WEDNESDAY, Jul. 28, 2010—Mike Peluso

THEME: PRIME (70A: Steak rating, and word that can precede the first words of the answers to starred clues)

Hey everyone, it's Rex here filling in for the (choose one) a. injured b. lazy c. jet-setting d. burned out Puzzle Girl today. As "word that can precede" puzzles go, this one is OK—pretty average—but what's weird about it is that the *last* words (i.e. those Not involved in the theme) are the ones that appear to go together: TICKLER, CRUNCHER, SHAKER, KILLER. I spent a good minute trying to figure out what the link was before I realized that there was no link: PRIME was the key word, and the first, not the last, words were involved. What's more, the phrase structure is identical in 3/4 of the theme answers: Obj. VerbER, i.e. NUMBER CRUNCHER, RIB TICKLER, and TIME KILLER. This only solidified my conviction that those second words were somehow implicated in the theme (though the incongruity of the phrasing of MOVER AND SHAKER gave me pause, rightly).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: *Funny story (RIB TICKLER)
  • 27A: *Financial analyst (NUMBER CRUNCHER)
  • 47A: *Influential one (MOVER AND SHAKER)
  • 63A: *Diversion while waiting (TIME KILLER)

Rest of the grid looks pretty good. Did not pick up PARAPHRASE quickly because I associate it with concision, not merely restatement—was really looking for "RE-" beginning. Parallel tracks of UNINVITING and NIELSENS are pretty nice-looking, and KEVLAR, GOTHAM, COMETS, and MOREAU are pretty tasty too (for mid-length fill). Puzzle really pays a price for trying to run RYDER CUP alongside PARAPHRASE: forced into plural abbrev. RPMS, which puts a stranglehold on the whole corner. Random Roman Numeral becomes virtually impossible to avoid at 12D: XII years before the Battle of Hastings (MLIV), which brings along the crosswordtastic YALU and SUPE. Sub par corner for sure. Worth it for the long Downs? Judgment call, but I'd have scrapped that corner and started over. Dreck quotient just too high.

Crosswordese 101: YALU (16A: Strategic Chinese border river) — also called the "AMNOK" river (in Korean), this river separates China and North Korea. A lot of North Koreans are crossing it in recent years in order that they can, you know, live. By which I mean eat. Not starve. Etc. Great / horrifying recent article on effects of last year's currency devaluation.

PG should be back tomorrow. See you later—


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Eric said...

I actually liked the clue for 12D, "XII years before the Battle of Hastings" -- it's not just an arithmetic problem, as Roman-numeral clues usually seem to be; you need to know the historical fact too. (MLIV was also the year of the supernova that formed the Crab Nebula.)

But yah, that corner is kinda lame, SUPE and RPMS especially.

Tinbeni said...

OK, I admit it, any puzzle with
"Wee bit o' Dewar's" is going to
start my day off right and make
me smile.
Now the answer, DRAM, commonly known as 1.5 oz, seems a little small. I was thinking ... barrel.

First thought was Grand Prix, accentuated by my Tach's RPM'S.
But H.G. Well's Island of Dr. MOREAU was a childhood fave (Who am I kidding, I liked all his books).
That got me the Grand SLAM I saw Monday night at Tropicana Field. Yeah, at the Tampa Bay Rays no-hitter. It was a nice CROWD.

As for that Battle of Hastings, well I knew it was a thousand something. Just had to work the crosses.
The YALU river, the one they wouldn't let MacArthur bomb the North half of its bridges, that DRIP causing my insomnia and my EAVE that is icicle free.
Hey, I'M in Florida. Icicle's are never on the eaves.

The NIELSENS have a hugh operation here in Dunedin and Oldsmar (yup, the town named after Ransom E. Olds of REO'S fame).

I searched out the theme reveal PRIME early and like Rex thought the second half of them were just as good.
Though the MOVER AND SHAKER I would have clued as a
Go-Go dancer.

All-in-all a FUN puzzle.

Cheers !!!

@Rex, Nice fill-in, I suspect PuzzleGirl is on another covert, black-ops, mission.

SethG said...

