WEDNESDAY, May 19, 2010— Don Gagliardo

THEME: "B-B-B-B-Bad to the Bone"—A record-breaking 29 Bs appear in the grid, some of 'em beginning words in the nominal theme entries

Was this one tougher than usual for a weekday LAT puzzle for you? Or is it just me?

The middle answer, B-TWENTY-NINE doesn't have a spelled-out number anywhere but crosswords. Its clue reads 39a: [Enola Gay, e.g. (and a hint to this puzzle's unusual feature)], and you'll note that the clue refers to the puzzle, not to the handful of apparent theme entries. What look like theme entries but are really part of the overall grid-wide theme are these four phrases with B.B. initials:
  • 17a. [Trivial Pursuit edition] is BABY BOOMER.
  • 27a. [Luxurious soak] is a BUBBLE BATH.
  • 53a. [Party recyclable] is a BEER BOTTLE.
  • 64a. [Place for low-priority issues] is the BACK BURNER.
The real theme is the sheer number of Bs in the puzzle. The previous record for the most Bs in a 15x15 crossword was 22, according to Barry Haldiman's page, and Don Gagliardo blew that out of the water. He's made a habit of that—he also holds the record for most instances of the letter G (21), K (30), and W (15).

All righty, what else is in this crossword, Bs or otherwise?
  • 22a. [i follower] clues POD. With Apple's latest product, the answer could also have been PAD…or MAC, for a less newfangled product.
  • 32a. [Très __: very little] clues the French word PEU. I find it works best to hold your thumb and forefinger close together when saying this word. "Un peu."
  • 56a. I'm not crazy about [Tongue trouble] as a clue for SLIP. Yes, "slip of the tongue" is a common phrase, but it's hardly ever "tongue trouble" that's responsible. I know, I know—it's not to be taken literally.
  • 59a. [Like many dicts.] is ABR., the abbreviation for "abridged." In your dict., you may also encounter the abbrev OBS. (10d. [No longer used, as a word: Abbr.]), short for "obsolete." If you're lucky, your crossword includes words that are common enough to be found even in an abridged dictionary and not marked "obs."
  • 3d. A BOBCAT is apparently a [Hare-hunting feline].
  • 12d. [Beatles song with "Mother Mary"] is "LET IT BE."

  • 13d. And here's ARETHA [Franklin of soul]. Her voice makes my scalp tingle (in a good way).

  • 39d. BAKELITE is [Collectible plastic jewelry]. Any of you own some?
  • 54d. ["... for there is nothing / either good __, but thinking makes it so": Hamlet] is completed by the partial phrase OR BAD. Who doesn't like a little Shakespeare?
Crosswordese 101: Here are a few reruns: ELY, AGEE, EL AL.

