03.24 Thu

March 24, 2011
Don Gagliardo and C.C. Burnikel

Theme: Make or Break — Each theme answer is a familiar phrase ending with a word that can be "made" or "broken."

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Romantic evening components, perhaps (DINNER DATES).
  • 22A: California Gold Rush staple (SOURDOUGH BREAD).
  • 36A: Alien statutes (IMMIGRATION LAWS).
  • 47A: Wurlitzer whirlers (JUKEBOX RECORDS).
  • 55A: Decide once and for all, and what one can do to the ends of 17-, 22-, 36- and 47-Across (MAKE OR BREAK).
Congratulations to C.C. Burnikel on her crossword debut! C.C. and her team blog the L.A. Times puzzle over at L.A. Crossword Corner where she has fostered a very active commenting community. I'm sure all the Crossword Corner folks are proud of her — as they should be! This is a very smooth puzzle with an interesting theme and some smooth fill. Very nicely done!

  • 19A: Strain (TAX). I tried VEX first, which I think is the same thing I did on an ACPT puzzle this past weekend. (BTW, must get my ACPT write-up done today before it becomes old news — look for it later!)
  • 27A: Watering hole (PUB). With 1A: Soaking spots (BATHS) still on my mind I actually had to talk myself out of TUB here.
  • 29A: "Able was __ ...": palindrome start (I ERE). Now this here is something you really hate to see, but I feel like it's the only real clunker in the grid so no harm done.
  • 46A: Cause of star wars? (EGO). Great clue.
  • 53A: Plant moisture buildup (EDEMA). Before I had read the clue for this one, I already had E*EMA in place, which reminded me of Merl Reagle's bit on word choice: "You can't use — usually — bodily functions in puzzles, you know. 'Urine' would bail me out of a corner, I mean, a million times a year." That's from the documentary Wordplay, which you really should see if you haven't already.
  • 65A: He passed Lou in 2009 to become the Yankees' all-time hit leader (DEREK). Love him or hate him, you have to admit he's got some skillz. (Also easy on the eyes!)
  • 66A: Pulitzer writer Kidder (TRACY). I really, really, really feel like I should know who this is. Oh, he's Iowa Writers' Workshop alum. Maybe that's why I've heard his name. His books don't really ring any bells for me.
  • 23D: 2009 Peace Nobelist (OBAMA). Award winners all over the place in this grid!
  • 25D: Sub (HERO). Other sandwich words to look out for: grinder, hoagie, and po-boy.
  • 26D: British weapon designed in Czechoslovakia (BREN). A quick look through the data base shows me BREN has been in the puzzle a few times in the past, but it doesn't sound familiar to me at all. Thankfully, Thursday is the earliest in the week we're ever going to see this entry.
  • 27D: Three-time Masters champ Mickelson (PHIL). Lefty!
  • 31D: Ruffles features (RIDGES). Ooh, tricky. Did anyone else misread this as "ruffles feathers"? That had to be intentional!
  • 39D: "A Clockwork Orange" narrator (ALEX). Random anecdote: Once when I worked at a bookstore in New York a hundred years ago, Adam Ant and Jamie Lee Curtis came in together looking for the screenplay of "A Clockwork Orange." It's possible they had previously had a few drinks.
  • 43D: New Jersey's state tree (RED OAK). Do y'all have trouble parsing the down clues? Sometimes I have to write them out horizontally in order to really "see" them. With the RED in place, all I could see here was a RE- word, couldn't even see the RED.
  • 49D: Homeland of 23-Down's father (KENYA). I was considering going off on a pseudo-rant here but it occurred to me you might not know I was kidding and it would likely have the unfortunate consequence of inviting a bunch of political commentary that would probably end up making me mad, so let's just not do that, okay?
  • 50D: Volleyball great Gabrielle (REECE). Married to surfer Laird Hamilton. I bet their kids are going to be the coolest kids ever.
  • 60D: Mary __ Ash, cosmetics company founder (KAY). If I ever knew that Mary Kay's last name was Ash, I had forgotten it. But it wasn't too hard to figure this one out.
Crosswordese 101: I've never actually heard the word TUN used in casual conversation, but then again I'm not much of a wine person. In any case, to clue TUN, take one word from List A and one word from List B:
List A: wine, winery, large, Napa, vintner's
List B: cask, vessel, container, holder
See how today's clue — 3D: Large cask — follows the pattern? That's cuz sometimes I know what I'm talking about. Just sayin'.

