03.29 Tue

March 29, 2011
Joon Pahk & Andrea Carla Michaels

Theme: Pack It In — The first word of each theme answer can be a type of "pack." And there are six of them! Get it? Six-pack!

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Completely dark (JET BLACK).
  • 21A: Getting-to-know-you party activity (ICE BREAKER).
  • 26A: Dirty fighting? (MUD WRESTLING).
  • 39A: Wearisome routine (RAT RACE).
  • 47A: "Wow, she's good-looking!" sounds (WOLF WHISTLES).
  • 58A: "Funny Girl" leading role (FANNY BRICE).
  • 66A: Some sculpted abs ... and what the starts of 17-, 21-, 26-, 39-, 47- and 58-Across are altogether? (SIX PACKS).
I had heard Joon and Andrea had a puzzle coming out and must admit my expectations were pretty high. Thank goodness they didn't disappoint! Seven theme answers. That's incredible! You'd think with that many theme answers they would have to resort to a funny-looking grid. Oh wait, it is a funny-looking grid. But that's okay. There's actually nothing wrong with a funny-looking grid. What you really hate to see is when high theme density necessitates crap fill. And while I can't say the grid is completely crap-free, it's pretty darn clean considering. In fact, the only entries that really jumped out at me as clunkers were RARES (29D: Filet mignon requests) and the Random Roman Numeral MCCC (6D: Cornerstone 1300). Other than that, I dare say Joon and Andrea were able to sneak in several entries that are a little on the hard side for a Tuesday, but because they have solid crosses I'm definitely not going to complain. All in all, a great Tuesday puzzle.

It's fun to solve a puzzle by someone you know and see their personality in it. These are the entries that screamed ANDREA at me:
  • 10D: Its anthem is "Hatikvah" (ISRAEL).
  • 24D: Music to a cat lover's ears (PURR).
  • 62D: Giovanni's good-bye (CIAO).
As for Joon, well, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that BLOOP (23A: Soft baseball hit) is all his.

  • 1A: Lea low (MOO). I got off to a horrible start right here at 1-Across where I plopped in BAA without even thinking. Oops!
  • 16A: Sci-fi author __ K. Le Guin (URSULA). Ya know how I've told you about how writing this blog sometimes throws me off onto tangents sometimes for hours? Usually it's YouTube that does it, but this time I went off on a search for a former college professor who got me interested in women's literature, including URUSLA K. Le Guin.
  • 33A: "Weeds" airer, in TV listings (SHO). Weren't we just talking about this show? It's awesome. And the woman who played the school guidance counselor in some of the earlier episodes is a friend of Andrea's. I can't remember her name and I can't find her on imbd. I want to say her name is Amy, but I'm having no luck confirming.
  • 45A: "Zounds!" ("EGAD!"). Does this make anyone else think of Scooby-Doo?
  • 65A: Orbital extreme (APOGEE). I came across this word last week reading about the whole Super Moon thing, which I don't really understand, but I think it's just because I didn't really focus while I was reading.
  • 2D: Nancy who's slated to replace Mary Hart on "Entertainment Tonight" (O'DELL). O'DELL said she is "honored to be the one to fill a TV legend's seat." I'm going to refrain from saying something mean here.
  • 11D: Wagnalls's partner (FUNK). I knew these two names went together, but I had to look them up just now to remember that Funk & Wagnalls is a publisher of reference books.
  • 13D: 1980-81 Iranian president Bani-__ (SADR). Um … what?
  • 41D: Berkeley school, familiarly (CAL). We often see references to college nicknames that are just so wrong. It's nice to see a good one today.
  • 50D: __ corpus (HABEAS). Had a little spelling issue here.
  • 55D: Bologna ball game (BOCCE). Raise your hand if you pictured lunchmeat being batted into the air.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 20A: It's not butter (OLEO).
  • 43A: Expressive rock genre (EMO).
  • 53A: Wrath, in a classic hymn (IRAE).
  • 69A: Depilatory brand (NAIR).
  • 73A: Tolkien tree creature (ENT).
  • 35D: Stone for many Libras (OPAL).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 4A: Rocket interceptors, briefly (ABM'S); 8A: Doesn't tip (STIFFS); 14A: DJ's array (CD'S); 15A: Atahualpa, notably (INCA); 19A: Took an intersecting road (TURNED); 25A: Facility (EASE); 36A: Latvian capital (RIGA); 37A: Eastern principle (TAO); 38A: Liven (up) (PEP); 44A: __ of Good Feelings (ERA); 46A: Old boys? (MEN); 54A: Fat cat (NABOB); 64A: Quayle's successor (GORE); 68A: Mother with a Nobel prize (TERESA); 70A: AFL partner (CIO); 71A: Turns over, as an engine (STARTS); 72A: Film pooch in a tornado (TOTO); 1D: Low-paying position (MCJOB); 3D: Bone: Pref. (OSTEO-); 4D: Have a bug (AIL); 5D: __ B'rith (B'NAI); 7D: Benefit (SAKE); 8D: Hindu aphorisms (SUTRAS); 9D: Most loyal (TRUEST); 12D: Make a run for it (FLEE); 18D: Bust's opposite (BOOM); 22D: Spelling contest (BEE); 27D: Day in Durango (DIA); 28D: Lb. or oz. (WGT.); 30D: Couple in People (ITEM); 31D: Tom, Dick or Harry (NAME); 32D: Continue (GO ON); 33D: Eject, as lava (SPEW); 34D: Medal recipient (HERO); 40D: Rep. with a cut (AGT.); 42D: First lady's home? (EDEN); 48D: Identify, as a perp (FINGER); 49D: Most ironic (WRYEST); 51D: Suffix with hotel (-IER); 52D: "Beowulf" or "Star Wars" (SAGA); 56D: Pest control name (ORKIN); 57D: Stupefy with drink (BESOT); 58D: Pool legend Minnesota __ (FATS); 59D: In __: peeved (A PET); 60D: Director Ephron (NORA); 61D: Fails to be (ISN'T); 63D: Stage direction (EXIT); 67D: Tour golfer (PRO).


