THURSDAY, May 20, 2010 — Dave Eckert

Theme: Just a Second — Each theme answer is a definition of the word SECONDS.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Seconds (AIDES FOR DUELERS).
  • 24A: Seconds (EXTRA HELPINGS).
  • 41A: Seconds (INFERIOR GOODS).
  • 55A: Seconds (TICKS OF THE CLOCK).
Okay, this is awesome. Congratulations, Dave! For those of you who don't know, Dave Eckert comments here and elsewhere as imsdave and this is his debut puzzle. He told me a couple weeks ago that it was scheduled to run on my blogging day so I've been eagerly awaiting its appearance. And it's great! Really! Very nicely done, Dave.

Some people don't like this type of theme, but I'm a big fan. The argument, I believe, is that the answers aren't stand-alone phrases. But I think if they're inferrable from crosses, it's a nice way to do something a little different now and then. And in this case, Dave snazzed the grid up with a lot of Scrabbly letters which is always welcome. (Look at all those Xs and Ks!)

My solving experience was about what I expect from a Thursday LAT. Not particularly speedy, but steady with no major hang-ups. I finished the puzzle over in the northern California area where ENOKI and XENON crossing IONA were completely hidden until I finally came up with KNEES and that broke the whole section open.

  • 5A: Kelly's cohort (REGIS). I went looking for a clip of Dana Carvey doing an impression of Regis, but ended up with this instead (which I think is even better):

  • 21A: Privacy metaphor (CLOSET). My first thought was the phrase "coming out of the closet" and I was all, "well, that's about a little more than just privacy" (not that there's anything wrong with that!). Then I realized it's more likely referring to the phrase "skeletons in the closet," which reminds me of Aerosmith's "Toys in the Attic," which sucked me into YouTube for, like, half an hour and I wasn't able to find the Exact Perfect video to post here so it was just a big waste of time. Welcome to my world.
  • 22A: Troubled insurance giant (AIG). If by "troubled" you mean … well, I was going to go on and on about crooks and criminals and obscene amounts of money, but then I realized that the whole financial meltdown was really complicated and I don't know enough about it to rant. But you know what? I'm going to go study up on it because I would really like to rant and feel justified.
  • 31A: Enjoy New York, say? (READ). I guess this means the magazine New York, which I've never heard referred to as anything but "New York Magazine," even though its name is simply "New York."
  • 35A: Received, as a salary (DRAWN). Nice, tricky clue here. I had the N in place and thought the answer would be a two-word phrase ending with "in" or "on."
  • 46A: Sound from Sandy (ARF). I believe Sandy is Little Orphan Annie's dog. Anyone?
  • 58A: "One for My Baby" composer (ARLEN). I don't know this song but I found this awesome video.

  • 3D: "Crimes and Misdemeanors" actor (ALDA). PuzzleHusband had the TV on in the next room the other night and I kept hearing Alan Alda's voice but couldn't figure out what show it was. Then it occurred to me that the only thing I've ever seen him in is M.A.S.H. and The West Wing. How is that possible?
  • 11D: Places in la mer (ILES). French!
  • 23D: Did in (SLEW).
  • 40D: Cinematic opening, but not ending? (SOFT C). Yeah, I fell for it. Was trying to think of a prefix to go with cinematic until it became clear that I had been tricked. Damn you, Dave Eckert! ::shaking fist at sky::
Crosswordese 101: IONA (34A: Isle where Saint Columba died) is a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. It's sometimes clued as a "neighbor" of nearby islands Skye and Mull. For crossword purposes, you also need to know that Macbeth is buried there. About half the time, though, IONA is clued as a college in New Rochelle, New York, whose team is the Gaels. So keep that in mind as well.

P.S. Oh, hey, one last thing. My esteemed colleagues and I have been kicking around an idea for a change on the blog and we've decided to go ahead and make it happen. Starting June 1, Rex and Amy will be retiring from this blog and giving their full attention to their own blogs (and whatever the hell else they feel like doing with their time). So, you're gonna be stuck with me every day. Let's just make the best of it, shall we?

