TUESDAY, April 13, 2010 — David W. Cromer

Theme: Breaking News — Theme answers are familiar phrases that end with a word that can describe a type of break.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Manhattan rail hub (PENN STATION).
  • 32A: Mattress support (BOXSPRING).
  • 39A: Cherished (NEAR TO ONE'S HEART).
  • 46A: "Hold your horses!" ("NOT SO FAST!").
  • 63A: 1980s Nell Carter sitcom, and a hint to the puzzle theme found in the ends of 17-, 32-, 39- and 46-Across (GIMME A BREAK).

Okay, I totally want to talk about this puzzle, but I'm a little distracted today. Why, you ask? Because it turns out I get to go to the Crosswords L.A. Tournament on May 1! I'm so excited! I didn't think there was any chance of me even hoping to go this year, but then PuzzleSister said she would like to go and would take me as a birthday present. Coolest. Sister. Ever. Right?? So now I get to spend another couple days with some of the awesomest people in the world. Oh hey! You should go too! I know that just because you do the L.A. Times crossword puzzle doesn't mean you necessarily live in L.A., but if you do live in L.A. (or anywhere close), you should seriously consider attending the tournament. It's going to be a blast! And it really doesn't matter if you think you can be competitive. Sure, there will be a couple people who actually win something, but that's not really the point. The point is that puzzle people are the nicest, smartest, funniest people in the world and if you yourself are a puzzle person, you owe it to yourself to hang out with a bunch of them when you get the chance. May 1 in L.A.: that's your chance. I sincerely hope to see you there!

The puzzle! The puzzle is fine. The puzzle is delightful. I only had a couple minor trouble spots where I tried curb for EAVE (69A: Gutter site) and ward for WING (3D: Hospital section). Other than that, smooth sailing. Oh, and when I got down to the reveal answer, all I could think of was "What's Happening!!" Was Nell Carter on that? No, doesn't look like it. I guess I didn't ever really watch either of those shows enough to know. Did I mention I'm going to California for a crossword tournament in a couple weeks?!?

  • 5A: Royal headgear (DIADEM). Learned it from crosswords.
  • 11A: "... __ an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers": "Romeo and Juliet" ('TIS). I don't know the context here, but it sure doesn't sound sanitary.
  • 52A: Fast partner? (LOOSE).
  • 7D: Firm pro: Abbr. (ATT.). I don't really like this abbreviation for attorney, but I'm sure it's legit. I usually use ATTY.
  • 36D: The Coasters' record label (coincidentally, all its letters appear in their name) (ATCO). Um … what?
  • 48D: Pageant winners' wear (TIARAS). For reasons I won't go into right now, I was looking at clips of old Miss USA pageants last night. Reminded me of Jay Smooth's awesome take on the recent controversy surrounding Miss California and her response to a question about same-sex marriage. He said "Watching that clip raises a lot of questions for me. Questions such as … why do beauty pageants still exist?"
Crosswordese 101: ODIN is a Norse god of wisdom and war. He's the head guy of all the Norse gods, so clues for him will often say something like "Chief Valhalla god," or "Ruler of the Aesir," or "Pantheon head." Also, he only has one eye. (I'm pretty sure SethG's son is named Odin, but that's not really going to help you when you're doing a puzzle.)

Everything Else — 1A: Fuzzy fruit (KIWI); 14A: Viking war god (ODIN); 15A: Draw in (ENTICE); 16A: Pictures on the wall (ART); 19A: Vert. opposite (HOR.); 20A: Lose support (SAG); 21A: Go bad (ROT); 22A: Ida of Hollywood (LUPINO); 24A: "The March King" (SOUSA); 27A: British boarding school (ETON); 28A: First name in spydom (MATA); 35A: Like many notebooks (SPIRAL); 38A: Unmoved (ALOOF); 44A: Hi-tech greeting (ECARD); 45A: Dogpatch cartoonist (AL CAPP); 50A: Highland toppers (TAMS); 51A: Part of BTU (UNIT); 55A: Social service? (TEA SET); 58A: R.E. Lee follower (REB); 59A: Hef's party wear (PJS); 62A: Downed Russian orbiter (MIR); 67A: Educator LeShan (EDA); 68A: Worldwide (GLOBAL); 70A: One of the states of matter (GAS); 71A: Summer ermines (STOATS); 72A: Oedipus' arrogance, e.g. (FLAW); 1D: "Keystone" bunglers (KOPS); 2D: Inventor's starting point (IDEA); 4D: Quaint stopover (INN); 5D: "Star Wars" surname? (DETOO); 6D: Where to find three men? (IN A TUB); 8D: CCLI x II (DII); 9D: Earth Day sci. (ECOL.); 10D: List of options (MENU); 11D: Island from which the Bounty sailed (TAHITI); 12D: Attach, as a patch (IRON ON); 13D: Able-bodied (STRONG); 18D: 18-yr.-old high schoolers, usually (SRS.); 23D: Ideal (PERFECT); 25D: What's-her-name (SO-AND-SO); 26D: Car bar (AXLE); 28D: AOL rival (MSN); 29D: Barbary beast (APE); 30D: Relative of Juan (TIA); 31D: Rap sheet listings (ARRESTS); 33D: Former Cubs slugger (SOSA); 34D: Sci-fi author Frederik (POHL); 37D: Bread knife target (LOAF); 40D: Like some tough tests (ORAL); 41D: Org. for drivers (AAA); 42D: Tach no. (RPM); 43D: "Decorates" with bathroom tissue, for short (TPS); 46D: Nog spice (NUTMEG); 47D: New York tribe, city or lake (ONEIDA); 49D: Tried to rip open (TORE AT); 53D: Shuts tight (SEALS); 54D: Recede (EBB); 56D: Quiche base (EGGS); 57D: Pinball foul (TILT); 59D: Ring out (PEAL); 60D: Joe (JAVA); 61D: Depict in a biased way (SKEW); 64D: Bovine bellow (MOO); 65D: Wall St. exec's degree (MBA); 66D: NFL whistle blower (REF).


