIE); 50D: Computer letters (EMAILS); 51D: Ask for help from (TURN TO); 53D: Keeps going (LASTS); 55D: Golfer's coup (EAGLE); 58D: Cynical response (I BET); 60D: Hoarse sound (RASP); 61D: Testing site (LAB); 62D: Phrase said before taking the stand (I DO); 64D: Not ordained (LAY); 65D: Two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner (ORR).



A PRIMO puzzle... but, another same old add-a-letter thing. Do you think maybe Rich Norris is in a rut? Okay, now that I've done my whining, I have to say that Gareth redeemed that by constructing a very challenging puzzle, which we so dearly need on Fridays.
Lots of fresh interesting fill and clues, like: EMIL (Zatopek), "Zaftig" (PLUMP), MR MAGOO (Scrooge), KOKO (from Mikado), BELLA Swan, "Inspiring apparatus" (AQUALUNG), "Juju" (TALISMAN), "Church custodian" (VERGER), and my absolute favorite MOONER (One offering his seat).
Also, Gareth used some nice humor in cluing the NEWBIE theme.

As an ornithology student, I recognized GREBE right away for "Dabchick" (Tachybaptus ruficollis), even though we don't see them around this area.

When I saw the clue, "Clinton enjoying some R & R", I immediately wrote in HAMBURGERS.

I always liked T. S. Eliot's "Cats", but then when my good friend, Susie, portrayed the cat JENNYANYDOTS (in this video clip), I really liked CATS.

Thanks, Gareth... a very nice puzzle!

My omelet is awaiting.
Happy Arbor Day, y'all!
(go plant a tree today)

shrub5 said...

This puzzle took me quite awhile and I was unable to finish a little section. Stumbled at the top central block containing PATH, RISE, AIM, TSE and HERB, aggravated by not knowing _ELLA (or anything else) from "Twilight." I had PRIMO crossing BOLD TIMER but the shorter words inside eluded me.

LOL'd at MOONER and clue. Terrific clue for OCTANES which took a long time to emerge. Didn't know VERGER which had to come entirely from crosses. The only BOLO I know is a tie, so that caused some difficulty there. Thought "give a hand to" for DEAL IN was very clever.

Well, I'd be in big trouble if this puzzle showed up in the tournament -- probably would be lucky to be half done when the "time's up" announcement came.

Tinbeni said...

What a FUN, Friday level puzzle.

Looked for the theme reveal, knew tyro was a novice. So when I got NEWBIE, and then the BLOG CABIN fell, the others soon followed.

As an Acolyte, from a young age until about 18, at my Episcopal Church, VERGER was my slam-dunk.
I'll bet many thought sexton.

It is not everyday you get to see a MOONER in our grids. Yep, it brought a LOL moment.

@Shrub5: Had the same reaction at 21A, _ELLA, its Twilight, a movie not anywhere in my wave length.
But HERB made sense AND it was PRIMO (it is always PRIMO, yeah right!).
That reminded me of the 'Keep off the Grass' signs you sometime see as you walk down the PATH in a local park.
I wonder which grass they refer to.

Liked HEP CATS via the Jennyanydots.
NERO clued with Roman Numerals was good, too.

Gareth good job.

C said...

Good puzzle. When I first scanned the clues, nothing popped out at me and I got that feeling that I was in for a long solve (if solved at all!), i.e. a challenge. I like that feeling, I wish more LAT puzzles provided that feeling.

With that said, I started with ALEG as my first answer and the puzzle flowed from that one answer. Ancient NYT crossword puzzle knowledge helped me with GREBE. KOKO to me is George Costanza's nickname.

CrazyCat said...

This was definitely more difficult than most recent Fridays. That's a good thing. Lots of clever and difficult clues. My favorite was One offering his seat MOONER. Very cute. Also liked Zaftig PLUMP. I remember when "Titanic" came out and some reviewer described Kate Winslet as Zaftig. EGADS the woman is a size 2 at most! Had no idea what a Dabchick, a Jujo, Gringi and Jennyanydots were (and I've seen CATS twice). Didn't know VERGER and was trying to fill in VICAR. Guessed at KOKO and EMIL and also fell into the SHARI/SHERI trap. Learned TRYO for Newbie in a puzzle last week and I remembered! BOLO knife was also new. Very challenging, but fun puzzle and I finished it!