Other crosswordese in today's puzzle that we've already covered:
  • 16A: She played Beatrix in "Kill Bill" (UMA).
  • 41A: 4-Down titles (SRIS).
  • 2D: Darth, at one time (ANI).
  • 48D: Radii neighbors (ULNAE).
  • 57D: Cassis apéritif (KIR).
  • 58D: Seventh Greek letter (ETA).
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Everything Else 6A: Mideast ruling family name (ASSAD); 11A: Field call (CAW); 14A: Language that gives us "kayak" (INUIT); 15A: Abu __ (DHABI); 20A: Reason-based faith (DEISM); 21A: Film in Cannes (CINE); 28A: 23-Down was one: Abbr. (SEN.); 30A: Try in court (HEAR); 32A: Came around regarding (AGREED TO); 40A: It can make a star shine (LEAD ROLE); 41A: 4-Down titles (SRIS); 42A: Stadium take (GATE); 43A: Like sashimi (RAW); 52A: 27-Across offerings (ALES); 54A: Quaint stopover (INN); 61A: Hens do it (LAY); 62A: Novelist Jong (ERICA); 63A: Blue Cross competitor (AETNA); 64A: Yellow __ (SEA); 1D: Certain eBay click (BID); 4D: Gandhi, for one (HINDU); 5D: Directs (STEERS); 6D: Attaches to the house (ADDS ON); 7D: SeaWorld performer (SHAMU); 8D: Did nothing (SAT); 9D: Symbol of honesty (ABE); 10D: Bad-mouth (DIS); 11D: Sweetie pie (CUTIE); 12D: Whirlpool brand (AMANA); 13D: Like some slippery floors (WAXED); 18D: Sally in space (RIDE); 21D: Anglers' baskets (CREELS); 22D: "So I was wrong" ("SUE ME"); 24D: Leslie Caron title role (GIGI); 32D: Had (ATE); 33D: Challenged (DARED); 34D: Campfire base (TWIGS); 35D: __ buco (OSSO); 37D: Snatch (GRAB); 38D: __-Rooter (ROTO); 44D: Top server (ACER); 45D: Burrowing marsupial (WOMBAT); 47D: Puts in the can? (JAILS); 51D: More elusive (RARER); 55D: Dr.'s study (MED.); 56D: Were now? (ARE); 59D: Mandela's org. (ANC).


Sfingi said...

Finished w/o Googling despite 3 sports questions I didn't know (2 of them a personal Natick) and 3 other words I didn't know: TRACY, BREN, ANI.
I know DEREK as a good-looking guy, but didn't know he broke records. Wow! He doesn't even look pumped up ( a look I hate). So, this Darth guy used to be a folk singer?

I also wasn't aware that Whirlpool bought out AMANA.

TAX was the last word I put in. When I finally decided to give up on tiLED and try WAXED, I got that last corner.

Is there a name for answers which hang on to going one way or another for a while? Like INUIT/AleuT, Tsar/Czar, itsa/atta, Kea/Loa, Ural/Aral ?

I hope someone else has commented before I finish.

Nighthawk said...

Nice writeup, @PG.

Smooth but slow and HTG 2x, DEREK (I know, but I've never been a Yankees fan) and WOMBAT. Coincidence?

Great Lakes area was trouble. Filled 6A as Saudis, erased, had 7D as SHAMU, erased, had 15A as DHABI, erased, had 8D as SAT, erased. Once I filled 6D as ADDSON, and saw ASSAD; wondered why I had been so timid with first instincts.

Theme was very solid.

Nice work, Ms. Burnikel. And congratulations. Keep 'em coming!

JaxInL.A. said...

Congratulations on the debut, Ms. Burnikel (and on the puzzle partnership to Mr. Gagliardo). And PG citing a rival blog just goes to show how nice and collegial crosswordese are.

So get yer ACPT summary up already!

Fine puzz. Liked the mini Obama theme. Good theme answers and some very nice cluing.

Anonymous said...

I liked the palindrome because you can write the clue backwords to get the ending. Then it's easier to fill in the middle.

Tuttle said...

Another one in this puzzle that can go one way or the other: BREN/sten. One's a light machine gun with a magazine that comes out the top and the other is a sub-machine gun with a clip that comes out the side. Both used exclusively by British and Commonwealth forces in the mid 20th century.

2D irritates the Star Wars nerd in me to no end. Darth is a title, like Jedi, not a cutesy nickname like ANI. But it's still a gimmee so... meh.

17A also seems to imply multiple dinners on one date.

Is 56D super tricksy or just plain wrong? "Were now" is a past-tense construction ("We were now home" vs. "We ARE home"). I think the clue needs a comma; "Were, now?".

Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

Thanks for the nice write-up & link to our blog. I enjoyed your comments. Loved the clue for EGO also. It's Rich's creation, so is the clue for LEAD ROLE.

Nighthawk & JaxInL.A,
Thanks for the congrats. Don did the heavy lifting on this puzzle.

CarolC said...

Good puzzle, excellent for a debut. Congrats to CC from me also. I had all the theme answers without a clue as to how they fit together. MAKE OR BREAK indeed.

I didn't know Wurlitzer made jukeboxes, so that's my lesson for the day. Had vaguely heard of BREN. Thanks @Tuttle for explaining that vs STEN.

Overall, easier Thursday for me than usual, so no doubt I shall pay for that tomorrow.

*David* said...

Smooth easy Thursday for me, no real tough spots other then reading the RIDGES clue wrong. The theme was quite nice and any puzzle that's got WOMBAT in it is a winner for me.