With RIB TICKLER and NUMBER CRUNCHER, for some reason I thought the theme would be related to ab exercises. Uh, yeah.

Agree, NE was awful, but nice fill in the rest.

Burner10 said...

Except for spelling RYDER RIDER and the related mess of not knowing YALU a fine midweek Tickler/Time Killer for me (more of a number cruncher by trade, than a mover and shaker).

John Wolfenden said...

Nice 'n' smooth, like Stoli. Mostly standard clueing but very enjoyable. Very consistent difficulty level too...a lot of Wednesdays tend to have a few really tough ones that seem out of place.

Doesn't matter how many times ERSE is in the puzzle, I never seem to remember it and end up solving it by crosses. Keep thinking it's EIRE, but that of course is the country, not the tongue.

Ratty said...

@Burner10 The cross between RYDER and YALU messed me up too. Kept me from a perfect puzzle.

C said...

I agree on the NE corner, not the prettiest of corners but it has been awhile since we had random roman numerals in the LAT so I guess we don't have to go to puzzleoutrage-con 1 just yet.

Thanks for stepping in @Rex.

Tuttle said...

1D... For several minutes I thought it was going to be BDSM. I've got to start reading a better class of classifieds.

Jeff Chen said...

Rex's return! SUPE!

I couldn't agree more. A nice puzzle as "word that can precede" puzzles go, but that NE corner was a bit SIKH.



As soon as I saw this puzzle, I said "It's all about Tinbeni!"
- Always a RIB TICKLER
- Since he does crosswords faithfully, he's a definite TIME KILLER.
- Probably a MOVER AND SHAKER.
- STOLI and "Grey Goose"...yep, that's him.

But then I saw DRAM "A wee bit of Dewar's" (that's only 1/16 of an ounce of Scotch), I realized that it wasn't at all about Tinbeni. He'd never let that one slip by.



I had problems with those not-commonly-used abbreviations:

BDRM is usually always BR in ads.
I know because I've written tons of real estate ads in my previous job.

SUPE, a building manager is usually called a SUPER. At least in this part of the country.

Oregon is always abbreviated either as OR or Ore. according to the USPS.

*David* said...

I thought BDSM first as well on 1D, I guess it depends on where my head is or maybe isn't early on a Wednesday morning.

Van55 said...

The was a better than average entry for my taste notwithstanding the despicable Roman date and arithmetic problem. Enjoyed the theme and what seemed like mostly fresh fill.

Rube said...

Another enjoyable LAT Wednesday. Only writeover was STOLy/STOLI. Learned about the YALU river and Orchard Field.

Also read up about the DRAM = 1/8 oz. Still not sure how much is in a "wee dram", but 1.5oz sounds about right. Then there's the jigger, shot, & pony. All of which sound like they're about 1.5 oz too. I suppose I should consult a mixology website, but this has already been enough of a TIMEKILLER.

Tinbeni said...

As to DRAM ...
I'm more of a "free pour into the snifter"
kinda guy.

So I'll say it's less than a pint but way more than 1/16 oz.
I saw the site that said this amount.
Another said an eight of an ounce.
Geez, that wouldn't get my lips wet.

Hey, I'm TOASTING a Florida sunset and a lot of friends.
So for me a dram is probably in the 2.0 to 2.5 ounce level.

(OK, less than the barrel mentioned earlier.)

Van55 said...

Two, neat, is a nice after dinner "dram." Make mine a peaty single malt. Wine with dinner, of course.

chefbea said...

Fun puzzle. Never heard of kevlar.

Going out for dinner where I will have more than a gram of scotch.

ddbmc said...

Immediately thought of @Tinbeni, upon completing this puzzle! (After a nice couple of days at the beach, myself!)Fabulous full moon over the Atlantic, last evening! I'll toast with Grey Goose, instead of STOLI, tho.

Thanks, @Rex, for the write up AND the Otis Redding clip! Wow, Eric Burdon and Chris Farlowe look so young! Love me some Elmo, too!

KnineZonie said...

Been following PG, her fans and stand ins for an enjoyable couple of weeks. Thought I would join the fun. My fav today is "Holder of chips?" Of course, I was thinking tater chips! I also can never remember Erse.