Everything Else — 1A: To the third power (CUBED); 6A: Motorcyclist's hog (BIKE); 10A: Beatles nonsense syllables (OBLA); 14A: "__ Mio" (O SOLE); 15A: Prefix with mensch (UBER-); 16A: Uncle Remus title (BR'ER); 17A: Trivial Pursuit edition (BABY BOOMER); 19A: Download source (SITE); 20A: Pugilists' gp. (WBC); 21A: Give it a shot (TRY); 22A: i follower (POD); 24A: Smidgen (BIT); 25A: Flight to Eilat (EL AL); 27A: Luxurious soak (BUBBLE BATH); 30A: Asian palm (BETEL); 32A: Trés __: very little (PEU); 33A: Word in a Flintstone yell (YABBA); 34A: ISP with chat rooms (AOL); 36A: Gp. that has issued more than 420 million IDs (SSA); 38A: Braves' div. (NLE); 39A: Enola Gay, e.g. (and a hint to this puzzle's unusual feature) (B TWENTY-NINE); 42A: "Phooey!" ("BAH!"); 43A: Ball belle (DEB); 44A: "Pick a number from __ ..." (ONE); 45A: "Idol" success Clay (AIKEN); 47A: Ballot choices (X'ES); 49A: Fiber-rich cereals (BRANS); 53A: Party recyclable (BEER BOTTLE); 56A: Tongue trouble (SLIP); 57A: Show with "Celebrity Jeopardy!" spoofs, briefly (SNL); 58A: Dadaist Jean (ARP); 59A: Like many dicts. (ABR.); 61A: Post-op area (ICU); 62A: Getting the job done (ON IT); 64A: Place for low-priority issues (BACK BURNER); 67A: Moreno with Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards (RITA); 68A: '40s film critic James (AGEE); 69A: Guadalajara "good" (BUENO); 70A: Max of '30s boxing (BAER); 71A: Proof of ownership (DEED); 72A: "The Beverly Hillbillies" star (EBSEN); 1D: Spider's doing (COBWEB); 2D: In working order (USABLE); 3D: Hare-hunting feline (BOBCAT); 4D: Cambridgeshire cathedral town (ELY); 5D: Plastic user's concern (DEBT); 6D: Keep afloat (BUOY UP); 7D: ThinkPad maker (IBM); 8D: Stay active (KEEP BUSY); 9D: Flamboyant Flynn (ERROL); 10D: No longer used, as a word: Abbr. (OBS.); 11D: Like one who can be bought (BRIBABLE); 12D: Beatles song with "Mother Mary" (LET IT BE); 13D: Franklin of soul (ARETHA); 18D: Celestial sight (ORB); 23D: Actress Susan (DEY); 26D: Sofa material (LEATHER); 28D: Safest option (BEST BET); 29D: Pennants (BANNERS); 31D: Like bass notes (LOW); 35D: Headed up (LED); 37D: "I'll take that as __" (A NO); 39D: Collectible plastic jewelry (BAKELITE); 40D: Words clicked to see more (NEXT PAGE); 41D: Bach's "Mass __ Minor" (IN B); 42D: Two-year periods (BIENNIA); 45D: Take in (ABSORB); 46D: Hoops org. (NBA); 48D: Quenched (SLAKED); 50D: Dior skirts (A-LINES); 51D: Christianity's __ Creed (NICENE); 52D: Press forward (SPUR ON); 54D: "... for there is nothing / either good __, but thinking makes it so": Hamlet (OR BAD); 55D: Tidal action (EBB); 60D: Hick (RUBE); 63D: La Brea material (TAR); 65D: Average mark (CEE); 66D: Erase, with "out" (RUB).


Tinbeni said...

B-29, spelled out, was my first entry.
This helped me know that Bach's "Mass___Minor" was IN B.

Good Morning, But I digress ...

FUN little slog.

Laughed at the LET IT BE, subtle.
Where was the Beach Boys: Ba Ba Ba Ba Barbara Ann?
Liked the BRER, BAER.
Learned a 40's film critic, James AGEE, big deal.

So I guess this was BUENO, OR BAD.

David L said...

IBM no longer makes the Thinkpad, and hasn't done for quite a few years now. It's now made by Lenovo.

lit.doc said...

I've got a BAKELITE right next to my EASY-BAKE. Same good cooking, but less filling.

Other than never having seen that one before, the only real (I use the term advisedly) hold up was the tenacity with which I clung to NOS at 47A.

gespenst said...

Interesting. I caught the B-B- pattern in what I thought was the theme. I didn't quite get what that had to do w/ B-29, though ... except I did subconsciously note that there were a lot of other Bs in the puzzle. Oh well, I claim distraction as my excuse for missing what might have been obvious.

Did anyone else have to sing "Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, LET IT BE ..."??? Never need an excuse to sing a little Beatles, I guess ;)

Too true that you have to hold up the fingers close together when you say "un peu" ... but Orange, you forgot to mention how you have to screw up your face to pronounce it correctly, too ;)

BTW, what's the lead time on puzzles? Would the IPAD have been out in time for the "I follower" clue to be referring to the IPAD?

Not an overly challenging puzzle, but fine for a Wednesday. It is Wednesday, right?

Tinbeni said...

Yeah, of course I had to silently sing the song to get the LET IT BE.
Trust me, unless it is Bob Dylan, you don't want to hear me sing out loud.

As to lead time, I think somewhere I read that the lead time is around 90 days.
This is why when Christmas showed up last year, it surprised me that it did not have a holiday theme.