Everything Else — 1A: Thick piece (SLAB); 10A: __ bath (SITZ); 14A: Corduroy feature (WALE); 15A: "West Side Story" role (ANITA); 16A: Flowering succulent (ALOE); 20A: Appreciative (GRATEFUL); 23A: Dry, like some Spanish wine (SECO); 30A: They have caps (KNEES); 32A: Hit hard (RAM); 37A: "See ya" ("TA-TA"); 38A: Ring decision (TKO); 39A: Part owner of Chrysler since 2009 (FIAT); 40A: Nasal spray brand (SINEX); 45A: Env. directive (ATTN); 47A: "Jeopardy!" clue, e.g. (ANSWER); 50A: They may be felt on the range (STETSONS); 57A: Tribe related to the Iowa (OTOE); 59A: Samoan seaport (APIA); 60A: Seats with kneelers (PEWS); 61A: Some designer dresses (DIORS); 62A: Discreet attention-getter (PSST); 1D: Ill-gotten gains (SWAG); 2D: Place to hibernate (LAIR); 4D: Sugar source (BEET); 5D: Weaver's fiber (RAFFIA); 6D: Once, perhaps (ENOUGH); 7D: Madonna's "Material __" (GIRL); 8D: "__ be my pleasure!" (IT'D); 9D: Its home is on the range (SAUCEPAN); 10D: Oater setting (SALOON); 12D: Went like the dickens (TORE); 13D: Citrus peel (ZEST); 18D: Chicago tower builder (SEARS); 19D: 1961 Heston role (EL CID); 24D: Japanese mushroom (ENOKI); 25D: It's a gas (XENON); 26D: Some like it hot (TEA); 27D: Troubadour's Muse (ERATO); 28D: Piano type (GRAND); 29D: Stuffs (SATES); 30D: Frontiersman Carson (KIT); 33D: "Mad __": 1979 Gibson film (MAX); 35D: Rural route (DIRT ROAD); 36D: Showers, e.g. (RAIN); 37D: Uncle, in Uruguay (TIO); 39D: Regales (FETES); 42D: United Kingdom's Guy __ Night (FAWKES); 43D: To a certain extent (RATHER); 44D: Salad makings (GREENS); 47D: Straddling (ATOP); 48D: Evening, informally (NITE); 49D: Harbor vessel (SCOW); 50D: WWII battle site (ST.-LˆO); 51D: Reaction to freshness? (SLAP); 52D: "My bad!" ("OOPS!"); 53D: Mark Harmon TV series (NCIS); 54D: Game using only cards higher than six (SKAT); 56D: Part of T.G.I.F.: Abbr. (FRI.).


Van55 said...

Mr. Eckert's debut puzzle is a winner in my book. Bravo!

fikink said...

Just dropped in to give a shout-out to Dave. Congratulations on finally seeing this one in print! The finished product is spectacular and the fill is solid and smooth.
Nice work, my man!

Crockett1947 said...

imsdave, excellent debut puzzle.

PG, so brave of you to make such a commitment of time for the enjoyment of we readers. Thank you!

Shout Hooray, It's Thursday!!

Tinbeni said...

Good job, FUN puzzle!!!

I liked all four of the "Seconds" theme ANSWERs. Which also was my fave answer for the day.

How that Guy FAWKES Night popped into my head is a mystery. Probably strong coffee.

Same problem as @PG re: the mushroom, ENOKI and the gas, XENON. For the longest time I just couldn't get argon out of my head. until the coffee boost wore off.

SAUCEPAN & STETSONS clues were clever.

@Chefbea, what was your favorite?

@PG IONA was perfect CW101, since we have had it three times in the last week. Thanks!

Unknown said...

This puzzle had a lot of ZEST!
Well worth waiting for, Dave.
Love your self-referential GRAND piano. The four theme answers were great. Since you told me the title of the puzzle a few weeks ago, I have been trying to come up with good theme answers myself - not nearly as good as yours.

SECONDS, please?

Unknown said...

don't know why that said Nancy, it's nanpilla above.

Sfingi said...

@ImsDave - Nice!

Though I want to "shop" NY, (first choice in puzzle and life) these days I just READ.

Who had "antelope" before SAUCEPAN?

(Excuse my un-PC) but I thought
"Abomb" or "fatman" before ENOKI? One time some "kids" I worked with were playing an airplane wargame in which you could pick the year and target, and I said "How about Hiroshima, 1945?" Hey, I was alive then.

By the way, Puzzle Girl - How young are you? "One for My Baby," indeed.

My symbol for privacy would be "lighthouse/faro" but they didn't fit. My father, father of 4 girls and no boys, always threatened to move to one. I did consider castle.
The back room, with ham radio and vacuum tubes was his.