Anonymous said...

OK, I get the LEA part, but how does LOW and MOO relate... a low sound?

Bani-Sadr reminds me of a running David Letterman monologue staple during the Iranian hostage crisis - he would say something like "Remember folks, ask for genuine Abu Hassah Boni-Sadr - accept no substitutes!"

Orange said...

Actress Amy is listed first in the IMDB cast listing for White Oleander. Apparently they went with alphabetical rather than putting Michelle Pfeiffer first. I know this because I once solved a crossword in which the movie title was clued by way of that Amy, and the same constructor then deemed her to be a big enough deal in Hollywood to appear in his Famous Amys theme in second puzzle.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:44 Low : verb (used without object)
1. to utter the deep, low sound characteristic of cattle; moo

SethG said...

The verb low means "to utter the deep, low sound characteristic of cattle; moo". It's also the noun moo.

Seven theme answers! Wow.

Anonymous said...

"McJob", nice.

eecummings said...

I'm giving APOGEE to Joon. Wait, i'm giving apogee to joon. better.

hazel said...

pretty much a perfect Tues. puzzle for me. Nice job Andrea and Joon!

Anonymous said...

Great theme density. Otherwise, it's a semi-disaster for my taste. Which is a shame because Joon and ACME are two of my favorite people/constructors.

PG got RARES and MCCC right as the most disappointing entries. Besides those, there's too much obscurity for a Tuesday: Hatikva, URSULA, SHO, ODELL, Atahualpa, Hindu Aphorisms.

PG has pointed out the trite stuff as well.

Anonymous said...

The only other place I've ever heard the word "low" used in this context is the Christmas song "Away In A Manger"... One of the verse startes "The cattle are lowing..."

Sfingi said...

Easy cute theme.

I had a personal Natick at ODELL crosses BLOOP (sports), but guessed L.

Anon#1 - Remember the Christmas Carol, Away in a Manger, a.k.a Luther's Cradle Hymn, 2nd verse?

"The cattle are lowing
The Baby awakes.
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes."

Captcha: sespot - not quite a turn-on.

Avg Joe said...

