03.31 Thu

March 31, 2011
Steve Salitan

Theme: The Boys of Summer! — It's a baseball theme for opening day.

Theme answers:

  • 1A: *One way to reach a superhero (BAT PHONE).
  • 23A: *2008 Republican hopeful (MITT ROMNEY).
  • 34A: *Roll-fed toy (CAP PISTOL).
  • 46A: *Musical about rock's 4 Seasons (JERSEY BOYS).
  • 62A: Its season starts today; its equipment starts the starred answers (BASEBALL).

Very uneven solve for me today. Love the theme. I'm only a casual sports fan, so I don't always know when opening day is but my new boss — a huge baseball fan — took the day off today to go see our Nats, so I was aware this year. As for the theme answers, one made me chuckle, one made me smile, one made me groan, and the one right in the middle gave me a lot of trouble. For some reason, I always want to spell SCADS with a K (31D: Carloads). I also had had TIE ONTO where TIE INTO was supposed to go (25D: Link with). I was waiting to see whether 28D would be STNS or (the correct) STAS (28D: Coming and going spots: Abbr.). But I was pretty sure it was going to be an N after that K, so CAP PISTOL was looking like KNPPOSTOL and that ... took me a while to sort out.

Lots of prepositions and other weird partials in the grid today: AGREED ON right next to ON SALE, SEEN AS, IN UP, TIE INTO. And then there are the several downright clunkers: NOA, LOPER, and NUS (7D: Tishby of "The Island" / 9D: Horse warming up, say / 42D: Sorority letters). But then there's quite a bit of good stuff too, like the triple stack of 7s in the northeast corner:
  • 12D: Chemical bonding number (VALENCE).
  • 13D: Winning numbers (ELEVENS).
  • 14D: Flights that often span two days (REDEYES).
Sure those three words are full of Wheel of Fortune letters, but the Vs just spice it right up for me. There are a few other entries that I like for one reason or another, so let's go to the bullets.

  • 27A: Focus of some trips (EGO). Nice clue.
  • 30A: Explain (CONSTRUE). I do not think this word means what I think it means.
  • 36A: Fertilizer component (POTASH). I like to pronounce this word like POE-TASH and for some reason I crack myself up whenever I do that.
  • 39A: "I can't explain it" ("NO REASON"). I typically like answers clued as spoken expressions. Even better when they're exclamations like 55D: "Super!" ("FAB!").
  • 53A: "The Executioner's Song" Pulitzer winner (MAILER). For some reason Norman MAILER and Jimmy Breslin are the same person in my brain.
  • 55A: Burlesque act (FAN DANCE).
  • 4D: Stylish waves (PERMS). Stylish?
  • 40D: African plain (SAVANNA).
  • 47D: "The Vampire Diaries" heroine Gilbert (ELENA). I'm a little disappointed ELENA wasn't clued with a reference to SONIA (28A: Justice Sotomayor) but that's probably just me. Also, the Twilight series is about as deep as I'm going to get into the vampire genre so I was out of luck here.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 43A: Imitated (APED).
  • 44A: Old 51-Across devices (ETNAS).
  • 45A: "The Simpsons" shopkeeper (APU).
  • 52A: Jai __ (ALAI).
  • 8D: Head M.D.? (ENT).
  • 28D: Coming and going spots: Abbr. (STAS.).
  • 54D: Quarterback Dawson (LEN).
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Everything Else 9A: Blind slat (LOUVER); 15A: Concurred about (AGREED ON); 16A: Lower, for now (ON SALE); 17A: Ogled (LEERED AT); 18A: Skinned (PEELED); 19A: One of two O.T. books (SAML.); 20A: When Donne is done for the day? (E'EN); 21A: Genesis outcast (EVE); 22A: Go by (PASS); 29A: Unsatisfactory marks? (ACNE); 32A: Fiona, after Shrek's kiss (OGRESS); 49A: Benjamin et al.: Abbr. (PVTS.); 50A: Give pieces to (ARM); 51A: Trial site, perhaps (LAB); 59A: Show up (ATTEND); 60A: Some feelers (ANTENNAE); 61A: Viewed to be (SEEN AS); 1D: __ masqué: dance with costumes (BAL); 2D: A good while back (AGES AGO); 3D: Crime of betrayal (TREASON); 5D: Cad (HEEL); 6D: "How peculiar" ("ODD"); 10D: Bridge opener, briefly (ONE NO); 11D: Take for a chump (USE); 22D: Chest ripple (PEC); 23D: Transform eerily, in sci-fi (MORPH); 24D: __ to one's neck (IN UP); 25D: Link with (TIE INTO); 26D: Donald's second ex (MARLA); 32D: Others, in Oaxaca (OTRAS); 33D: Proceeds (GOES); 35D: Sharp competitor (SONY); 36D: Hefner garb (PAJAMAS); 37D: Work (OPERATE); 38D: Unhappy home inspection find (TERMITE); 41D: Like some film effects (OPTICAL); 44D: Flow back (EBB); 48D: Play places (YARDS); 49D: Secondary strategy (PLAN B); 52D: Chick chaser? (-ADEE); 56D: Actress Gasteyer (ANA); 57D: Some Windows systems (NT'S); 58D: Epitome of slipperiness (EEL).