Rex Parker said...

Did the WARD for WING thing too. Then went one better and did UNADEM for DIADEM (UNADEM being the one I learned specifically from xwords) — and that was after having TIARAS in that space! Malapop! (that's when you want a word that's wrong, only to find that same word elsewhere in the grid later on).

This puzzle was at least as good as today's NYT, if a lot more lowbrow (lowerbrow?) in the theme-revealer.

And yes, Crosswords LA Tournament should be a blast. Several constructors I know will be there. If you're going, let us know.


Orange said...

"Fast break" is a sports term. If you grab a rebound and race down the basketball court to score, isn't that a fast break? You should've Googled it, JNH: Wikipedia on fast break. It's also "in the language" enough to have a candy bar named after it.

@PG, we need to find pertinent reasons to embed Jay Smooth's Ill Doctrine videos in our posts. How come he never talks about crosswordese? Has he ever covered the word OREO?

Zeke said...

Man, I will never get this whole understanding people crap. Earler this AM I thought JNH was riffing on his always referring to his upcoming BREAKFAST, and wondering who would fall into his trap. Turns out Orange did, and she never does, except that it turned out that Orange was right, that JNH got it wrong. Will you people please quit F&&@#ng with me?

HUH? said...

JNH set his usual trap, then made his sneaky FAST BREAK after his BREAKFAST thing.


Can someone who's sharp, please explain the real meaning of a KIWI?

Doug P said...

Yes, if you're going to be anywhere near the L.A. area on Saturday, May 1st, you should come to the Crosswords LA Tournament!

It'll be a beautiful day (guaranteed) in a beautiful location, and you'll get to hang out with some of the nicest, coolest people you'll ever meet. Two-thirds of your LA Crossword Confidential blogging team will be there, along with Tyler Hinman, Andrea Carla Michaels, and many more. And don't feel intimidated by the "tournament" aspect. If you enjoy solving the LA Times puzzle, you'll do fine & you'll have a blast.

lit.doc said...

Hi, PuzzleGirl! Wish I were going to LA for the CW tourney. Why oh why aren't there any CW geekfests that aren't during the teaching year? Sigh. And thanks for the entertaining write-up.

The puzzle, yeah, strong Tuesday. took me several minutes longer than did the NYT. Good cluing. Any "Huh?"s had good crosses, like ATCO and STOATS ("Summer ermines", eh?)

Fav clue was 55A "Social service?" = TEA SET, which dropped my jaw on the keyboard for minute.

Only clue cavil I had was 51A "Part of BTU" = UNIT. If I understand CW conventions aright, "BTU" was a signal for abbreviation, so I expected the answer to be BRIT (thought bubble: "oh please god don't let it be THER").

hazel said...

A cats and dogs solve for me, I suppose. A lot of the fill seemed tired and then the reveal wound up being a cheesy '80s sitcom. I can't decide whether a cheese factor affects my opinion of the puzzle. I think it does. At least it wasn't ridiculously easy.

Bonus was that stellar Jay Smooth (who I'd never heard of before) video. In corpspeak, that link was a definite "value add." More of him, please.

Burner10 said...

Nice puzzle. New word for me Diadem.
I am very tempted to come to my first tournament being an LA sort of person. But alas, I am a very slow solver. Will wear a black hat.
No deep reason - I just have a nice black hat.

C said...

Heh, reading these comments is always interesting as people discuss posts that don't appear in my browser window. Kinda cool in a whodunnit it sort of way.

I enjoyed today's puzzle, too. I avoided any slip ups and had a nice clean solve. Enjoyable to complete.

