TUESDAY, June 1, 2010 — James Sajdak

Theme: The Four Seasons — Each theme answer is a person or a place that ends in a plural of one of the four seasons.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: City near the base of Pikes Peak (COLORADO SPRINGS).
  • 28A: National Economic Counsel [sic] director (LARRY SUMMERS).
  • 47A: Where to board the Maid of the Mist tour boat (NIAGARA FALLS).
  • 61A: 1999 recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor (JONATHAN WINTERS).

Happy June everyone. I hope you had a nice holiday weekend and are ready to get back in the swing of puzzling. As you may know, Rex and Amy have retired from this blog — what with their own blogs and everything, I can't say I blame them — and from now on it's just you and me. So. There are gonna be some changes around here! First of all ... oh never mind, I can't think of anything. I just hope you'll all stay.

I've been a little nervous about this day and was hoping I'd be able to start my solo career with an awesome puzzle. Unfortunately ….

Don't get me wrong, this is a perfectly serviceable Tuesday puzzle. I'm just a little disappointed with the theme because we've seen it so recently. Not even three months ago! And with two of the same theme answers! And even then it wasn't new. Back in 2007, we saw it with three of the same theme answers. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that's the NYT and not the LAT, but I don't think that makes a difference. It's been done. Twice in the last three years. Now, if this iteration of the theme had done something special, I would be more forgiving. Or if it had been, say, ten years since it had been done. But three of the four theme answers are recycled? Within a three-year period?! Sorry. That just doesn't do it for me.

Did I like anything about the puzzle? Why, yes. Yes, I did.

  • 15A: Brazilian-themed Vegas casino, with "The" (RIO). I can't say that I've heard of that particular casino, but it was easy to pick it up. I like how it's paired with 45A: Indian-themed Atlantic City casino, with "The" (TAJ).
  • 39A: Rye bread seed (CARAWAY). It doesn't seem like this is something I should know, but I did. According to the cruciverb.com data base, it's only appeared once before in the LAT.
  • 43A: Barber's blade (RAZOR). Nothing really sparkly about the clue, but I'm always happy to see some Scrabbliness. See also 41D: "Stronger than dirt!" cleanser (AJAX).
  • 55A: NHL stat (PTS.). I've never paid any attention to hockey at all, so I thought I was a goner here. Little did I know, the answer would be something simple like "points," which could have been clued in relation to just about any sport.
  • 67A: New Mexico ski resort (TAOS). Beautiful place. Beautiful word.
  • 7D: It may be Olympic-size (POOL). We spent the whole day at the pool yesterday and it was a blast. Looking forward to more pool days this summer!
  • 11D: Goes for the gold (MINES). I like how 7D gets my brain thinking about the Olympics and then 11D comes along and tricks me.
Crosswordese 101: "Ronny" Howard played OPIE (14A: Bee's grandnephew) in the 1960s television sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show." Andy Griffith played Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie's father, and Aunt Bee, played by Frances Bavier, was Andy's aunt. (And yes, her name is spelled Bee, not Bea!) The program took place in the fictional Mayberry, North Carolina. If you can remember all that, and that OPIE has red hair, you should be able to decipher his clues with no problem. Whistling the theme song is not required.

I'll see you all back here tomorrow. In the meantime, have at it in the comments.