v-man said...

Pretty easy solve. Being a sports fan I enjoyed the baseball theme. Both sides of the political spectrum were represented with the Romney and Sotomayor clues. I wonder if this would have been a Tuesday or Wednesday puzzle if opening day had been on those days because it seemed on par with those days on a difficulty level.

Husker Gary said...

I’m old enough to remember when baseball was a much bigger deal. If they could shorten the game by making batters and pitchers pick up the pace and umpires actually enforce the strike zone, it'd sell more popcorn. A generation that hates waiting 3 seconds for a site to load gets impatient. I still love it!

-I hammered a lot of caps on a roll!
-Jersey Boys is coming to Omaha and I’m buying the first ticket!
-I thought LOUVER might be LOUVRE
-I never heard the word ETNA in a science lab
-Hey, if you gotta be on an ISLAND…
-I taught VALENCE last week
-Seven Come Eleven
-I'm already what the theme for April Fool's Day will be!

RAC'em said...

Can someone help me with SAML? Nothing comes to me. Thanks.

RAC'em said...

Old Testament...finally!

VirginiaC said...

I too had a problem with construe and that's just the beginning. This puzzle drove me nuts and I didn't finish untill I came here. Must still be asleep. Haven't been this beaten up by a Thursday puzzle in a while.

Ann said...

If the constructor changed the theme clue slightly, 55 across could work, too -- FANdance.

Yea for baseball!

CarolC said...

Hard Thursday for me. CAP PISTOL the last to fall.

Best clue of the day for me Unsatisfactory marks = ACNE. several tied for worst - all that @PG mentioned plus SAML. Liked seeing VALENCE in a puzzle. Agree with Husker Gary that I've USEd Bunsen burners in labs but SEEN ETNAS only in puzzles.

Play ball!

Sfingi said...


Very strange - I had to Google for 4 women's names: NOA, SONIA, ELENA, MARLA. Never watched The Island and probably never will. Had ELENA for Sotomayor until I saw ELENA for The Vampire Diaries, another show I'll probably never watch. So, it's SONIA Sotomayor and ELENA Kagan. And, as for MARLA, I forgot the h*s name after a couple decades.

DNF in the Great Lakes area - Could have never guessed ONE NO, and for some reason thought Mr. Salitan was indicating that something would temporarily go down and then go up again, as with a temperature, or gas prices, so couldn't see ON SALE. I guess it was the "for now."

@RAC'm - thought it might be SAM1 as opposed to SAM2, but HEEL made it SAML.

@Husker Gary - ETNA as a Bunson Burner shows up every so often. I don't know in what locale or time this was ever used. But, once you know, you know.