Before I saw all the seconds, and starting from the bottom, I thought the game was removing "R"s.
"TICKS OF THEtrade was my first attempt.

Googled for ENOKI, SKAT and APIA. Getting a full Samoa map was hard. Another port was "TagA" also ending with A.

Wish I hadn't missed yesterday's. Was handing an award to a JRNROTC. She was a good foot taller than I. Probably weighed less.

My husband pointed out that BAER had a brother, Buddy BAER, an actor.

My 2nd (of 3) captchas was - nothing! Hope this isn't a trend.

chefbea said...

BRAVO Dave!!!! Wow what a puzzle. @tinbeni we all know my favorite answer but I loved all the food references = saucepan, greens, enoki and of course extra helpings.

Hope we see more of Dave's puzzles.

Bob Kerfuffle said...

Excellent puzzle, Dave!

You got me at 14 A, where I tried WELT before WALE (knew it was something with a "W".)

Re: 5 A: Cohort/cohost? What's the difference? But cohort works in a bit of a stretch (they do share the same time period!)

And for a debut effort, only 8 three letter words! Impressiver!

Doug P said...

Great puzzle, Dave! Sometimes these "repeated clue" themes are a bit bland, but you hit this one out of the park. Solid theme phrases & top-notch fill and clues. I love the fact that the grid's scrabbly, but you didn't overdo it with marginal "X" and "Z" words.

@PuzzleGirl - Are you crazy? :)

lit.doc said...

A nice, solid Thursday offering. I found it a bit harder than the NYT, because (no spoilers here) the theme answers in the NYT filled so many squares once I spotted the device. Applause for Dave Eckert, as well as congratulations on his debut.

My only cavil with this one is that IONA/ENOKI crossing—two “you know it or you don’t”s, so the O was a swag. Slowed myself down for a while by guessing ARGON from just the ON and no other crosses. Fav clue was “50A They may be felt on the range”. Nice misdirection, in the context of the other theme clues. 40D “Cinematic opening, but not ending” snagged me for a bit as well.

@PuzzleGirl, I’m delighted to here that I’ll get to read your witty and stylish write-ups everyday! And yes, Little Orphan Annie is Sandy’s person.

Sandy said...

Dave, just the right amount of heft for an LAT Thursday. Thanks.

Looking forward to all PG, all the time. I always enjoy your take on the puzzle and your humor.

Rex Parker said...

IANA? IENA? IUNA? IINA? I doubt it. There's only one legit guess there.

Anonymous said...

Great puzzle Dave!! Nice opening act, but since I do the LAT at lunch 10A doesn't meet the lunch test. lol Golfballman

C said...

I enjoyed the puzzle. Cluing had a different tempo to it which I enjoyed, got me out of my usual answer ruts.

DRAWN as an answer for 'received, as salary' is one I really enjoyed in the puzzle.

CrazyCat said...

I would classify Mr. Eckert's debut puzzle as EXTRA HELPINGS of ZEST. Very enjoyable Thursday level offering with not a SLEW of the usual fill. NO INFERIOR GOODS here. Got tripped up at 24D ENOKI. Only Japanese mushroom I could come up with at first was shiitake. Then ENOKI was on the tip of my tongue, but GNOCCI was what I kept thinking and well, we all know GNOCCI isn't a mushroom. Struggled with XENON too, Heck yeah @Tinbeni. IONA shows up every day lately in both puzzles it seems. Same with BEET. I also got tricked by SOFTC and 50A Felt on the range STETSONS. Cute. Congratulations Imsdave!
Puzzle Girl 24/7 sounds good to me too!

andrea zest michaels said...

This was great! I found it harder than the NYT puzzle today bec I had to really think and wasn't used to the cluing style.

Loved that there were not only lots of Scrabbly letters but they were positioned at the ends of words...
Loved SITZ and SINEX.

(I'm with @golfballman...SITZ reminded me of what my dad went thru during his kidney stone thing. "Ouch" I'm sure prob doesn't begin to describe it)

Only writeover belies my lack of culinary skills...I had SAUtEPAN
(Is there such a thing?)
I actually considered if TLOSET
could be parsed as T LOSE T!
(Then again, SOFTC took me as long as those kinds of clues always take me!)

As I mentioned on Rex's, this shook the cobwebs out of my brain, just bec the editing of clues feels so different from the NYT.
Like I had B--T for "Sugar source" and was TOTALLY baffled!