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. Tuesday easy, but fun the whole way through. Notwithstanding the obvious clunker RARES, but I can imagine a scenario where the word could be used that way, so I'll give it a semi-pass.

Liked seeing BOCCE. If you ever have a chance to play this game, it's fun. It's best played with the rule that when a player bowls, they must have a drink in their hand.

chefbea said...

What a great puzzle. Thanks Andrea and Joon. Haven't been doing this puzzle in a while but had time this morning. I'll try to stop by more often

Husker Gary said...

-Didn’t get theme until reveal
-Lea denizens were MOOing and not BAAing today
-STABLE objects don’t tip either
-I remember nattering NABOBs.
-My aphorism for SUTRA? It’s what you learn after you know everything that is important!
-Carnac used Funk and Wagnall’s front porch. Remember?
-The Hustler with Jackie Gleason as Fats was wonderful! Great period piece as well.
-88 year old MIL can do the best WOLFWHISTLE!
-McJob’s show that all honest work is honorable
-Mud Wrestling was prominent in one of my favorite movies - Stripes

Nighthawk said...

Very solid and fun.

I didn't see the theme until I read @PG's write-up, which was yet another sparkler, but the theme answers were fun and somehow gettable for me after a few letters each.

RARES was a bit odd, but I can see it -Waiter calling order in steakhouse to kitchen: "Table six has two RARES, three mediums, and a well done."

I too thought of "Little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay" for MOO/low, but thanks for the name @Sfingi and @Anon 6:55.

Liked two Nobel Peace winners in the fill: GORE and TERESA.
NABOB above GORE brought to mind another VP--Spiro.

Didn't know ODELL, URSULA, or ISRAEL, but easy enough with crosses.

BLOOP? Is that some sort of zen "one hand clap" for BLOOPer? (my only nit).

glocking: perhaps the modern equivalent at the mini-mart/gas station of "five finger discount" shopping?

Joon said...

thanks for the kind words!

this one was a bear to grid, with the seven theme answers, but it turned out about as clean as we could have hoped for. (my first instinct, when andrea suggested this theme idea to me, was, "that's too much for a 15x15.") by far the weakest fill answers, MCCC and RARES, were both essentially forced by the constraints of the theme (__CC and R_R_S). i believe this is the first time i've put a random roman numeral into a grid; hopefully it will be the last, but there was just no other way to make it work. if only LACC were a viable fill answer!

CarolC said...

Joon and Andrea, good puzzle today. I couldn't figure out where the theme was going but liked that the answers just seemed to be getting longer and longer. I'm no expert like some of the commenters but 7 theme answers all of which were solid on their own yet were nicely tied together by the reveal seems impressive to me.

@PG, thanks for the writeup and Roman numerals clock. (Clock, why a clock?? Oh, yeah there's that one obligatory clunker.)

I flew through the puzzle today. Only write over was ORKIN over ORTHO. Enjoyed APOGEE. Thought Lea low was great clueing, just needed to know whether it was BAA or MOO, easily chosen by MCJOB. @Husker Gary, I liked your comment about honest work.

JaxInL.A. said...

I agree with PG, including baa before MOO, though I didn't eat Oscar Mayer products as a kid so I went straight to Italy for my "Bologna game ball." Late-week words had loads of easier crosses, but made it a little crunchier. (I love crunch.)

I would add CAL as an @acme contribution, since it's in her neighborhood. Is Joon in the Bay Area as well? Does listing Joon's name first mean he did the heavy lifting here?

Thanks for sending Rexites over to this puzzle, Andrea. And thanks to both of you for a fun, dense solve.

Emetch=a more evocative spelling of emetic

CrazyCat said...

Nice Tuesday! Thanks Andrea and Joon. Don't have time to say much this morning, but thanks for CAL today. Much better than UCLAN from yesterday. If you go to UC Berkeley, you go to CAL and you're a Golden Bear. Go Bears! The WOLF PACK is our local HS team.
I also liked NABOB and MCJOB. Knew LOW from "Away in the Manger." CChusband wants to build a BOCCE court in our back yard. CIAO!

*David* said...