Here's one I knocked out and just noticed: NTS. Don't know what it means. Anyone?

Avg Joe said...

@sfingi, WIndows NT was an operating system back in the early days of graphic interface tech when Mr. Softie first tried to take on Apple. It wasn't around too long, and had it's critics....I've heard it referred to as "Nice Try".

Here is the Wiki entry.

Tuttle said...

@Sfingi, - Windows NT 3.5 and 4.0, the predecessor operating systems of Windows XP. NT stood for "New Technology" which was funny since it was pretty much a port of the 1970s era VAX VMS with a BSD network stack glommed onto it. And don't ask about NT 3.0, 2.x or 1.x.

LOUVER crossing VALENCE is kind of neat (a cloth or fixed molding covering the top of a window or the mechanical bits of blinds is called a VALENCE).

Anonymous said...

Please explain ONE NO. Where is this bridge and what is the answer short for?

wilsch said...

For some reason this was the hardest Thursday puzzle for me in a long time. The NW corner was especially difficult. I didn't think of BATPHONE, didn't know BAL masque, had LONG AGO instead of AGES AGO, and CURLS for PERMS, and couldn't think of thr SAML abbreviation. The rest of the puzzle went smoothly. DNF for me this time.

C said...

Puzzle put up a fight for me. I started from the bottom and had _A_DANCE in the grid with confidence and then, with even more confidence, entered L,P for the remaining blanks. I then thought to myself, "hmm, who is the constructor? Not BEQ? Seems a bit edgy for the LAT puzzle but I like it so I am keeping it." Sad to say, I couldn't make the rest of the puzzle work with my answer and eventually ended up with F,N and the rest of the puzzle fell together.

Anonymous said...

@Anon9:29 - Bridge the card game, short for a bid of "One No Trump"

hebow44 said...

Had louver and red-eyes but couldn't make that corner work. Loper doesn't work for me. (In fact it doesn't work for this spell checker either.) Can someone help we with the answer to 20 across. How is "een" the answer to "When Donne is done for the day?" Too clever for me.

CrazyCat said...

Last thing CChusband said to me, before he left for work this morning, was "Dodgers/Giants, Chavez Ravine, opening day." Quite the romantic, that guy. Then there was that big article about Vin Scully on the op ed page of the LAT.

I didn't have too much trouble with this except I found some of the clues to not make any sense at first, like 61A Viewed to be and 34A Roll-fed toy. I had SEES AS because I thought 54 down was LES. I also had manure before POTASH for fertilizer component.

For some reason I thought CONSTRUE meant understand, or interpret which it does. But it also means explain, but maybe as in "Oh, that explains why."

I only know VALENCE as a window treatment, so it was nice to see it crossing LOUVER. Learned the chemical meaning from a puzzle last week.

I used to work with the granddaughter of Sally Rand the FAN DANCEr.

@PG enjoyed the John Fogarty and the bad PERM pic.

Sally Rand and her fans

KJGooster said...

Pretty easy solve, but I did not like this one at all. Theme is OK but really disliked the fill. SAML may be legit, but is just awful. Lots of crosswordese, plurals and partials.

Or it could just be that I only slept for 2 hours last night...

Joon said...

i liked this puzzle, but i'm kind of hoping every constructor will remove NTS from their word list. nobody likes a plural abbr to begin with, but then the fact that NT is both very outdated and not even a noun takes it a couple of steps further. LAP DANCE would have been much nicer fill; if that's too skeezy for your tastes, TAP DANCE works just fine too.

(and no, FAN DANCE is not part of the theme, which is baseball equipment. that is, until the day manny ramirez gets really bored on a hot day in the outfield.)

much tougher for me than yesterday's, so there goes the "every day is the same" argument from the other day.

SethG said...

I deliberately skipped Thursday when comparing the early-week puzzles to the Fridays and Saturdays. But I found this harder not because of fun, tricky cluing but because of yucky abbreviations and plurals and plural abbreviations and stuff.

