03.13 Sun

March 13, 2011
Jack McInturff

[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: "I Before EE's" — The letter "I" is changed to "EE" in familiar phrases, yielding wacky, punny entries.

Theme Entries:
  • 23A: Meek Jolly Roger crewmen? (PIRATE SHEEP).
  • 42A: Polish protector? (SHEEN GUARD).
  • 51A: Red-costumed actor in "Veggie Tales"? (BEET PLAYER).
  • 59A: Take really short naps during a Henny Youngman routine? (SLEEP BETWEEN THE CRACKS).
  • 76A: Tiny nestling's cry? (MICROCHEEP).
  • 88A: Ownership dispute? (DEED BATTLE).
  • 109A: Meryl as a coquette? (STREEP TEASE).
  • 16D: Drug money? (EVIL GREEN).
  • 74D: Fund for hammer parts? (PEEN MONEY).
Hey, everybody. This is Doug, your weekend host. I won't be here next Sunday, because I'll be in Brooklyn with 700 or so of my closest friends at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament! The puzzle constructors for this year's ACPT have officially been announced. In past years, the slate of constructors was a closely guarded secret, so this preview is causing quite a buzz in the puzzle world. Will Shortz is undoubtedly following the lead of Crosswords LA, who released their line-up a couple of months ago. If you're a West Coaster and can't make it to the ACPT, you should definitely make plans to attend the Crosswords LA Tournament. It's on May 1st at beautiful Loyola Marymount University, so mark your calendars now. And Amy Reynaldo just posted an announcement for the 3rd annual Chicago Tournament happening on April 16th. I've also heard a rumor that someone may be starting up a tournament in Seattle. If you love crosswords, you'll love going to a tournament. And if you're worried about not being an above-average solver, don't give it second thought. Solving prowess is irrelevant. To quote PuzzleGirl: "...the part that’s most important is hanging out with My People."

OK, today's puzzle. I thought it was solid, and I liked seeing the 21-letter SLEEP BETWEEN THE CRACKS smack-dab in the middle of the grid. Time is short, so I'm jumping to bullets.

  • 26A: Theater aisles, usually (RAMPS). Great clue.
  • 42A: Polish protector? (SHEEN GUARD). Or the guy who protects Charlie's supply of tiger blood and jaguar tears.
  • 45A: Spent the cold season (in) (WINTERED). I had a hard time parsing the clue, but it made sense eventually. I'm planning to winter in St. Jetersburg, Florida, next year.
  • 48A: How some soccer games end (IN A TIE). Or...how most soccer games end? Are soccer fans really satisfied when the game ends in a tie? Maybe that's why they're always rioting and burning down their stadiums. #Tying!
  • 51A: Red-costumed actor in "Veggie Tales"? (BEET PLAYER). There's a guy who writes "Veggie Tales" books named Doug Peterson (not me). Now when people Google for him, maybe they'll find this blog post.We're always looking for ways to increase traffic.
  • 69A: Failed flier (EASTERN). My first thought was ICARUS. Eastern Air Lines ceased operations in 1991.
  • 94A: Londonderry's river (FOYLE). This entry's "Y" was the last thing I put into the grid. It crossed DAYS (88D: Popular shift), and that was another tough clue for me. I need to work on my Irish geography.
  • 100A: Mideastern pastry dough (FILO). I know this one from crosswords. I think it's the stuff they use to make baklava.
  • 32D: NBC newsman Roger (O'NEIL). In crossworld, there are two O'NEILs you need to remember: newsman Roger O'Neil and Negro Leagues baseball player Buck O'Neil. Tatum, Ryan, and Shaq are all part of the O'NEAL clan. And then there's...
  • 47D: Oscar winner Patricia (NEAL). Confusing, isn't it? I recently learned that she was married to crossword regular Roald Dahl for thirty years. A match made in cruciverbial heaven.
  • 38D: Boston department store founder (FILENE). I went to Boston once, but I didn't stop at Filene's. Was it founded by Filo Foyle Filene? Seriously, did anyone outside of Boston know this one?
  • 58D: Occuring before: Abbr. (PREC). Ouch. An abbreviation for "preceding," I presume. I can't be the only solver who tried PREV first.
  • 61D: '60s Israeli prime minister (ESHKOL). Levi Eshkol. He served from 1963-1969. 
  • 67D: You can get down on one (KNEE). This reminds me of a kids' joke that it took me years to understand. "How do you get down off an elephant? You don't. You get down off a duck." It baffled me when I first heard it, and no one ever took the time to explain it to me. I swear, I didn't get it until I was in my 20's. I hate that joke.
  • 84D: Orchestra members (CELLISTS). It's the Final Countdown.

