MONDAY, May 3, 2010 — Nancy Salomon

THEME: [Warm welcome for an old friend] — same clue for three theme answers

Theme is blah, but the fill is decent. I especially like EYE-POPPING (28D: Amazing to behold). Wish grid were moreso. One big complaint: "LOOK WHO THE / WIND BLEW IN" feels much weaker (i.e. less in-the-language) than the other two answers. LOOK WHO THE CAT DRAGGED IN out-googles the WIND answer by a nearly 8-to-1 margin. I guess you wouldn't say LOOK WHO THE CAT DRAGGED IN to an old friend. Well, I would, but *you* probably wouldn't.

Spent Saturday at Loyola-Marymount University as a judge/scorer for the "Crosswords L.A." charity tournament. I'll do a full write-up of the experience at some point later in the week — it's Sunday as I write this, and I'm about to leave to go experience DUDAMANIA! — i.e. see the L.A. Philharmonic in action, woo hoo! My best friend from college is a season ticket holder, god love him. I will say this about the "Crosswords L.A." tournament now, though: great fun. Warm, interesting people who are not afraid to geek out about puzzles in public. Elissa Grossman is the hardest-working woman in the crossword tournament organizing business. She is very pregnant, and was still running the show (including dealing with a number of unforeseeable glitches) like a champ.

[Me, PuzzleGirl, Doug Peterson]

Contestants were way chattier and generally warmer than the (much larger) crowd at the Brooklyn tournament tend to be. Don't know why. I think the whole atmosphere in L.A. was more intimate, less daunting, which made conversation among strangers pretty easy. I *loved* being a judge. Had some great profanity-laden shouting matches discussions about crosswords, contestants' handwriting, wrong answers, good and bad clues, etc. with my fellow judges, especially Tyler Hinman, Doug Peterson, Alex Boisvert, and Todd McClary. We spent much of the day in a windowless room wrestling with scanning/scoring software, which ended up being much more entertaining than it sounds. Elissa's dad David and brother Mike were handling the tech — lovely people to work with (I'm partial to father/son pairs named David and Michael, for personal reasons). Elissa is the queen of corporate swag, so she had So Many Prizes available, even after official prizes were handed out, that she had to raffle them off to contestants at the end. I think half the crowd walked out of there with some book or giant gift basket or something. Randomest freebie: giant poster of Russell Crowe as "Robin Hood" — [Unnecessary self-important epic movie, 9 letters].

[What the hell am I doing with my hands?]

Theme answers:

  • 17a. With 59-Across, warm welcome for an old friend ("LOOK WHO THE / WIND BLEW IN")
  • 27a. Warm welcome for an old friend ("HELLO STRANGER")
  • 43a. Warm welcome for an old friend ("LONG TIME, NO SEE")

Crosswordese 101: KIR (32D: White wine apéritif) — Kir is a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine (acc. to wikipedia). I'd never heard of it until I started doing crosswords seriously. I knew a Lady Miss Kier, lead singer for the band Deee-Lite, because their song, "Groove is in the Heart," was the most ginormous hit of my late college career. I have never seen KIER in a puzzle.

  • 42a. Flower associated with Holland (TULIP) — had the -LIP part and completely reflexively wrote in OXLIP — an instinct only a constant solver would make.
  • 55d. Boo-boo, in totspeak (OWIE) — the "word" "totspeak" must die. I don't believe it is a word. Plus, furthermore, additionally. BOO-BOO in "totspeak" is BOO-BOO. It's *already* "totspeak." Yeesh.
  • 44d. Reject (NAY-SAY) — so NAY-SAY is a transitive verb? Well that's a new one to me.

See you Friday,

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Crockett1947 said...

Rex, I am VERY envious that you got to see the LA Phil with Dudamel! WOW!!

Ruth said...

I think actually it's more like "Look WHAT the cat dragged in" rather than who. Cats are prone to delivering mangled, unidentifiable, formerly animate objects.

Zeke said...

Does anyone have the complete listing of ox-like fauna? I knew oxeye, now oxlip, but are there others? Oxnose, oxear, oxsnot? We need to know!

capta: vaticat - head predator at the Vatican. Well, maybe not.

mac said...

Yes, I also wanted that cat. Nice to have both halo and aura in the puzzle. Tulip not a problem, of course, I have some beautiful pale yellow ones in a vase. Can't have them outside, the deer would think they were dessert.

Tinbeni said...

@Ruth, I agree. Cats are natural hunters and they love to bring their owner a present.
I'm going out on a limb, @CCL will be ALL OVER this.

BAIRD, LUNT and ROSIE (two talented people and O'Donnell) were all crosses.

OK, I knew the CW101, KIR. Trust me, I am never going to drink it.

Only unknown was the Verdi aria "ERI tu" but PENNE took care of that.

@Rex & PuzzleGirl, looks like a goodtime was had by all.

Joon said...

californians are just more laid back than northeasterners, i think. god, i miss california.

CrazyCat said...

Not the most exciting puzzle, but it was nice to get back to easy level for a day. Agree with all about LOOK WHAT the CAT DRAGGED IN instead of WIND BLEW. I am lucky that I only get gifted with an occasional lizard. I suspect it's because my cats are well fed and lazy. They prefer sleeping to hunting.
@Tin - I love a KIR especially with champagne.