I was a bit disappointed with the fill but there must be compromoises with such heavy theme density. Lots of plurals in there. The only SADR I know is the city in Iraq that we always hear about.

Anonymous said...

Though the random Roman Numeral was a clunker, I enjoyed how it was clued - added extra thoughts of Looney Toon's singing frog....

Great puzzle and, as always, write-up PG!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I still don't get "sake" for benefit. Explanation please.

Otherwise excellent Tuesday puzzle.

Anoa Bob said...

Nice example of two talented constructors getting together. Loved 1D MCJOB; 2D ODELL and 3D OSTEO not so much.

Going for such dense theme fill almost always requires compromises in other measures of puzzle quality. Here we have 42 JET BLACK squares and a gratuitous plural in a theme entry at 47A WOLF WHISTLES.

Anonymous said...

If RARES were clued as "stands on hind legs" wouldn't that have made the entry acceptable?

mac said...

Very good Tuesday puzzle! Amazing theme density, fun clues and some great extras: McJob, nabob, apogee and stiffs.

I for one have NO problems with Roman numerals; many times they would be a very lucky toehold in a difficult puzzle!

Thanks, Joon and Adrea!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:43 For the benifit of my sanity, ... = For the sake of my sanity, ...

StudioCitySteve said...

Quite a challenge for me today but I really liked the theme; it would have taken me a lot longer if I wasn't able to think of ICEPACK and then - ohh! ICEBREAKER!

I didn't mind the MCCC as the clue had me scratching my head until I realized what it meant - it's when the numerals are clued as something lame like "A year for Brutus" that I get sulky.

RARES didn't bother me at all - I like @Nighthawk's usage example.

@Anonymous - that would be a great clue if the answer was REARS rather than RARES.

@Anonymous - if I do something for your sake, I do it for your benefit.

Learned SUTRAS, URSULA and something about ISRAEL that I didn't know.

C said...

Entertaining puzzle today. I liked the theme answers, they were newish to see in a cross word.

I thought it was just me but I guess the grid layout was different looking to most people. I liked that, too. Innovate, learn when you miss and enjoy when you hit it out of the park (or would that be Pahk ... for the Boston fans of course. I would never stoop to a bad pun on the constructors name ...)

@PG, for me, "Zounds!" EGAD is Stewie Griffin. "Zoinks!" screams Scooby Doo to me.

Doug P said...

Wow! Seven theme answers. Fabulous puzzle, joon & Andrea. I didn't even mind the random Roman numeral. (Pitcher Sabathia on the mike?) I'd rather see a Roman numeral than ETE or ULEE, but that's just me.

Greene said...

Wonderful idea for a puzzle and nicely executed. Tilted a little on the difficult side for me, but finished in under 10 minutes with no errors and that equals Tuesday in my book. Thanks Joon and Andrea!

John Wolfenden said...

I also didn't mind "Cornerstone 1300." It's one thing if you categorically don't like Roman numeral answers, but when the constructors find a way to make you think for a moment with the clue they're fine by me.

In a similar vein, "Stone for many Libras" is way better than "October birthstone."

Liked seeing BLOOP...Nighthawk, a BLOOP single is when the ball just barely makes it out of the infield.

I didn't take my "duh" pills today...why is "peeved" IN A PET?

Good work, a solid Tuesday.

Sfingi said...

@Anon843 - alternative meaning: A Japanese liquid benefit might be SAKE.

When I was a little kid I couldn't whistle, so I told my dad that "Someone said Thrit-Thru to Moma."

Another reference to NABOB:
An old (stupid) song my gramma used to sing included the words, "Come to your NABOB and next St. Patrick's Day, Be Mrs. Mumbo-Jumbo (suppressed word)Jay, O'Shea.

Anonymous said...

Nice puzzle, for goodness sake.

hebow44 said...

I thought MC Job was short for Emcee Job, which made no sense. Thanks to whoever gave me McJob. I really liked the Funk and Wagnall's clue. I was reminded (I think) of all those Laugh-in references .... "Put that in your Funk and Wagnall's."

Anonymous said...

some pet peeves for puzzlers are roman numerals personally i dont care there only afew so its easy to punt my last entry was the d liked th puzzle alot even though i still dont understand the theme

Masked and Anonymous said...