  • 97D: Wikipedia policy (NO ADS). That's also the policy of this blog and the reason PuzzleGirl won't let me sell my "Twilight" fan fiction here.
  • 108D: Northwestern sch. where Cougar Gold cheese is made (WSU). Washington State University. Never heard of the cheese, but I know the Washington State teams are called the Cougars.
PuzzleGirl will be back on Monday. See ya later.


Todd G said...

Of course, one shouldn't forget the oft-used Ms. Oona O'NEILL and her playwright father Eugene.

I've heard of Filene's, saw their "famous" basement mentioned on some TV news show.

P.S.: St. Jetersburg? Have the Yankees named their training camp after Derek?

Doug P said...

St. Jetersburg is the local nickname for Derek Jeter's new 31,000 square foot mansion in Tampa. He must have a spare bedroom where I can crash.

Jeffrey said...

The Seattle rumor may be true. anyone interested in attending a fall tournament should send me an email to be put on a mailing list to get full details when available

lit.doc said...

So like half an hour in I’m more than three-quarters done and thinking “Wow, nice puzzle again—well-clued, good fill (excepting 58D PREC, which is ugly but understandable in a 21x), and a cute theme”. Fifteen minutes later, I’m still staring at 11 scattered empties in N central, thinking “WTF?”

To the kitchen for more coffee, then back to it. Post-mortem to follow.

That did it. Fresh coffee, five minutes of not staring at the screen, and done in five more.

Resisted ALIT for the longest time. Just didn’t seem right. “The bird alit on the branch”. Well, OK, fine—the passenger got off the freaking airplane.

And doggedly expected 11A to be an “I Before E” theme answer because of the question mark, despite knowing enough about the basics of construction to have known otherwise.

@Doug, that’s a big no re Filene’s. Still wouldn’t believe it if you hadn’t posted that pic.

CrazyCat said...

@Doug P Filene's Basement is famous for their "Running of the Brides" sale where bridezillas, sometimes viciously, fight over deeply discounted wedding gowns.

Last letter for me too was that Y cross at FOYLE and DAYS. I was thrown off by the clue since shift was singular. Fun puzzle, liked the theme.

Jet City Gambler said...

WSU (pronounced Wa-zoo here in the PNW) is the cross-state rival of UW (pronounced Ewe-dub). The WSU logo is interesting in that it actually forms the head of a cougar. What do they call that, is it concrete poetry?

Did not like PEN in the grid and Pen name in the clues, especially so cloae together.

Tuttle said...

Or...how most soccer games end?

In the top leagues about 20-30% of the matches end in ties. Even the most draw-heavy squad in England (Fulham FC) still has won or lost more games than they have tied at 7-14-8 (WDL). Oddly enough, they're a position ahead of Stoke City who has tied the least (10-4-15).

Are soccer fans really satisfied when the game ends in a tie?

That really depends on the situation.

Tottenham Hotspur tied AC Milan nil-nil last week in the Champions League. That draw got them through to the semi-finals for the first time in the team's history. Plus it's like a 2 million Euro payoff for the team. Their fans were, to put it mildly, quite pleased with the tie.