THURSDAY, April 29, 2010 — James Sajdak

Theme: "Hooooo" — Theme answers are two-word phrases with the letter string OWL hidding within them.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Indoor gardener's tool (GROW LIGHT).
  • 28A: Big drinker's "secret" (HOLLOW LEG).
  • 33A: Tutor's charge (SLOW LEARNER).
  • 43A: Golden retriever? (YELLOW LAB).
  • 54A: Hard-to-see critters lurking in 20-, 28-, 33- and 43-Across (NIGHT OWLS).
For some reason, I was just not feeling this puzzle. Seems like every section was a struggle. I even thought there might be a rebus for a while until I remembered that the L.A. Times doesn't do rebuses. Maybe it's because I started out sure that 1-Across would be DOVE and not DIAL (1A: Ivory alternative). When the downs in the NW corner aren't working, that kinda throws me off. With the -DI- in plase at 1-Down, I couldn't see DINGBAT (1D: Birdbrain) because I couldn't get DIMWIT out of my head even though it didn't fit. Also, BOO (23A: "Eek!" elicitor) was completely eluding me because, again, my first though — MOUSE — just wouldn't fit.

The theme is okay, although not terribly sparkly. GROW LIGHT is kinda of cool. Makes me think of illicit plants being grown in a locked room in a basement. Just me? Okay, whatever. I don't love seeing SLOW LEARNER in the grid. It's a legitimate phrase, but it seems kind of … crass. Cluing a dog with a "?"-clue of another type of dog? I can't decide if that's cute or not.

Eventually I worked everything out and did feel a sense of accomplishment but it just seemed hard for me and not necessarily fun.

I'm off to California for the Crosswords L.A. tournament tomorrow. Hope to see some of you there!

Crosswordese 101: 4D: Movie mogul Marcus LOEW is the founder of Loews Theatres and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). And that's pretty much all you need to know about him for crossword puzzle purposes.

Everything Else — 5A: Lumps of earth (CLODS); 10A: They're full of beans (PODS); 14A: In that event (IF SO); 15A: Center (HEART); 16A: Stat start (RHEO-); 17A: What the hyphen in an emoticon represents (NOSE); 18A: Like many microbrews (ON TAP); 19A: Actor McGregor (EWAN); 22A: Vigilant (ALERT); 24A: __ Vandelay, recurring fake "Seinfeld" character who turns out to be a real judge in the final episode (ART); 25A: Reagan court appointee (SCALIA); 26A: Wing, perhaps (ANNEX); 31A: Greenish blue (TEAL); 32A: Come down hard (POUR); 39A: Churlish sort (BOOR); 40A: Piano, to a pianist (SOFT); 48A: __ d'Alene (COEUR); 49A: Hardy and North (OLLIES); 50A: It brought Hope to the troops: Abbr. (USO); 52A: Sign of peace (VEE); 53A: Dr. J's alma mater (U. MASS.); 57A: Milquetoast (WIMP); 58A: String quartet part (VIOLA); 59A: Like Granny Smith apples (TART); 60A: Wrath, in a classic hymn (IRAE); 61A: Played a part (ACTED); 62A: Object of adoration (IDOL); 63A: Former OTC watchdog (NASD); 64A: Visibly moved (TEARY); 65A: Give up (CEDE); 2D: Start of an opinion (I FOR ONE); 3D: Right after (AS SOON AS); 5D: Gospel singers (CHOIR); 6D: Pool measure (LENGTH); 7D: Curse (OATH); 8D: "Curses!" ("DRAT!"); 9D: NASCAR sponsor (STP); 10D: Course for a budding DA (PRE-LAW); 11D: Words of resignation (OH WELL); 12D: Sweetheart (DEARIE); 13D: "In America" novelist Susan (SONTAG); 21D: Loose (LAX); 22D: Squash variety (ACORN); 25D: Talk like thish (SLUR); 27D: Pipe fitting (ELL); 29D: "William Tell," e.g. (OPERA); 30D: Mauna __ (LOA); 34D: Wind section (OBOES); 35D: Astounds (WOWS); 36D: Cybercackle (LOL); 37D: Pedro's "that" (ESO); 38D: 1973 landmark case (ROE V. WADE); 41D: Nuclear reactor component (FUEL ROD); 42D: Amtrak canyon crosser (TRESTLE); 43D: "I give up" ("YOU WIN"); 44D: New York city where Mark Twain is buried (ELMIRA); 45D: Pack animals (LLAMAS); 46D: Talked like thith (LISPED); 47D: Base player? (BUGLER); 48D: Base bunk (COT); 51D: Not on the up and up (SHADY); 54D: "Good one!" ("NICE!"); 55D: Scintilla (IOTA); 56D: Narc suffix (-OTIC); 58D: Vintner's container (VAT).



Easiest puzzle of the week, both LAT and NYT, but still in all it was enjoyable. Why? Because it had many misdirecting clues, humor (eg. “thish” and “thith”), cleverness, and a cool theme (I like OWLs).