Had a really fun day at Crosswords LA. Got to meet Puzzle Girl and Rex Parker. Both were very gracious and charming. I also met many fellow blog readers. Rex is right. It was a friendly, laid back atmosphere. Elissa did a great job of organizing and hosting. She also was charming, funny, and as Rex pointed out, very pregnant. She must have been exhausted by Saturday night. It was fun to see and meet so many constructors and amazing to see how fast many people are able to solve. There was a kind and patient man who led the whole crowd in some group word games that were hilarious. I think his name was John. Watching the other John, Jon and Eric solving Tyler Hinman's puzzle was EYE POPPING. Tyler and Andrea Carla Michaels were entertaining commentators during the finals.
As far as how I did on the puzzles - well my solving skills tanked. I think it had to do with being in a lecture hall and having a huge timer on the screen. I felt like I was taking some life or death exam that I hadn't studied for - and I wasn't even being scored. The last three puzzles were pretty hard too. All in all, it was a lovely day and I plan to be there next year. Thanks to our blog hosts for encouraging us to attend and for making the long trip to the west coast.

Tinbeni said...

I had a cat for many, many years.
He loved to sleep, probably 16 hours a day. But when he was out on his 45 minute jaunt each morning (you could set your watch on it) he also liked to bring back a lizard every so often.

Thing I liked about him was if I left him enough food, and the radio on, after a 3 day weekend when I returned he would look at me with a "LOOK WHO THE CAT DRAGGED (back) IN" expression. Then go back to sleep.

As to the KIR, being a guy I'll stick with my avatar.

bluebell said...

I know "Look what the wind blew in," also. Not who in either case.

This was a slower Monday, but I was able to guess correctly through crosses,lbo/Baird and Kir/rep. Took me a bit to figure out that TK0s was really kayos--I haven't seen that form of the word for awhile.

With the theme answer split so far apart I couldn't just fill it in--had to wait for crosses . Crosswords teach you patience?

Sfingi said...

The response to HELLOSTRANGER is "Stranger than you think."
"Hello sailor," to someone who really is a stranger, could be more interesting.

Just got over a heatwave and I feel ill - I'm one of those Northern types with the I-don't-do-Heat gene.

Speaking of genes,there is a KIR gene (Killer cell Immunoglobulin-like Receptor)for lymphocytes.
I've never heard of the drink which sounds wretched. What's with this European taste for dark berries in wine and beer? Straight up, Monsieur and Herr!

Kentucky Fried WING is Kentucky Fried air. Not much meat there.

Californians are laid back, yes. One time I pulled into a gas station and the guy just stood there leaning against the tank. On the other hand, I once got rear-ended when I didn't immediately enter highway traffic. In the NE you're taking your life in your hands, but in CA they just move over for you. Maybe they've changed. Generally, I agree with Woody Allen, that it's just too sunny in at least two senses of the word. But crossworders can't be shallow by definition.

My latest retronym - "scripted show." So many "reality" shows that what we used to watch has gained a modifier. Anyone catch Breaking Bad last night?

My last cat, Gracie, had to be sent to Baltimore when my mom went into the Home since my husband can't abide cats. She was the best mouser ever, and after awhile no mice showed their faces. She also played "roll the ball back and forth" with me and even carried it in her mouth.
But, they all sleep 16 hours, because they can. Felines are top predators.


I'm back on the Mother road again, so my puzzles get solved later.
Yeah me too...wanted LOOK WHO THE... CAT DRAGGED.
Any puzzle that starts with Rum BABAS (yum Babas) & BALI, and ENDS with Bill BAIRD & Clifford ODETS, can't be all bad.

It was so nice to see photos of the Puzzlenerds (omigosh, they look like normal people). Also enjoyed Rex giving some event highlights. Wow, I too am jealous of you Rex, going to the L. A. Philharmonic. So Dudamel conducted Copland, Ginastera, and Estévez, right? How was it? Did you enjoy seeing the Walt Disney Concert Hall? It's quite EYEPOPPING!

Unknown said...

Wow Rex, I expected you to rip this thing apart. Some time in California must of mellowed you out.

I thought the fill was clunky for a Monday. The BAIRD ODETS stack with LBO and OWIE crossing in the SE is gross. KIR and HAMEL crossing KAYOS and ugly partial IMET is not better.

Maybe I just have a case of the Mondays, but (especially with Nancy's name on the byline) this one just disappointed me.

RASTA said...

Is kayos really a legit answer? Really?

CrazyCat said...

@Sfingi - in CA you pump your own gas unless you want to pay extra. Also, I was the middle car in a four car pile up on the 210 freeway a few years back. It was on a Friday afternoon. People who drove past flipped us the bird since we were causing a delay. That night there was a 7.0 earthquake. We have great weather though.
@Tin - cats are great in that respect. You leave'em some food and drink and they could give a s**t if you're around or not. Dogs, on the other hand, want to punish you upon your return.

Tinbeni said...

My gal-pal has two of the nicest little Lhasa Apso (sp?) dogs I have ever known.
But at times it seems her life is wrapped up in theirs and not hers.

I remember years ago saying I never had to leave the bar because I had to "walk the dogs."

My cat would walk around the TV, when I had on the Animal Planet type of shows, look at me with a question mark in his eyes, almost saying: "Hey, I know there are birds in there but I can't figure out how to get them."

KAYOS is a real term. Long time ago I was into boxing. Thank god I got over thay period in my life.


For those of you who don't know the strings about puppetry, here's the BILL BAIRD MARIONETTES!

Seems to be a lost art today.

gespenst said...

I *thought* it was rum BABAS ... but I had trouble putting it in b/c in our house "babas" means breasts or nursing ;) What shape are rum babas?? Maybe that's the connection ;)

I couldn't fit "CAT DRAGGED IN" and was quite perturbed till it started looking like "WIND" instead.

I'm WELL aware of what the cat dragged in, unless my husband dispatches of it before I go downstairs. I don't mind the *whole* animals (especially if they have a tail to hold onto as you throw them into the woods) ... it's the *partial* animals which do me in. One really did me in yesterday morning. Pregnancy and animal guts don't mix well, even well beyond the morning sickness stage.

Hopefully today is a better day ;)