05.19 Thu

May 19, 2011
Peter A. Collins

Theme: Fish! — That's right, fish!

Theme answers:

  • 19A: Vast expanse (and a fitting setting for this puzzle) (DEEP BLUE SEA).
  • 38A: Somewhat suspect (and a hint to what can be found by connecting the circled letters in alphabetical order) (A LITTLE BIT FISHY).
  • 57A: Don Ho hit (and what the O's in this grid represent) (TINY BUBBLES).
Happy Thursday, everyone. This is the second Thursday in a row the LA Times has run a puzzle that I think of as relatively gimmicky. I think I mentioned last week that a gimmicky Thursday is standard fare over at the New York Times. Maybe the LAT is leaning that way now too.

My feelings about this puzzle are really all over the map. It's a cute idea, drawing a fish. Although I am repulsed by the thought of eating seafood, I've always enjoyed fish as decorative motif. So I like that. Also, I first thought that the O's in the clue for 57A referred to the circles in the puzzle, which seemed pretty lame. But now I see that it actually means the letter O's up there in the northwest corner. That's much more impressive. Especially because there aren't any other O's elsewhere in the grid. So that's two things I like. But then there's EEEE (45A: Very wide shoe). And TEDEUMS (40D: Latin hymns). And ESSES and REASSESSED (70A: 20% of seventy-six? / 10D: Like much real estate, annually). By the way, if you don't understand the clue for ESSES, please be sure to check out the Crosswordese 101 Round-up at the bottom of this post. Speaking of too many S's, you must agree with me that SPINAL TAP is awesome, but SPINAL TAPS is not. Also, the clue — 28D: Lumbar punctures — is icky.

So, yeah, I liked the chess reference — 12D: Way to relocate a king (CASTLE). And CADS clued as [72A: Bad lads] made me chuckle. But I'm not sure the good outweighed the bad/mediocre today. I'll be interested to hear what you think.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 17A: Scots Gaelic (ERSE).
  • 23A: __ Lanka (SRI).
  • 35A: Shrinking sea (ARAL).
  • 37A: Chicago commuter carriers (ELS).
  • 54A: Actor Wallach (ELI).
  • 63A: Gaming pioneer (ATARI).
  • 70A: 20% of seventy-six? (ESSES).
  • 2D: Seine feeder (OISE).
  • 50D: Priestly garb (ALB).
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Everything Else 1A: Ones minding their peas in queues? (PODS); 5A: __ band (PEP); 8A: Where the music stops? (HARD C); 13A: Uprising (RIOT); 14A: Consider judicially (HEAR); 15A: End of __ (AN ERA); 16A: Bony beginning (OSTE-); 18A: They might be executed by a judge (STAYS); 22A: York's title: Abbr. (SGT.); 24A: Fourth-cen. monastic (ST. BASIL); 26A: a.m. beverages (OJ'S); 29A: Citric __ (ACID); 32A: Finesse shampoo maker __ Curtis (HELENE); 33A: Shows inattention at a lecture, maybe (NAPS); 43A: Folksy negative (NAW); 44A: Identical (SAME); 46A: Lessens (ABATES); 49A: "Voilà!" cousin ("TA-DA!"); 51A: ENTs, e.g. (DRS.); 52A: Bonding capacity measure (VALENCE); 56A: Ideal conclusion? (-IST); 65A: Judge (DEEM); 66A: "Please allow me" ("MAY I?"); 67A: Old dwelling for 68-Across (TEPEE); 68A: Western natives (UTES); 69A: Ready for use (PREP); 71A: Gambling area (PIT); 1D: Urge (PROD); 3D: Heap affection (on) (DOTE); 4D: Self-help segments (STEPS); 5D: See 36-Down (PERU); 6D: Lessen (EASE); 7D: Basketball ploy (PRESS); 8D: Argues (with) (HAS A BEEF); 9D: Tiny crawler (ANT); 11D: Bombay product (DRY GIN); 14D: Like rotini (HELICAL); 20D: Support in a dresser drawer (BRA); 21D: Sudan neighbor: Abbr. (ETH.); 25D: Kate's sitcom pal (ALLIE); 26D: "Leaving __ Jet Plane" (ON A); 27D: Flier to Tokyo (JAL); 30D: Inflames (IRES); 31D: Pat (DAB AT); 34D: Declare (STATE); 36D: 5-Down's capital (LIMA); 39D: ATM output (TWENTIES); 41D: Slip floater, to its owner (HER); 42D: "Absolutely!" ("YES!"); 46D: Fly (AVIATE); 47D: Moistens with drippings (BASTES); 48D: Acoustics, e.g.: Abbr. (SCI.); 53D: Turn out to be (END UP); 55D: High-tech debut of 1981 (IBM PC); 58D: "__ do fear thy nature": Lady Macbeth (YET I); 59D: Epitome of redness (BEET); 60D: Pasternak heroine (LARA); 61D: Scrutinized (EYED); 62D: Uses a straw (SIPS); 64D: R&B artist Des'__ (REE).


mac said...