Thought the HOLLOW LEG clue was a riot.

I just had to put in this clip of Rossini’s WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE for all you Lone Ranger fans.
HIYO Silver!!!!
But my real reason is to boast about my trumpeter son, John Hagstrom, who does that marvelous introduction in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I couldn’t find a CSO clip though ;-(

Have a super Thursday y‘all !

Bill said...

@PG - you missed the drunk mini-theme right there in the heartland - HOLLOWLEG sitting on top of POUR on top of SLOWLEARNER, all crossed by SLUR. Kind of like late night commentary here, sometimes.

Tuttle said...

Makes me think of illicit plants being grown in a locked room in a basement. Just me? Okay, whatever.

Yep, just you. The rest of us are thinking of illicit plants being grown in THE locked room in THE basement.

All kidding aside, upper-right was the only difficult part for me today. Had aero instead of RHEO and lisp instead of SLUR (until I got to 46D). I mean, Jodie Foster and Sean Connery both lisp with a 'sh' instead of a 'th'...

And it's dead sexy ;)

burner10 said...

Notwithstanding three wrong vowels - I had a nice solve experience this morning - starting from 'ill never get any of this' to 'Bam'.Now my Saturday dilemma - attack the garden and purchase a long coveted decorative OWL, or venture to LMU and convene...

*David* said...

I had a similar experience with this puzzle. I did not feel like I was on the constructor's wavelength. The puzzle looking back was not difficult but it was a struggle to complete.

Unknown said...

I thought this puzzle was easy. I never have such success as a newbie, I alwasy find ones commented here as easy as hard for hard for me...HMMM....maybe it was my turn today!

Soozy said...

I found this puzzle a bit tough but I absolutely loved the fill. @Tinbeni, ditto on SCALIA sharing space with ROEVWADE but boy it sure made me happy! Had a lot of trouble with the SW corner but really enjoyed the puzzle, and the hidden drinking theme. ;)

shrub5 said...

Ditto for LISP before SLUR and then finding another place for LISP-ED. While I had LISP in the wrong place, I racked my brain trying to think of the Supreme Court Justice(s) that Reagan appointed, let alone one that started with L. FYI: in addition to Antonin SCALIA, Reagan appointees were Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy. I thought he appointed Clarence Thomas, but no, that was George H. W. Bush.

I thought the puzzle was a hoot! Tee hee. Got the OWL theme early enough so it helped with a couple of the theme answers. Enjoyed seeing YELLOW LAB and also HEART and COUER together.

Very nice work, James Sajdak! Hope everyone has a wonderful time at the LA puzzle tournament. Wish I could join you. Maybe next year!

CrazyCat said...

Fun puzzle today. I FOR ONE found it to be fairly easy except for one square not filled in which was the F cross of SOFT and FUELROD. My vertical reading skills are lacking and I can't seem to remember musical terms. I guess I'm a SLOW LEARNER. Also had LISP before SLUR until I saw 46 D Talk like thith. Overall clever, enjoyable puzzle. Iiked the OWL theme.
@Bill: add ON TAP to your mini drinking theme list.
@PG: LA weather is predicted to be sunny and in the 70s for the weekend.
@burner10: the garden will be there next weekend. I know mine will.

C said...

My experience with this puzzle was similar to others, nothing popped out at me, in fact, my first answer written in was the actor first name, typically the LAST thing this entertainment challenged solver puts into a puzzle. Then it all came together and the solving came like a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.

Big thanks to Hedley Lamarr for helping out with my post today.

Rex Parker said...

Felt tougher than usual, though time (low 4s) says otherwise. I think my first pass at NW was so bad that I assumed I was tanking. I left it and came back. Yes, GROW LIGHT = pot. I was wondering what gardening tool GROWLed...

Not a high level of difficulty (burying OWLs), but amusing nonetheless. Thumbs up.


Maestro said...

Had to begin in the SE corner and work through WNW. Loved VIOLA, IRAE and BUGLER. Thought I was clever in answering 43A Golden Retriever as YELLOW CAB. NOT!!!
Actually liked this puzzle. Perhaps because I am a NIGHT OWL myself. :---))

Anonymous said...

do not understand piano to a pianist.
soft brings nothing to my soft.

mac said...

One year, a long time ago, I had growlights in my basement to winter over my geraniums. What a waste of time.

This was a decent puzzle, with a nice bit of resistance. I also disliked "slow learner", and the theme was totally unimportant to my "solving experience"...

@PuzzleGirl: have fun in LA! It will be so nice to be with all these puzzle brains.... Wish I could go, too.

a guy said...

Piano is here. It's the opposite of forte.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the piano clue


That's so amazing to hear. I too had a room in my basement with Gro-Lux lights for my large collection of scented geraniums. I did this for 4 years during the 60's... even had automatic irrigation tubes and heaters in the tables. Friends would come over for our game night and raise their eyebrows when they saw that back room with the mysterious glow and the cut-leaf geraniums (that looked exactly like marijuana plants).
You're right, it was a big waste of time.