Based on the write up, I think @PG is excited about something coming up ...

Toady said...

@lit.doc: I think the "part of" clues have to have "abbr." in the clue in order for the answer to be an abbreviation.

*David* said...

I flew through this one at a record pace. I want to go to my first xword tournament but unfortunately will not be able to make this one, maybe by the time I turn 50, who knows?

Al said...

@JNH, a KIWI is a New Zealand native, a small green fuzzy fruit, and a bird.

Tinbeni said...

KIWI is Chinese gooseberry, a climbing vine native to China, Cultivated in New Zealand that has a fuzzy exterior, with green fruit in the middle.
KIWI is also the name of a flightless bird native to and the symbol of New Zealand.
Just curious, why did you delete your first comment. When solving I had a feeling you would make a BREAK FAST comment.

Fell into the Ward -v- WING hospital snafu. Easy fix.

Got DIADEM, all crosses, then cecked it after finish.

EDA LeShan and Sci-Fi guy Frederik were new.

Liked the SO-AND-SO for "what's her name."

Good Tuesday offering.

@PG Your sister is the best. Have fun.

CrazyCat said...

Very quick solving experience for me today. Count me in on WARD for WING. I also tried TIARAS first before getting DIADEM from crosses. FAST BREAK sounded familiar to me, but I was thinking in terms of horse racing as a FAST BREAK from the gate. Or maybe it's a CLEAN BREAK? Favorite answers were IN A TUB and NUTMEG. I have no idea why. New WOTD: STOAT

I'm planning on going to Crosswords LA.
However, since I'm a novice solver, never been to a CW tournament and have a high fear factor, I think I will register as a Spectator or maybe Rookie. I'm bringing my husband along to help me with sports clues.
@JNH yeah - why'd you delete your first comment?

CrazyCat said...

Oops I forgot @PG loved your write up. Jay Smooth is great. I spent about half an hour watching his other clips. Glad you're coming to LA!

Doug P said...

@CrazyCatLady - You and your husband can register as a couple and solve together. I look forward to seeing you there!

Rex Parker said...

@CrazyLady :)

Yes, solve as couple, or sign up as novice. You should have *no* trepidation. It's just not that kind of atmosphere.


CrazyCat said...

@Rex and Doug P. So I guess we'll sign up as a Rookie couple. Husband doesn't solve, but he's usually helpful with anything that has to do with baseball, football, basketball and tennis. I guess I'm mostly intimidated because they will be NYT puzzles vs LAT puzzles. I can't seem to get past Wednesdays with the NYT.

Sfingi said...

Easy. Much was solved w/o noticing.
Never heard of ATCO.
I just got the theme: STATION BREAK
SPRING BREAK, HEART BREAK. Hadn't put it together!

Only question was NFL whistle blower (sports). Thought I should look for someone who ratted on drug use. Just my frame of mind, today.

"All hail the pow er of Jesus' name
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal DIADEM
And crown Him Lord of all."

At least 10 more verses. 18th century British hymn.

Frederick POHL, 90, is a multiple Nebula and Hugo winner and worth reading. I recall Quantum Cats in particular.

Eda LeShan was a psychologist on PBS with a raspy voice. She passed.

@John - Don't know kiwi, but iwi means people or tribe.

@Orange - thanx for the ODIN. I'm putting him in my art "collection."

Anonymous said...

Can someone please explain "Tea Set"?

Elissa said...

Hi! I'm the organizer of the LA tournament.

FYI, there are brackets for people of many levels (including a non-competitive bracket). The event's not really about the competition. It's about achieving two goals. Goal 1: Have FUN. Goal 2: Raise some $ for a wonderful non-profit.

There'll be puzzles and group word games, lunch, Oreos, chocolate, free pencils, snazzy name tags (ooh! aah!), and LOTS of prizes. More than 30 prizes, in fact ... almost 2/3 of which will be given away via raffle. So ... You can come as a spectator, fill in nary a crossword square, and STILL go home a winner.

Okay ... I clearly have a vested interest here, so I'll sign out.

Crosswords LA 2010! www.crosswordsla.com

Crockett1947 said...

When the British have their afternoon tea at 4 PM, it can be a rather stylized affair, and the best china is used. There is usually a tea pot and cups used exclusively for this afternoon break in the day. See this for an idea of what a proper set would look like.

lit.doc said...

@Elissa, one crucial question. How, exactly, are you going to clue OREOS??

shrub5 said...

I'm late in solving this today. Liked the theme, didn't have any burning issues with the puzzle. I wish I could attend the LA puzzle tournament but seems unlikely at this point. Rex, Doug P. and Elissa -- thanks for the info and the encouragement to all the novices with puzzle anxiety.

@PG: Thanks for introducing Jay Smooth. LOL.

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