S U N D A Y   December 19, 2010
Don Gagliardo (syndicated)

Theme: "Product Placement" — Phrases in which words are replaced with homophonic product names & clued accordingly.

[Note: This is the syndicated L.A. Times puzzle. It does not appear in the actual newspaper, but is available for free at cruciverb.com.]

Theme answers:
  • 22A: Fruity beer? (MULBERRY BUSCH).
  • 34A: Aftershave impact? (BRUT FORCE).
  • 37A: Ponderings from behind a plow? (DEERE DIARY).
  • 52A: Half a cereal swap? (TRIX OF THE TRADE).
  • 79A: Popular vodka-drinking locale (BIG SKYY COUNTRY).
  • 98A: Camera in need of screw-tightening (LOOSE CANON).
  • 101A: Habitual depilatory cream user? (NEET FREAK).
  • 113A: Breakfast for the road? (TRAVELERS CHEX).  

Doug here. Fun theme today! I've seen constructors use TRIX, KIX, and CHEX puns in a 15x15 grid, but I like the way Don G. takes it to the next level. Nice job.

My favorite theme entry was BIG SKYY COUNTRY at 79 Across, because "Big Sky Country" is one of Montana's nicknames, and I'm a Montana guy. Then I noticed that HANNAH is the answer to 78 Across. Look at that row in the grid: HANNAH / BIG SKYY COUNTRY. It's a hidden tribute to Hannah Montana! I should also point out that HANNAH crosses TRASHY at 52 Down.

