T U E S D A Y   August 24, 2010
Dave Mackey

Theme: Play ball! — Theme answers are familiar phrases that end with a word that can be related to baseball.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Quilter's layer (COTTON BATTING).
  • 28A: Camper's activity (TENT PITCHING).
  • 49A: Not out of contention (IN THE RUNNING).
  • 59A: "Tom Jones" author (HENRY FIELDING).
A very nice Tuesday offering today. I wonder how many baseball themes constructors are going to be able to come up with. Seems like I've seen a lot of them and I haven't been doing puzzles obsessively for all that long. This one is just fine on a summer Tuesday. I wasn't crazy about TENT PITCHING. Sure, it's descriptive and wasn't hard to figure out, but it's not a stand-alone phrase and typically you want your theme answers to be stand-alone phrases.

I like that a few bonus non-theme theme answers are included in the grid:
  • 52D: Smack a homer, in baseball lingo (GO DEEP).
  • 65D: Squeeze bunt stat (RBI).
Plus a few non-baseball sports answers for good measure:
  • 18A: Defunct Atlanta arena (OMNI).
  • 36A: Hockey score (GOAL).
Other than that:
  • 5A: Start of a childhood learning song (ABCD). Now here's something that's never pleasant to see. Especially right up there in the top row.
  • 23A: Comedian/actor Robert (KLEIN).

  • 38A: Graceland middle name (ARON). Elvis Aron Presley.
  • 53A: Mario Brothers letters (NES). I believe NES is a game system, like X Box or Playstation or Wii, and that the first Mario Brothers games were created specifically for that system. If there are any gamers out there, please feel free to correct me on this.
  • 70A: Tiger's 2004 bride (ELIN). Eerie timing! No way Dave or Rich could have known that Tiger and Elin's divorce would be final yesterday. I guess Elin finally said "BEAT IT" (4D: "Amscray!").
  • 71A: Petrol purchase (LITRE). The British word "petrol" in the clue hints at the British spelling of the answer.
  • 7D: Where Jesus turned water to wine (CANA). It's a town in Galilee.
  • 8D: Composer Shostakovich (DMITRI). He doesn't show up often, but it will be a good idea for you to put this bit of knowledge in your back pocket for later.
  • 9D: Cast a spell over (BEWITCH).
  • 11D: World's second largest island (NEW GUINEA). I did not know that.
  • 21D: 10 C-notes (ONE G). A C-note is a $100 bill; $1,000 is known as a "grand" or a "G."
  • 51D: Break up a team? (UNYOKE). Talking about a team of oxen here.
Crosswordese 101: DUN means exactly what today's clue says it means — 54A: Demand payment from. I recall being surprised once that more people didn't know this word. I spent most of my professional career working for lawyers (I know!) and the "dunning letter" was a regular thing. But I guess it's not that way in every workplace. The only other way you're likely to see DUN clued is as a dull grayish brown color (sometimes in relation to a horse).

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 33A: Onetime Leno announcer Hall (EDD).
  • 68A: Some woodwinds (OBOES).
  • 72A: French summers (ÉTÉS).
  • 12D: Rap's Dr. __ (DRE).
  • 47D: Indigo dye source (ANIL).
  • 50D: Capek play about automatons (RUR).
  • 63D: Marine shockers (EELS).
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Everything Else — 1A: Strikebreaker (SCAB); 9A: Music groups (BANDS); 14A: Movie director's unit (TAKE); 15A: Linguist Chomsky (NOAM); 16A: Each (EVERY); 17A: Song with a cadenza, perhaps (ARIA); 19A: Floored (WOWED); 24A: Wagon wheel depression (RUT); 25A: Country with borders on three diff. oceans (USA); 37A: Capital west of Haiphong (HANOI); 40A: Agile mountain animals (GOATS); 43A: Earth 42-Down (GEOL.); 44A: Copy room powder (TONER); 46A: Ancient Andean (INCA); 48A: Zoo swinger (APE); 55A: Ancient Greek region (IONIA); 64A: TV spot (PROMO); 66A: Shoppe adjective (OLDE); 67A: Actress/artist Sommer (ELKE); 69A: Pass unprofitably, as time (KILL); 73A: Huff and puff (PANT); 1D: Pile neatly (STACK); 2D: Holiday tune (CAROL); 3D: "Go fly __!" (A KITE); 5D: In a short time, old-style (ANON); 6D: Box office disaster (BOMB); 10D: Bell-ringing fragrance giant (AVON); 13D: Guitarist Barrett (SYD); 22D: Syllable of rebuke (TUT); 26D: Prying sort (SNOOP); 27D: Like a contortionist (AGILE); 29D: Eggy seasonal drink (NOG); 30D: Lao-tzu principle (TAO); 31D: Like the nose on your face? (PLAIN); 32D: Broom rider (HAG); 33D: Skip the bistro (EAT IN); 34D: Monotonous sound (DRONE); 35D: Plea made with one's hands up (DON'T SHOOT); 39D: Bk. after Ezra (NEH.); 41D: Former Opry network (TNN); 42D: Chem. or phys. (SCI.); 45D: Rudolph tip-off (RED NOSE); 56D: Nabisco wafer brand (NILLA); 57D: Finish, as a comic strip (INK IN); 58D: Rep (AGENT); 60D: Part of EMT: Abbr. (EMER.); 61D: Move like a butterfly (FLIT); 62D: Not working (IDLE); 64D: D.C. deal maker (POL).


SethG said...

It took me too long to let go of AUS for the oceans one.

How does the inclusion of Alaska in the US compare to the rest of the world? Are there other countries with non-contiguous regions that count as part of the country instead of just as a territory? (Ah, thank you, Sporcle!)