C said...

An enjoyable puzzle, and, I agree with @*David*, any puzzle that's got WOMBAT is a winner for me. WOMBAT. Hand to Hand WOMBAT. WWII WOMBAT arena (ETO, natch)

SethG said...

A TUN can also be where mashing takes place when you're making whiskey or beer. So really list A can be any liquor word.

RED OAK, I parsed from RxxxxK. With xAKEORxxxxx in place, I first tried TAKE OR LEAVE. Which fits, and fits.

Congrats, C.C.!

John Wolfenden said...

A supersmooth solve with few writeovers for me. I liked how consistent the complexity of the cluing was...good work.

Loved "Field call" for CAW.

I consider myself something of a DEIST so it's nice to see it in a puzzle. and in my book wombats are incredibly cool. They are burrowing marsupials whose pouch opens on the opposite side so they won't get dirt inside it.

Sorry to hear PG's not a palindrome fan (at least in the context of crosswords). My daughter just learned about them in school, and I told her one I remembered: Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness...I diet on cod.

Yes, I am the dorky dad.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing she dislikes the partial, not the palindrome.

Joon said...

you can be a palindrome fan (i certainly am) but not a fan of clunky partial-phrase fill that can only be clued in one way, like I ERE (or its more common cousin, ERE I).

re: BREN, today's clue actually distinguished it from STEN, at least for me. the BREN was so named because it originated in the czech city of BRno (crosswordese 301!) and was manufactured in ENfield, site of the british small arms factory. i think the EN of STEN also stands for enfield, but i don't remember the ST. ah, wikipedia says it's the names of the designers, Shepherd and Turpin.

nice puzzle today, with a great theme.

StudioCitySteve said...

Very nice debut - I always wonder when there are two compilers credited whether you go back and forth arguing about the clues or the fill, how does it work?

As Sfingi did, I fell in love with TILED and it took me all kinds of convincing myself that it couldn't be right. Once I'd argued with myself enough and I came up with WAXED I finished up quickly, even never having heard of AMANA.

I liked the mini-Obama theme also, I thought that was very clever.

On the STEN subject, I read somewhere recently that the weapon had a reputation in the British Army of being responsible for killing as many friendly soldiers as the enemy, due to a badly-designed and defective safety catch.

The palindrome geek in me loves "A man, a plan, a canal - Panama" - totally self-contained truth-in-writing about the original designer, Ferdinand de Lesseps.

And, @PG, Tracy Kidder wrote a couple of books I liked, including one about the design and launch of a computer back in the days of the Digital Equipment Corporation called "The Soul of a New Machine". Amazingly he managed to document the travails of a bunch of software and hardware engineers in a way to make the story truly entertaining - not an easy thing to do!

CrazyCat said...

I loved this puzzle. It was a smooth solve with some really creative, fun clues, especially "Cause of star wars?" My only messy section was the NE where I had honey before CUTIE and haw before CAW. UMA righted all that. Also had tub before TUN. Didn't really get the palindrome clue, but looked it up and now I do. Both the theme and WOMBAT made me happy. Guessed at TRACY, my last entry, but it worked.

Congrats C.C. and thanks Dan G. nicely done!

hebow44 said...

I think for the palindrome clue you should have to complete the phrase, otherwise it could be anything. Seems random like "There once was a man from ______". Small snivel since I nearly finished this one. A rarity for me on a Thursday. I thought the tax/waxed cross was very clever.

NYTAnonimo said...

Great debut puzzle C.C.! Especially enjoyed completing this Xword as I've yet to finish the NYT's (boost to the EGO). Then it was even more special when I found out it was constructed by you and DonG. Well done!

CrazyCat said...

Oops meant Don - sorry!

captcha ozeroil - the fuel I wish someone would invent

mac said...

Good puzzle!

How clever to clue the edema with a plant. And thank you, Joon, I forgot about the source of Sten and Bren I never knew.

Believe it or not, I once made my own sourdough starter - in CT! That bread took forever to rise.

Congratulations to CC and thanks to Don, and of course to PG

hazel said...

I loved this puzzle's theme. Very clever. Great job, CC and Don!

Re: Derek Jeter, I've never EVER liked the Yankees, but until this off-season, couldn't help but like Derek Jeter. Don't like him at all now, but concede that he's still easy on the eyes!

Sfingi said...

@Wolfenden - Great palindrome - long!

I usually love the caricatures of Risko, but he did Jeter in the latest Vanity Fair, and didn't do him justice. I guess it's a girl thing.

@Studio Steve - so this Tracy is a guy.
Amana was a company and before that a German community called the Amana Colonie in IA. I visited it when I last saw my sister. Like the Oneida Community or the Shaker Village, they created products to keep themselves going. They spoke a form of German called Colonie. They went public and petered out, but there are reconstructions in IA of their original places.

JaxInL.A. said...

Just checking in at the end of the day and reading everyone's posts, but since my captcha is

dawling !

I had to post and say goodnight.