  • 21A: "People might be listening" (NOT HERE). Great clue/entry combo.
  • 49A: Coffee ord. (REG). This confused me. Finally figured out it was REGular, a coffee order. I thought "ord." was short for "ordinance" and REG was short for "regulation." You don't want to be caught breaking one of those coffee ordinances.
  • 87A: "Don't try to be ___" (A HERO). This video speaks for itself.
  • 120A: Clothing category (CASUALS). I don't categorize my clothes, but if I did, "casuals" would be the major category. 
  • 121A: Steps over fences (STILES). A stile is "a set or series of steps for crossing a fence or wall." I remember learning this word from the book Split Infinity by Piers Anthony. The main character is named Stile. Wow, I can't believe that book is 30 years old. I should probably read it again.
  • 1D: Pitcher Galarraga who lost a perfect game on an umpire's bad call (ARMANDO). The best baseball story of 2010. If you're not familiar with the details, this article is a good place to start. Galarraga and the ump, Jim Joyce, are both class acts.
  • 11D: Big name in brewing (ANHEUSER). Too bad this didn't cross MULBERRY BUSCH.
  • 20D: One was lost in a film about Indiana (ARK). Nice clue!
  • 83D: Baseball's Garciaparra (NOMAR). Nomar is his father's name, Ramon, spelled backwards.
  • 116A: Pounder of "Avatar" (CCH). Yep, there's an actress named CCH Pounder. I wonder if she named any of her kids HCC.
OK, I'm going to cut it short today. I've got to pick out and buy and wrap and mail a few Christmas presents. Yeah, I'm screwed. Have a great Sunday!
    Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
    • 26A: Extinct "great" bird (AUK).
    • 42A: B'way sellout sign (SRO).
    • 58A: Scrawny toon dog (REN).
    • 108A: Mauna ___ (KEA).
    • 73D: Versatile WWII ships (LSTS).
    • 76D: Sci-fi play written in Czech (RUR).
    • 99D: Hungarian spa city (EGER). 
    Everything Else — 1A: Muscle memory? (ACHE); 5A: Puccini's "La __" (BOHÈME); 11A: Picks up (ABSORBS); 18A: Campus quarters (ROOMS); 20A: Instrument for Charlie Parker (ALTO SAX); 24A: Addressee of the 4/14/1970 message "we've had a problem" (HOUSTON); 25A: Second ending? (-ARY); 27A: Some health club exchanges (RECIPES); 29A: Addition word (AND); 30A: Like Jack (NIMBLE); 32A: CXVI x X (MCLX); 39A: Fades, with "down" (DIES); 40A: Fervor (ARDOR); 41A: "... __ TV!": end of a parental threat (OR NO); 43A: How hot-button issues are contested (BITTERLY); 45A: Padre's boys (NINOS); 48A: Rodent on a bank (RIVER RAT); 56A: One facing Venus? (SERENA); 59A: Warning to drivers (SLO); 60A: Outlaw Kelly (NED); 61A: Go-ahead (APPROVAL); 63A: Gray (ASHY); 65A: Moving van supplies (PADS); 67A: Ex-Blue Jays manager Gaston (CITO); 69A: NYC gallery (MOMA); 70A: Pacific mammal that uses rocks as tools (SEA OTTER); 73A: Casual affection? (LUV); 74A: "Car Talk" airer (NPR); 77A: Salmon on a bagel (LOX); 78A: Palindromic Daryl (HANNAH); 84A: Until now, in a CPA's report (YTD); 85A: Follow a new job (RELOCATE); 88A: Taj Mahal spires (MINARETS); 89A: "The Big C" network (SHO); 90A: Actress Rogers (MIMI); 94A: Sun Tzu's "The __ War" (ART OF); 97A: Durbeyfield daughter (TESS); 103A: Tenacious Roman senator (CATO); 104A: English poet __ Manley Hopkins (GERARD); 105A: "V" visitors, e.g. (ET'S); 106A: Close to a delivery (IN LABOR); 109A: Chicago-to-Knoxville dir. (SSE); 110A: Property tax rate (MILLAGE); 117A: Frenzied (IN A STEW); 118A: Corrode (EAT AWAY); 119A: French school (ÉCOLE); 122A: Pianist Myra (HESS); 2D: FedEx, e.g. (COURIER); 3D: Flock leaders (HOLY MEN); 4D: Diplomatic H.Q. (EMB); 5D: Women's rights activist Nellie (BLY); 6D: Wagering venue, in brief (OTB); 7D: Like most pay rates (HOURLY); 8D: Devereux's earldom (ESSEX); 9D: Either of two bks. of the Apocrypha (MACC.); 10D: Showed (EXHIBITED); 12D: Help up (BOOST); 13D: RV filler? (S-T-U); 14D: Understanding cries (OHS); 15D: Use foam on, as a fire (RETARD); 16D: Rodeo ride (BRONCO); 17D: E-mailer (SENDER); 19D: Black Panthers co-founder (SEALE); 23D: Wished one could take back (RUED); 28D: Use Shout on, say (PRETREAT); 31D: __ Zoo (BRONX); 32D: Cattail site (MARSH); 33D: __-Magnon (CRO); 35D: Stumble (FALTER); 36D: Jazz musician Kid __ (ORY); 38D: Elemental variant (ISOTOPE); 39D: Prima donna (DIVA); 43D: Phoenix, in myth (BIRD); 44D: Coarse file (RASP); 46D: Aegean island (IOS); 47D: Giants' org. (NFL); 48D: Bus sched. info (RTES.); 49D: Disgust (REVOLT); 50D: Captivate (ENAMOR); 51D: Component of the Perseus cluster (GALAXY); 52D: Like many tabloids (TRASHY); 53D: Find a new table for (RESEAT); 54D: Under control (IN HAND); 55D: It may be in sight (END); 57D: Storage acronym (ROM); 62D: Stadium rainwear (PONCHOS); 64D: Quaint pointing word (YON); 66D: Like lemurs (ARBOREAL); 67D: Salad veggie (CUKE); 68D: Campus creeper (IVY); 71D: Levy at the dock (TARIFF); 72D: At the time specified (THEN); 75D: Author who influenced Conan Doyle (POE); 80D: Hans Brinker's pair (ICE SKATES); 81D: Hoods' rods (GATS); 82D: Search engine name (YAHOO); 86D: Post-prime time fare (LATE NEWS); 88D: Witticism (MOT); 89D: Serious elbow-bender (SOT); 91D: Where children were given "broth without any bread" (IN A SHOE); 92D: Tasty mouthfuls (MORSELS); 93D: Page locators (INDEXES); 94D: Listless (ANEMIC); 95D: Eye's image receiver (RETINA); 96D: Magnetic measures (TESLAS); 98D: Like a metamorphic stage (LARVAL); 100D: Word that stops fire? (CEASE); 102D: Star in Orion (RIGEL); 103D: Raccoon cousin (COATI); 107D: Playground problem (BRAT); 108D: Something to play in (KEY); 111D: Sch. where "Geaux Tigers" signs are seen (LSU); 112D: Loss leader? (AT A); 114D: Farm lady (EWE); 115D: "Deck the Halls" syllables (LAS).



