05.27 Fri

May 27, 2011
Julian Lim

Theme: Put a Lid On It — Theme answers are familiar phrases with a type of "lid" added to the beginning, creating wacky phrases clued wackily.

Theme answers:

  • 4D: Surpassing a classic arcade game? (TOPPING PONG).
  • 9D: Boxed pasta that's different every time you open it? (CAPRICE-A-RONI).
  • 21D: Wheels for a spy? (COVERT MOBILE).
  • 27D: "Hush!" (and hint to how 4-, 9- and 21-Down are formed) ("PUT A LID ON IT!").
If you're anything like me, the first thing you probably noticed about this puzzle is that the theme answers are vertical, which is pretty unusual. It actually sort of makes me feel all discombobulated for some reason. Not really sure how to explain it. As you might remember, the first puzzle I ever had published (a collaboration with Rex Parker that appeared in the L.A. Times back in February) also had vertical theme answers. And we structured the puzzle that way for the same reason Julian did on this one. The theme of today's puzzle is about putting lids on, and lids go on top. Having the lids actually sitting atop a vertical answer (instead of to the left of an across answer) makes more sense visually. So hats off to Julian for adding that nice touch. (See what I did there?)

There's an awful lot of crosswordese in this puzzle. Make sure to check out the CW101 Round-up at the bottom of this post for a list of words it's really helpful to know if you plan to solve a lot of crossword puzzles. I just know that someone is going to ask for an explanation of CEE (63D: Company opening?). If that person is you, just head on down to the CW101 list, click on the link, and you'll find your answer.

Speaking of answers, did you all know this blog has a FAQ? It sure does. It's probably time for me to update it — there are a couple more questions I get asked on a semi-regular basis — but the number one most frequently asked question is definitely there. (If you want to know the significance of the highlighted entry in the grid at the top of this post, you're not alone.) But I digress.

Because it's the end of the week there were, of course, a few answers that I just flat-out didn't know, and today they're all people:
  • 6A: Dramatist Connelly (MARC).
  • 67A: "Prison Break" role (LINC).
  • 44D: "High Sierra" director Walsh (RAOUL).
ARS NOVA (28A: 14th-century European musical style) almost made the list, but it seems to be lurking way back there in the cobwebs somewhere.

  • 18A: Hard time (BUMPY RIDE). My favorite answer in the grid. Great clue, too.
  • 24A: Immunity __: "Survivor" prop (IDOL). Did you all watch the "American Idol" finale last night? My kids were watching in the other room and I popped out there every once in a while when it sounded like something interesting was going on. I didn't really follow it this year, but Scotty seems like a good kid.
  • 49A: You can't see beyond it (HORIZON).