I FOR ONE (OOPS that was Thursday's puzzle) will be at LMU tomorrow! Can't wait.

Sfingi said...

Liked it. It's Fri., so I had to Google: Jennyanydots, Zatopek (sports, but sounds like a Mexican pyramid) dabchick (sounds cute), KOKO (though I've seen it recently), NERO (who knows what year), BELLA, ENTR (French). BELLA could have been a theme clue, or is it too short?

Another sports award for ORR, a name I use for default sports.

So, where's Jethro Tull for AQUALUNG?

I had "sexton" for VERGER. Then, when I saw the V, I remembered the marvelous Maugham s.s. called The VERGER, about a fellow who's fired by the new vicar when it's discovered he can't read, but has been doing the job for years. He then opens a tobacconists and gets rich. He's asked by his banker what would have become of him had he been able to read? "I'd be a verger." I used to read this to my inmates as a prep for an essay (part of the GED).

EDGAR - named for Poe. The list is a good source for mystery stories.
I'm more like the Europeans, always looking for the next Simenon. Andrea Camilleri's my choice.

@John - Worked in the churchyard on trees. Are you having your omelet on or near a KAISER roll, also?

bluebell said...

This took me some time, but I eventually worked it out. Blog cabin--a wonderful idea-- gave me the clue I needed to get the other theme answers. I also like bray of hope (maybe because he wasn't always my favorite comedian) and bill at ease.

I was pretty sure Koko was the baritone, and crosses confirmed him. (Was he the Lord high Executioner? Can't remember.)

Hands up for wanting sexton, but obviously the x wouldn't work. And actually I wanted creates for working on the novel and that wouldn't work either.

lit.doc said...

@Rex, LOL at “Silly Word Day”. Perfect.

Everything Rex said about the difficulty level. NE was especially hard. 19A “Zelig”, 21A “‘Twilight’ heroin”, that sort of thing. Once I figured it out, liked the clue for 11A AQUALUNG. Once I figured it out, liked the clue for 29D NERO even less.

I watch fútbol regularly (the owner of my local pub is a rabid AC Milan fan), and all I ever hear is “GOL! GOL! GOL!”

@Tinbeni, yes, slammed in SEXTON without hesitation.

Only real gripe was 15A “Rebel” for RISE. To rebel is to rise up.

Joon said...

enjoyed this one. lots of meaty clues.

good luck to everyone at the tournament! and most importantly, have fun!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't follow Rex's explanation for how he knew KEKO was wrong. KEKO "works" since it makes the answer for 5-down (A-one) PRIME instead of PRIMO, which is a legitimate answer. Had to know The MIkado to get it right.
It was a good puzzle since many of the answers were out of the ordinary, which is always fun. VERGER probably was the toughest word to get. Have never heard it before.

Margaret said...

@TSE, I agree 100% on "THAT STUPID F#@$#ng play 'Cats'!" LOL. My friends that just looooove "Cats" think I'm so cynical; thank goodness I'm not alone any more.

@Anonymous 1:02pm, I think when the online grid is filled out correctly, there's a Happy Pencil (or equivalent) that indicates all is correct. When Rex didn't get this verification, he knew something had to be wrong (KOKO not KEKO.)

a bored verger said...


T'was juju and the grigris did gareth in the octanes of silt anc bolo grans,
Whilst wild TSEs grebed the koko bains of Zapote
into nero piques and languid mooners.

a bored verger said...

corrected spellings
---"and bolo grans"


Struggled & swore in every quadrant of the grid, but this was a refreshingly fun challenge. Well worth the sweat Mr Bain put into making it and the perspiration needed to solve it!


To all my blog compatriots who are attending the CROSSWORDS LA TOURNAMENT---
Have a wonderful time, great weather, and lots of "Happy Pencils"!!!!!

Originally I had plans to go to the tournament myself, being in Santa Monica for the first half of May for my ROUTE 66 foray (you know it ends up in S.M.), but it came too close to my other trip in AZ & UT.
Oh well, maybe next time.

mac said...

Wonderful puzzle with a distinct Brittish overtone. I think I remembered the verger from one of the mysteries, maybe Josephine Tey?

This Dabchick is still not clear to me, it/he sounds like a football coach, and I'm not yelling goal or ole!