[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Cry out loud (BAWL); 5A: Pain for a sitter (IMP); 8A: Presumed evolutionary link (APEMAN); 16A: Like the sea (SALINE); 20A: Increase by (ADD TO); 21A: Floral greeting (LEI); 22A: Trial (TEST); 23A: Letters that get things moving (ASAP); 26A: One with a brush (ARTIST); 32A: Saharan (ARID); 33A: Prefix with state or sect (TRI-); 34A: Make eyes pop and jaws drop (AMAZE); 38A: Producer's dream (HIT); 42A: Gentle bear (BEN); 46A: Star's part (LEAD); 51A: Horse house (STABLE); 53A: Final, e.g. (EXAM); 54A: Nailed, as a 53-Across (ACED); 57A: "Get a load of that!" ("WOWIE!"); 65A: Tenor Bocelli (ANDREA); 66A: NASA thumbs-up (AOK); 68A: Puts back to zero (RESETS); 69A: "Golly" ("GEE"); 70A: A.D. part (ANNO); 1D: Lauderdale neighbor (BOCA); 2D: Like two peas in __ (A POD); 3D: Untamed (WILD); 4D: Workout wear (LEOTARD); 5D: 401(k) alternative, briefly (IRA); 6D: Central (MID); 8D: Seek ambitiously (ASPIRE); 9D: Golf pros often break it (PAR); 10D: Upper-class rule (ELITISM); 12D: Common Woody Allen theme (ANGST); 13D: Home in a tree (NEST); 18D: Like a bright future (ROSY); 19D: Clothing line? (SEAM); 24D: Nick and Nora's clue sniffer (ASTA); 25D: Manx murmur (PURR); 27D: Busboy's aid (TRAY); 28D: Cowardly Lion player (LAHR); 29D: Evidence of Sills' skills (ARIA); 30D: Nabisco cracker (RITZ); 31D: Mazda two-seater (MIATA); 35D: Eve's second (ABEL); 36D: Fervor (ZEAL); 37D: Discontinues (ENDS); 39D: Nursery bed (CRIB); 40D: Soft or hard attachment (-WARE); 44D: How some hotdogging is done (ON A DARE); 46D: "Raging Bull" boxer Jake (LAMOTTA); 48D: Top dogs (ALPHAS); 49D: "__ move on!" (GET A); 50D: Young deer (FAWN); 51D: Tea cart treat (SCONE); 52D: Watches over (TENDS); 54D: Close to closed (AJAR); 56D: Stocking problem (SNAG); 58D: Teach not to rely on, with "from" (WEAN); 59D: Wrinkle remover (IRON); 62D: Hanoi holiday (TET); 63D: Job's lot? (WOE); 64D: '50s presidential moniker (IKE).


Rex Parker said...

I honestly could Not come up with ABEL at [Eve's second-born] or whatever the clue was. I could think only of ENOS. Embarrassing.

Otherwise, what you said. I've done this puzzle. Several times before. Recently.


Gene said...

I got right down to al_has and all I could think of was alohas. I had a brain lock.

Tinbeni said...

Good Morning PuzzleGirl.
Excellent write-up.
Nice photo from the Great Gatsby.

Well, I guess the first thing I should say is Never, Ever or in the future will I wear a LEOTARD to workout in.

BOCA, Lauderdale neighbor, was perfect. It is what we Floridians call them. I expect someone will carp b/c one is the begining the other the end. Maybe we should name the in-between Fort Raton.

Gal-pal has a pure-bred Lahsa Apso, 10 lbs and a Lahsa Mix, 20 lbs. Well the little guy is the ALPHA dog.

Not to stress how easy this was but when I finished I counted 22 clues not crossed off.

Until the @Rex comment I didn't even see that ABEL (or ZEAL & ENDS) were in the grid.

Burner10 said...

Easy for me - finished before my second bus. Hmm missed the recent previous versions of the theme so clearly I must do more puzzles. Not a lot of dreadful or even trite fill. Pts is a geat stat because it encourages teamwork - especially in youth hockey. Three points in a game is a playmaker (vs hat trick for three goals).

Burner10 said...

Oh - you get one point for an assist or a goal.

Van55 said...

Decent enough puzzle for me. I didn't realize the theme was iterative until I came here.

PG, I look forward to your solo regime! I wish you success with it.

ddbmc said...

Hey, @PG, welcome to full time blogging! You will do fine-you always have! And we'll still hear from Orange and Rex, just not in blog form!

Loved the "Four Seasons" video, and I can't complain about seeing the theme, as I've been so busy, as of late, I missed the theme a few months back, but I'll take your word for it that it is a redux.

@Tin, I wanted West Palm or Miami-never thought to name 4 letter "Boca," so I was briefly stumped. Thankfully, I'm headed to COLORADO SPRINGS for business, so that just popped right in! The rest of the theme became apparent, too.

Cute that ASTA and PURR were next to each other, tho' I imagine ASTA would have been growling(along with TB's ALPHA dog!)and the manx would have been hissing!

Maybe I'm showing my ELITISM, but I am so tired of Woody Allen's ANGST driven movies. I think he over MINES that emotion. Lost my taste for him after the whole Soon-yi thing. I do have my standards, low as they are!

mac said...

Great start, PuzzleGirl! Have to agree with your assessment. I do not like wowie, and AOK and Gee are just too close.

Nice shout-out to ACM, and I also noticed my neighbor, Sam Waterston, I think?

*David* said...

Rye bread seed CARAWAY really? Otherwise perfect puzzle to do with allergies, only took four tissues to finish.

Sfingi said...