The bubbles are superb, and making sure they are the only o's in the puzzle must have been so tough!

Some tough words: helical, pep (never heard it before), and reassessed took a lot of crosses...

Lots of esses and eeees all over this puzzle.

Mari said...

I agree with Mac, I had to look up helical. I liked St. Basil, I was lost until I got "ST" and started thinking of saints!

Brian said...

I was impressed with the creative construction of this puzzle, especially the alphabetical string of letters that formed the fish. Must have been very difficult to construct. Thought the fill was interesting too...ATARI and IBMPC made me feel nostalgic as did PG's pic of Fish from the Barney Miller show.

Neville said...

Thanks for sharing the bubbles - I also interpreted that end clue as a remark about the circles in the grid. I liked this puzzle, and I can now overlook REASSESSED as a result of no Os - but EEEE could still be NEED. I liked TE DEUMS - is my Catholicism showing? I think the good outweighed the bad for me - a picture puzzle that looks like the real thing and the fill isn't rubbish - I'll take it!

*David* said...

I'll take it because the theme was so cute. Note the cluing for ESSES and HARD C are similar and on opposite sides of the puzzles. Had the most difficulty filling in the ST BASIL/HELENE/ALLIE section, a bit too many people there. REASSESSED next to DRY GIN was pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was an amazing and totally delightful puzzle. It took me forever, but the fish figure--in alphabetical order yet--and the bubbles were a gem. Like a playful little work of art!

VirginiaC said...

I thought it was cute and relatively easy but, is "cute" a good word to describe a crossword? probably not.

Just for fun and appropos of nothing, my Father once told me that some grammatical rules/examples would allow the spelling of fish to be GHOETI. GH as in enough, TI as in any word ending tion and I can't remember the example for OE.

C said...

I liked solving the puzzle though I had to use my imagination for the fish, no circles in the printed out version from the LAT app.

I liked SPINALTAPS though the plural did throw me off my favorite quote a bit "This one goes to elevens" Sounds like Gollum playing Nigel in the remake.

Didactic Dean said...

That actually GHOTI with the O as in women.

Steve said...

Took me a little while, and no circles for me on the online version of the puzzle, so thanks @PG for showing me what I was missing.

Shame about a couple of the fills - EEEE is horrible, and I'm not sure about OSTE - I can understand osteo, but oste seems to be one letter short of a "beginning".

I was fine with SPINALTAPS. Liked DRYGIN and HELICAL. TEDEUMS might be my word of the day.

Anonymous said...

As gimmicky puzzles go, this one was damned good in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Fun Puzzle today but I had trouble with "HARDC".

I've been a musician for 40 years and have never heard of a "HardC". "HIGH C" is where the piano keyboard ends, but what is a "HardC". Googled and Wikipedia'd it ... got no hits!

Can anyone provide a reference?

Katie Dyer said...

Since my feet are at EEE, I didn't mind the wide shoes clue a bit!

No circles in my online puzzle either, so it was great seeing the finished puzzle with the fish and bubbles.

Anonymous said...

The pronunciation of "c" in music is called a "hard c" (k sound).

Anonymous said...

I liked the fish and the bubbles. Some of the fill was a little trying, but it was worth it IMO.

Sidnee said...

The ending letter of MUSIC is pronounced as a hard C(the K sound) as opposed to the soft C(the S sound).

Anonymous said...

@Sidnee and Anonymous:

Oh, that makes sense ... I was stupidly thinking MUSIC ... not phonetics!!

Should have known that it was too obvious for this clever puzzle!

Thanks for the clarification.

JN said...

The letter o in the upper left hand corner represent the bubbles coming from the mouth of the fish!

Steve said...

1A: Ones minding their peas in queues? (PODS)

Can anyone enlighten me as to what "in queues" has to do with the clue/answer? I know it's a play on the expression "Minding your P's and Q's", but what does "queues" have to do with anything in this context? Is it something about the fact that the peas are "lined up" inside the pod?

It seems a very labored way to try to be clever with the play on words?

Ol' Man Keith said...