    Wow! Eight theme enties with some cool dogberryisms (malapropisms).
    Lots of TRASHY 3-letter fill. but I guess that's a tradeoff for a good theme puzzle with nice 6-letter blocks in each corner.

    Things I liked:
    ANHEUSER and BUSCH nearby each other. Yeah, too bad they didn't cross.
    CCH (Carol Christine Hilaria) Pounder.
    The clue "One facing Venus" for SERENA.

    Things I did not like:
    All those oscure (to me) hispanic baseball names... ARMANDO, CITO, and NOMAR.
    I've never seen warning signs for drivers with the word SLO on it.
    I hate those crappy alphabet runs like STU. There are so many better clues for that than R-V filler.

    And now in honor of Beethoven's birthday last week, here's a nice Dame Myra Hess clip of "Appassionata".

    Thanks Doug for another nice Sunday writeup.

    Time for Paneras and then off to church.

    Have a super Christmastime y'all!

    Mokus said...

    Thanks for the photo of the beautiful, brainy and talented Julia Stiles, Doug.
    I agree with your comments about Galarraga and Joyce. Classy indeed.
    I cracked up at NEETFREAK.
    Enjoyable puzzle all the way.

    Anonymous said...

    I hate the filler STU entry. Honestly, couldn't find someone whose first name was Stu!

    Eric said...

    Liked: theme answers NEET FREAK and LOOSE CANON.
    Also 32A, because it was Roman-numeral arithmetic that I could do without converting to Arabic numerals first. I just replaced each character: C x 10 = M, X x 10 = C, etc.
    "Muscle memory?" -> ACHE. Funny clue.

    Gimmes: "HOUSTON, we have [sic] a problem" has become a pretty familiar catchphrase. This puzzle taught me that it's a misquote; as the clue says, the original was "we've had a problem". In the movie Apollo 13, they changed the line intentionally, because "we've had" made it sound as though the problem had already been fixed. But maybe that movie is why the misquote yields almost ten times the Google hits as the accurate one :-/
    CITO Gaston, from the season and a half that or so that this Torontonian became a fair-weather Jays fan -- something to do with two back-to-back World Series wins, followed by 1.5 decades of pretty undistinguished play.
    STILES, learned while crossing them on Bruce Trail hikes when I was a kid.
    And MINARETS, just because.

    The other baseball clues, I was clueless on. @Doug: thanks for linking to the Galarraga/Joyce story; it's an all-too-rare example of two people -- one who screwed up badly, and the victim of his mistake -- both behaving extrememely well.

    For "RV filler?" I wanted PROPANE, or maybe RETIREES :-)

    Van55 said...

    Fails: STU, random Roman numeral arithmetic problem and random compass direction. Lousy, lazy construction.

    Anonymous said...

    I thought I had the puzzle solved by inserting 108a as "Mauna LOA." That worked for 108d, "Something to play in" as LEY: Grazing land, lea, pasture.

    Since I don't work a lot of crosswords, I didn't know that "EGOR" was not correct for 99d, "Hungarian spa city."