  • 51A: Permanently (FOR GOOD). Love this colloquial phrase.
  • 54A: Without width or depth (ONE-D). I know this is going to bother someone. It's not pretty, but I guess I've just resigned myself to it. (It means "one-dimensional").
  • 68A: Young girl (MISSY). As some of you know, I work as a secretary and one of the people I support is a woman several years younger than me. I always try to act like a crotchety old woman with her and, therefore, call her "MISSY" a lot.
  • 6D: Shelley queen (MAB). The only reason I got this right away is because it was in a recent New York Times puzzle and I remember Rex complaining about it. Speaking of crotchety. Heh.
  • 29D: Scheme (RUSE). Your homework is to use this word in casual conversation today. Let me know how it goes.
  • 61D: IM sign-off (TTYL). IM = Instant Message. TTYL = Talk To You Later. The abbreviation in the clue is your hint that the answer will also be an abbreviation.
  • 64D: Keeps apprised, briefly (CC'S). I know some people still say CC stands for "Carbon Copy," but I've been using the updated "Courtesy Copy" for the last, oh, I don't know, 25 years or so.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 1A: Brewery fixtures (OASTS).
  • 10A: One standing out in a field? (CZAR).
  • 33A: One-tenth of a microjoule (ERG).
  • 55A: Organic dye (AZO).
  • 66A: Port on its own lake (ERIE).
  • 69A: __-Ball (SKEE).
  • 70A: Med. tests using leads (ECG'S).
  • 1D: Akershus Castle site (OSLO).
  • 7D: Jack-in-the-pulpit family (ARUM).
  • 37D: "__, Sing America": Hughes poem (I TOO).
  • 63D: Company opening? (CEE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 14A: Not see eye to eye? (STOOP); 15A: Specialty (AREA); 16A: Like some ale (PALE); 17A: Flaw-spotting aid (LOUPE); 20A: Uncommissioned (ON SPEC); 22A: Colt producer (MARE); 23A: Officiate (REF); 26A: Nursery needs (DIAPERS); 31A: Neutral color (ECRU); 32A: Dream analysis pioneer (JUNG); 35A: Need (ENTAIL); 39A: "Now! (ASAP); 40A: Mikhail's wife (RAISA); 42A: Court fig. (ATTY.); 43A: Potential creditor's request (REPORT); 45A: 1-Down's land: Abbr. (NOR.); 46A: Nut (LOON); 47A: Identify (NAME); 56A: Very: Pref. (UBER-); 58A: Solver's cry (I GOT IT); 62A: Community service often associated with a law school (TAX CLINIC); 65A: Oafish (INEPT); 71A: Lucy's neighbor (ETHEL); 2D: Oceans (A TON); 3D: __-chef (SOUS); 5D: Phelps sponsor (SPEEDO); 8D: Like "Psycho" (REMADE); 10D: Pressing activity? (CPR); 11D: Congo, once (ZAIRE); 12D: Electric guitar wood (ALDER); 13D: Snorkeling spots (REEFS); 19D: Hanker (YEARN); 25D: Croft of video games (LARA); 28D: Allowing a little light (AJAR); 30D: Go ape (SNAP); 34D: Singapore Sling ingredient (GIN); 36D: Complete (A TO Z); 38D: NFL Hall of Famer-turned-politician Swann (LYNN); 41D: Trendy London district (SOHO); 48D: Unspoiled (EDENIC); 50D: Dieting and exercise, say (REGIME); 51D: "Thread of life" goddesses (FATES); 52D: Arkansas city (OZARK); 53D: Client of Billy in "Chicago" (ROXIE); 57D: Encircle (RING); 59D: Radio host John (TESH); 60D: __ dixit (IPSE).


Jake said...

I don't get the CZAR clue.

Rojo said...

Solved this one in about 19 minutes, which is pretty good for me on a Fri.

Did NOT like TTYL, never heard of it, but got it through crosses.

I liked the theme, but CoverT Mobile had me stumped for a bit, as I was missing only the T and kept thinking, "Well, spies have cover, ok, so... um...."

Caprice-a-roni, on the other hand, made me giggle. Great clue/answer.

I also did not like the clue for "stoop." If you stoop to look at someone, then, at that point, you are seeing eye to eye, are you not?

"Linc" pleased me because I was a fan of the show. "Zaire" pleased me because I always remember it, partly because of the "Rumble in the Jungle," Ali vs. Foreman.

And I'm always supportive of any Langston Hughes references. I don't know many poets and like even less, but Langston Hughes was the best.

Is it me or is the word "oast" getting to be a bit too crossword 101? Seems like it's in every puzzle lately.

Anonymous said...

@Jack - Think 'Drug Czar', someone appointed to oversee an area of concern. Yes, it's kind of a weak clue.

Anonymous said...

Balderdash! I just wanted to say that. Did not like the puzzle.

*David* said...

Got stuck in the SW and never found my way out of it. Needed a couple of Googles to finish that part and when I saw what was there didn't feel that bad. Three themes that are semi-funny that have a synonym of lid on top of it, meh. Yeah and I get its vertical and its on top of the theme,still gets a meh. I usually like Julian Lim puzzles too, I had high hopes.

Anonymous said...

One follows a REGIMEN of diet and exercise, not a REGIME.

hazel said...


Anonymous said...

Balderdash, meh, lame, ditto.

Brian said...

Also got stuck in the SW corner because I entered LAWCLINIC for 62A. Should have known the clue never includes part of the answer. Didn't associate tax with law school.

Rube said...

EDENIC!?!?! That's too much of a stretch for me. Something like that can ruin a puzzle. I got it from the crosses but really did not like it. If someone declares this to be crosswordese, I still won't like it.

Hate to admit it, but CEE got me for a long time. Should know better. Didn't know MARC, LINC, or TESH, but got them all from the crosses. (IDOL too.)

Read where this is the 10th yer of "American Idol". Amazing. Also Googled to find out that "Prison Break" was on for 5 years. Even more amazing.