@joon (and acme): Can only speak for myself, as one lowly, crossword-solvin' joe. Stuff like MCCC and RARES doesn't bother me a lick, if it helps glue all the great stuff in yer puz together. It's not like it was hard to guess either of 'em from their clues. Heck, the NY Times puz had a random Cardinal number in it; that didn't trip my engine light, either.

Big gorilla in the tent for me is always theme, theme, theme. (And U count, 'course.) Your theme was nice and solid.

Always wanted to ask joon dept.: Is yer shift key broke?

syndy said...

Why DOES berkley get to be CAL? IS it self appointed?Lovely evocative puzzle (my extremely affection kitty thinks she a dog and does not PURR)(but she does come to a wolfwhistle)15 across and 10 down surely easily inferrable good (MC)job andrea and joon

andrea carla michaels said...

HA! @Syndy you are right, this is practically a MCJOB!!! You would faint if I told you what we got paid for this!
And yes, @JaxinLA, Joon did ALL the heavy lifting! I had this idea of six packs, but knew before starting there was NO way I could get 7 themes into a puzzle...so I went to Joon who is a Math Professor at Harvard or something, so I hear! ;)
I think he did an incredible job, if I'm allowed to say that!!!

Thank you for the lovely write-up...you are just too too young to remember Bani-Sadr from those Iran hostage days...ah youth!

PS You have to add OPALS to my column, as it is my birthstone and I even sport a tiny tiny one in my nose!

And my friend is Amy Aquino, actress extraordinaire/oldest friend from college! I didn't even know she was in "Weeds" (right now she is on "Harry's Law" as a judge that goes toe to toe with Kathy Bates) but she WAS the guidance counselor on "Felicity"...is that what you were thinking of? (My favorite role of hers, incidentally! Altho she was quite memorable in her one minute scene at the end of "Working Girl" where she plays Melanie Griffith's new secretary who MG mistakes for her boss)

Anyway, I'm thrilled with this puzzle, which NEVER would have come to light without Professor Bloop!!!

Anonymous said...

U count Us and sez stuff like "yer puz" + "Is yer shift key broke", and ur worried about his capitalizashun?

StudioCitySteve said...

@Syndy - The full name of the school is University of California, Berkeley and was the first college in the UC affiliation. I'm guessing that 'cos they got there first, they got first dibs at nicknames! "Cal" seems a natural.

UCSB, UCLA, UCSD and all the rest were late to the party and don't really have a nickname of the same genre - they're known by their sports team name, if they have one worth mentioning.

I think UCSB's nickname is actually "Party Central" :)

USC football fans will tell you that UCLA (being as they seem to be always "rebuilding" their football program) really stands for "Under Construction, Like Always"

UCLA fans would retort that USC stands for University for Spoiled Children, being as it's a private school outside the UC or Cal State systems.

PurpleGuy said...

What am I missing ?
What is a jet pack ?

Anonymous said...

@Purple Guy - Buck Rogers used a jet pack to soar around whatever planet he happened to be visiting

Avg Joe said...

@Purple Guy, it's one of those futuristic things out of the Jetsons that we were all supposed to have by now. A personal transportation device, if you will. In the same category as a hover cars.

The comedian Tim Wilson has a really funny song about it, but it's not exactly for everyone, so I won't link it here. But it's readily available on YouTube.

ddbmc said...

Don't get to do these puzzles much, lately, but snuck this in quickly! Nice MCJOB, Joon and Andrea! I thought the grid was cool, too! I always have a beef with Roman Numerals, but agree that the rest of the fill negated my RN minor irritation for the day!

Didn't remember Bani-Sadr--tho' I watched the IC hearings--but had two little ones at the time, so the name probably didn't sink in. And didn't know URSULA K. Le Guin, but do now! (so thank you!)
Always enjoy coming here for the puzzles and writeups, when I can spare a few minutes!

Mortuorum said...