BTW isn't there a little addition coming very soon?
Like in under a month?
Seems to me you said you were going to wait to find out if it was a boy or a girl.
SOOOO, my guess:
A girl, 7 lbs, 7 oz., 20 inches on June 6th. 4:28 am.

(I always like the lenght stat. Makes me wonder if it is too short, do you have to put it back?)

shrub5 said...

Glad to see RITA Moreno in the puzzle. There are only ten people who have won a Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Oscar. Besides Moreno, they are: Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, John Gielgud, Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Johnathan Tunick, Mel Brooks, Mike Nichols and Whoopi Goldberg. Two more, Barbra Streisand and Liza Minelli, have the four awards but each has one that is a non-competitive, honorary award. Rodgers and Hamlisch have each won a Pulitzer Prize as well. (wiki)

Another enjoyable puzzle from Don G. Quite a feat getting all those Bs in with decent fill. Lots of 3-letter words but none were annoying. Liked RUB beside RUBE. Also appreciated the many longish down words.

mac said...

Very good puzzle, a little harder than the average weekday LAT puzzle.

I thought Orange was going to say to put your forefinger and thumb on your nose!

I have some bakelite earrings and bangles, bought at an antiques show. That reminds me, I wanted bangles for banners, was thinking jewelry, of course.

Orange said...

@gespenst, had I posted a video of myself saying "un peu," you would have seen my facial contortions.

@shrub, on 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan's character Tracy Jordan sports a chain around his neck spellig out EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. He aspires to win all four. EGOT! Not quite ready for prime time in the crossword grid.

Maestro said...

Anyone else catch that there are also 29 three-letter fills??

CrazyCat said...

I rate this one BUENO! Although I also noticed many B's, I failed to grasp the theme until I came to the blog. Even though BTWENTYNINE was right in front of my face D'oh. I was looking for a connection to the theme answers and not the whole puzzle. I blame it on the COBWEBs in my brain due to a bad allergy day. @Orange and @Gespenst you're both so right about un PEU - thumb to forefinger and that lip pursing thing. My high school French teacher used to make us say it over and over to get it just right. I have a BAKELITE hand mirror that belonged to my mom from the 1940s. Liked OBLA crossing LET IT BE. Had to sing both. See an occasional BOBCAT in the local foothills. They have little tufts of hair sticking out of their ears. Didn't like SSA or SNL, but other than that YABBA Dabba Do! On to the NEXT PAGE. Got to KEEP BUSY.

Anonymous said...

I'm not usually that good at these puzzles, but I managed to get this one without any help. Yeah!

Ratty said...

You know, it *seemed* harder than usual, and yet I finished it in record time. Must have ate some brain food last night.

JIMMIE said...

I didn't find it harder than usual, especially after I figured out the 29 B's. I didn't like SLAKER, which my ABR dict. says is archaic. Shouldn't the clue clue the archaic-ness in?

JIMMIE said...

Not too hard, especially after realizing there were 29 B's. But shouln't the archaic SLAKER have been clued that way?

Meredith said...

The correct answer is SLAKED which is not archaic.

ddbmc said...

I enjoyed all the "B's" and glad they weren't buzzing in my wall! Haven't been around in a while, but work is easing up, so sanity (or insanity?) demanded a visit back to the puzzle and blog! @T-beni, we anxiously await good news on @Gespenst's new BABY! Fun puzzle, despite SLAKED, which rhymes with BLAKE....(a "B" word and the middle of ddbmc's name! :)

gespenst said...

@Orange & @CCL glad I'm not the only one w/ facial contortions speaking French :) German comes a lot more naturally to me :)

@Tinbeni - YES, I'm 37 weeks pg and waiting for the blessed arrival, hopefully sooner than due date/heat of summer, lol. I will make note of your prediction and let you know how accurate you are. I hope like heck they *don't* have to "throw" ("shove" whatever) the short ones back ;-b

Joon said...

maestro, i didn't bother to count the 3-letter fills, but i know there aren't 29. it's gotta be an even number because neither entry that passes through the middle square is 3 letters.

Joon said...

okay, i counted them. 16 across and 12 down = 28.