@Rex and PuzzleGal - Recent for you is 3 years. I've been here a year, so it's all new. Unless a late week NYT.

I found an old CW - not done - in my mother's stuff and had to do it.
It was a Chicago Tribune 3/18/75. Many short words, and meanings weren't as close. It was a Wednesday and themeless. Still the same CWese: NILE, TSAR, ORCA, ONER and ASTA from today's LA. But, it had a strange device we would snub our noses at: It gave two defs in the same clue for one word, and used this device twice. Maybe this was only the Tribune.

Back to the Present.
There was a mini-theme on casinos (RIO, TAJ).
I didn't notice the theme 'til the last one, which helped me zip it off.

I thought of some childhood stuff.
1.A German fable: Warum das Meer saltzig ist (Why the sea is salt).

2.A German liquor - Kümmel - that tastes of CARAWAY

3.A musical ad - Use AJAX (boom boom), the foaming cleanser (Boomdy boomity boom boom)
Sends the dirt right down the drain.
You'll stop paying the elbow tax,
If you start cleaning with AJAX.

4.GEE and golly are my mom's swear words.

5.The 4 Seasons. Hubster's favorite. We saw them a few years ago in Lawrence MA.

@DDBMC - Morals and politics vs. talent are always problematic. I try to separate, but do not always succeed. Case in point, Al Capp.

@Vans - Regime! ooh! - I imagine with a wet noodle, or a ribbon. It should be pleasant.

There were many words that filled themselves in w/o looking at the clues, but memories are welcome.

CrazyCat said...

Hi Puzzle Girl. Well it looks like you ACED your first day as our full-time blog host. Great write up!

I sped through this and haven't personally encountered the theme before so it seemed ok, but not particularly sparkly.

@Gene Ihad the same brain freeze at the cross of AL-HAS and -TS. That was my last square to fill in and I must of stared at it for a full minute before the P finally kicked in. Had no idea what 55A NHL stats could be. It still didn't register when I saw PTS.

The ALPHA dog in our house is a 6 lb. 15 year old fluffy, gray cat. The dogs, including my ASTA type, terrorist terrier, are terrified of her. She definitely does not PURR when they get close.

@Tinbeni I'm relieved to hear you won't be wearing a LEOTARD any time soon : )

Rex Parker said...

No, recent, for me, is "three months ago," as Angela *specifically* states.

I do also consider 2007 recent when it comes to duplicating a theme.

Anyone making themed puzzles these days should (by now) be at least cursorily checking the databases to see if the idea's been done before. Easiest way=>search your theme answers. Not foolproof, but nearly so. As Angela said, if it's been a while (7+years) and your theme answers aren't predominantly the same, then knock yourself out. Otherwise, don't.

C said...

This puzzle theme has been done over and over again throughout the crossword ages. No complaints, no kudos.

I have a manx, funny cat, when she runs, she looks like a rabbit due to her longer back legs.

syndy said...

Wrote "Marine" for 16 across while thinking-thats a dumb answer!Yes it was.We have a Pug and a Chug and the 6 lb is definitely the alpha chug. Puzzlegirl make it your own! move the sofas around, get a few new lamps

chefbea said...

I don't mind that we have done puzzles like this before. Still like it!!

The maid of the mist is fantastic. Did that several years ago.

Good write up Puzzle girl!!


lit.doc said...

@PuzzleGirl, enjoyed the write-up as always, and look forward to many more. What's become of your masthead avatar? And have you thought about setting up a tip jar?

Oh yeah, the puzzle. It was an excellent keyboarding exercise. Not a complaint, as I really do need the practice.

On a more positive note, despite the theme being, by all reports, overused, it was at least better than today's NYT IMO.

Rube said...

Did this last night with one write-over @ 40D, bAll for WARE. Not much else to say except that you do good work, @PuzzleGirl. Keep it up. ( I do think you were a little soft on criticizing today's theme, but that's probably just your nature... we'll find out.)

Jeff Chen said...

You go, PuzzleGirl! I'm sticking around. Here's hoping that there will be better puzzles though...

JIMMIE said...

Congrats, PG, on your well earned promotion. You are starting out in a great manner with "What a Night."

I liked the clue for WOE at 63 down, and suppose a mini theme could be Genesis, what with ABLE. Thought WOWIE was cheap.

ddbmc said...

REX, get that book started! Here's a first line:
It was a cross and wordy night......:)

mac said...

@Puzzlegirl: Good start, but enlarge the flowers!