Also, if a jersey or cap is equipment then I guess pants, socks, and wristbands are too. So it seemed like an arbitrary list, and the theme answers were blah.

Ron Worden said...

I thought this puzzle was a bit of a stinker. some of the phrases were stale or stretches like ages ago how about long ago or age old? I agree with SethG on the equipment issue. thought gypsy rose lee might be the orginal fan dancer.

Sfingi said...

@Hebow44- EEN = evening in old fashioned poet language. And I also couldn't make that corner work, as I said heretofore.

@HuskerG - after reading your comment a second time - actually, I'm more likely to watch baseball than, say, football when Hubster has it on because of the drama. Whereas football just looks like a bunch of overgrown men in a heap, baseball has a lot of posing and theatrics. And more personality cultism. Sort of like a symphony versus a string concerto. Golf is good for catching 40 winks. But, of course, I'll never be sports' main audience.

@AvgJoe, Tuttle, and Evad - you did your best, but I still don't know enough to form a picture of NT or Bridge.

RAC'em said...

@PG - Thanks for the baseball clip. I was happy to see again Bill Mazeroski's walk-off homerun in the 7th game of the 1960 World Series against NY (the only time it's ever been done). Proud to say I was at opening day in Pgh for that series. Batter up!

Jeffrey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey said...

Maz hit the only game 7 World Series winning home Run but don't forget Joe Carter's game 6 series winner in Toronto, 1993.

I had tickets for that game but was moving cross country at the time.

StudioCitySteve said...

Didn't like this much at all, no reasons other than the ones already mentioned. Particularly sucky was NTS.

*David* said...

I fortunately started from the bottom and enjoyed this puzzle more then I would've from the top. I think a potential challenge was that to get into the SE and NW you had one entrance. This slowed my pace a bit.

The top was bad with NOA and SAML which isn't any abbreviation I've ever seen before. The 7 and 8 stacks were the strong points of the puzzle overall and not the theme.

John Wolfenden said...

Funny, I had the opposite reaction to wilsch...I found the NW to be supereasy and struggled in other spots.

Some good cluing like "Lower, for now" for ON SALE and "Head MD?" for EMT.

PG, is the pic of girl with the horrible perm from awkwardfamilyphotos.com? Seems right up their alley. And I too like the word POTASH...it's actually a tradable commodity I believe.

Didn't care for LOPER at all. And like CCL, I've never heard CONSTRUE used that way. Ever. Instead of finding an obscure, never-used alternate definition for a word, why not find a clever way to clue the primary definition?

mac said...

Wouldn't it have been fun if 1A had been Bat mobile?

Some parts easy, but the NE was the toughest area for me. All in all a good solve.

Anonymous said...

@mac: I must be missing something. Why would "bat mobile" be more fun than "bat phone"?

Anonymous said...

Now "bat shit insane," that would have been fun.

CrazyCat said...

Just heard that the jabbering babies from yesterday were talking about the ASP that escaped from the Bronx Zoo. So glad they found her. Apparently she has been "tweeting" since she ran away. How can you tell if a cobra is a boy or a girl? Just wondering.....

mac said...

Now here's a good example why it's better to have some sort of blog name or id: I would be inclined to answer anon 6.15, but if it's the same person who posted at 6.22, not. So I don't.

acme, not to be confused with acne said...

you gotta love a puzzle that starts with BATPHONE!!!!
Nice to have opening day with such a clearly linked theme :)
Some crazy-assed partials, but I think enough of the fill made up for it...like FANDANCE, POTASH (what the heck is that?!), PLANB, fun OGRESS clue, CONSTRUE is cool as I only know MISCONSTRUE.

I malapopped on ELENA...I put that in for Sotomayor only to have it reappear moments later.

And as someone who can't make them, I thought all those 7 and 8 stacks were pretty terrific.

But the best thing was clearly the pic of the bad perm!!!