Harder than most Tuesday LAT’s, but well constructed, despite the use of a lot of crosswordese. Nice theme for the baseball season. Even if you know very little about baseball (e.g. Players’ names), it was quite solvable. I knew RBI, but stalled at GO DEEP, until I did the crosses.

Learned something new today: NEW GUINEA is the second largest island.

Drinking egg NOG is not a good idea today, unless you use pasteurized eggs.

Ironically today was Tiger and ELIN’s marital conclusion. Maybe now we’ll see some new Tiger names… lots of them!

Here’s a delightful video clip of DMITRI Shostakovich’s Waltz #2 done by Andre Rieu… it musically and visually portrays the glorious beauty of Russia (even with “devuska” photos).

Time for me to “Amscray”.

Tinbeni said...

Though I'm a hugh baseball fan, I was not WOWED by these themes or this grid.

Seemed like a puzzle where I just read the clue, INK IN an answer. Sigh ... Then go to the next clue.

ABCD = lame. All alphabet runs should be banned.

Geography related questions were gimmies. USA, INCA, NEW GUINEA, IONIA, HANOI.

NOAM & DMITRI were unknown but easy via crosses.

@JNH, Ironically the ELIN/Tiger divorce was yesterday.

backbiter said...

I'm just catching up on yesterday's blog. So, Happy Belated Birthday to Tinbeni! Hope you got everything you wanted.
Now, if I may be juvenile there is nothing sexier than a woman smoking a cigar with a drink in her other hand. I would have changed the clue for 28A to "activity when seeing a woman smoking a cigar". Now that's outta the way.
I didn't hate this puzzle nor hate it. I do loathe baseball. Sorry, that's just the way it is, and I don't like themes built around it.
Nice writeup as usual PG.
And finally for 45D: I would have clued "Gin Blossom". I don't know if that's a Tuesday clue or not but it amuses me.
Captcha: hotend Um, no comment.

backbiter said...

I meant to say I didn't dislike nor hate this puzzle. Sorry 'bout that.

Burner10 said...

Good start for my Tuesday. It should be only two more months (at best) to enjoy (or not) baseball theme puzzles - but, like watching Hockey finals in May - it never doesn't conclude timely anymore.

Sfingi said...

@John - don't you think the Tiger's freedom'll put a droop in his croup - both on and off the green? Or the opposite? The sneakin' around was the turn on. No?

@Backbiter - "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." (Freud, unsubstantiated)

As @Tinbeni pointed out, lots of good geography.

Theme was easy and helpful.
But too much abbr., especially on downs: ANON, PROMO, NEH, TNN, SCI, EMER, POL, RBI. Or is that average?

Is it OK to have the word, AGILE, in an answer and in a different clue? I don't know.

Is it OK to pluralize a French word the English/Spanish way? ETES.

But, I see a cute step: GO GO INCA.

Personally - never heard of SYD, TNN, GODEEP (sports).

Nim Chimpsky
says,"What you say?"

Tuttle said...

... the first Mario Brothers games were created specifically for that system. If there are any gamers out there, please feel free to correct me on this.

You asked for it; Mario Brothers was, originally, a stand-up leveler arcade game made in 1983. It was the sequel to Donkey Kong (1981) and Donkey Kong Jr. (1982) (and predated Donkey Kong 3). Super Mario Brothers, a scroller instead of a leveler, was made for the NES in 1985 and spawned almost all the following Mario titles.

Anonymous said...

NES = Nintendo Entertainment System

*David* said...

This puzzle took me longer then usual for a Tuesday especially the NW corner that I sat on for way too long.
The themes left me pretty cold with COTTON BATTING and TENT PITCHING not connecting. The other spots I drew blanks was on NEW GUINEA and USA, where I first put in RSA.

C said...

Here, I thought it was a Cricket themed puzzle all along and I came to the web site to find out it was a baseball themed puzzle. I jest, I jest. Just feeling a little contrary today.

Good Tuesday puzzle, ABCD, not so good. I am waiting for the clue 'Random four letter string of letters' to appear in a puzzle. Not really.

Tinbeni said...

If 'Random four letter string of letters'
was the clue ...
'GJPW' the answer (pick your own 4 letters).
I would probably grin, maybe chuckle, and move on.
Then Toast the constructor at Sunset.

CrazyCat said...

I only had two trouble spots today. One was the cross of NOAM and DIMITRI. I put in NOAH and thus had DHMITRI. The other problem was the cross of RUR and DUN. I'm not familiar with the word DUN. At my 40th HS reunion a couple of weeks ago, I saw an old classmate named DUN. Its short for Dunlop. He is, you guessed it, a lawyer. Definitely thought ELIN was timely given the announcement yesterday. Liked the clue and answer for DON'T SHOOT.

Sfingi said...

@CrazyCat - Noam Chomsky is a philosopher and linguist (MIT) who holds that the ability to construct language is inborn in all of us, and exist in the form of basic building blocks. Since many wonder if feral humans and other primates primates have it, the fun begins. I don't know many feral humans, though I've had my suspicions, but much work was done with my buddy Nim, who supposedly can "talk" using various signs.
Ted Kaczynski wanted to kill him, but it's murder to try to read him, or communicate with Nim.
Chomsky, Noam. Rebel w/o a Pause.
Chimpsky, Nim. Rebel with Human Paws.

Van55 said...

Meh. Left me cold.

Dave Mackey said...

This is my first appearance in the LA Times crossword in several years, and my first in this blog. Thank you all for the very constructive comments.

Rudi Beuermann said...

There is a recurring error in these puzzles: mine = a moi, yours = a toi. A moi means to me. A toi means to you. Mine is "mien". Yours is "ton". Please take note. French 101.

Anonymous said...

Never took French 102, did you?