I think "queues" has to do with the linearity of pea pods and the fact that the peas within are all lined up.
Anyway, I liked tioay's more than PG. It had the rhythm I like--where at first nothing seems crackable, but then as a single word comes through, a whole section will follow. I didn't think of the theme at all, just solved one area at a time. The two bottom corners went first, then the NE (I hated HARD C), and finally the NW with the three "bubbles." I got mad at OSTE because it should have been easy, but I kept trying to solve it for ????BONY. I liked DEEP BLUE SEA, however, because it fell so quickly after I labored fifteen minutes--witlessly-- over B?UE in the middle.

Alexscott said...

I didn't really understand any of PG's complaints with today's puzzle, except for EEEE, which, as Steve pointed out, could have easily been turned into NEED. But that's pretty nitpicky for what I thought was a pretty enjoyable and challenging puzzle. SPINAL TAPS was awesome, I thought. And for someone who lives in an area with high property taxes, REASSESSED hit close to home, so to speak. I only wish I'd discovered the connect the dots on my own. Collins actually did a good job giving hints, but I didn't realize the O's meant the letters or what the alphabet run was about till I came to the blog. It might be gimmicky, but it must have taken quite a bit of effort and the payoff was really fun, IMO. Great puzzle.

Mokus said...

I enjoyed the puzzle, PG's write-up, and all the comments so thanks everyone.

TWG said...

I had the circles on my puzzle so I could connect the dots, but I had to come here to see that the only O's in the puzzle were in the NW corner, coming out of the fish's mouth! That's pretty impressive construction, EEEE or not.

Rube said...

Downloaded this puzzle so didn't have the circles, but enjoyed it anyway.

Looking for something new, Googled, and learned that the OISE river is in France and the Ouse river is in England. Knew a girl who's last name was Ouse, and since she spoke English, will use that as a mnemonic.

Chuyckled at the alternate definition for YETI.

badams52 said...

Had to come here to see the circles and the Os, but once I did, my first reaction was "awesome."

Didn't like EEEE nor REASSESSED - The clue made it hard to get without the crosses and HARDC, STAYS (I kept thinking "Stay" without the plural) and STBASIL were hard for me to see.

Liked SPINALTAPS but thought ewww with the clue.

Overall, an enjoyable solve.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand what's wrong with SPINAL TAPS and lumbar punctures. That's the legit plural form of the phrase, and an appropriate clue.

Hoyt said...

I agree with Anon nothing wrong with SPINALTAPS or the clue. As for REASSESSED, ask anyone who's had their property taxes raised lately if thats not a real word.
Impressive construction despite a couple clunkers.

HUTCH said...

Since I solved the puzzle, I scored it as a win and a lovely puzzle.But I had trouble- "hard c',20% OF 76,Te Deum [wanted vespers],valence,sgt,helene was a wagWide ag?] and basil. had phony for fishy. After solving, another 15 minutes figuring out the fish. never did get the bubbles.

CrazyCat said...

I very much enjoyed this puzzle and the "Fish Story" theme, and picture.

@Steve - as a gardener, I can only say that I'm really happy when my peas show up in queue in their PODS. It means they're healthy and will taste great.

Just got back from SW Florida and the seafood, fish, etc. was truly delicious. I think it's still an R LESS month.

Anonymous said...

In South Fla, reassessed is a word, I can assure you!
I happen to like medical clues (lumbar punctures) because they are easier for me than saints names and rivers!!
Thanks for clarifying the 'hardc' clue
Overall, loved the gimmicky nature of today's puzzle
Also, I love your blog, PG! It makes me lol regularly! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

SPINAL TAPS is a medical entry that is not especially pleasant to think about. Lumbar punctures? Ouch! But SPINAL TAP can be clued with the band or the movie. That's fun. And REASSESSED is a word, but it's deadly boring.

hebow44 said...

Gee I wish I had noticed the bubbles above the fish and the lack of O's throughout the rest of the puzzle. Perhaps a few more minutes are needed before jumping on the blog. Thanks PG. I don't know how you do this everyday.

Anonymous said...

ugh. i used to think I was good at puzzles, but this one was too hard for me. DNF. I'm a rookie, I guess, but I'm learning.

VirginiaC said...

Thanks Dean

Tuttle said...

Kind of fun. Only real gripe is that Finesse shampoo has been made by Unilever since they bought HELENE Curtis' hair-care line in 1996. Could have clued that "Moon of Saturn", "Wife of Simon Magus" or "German/American fencer Meyer" and it wouldn't have been particularly more, or less, obscure.