An ideal Tuesday, particularly with such dense (and clever) theme. The only place I got stuck was the cross of IRAE and IER, which I interpret to mean I need to brush up on my common suffixes. I didn't even particularly mind MCCC or RARES, since they crossed two and three theme entries, respectively. Nice.

Ron Worden said...

Great puzzle for a tuesday. really liked the theme and was so glad that their was no french for a change.Our cat snores quite loudly when he is in a deep sleep. Loved the bocci clue.Sean Connery flies on a jet pack in the beginning of an early James Bond flick.Hope to see more of these puzzle authors in the near future.

CrazyCat said...

Wow! Great comments today on a terrific puzzle - lots of fun to read.

@Syndy what @StudioCity said about CAL. It was founded mid to late 19th century. UCLA didn't come along until 1914 so UC Berkeley was the original U of Cal (can you tell I'm a proud CAL parent?).

@Ron Worden I have a cat that snores, a cat that PURRs and cat that always seems to be in a FUNK and hisses at you if you look at her cross-eyed.

@Joon enjoyed reading your interview.

CoffeeLvr said...

Thanks, Andrea and Joon. I may come do the LAT more often. This was crisp and fun, and I enjoyed the write up, too, Puzzle Girl.

Small negative, the online solving software was confusing coming from AcrossLite. Since then, the FedEx truck arrived with new toner cartridges, so perhaps paper in the future.

@CrazyCatLady, my girl purrs and snores, but not at the same time. Try blinking very slowly at your cranky cat, might change her reaction.

Anonymous said...

Seems most liked the puzzle, so I'm one in the minority. Liked some of it (theme was good) but I agree that some of it was a bit too obscure and other parts a bit clunky. Esp. for a Tuesday. Guess I just wasn't ready to think that hard so early in the week.

Stan said...

Found the theme okay when I thought it was just "kinds of pack," but SIX PACKS bumped up the whole puzzle to a new level. Kudos.

P.G.: Nice write-up! Very unforced and gently funny. You also seem to have a good, smart group of commenters.

chefwen said...

Great puzzle Andrea and Joon. Did not know Ursula, got it from downs. A little on the easy side as kind of breezed through it with no write overs. Perfect Tuesday with a cute theme.

@Stan - Love your new kitty picture.

Mokus said...

I knew RARES would elicit many scoffs but I loved it. When my guests tell me how they want their steaks cooked I summarize with "two rares, two mediums.." as Nighthawk said. I didn't get McJob or Moo which made it a rare Tuesday DNF. Loved the puzzle very much anyway. Let's all agree to disagree on Roman numerals and quit carping every time, okay? As a former UCLAN I always thought that USC stood for University of Second Choice. I live on Topaz and share an alley with Opal so enjoyed that. Terrific puzzle.

mac said...

Full disclosure: I own a pair of Bocce shoes. They're very ugly.

Sfingi said...

To a New Yorker, Berkeley is also the most prestigious, almost as good as Stanford!

There are some snoring cats on You Tube. One on the Today Show was supposedly as loud as a dumpster. Being fat or sleeping on their backs seems to make it louder. Just like people.

Ever notice how many of us have animals for our icons?

Joon said...

@acme: "professor bloop"? not sure if i can get behind that nickname. i liked "6 pahk" better.

@jaxinLA: i don't know about all the heavy lifting. yes, this is probably the most challenging 15x15 i've had to fill, but the theme idea came from andrea, and that's always the most important part of a weekday puzzle.

little-known fact about me: i lived in berkeley for a year, though i did not attend CAL. i did attend stanford for grad school, but i don't have a real rooting interest in that rivalry.

@masked: many years ago i made a deliberate choice not to capitalize informal content (email, chat, message boards), not out of any artistic vision (no e.e. cummings, i) but merely out of expedience. i do try to remember to capitalize when i think it would make a big difference in clarity.

Anonymous said...

Anon #1 here... thanks for all of the help with "low". I've sung "Away In A Manger" plenty of times but I must have glossed over that part of the lyrics. Probably just uttered some fill-in "oohs" and "aahs", ala Bill Cosby.

Masked and Anonymous said...

@joon: I'm cool with that. Thanx for your reply. I leave g's off occasionally, myself. Tryin' to do better, tho.