Good pairing to have you and Puzzlegirl today...it was like a double bonus!

Jeff Chen said...

@Rex and Orange, thanks so much for your contributions to this blog! It's become quite the part of my routine. What am I going to do without my Monday morning grumble from Rex?

Nice debut today, congrats Dave!


lit.doc said...

Good point re IONA, of course. I did the vowel run and yes, nothing else sounded reasonable, which is why I went with the O. But it was a guess nonetheless, which is why I said "cavil" rather than "gripe".

Joon said...

wow. good luck, PG. and thanks, rex & amy.

chefwen said...

Congrats Dave, that was a great debut, I liked it a lot.

Had a few minor write overs ahem at 62A before PSST, SAUCE pot before PAN and waves before KNEES. All easily fixed.

Looking forward to reading you every day PG, I love your humor and many thanks to Rex and Orange.

hazel said...

awesome puzz @ IMSDAVE!!

@PG - i hope you install a tip jar when you take over fulltime. I pledge to make an annual donation, plus i'll up my xwordese 101 ANTE everytime you play a Jay Smooth vee log or whatever they're called - or a Van Morrison song! I saw him live last week and he STILL HAS IT!!

SethG said...

Congrats, imsdave! Thanks, Rex! Thanks, Amy! Good luck, PuzzleGirl!

Tinbeni said...

The IONA thing became apparent to me only after I gave up on that inert Argon for the more Noble XENON gas.

Af first I had I-GA, and had to run the alphabet in my mind before the duh moment that our "old friend" (this week at least) IONA was again in the grid.

You certainly do make the scene a lot these days. LOL

For a debut, this did have ZEST!

Tinbeni said...

And on Jeopardy, tonight in the Tournament of Champions:

The ANSWER to a question;
"The last alphabetically of the Noble gases?" ... XENON!

gespenst said...

Great debut puzzle! Fun ANSWERS for "seconds" :)

Favorite clue was 50A: They may be felt on the range ... I had ST--SONS and tried and tried to figure out how STEPSONS might work (what does remarriage have to do w/ the range?) but then had my "AHA moment" and filled in STETSONS. Enjoyed 9D: Its home is on the range (SAUCEPAN) as well.

Took an appropriate time for a Thursday ... top and bottom fell more easily than the middle.

Tinbeni said...

Yesterday I didn't realize it was 37 wks, so my prediction on the new puzzlebaby is June 1st.
All the other data is the same.

I have only one thing to tell you regarding this event:
Remember the word "EPIDURAL!!!"

and this gets the captcha 'muffe' ??

Sfingi said...

@Gespenst - remember the word Morphine. I was in labor 27 hours. He was supposed to be born St. Patrick's Day, but made it on St. Joseph's.

@Golfballman - always skip lunch before you skip puzzle.

Another SECOND would be SECONDhand, which would describe half my belongings.

Regis isn't too bad now, but he wavered between sickening sycophant and sarcasm in the start of his "career."

@PuzzleGirl - throw in an occasional oldster video, such as the Sammy Davis, Jr. bit any chance you can.

Anonymous said...

PuzzleGirl's having a baby? If it's not hers, it's not PuzzleBaby.

mac said...

@imsdave: congratulations! I found another little tiny self-reference!

@PuzzleGirl: Congratulations, big job! Are you going to personalize the name of the blog a little? Maybe ACM has some ideas. Thanks Rex and Orange for all the great blogging over all this time.

backbiter said...

My favorite clue and answer. 50A: They may be felt on the range. Stetsons. There is really no need to mourn Rex and Orange. They have their own blogs. Orange's is word for word here as on her own. Need Rex? He's just as witty and caustic on his blog. Hey, the man knows what he likes and dislikes. Rock on with your badassed selves. Love you all.

Stan said...

Found this smooth, fun, and well-clued. Hollywood sub-theme appropriate to LAT with home on the range, cinematic, Mad Max, saloon and Stetson. Solid, real phrases for theme answers. Impressive debut!

gespenst said...

@Tinbeni & @Sfingi -- thanks for the tips ... but I'm actually trying to go natural. I know, I know, crazy. I had the high-tech interventional birth last time, this one's going to be low-tech and empowering. At least that's the plan ;)

Oh, and June 1st is my target date, but "man [woman] plans, God laughs"!!