Enjoyed the top 2/3rds of this puzz. The bottom 1/3rd less so.

C said...

SW corner did me in. DNF. Main problem for me was the TAXCLINIC answer. I come from a family of lawyers (wife, dad, brother) and never ever came across at any time anyone in law school going out and performing a TAXCLINIC for the community. I am not saying it is a bad answer or has never happened for a law student but it's a difficult answer for someone who has experienced law school through multiple people. Tripped me up hard, just saying.

Anonymous said...

Show me a grammatically correct sentence in which the words need and entail could be interchanged.

CoffeeLvr said...

Agree wholeheartedly about REGIME vs. REGIMEn.

The first theme answer I got was TOP PINGPONG, and thought maybe the constructor didn't submit this to Will Shortz at the NYT, as he is a well-known table tennis fan and/or competitor. As I completed the puzzle, I understand why.

Having been addressed by a work superior as MISSY, I have to say it is offensive, PG. Maybe you have a more relaxed work atmosphere than I did, though.

Nighthawk said...

@Anonymous 9:23 "One follows a REGIMEN of diet and exercise, not a REGIME." Amen!

I too stumbled on TAX CLINIC. Had TAX from crosses, been to law school, but it didn't have that sort of clinic. Others, yes. Tax, no. Just saying.

Weirdly, was thinking of the lead aprons they make you wear when taking an Xray for 70A, so had that before ECGS. Had IdidIT at first before I GOT IT, mark before NAME, and AlOt before ATON.

Who knew ALDER was the electric guitar wood (thought of balsa, which fit).

Still wondering what a T MOBILE is. I know T-Mobil as a telco being purchased by ATT. Was this supposed to be like a Bat-mobile? If so, then what is a T? A Model T Ford? If so, kinda weak sauce.

@Anon 12:13--"This dish entails 3 Cups of jalapenos."

Mokus said...

@anon 12:13
I need to get the boat ready for the summer but it may entail stripping the entire bottom. How's that?

Covert Mobile instead of a convertible since a spy wants to be low profile perhaps.

Anonymous said...

This puzzle not great. It seems to be all about how clever the puzzle-maker is, rather than test how clever the puzzle-solver is, and how much he/she knows - the real challenge of a crossword. To try to figure out someone's twisted and tormenting mind causes nothing but frustration.

John Wolfenden said...

PG, thanks for the link to the Jack Johnson link. I remember listening to that album soon after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and thinking how prophetic the lyrics were: "The horizon has been defeated...Our feet become the wheels/And the wheels become the cars/And the rigs begin to drill/Until the drilling goes too far"

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

I fell into the regime trap and now that anon and Coffeelvr mention it, that seems to be a major breech of construction. Is it even possible that there is such a regime (vs. regimen?)...DNF due to Arsnova/Ajar crossing....kind of a Natick moment as I think the ajar clue is so-so at best....I GET it but don't have to LIKE it. Same Natick for Mab/Marc... Not a bad theme though considering the whole vertical thing which PG explained well. Hope you are feeling better PG as it sounded as if you were out-of-it yesterday! Best to all for the 3 day weekend!!!

CoffeeLvr said...

@Nighthawk, the company is really T-Mobile.

Ian said...

Really not a fan of this puzzle.

Regime and Edenic really rub me the wrong way. After putting in Edenic, I thought "Is that even a word?!"

I've never paid any attention at all to American Idol or Survivor, so I'm lost as to what that clue means.

There are more that I could complain about but won't. Instead I'll ask for a better explanation of "One standing in a field?" (CZAR). The CW 101 doesn't give any hint to the "field" aspect of this clue. So what do fields and czars have to do with each other?

One Across said...

Didn't have a problem with "edenic". It is a legitimate word. The regime/regimen business, though, is questionable at best. Have to agree the "tax clinic" answer more than just out of left field. It is clear out of the park.

IAN: the clue is "one standing OUT in a field", not "one standing in a field". Changes the implication. Still kind of flaky though.

CrazyCat said...

I have to say, I haven't been crazy about the puzzles this week. I have no problem with the difficulty level, I just haven't found them particularly creative or fun.

I would never call anyone except for my daughter (when she was a tween) or my puppy MISSY.

I've been an IDOL fan for nine of the ten years. Didn't love it that much this season although Scotty, Casey and James were my favorites from day one.

I'm not sure if I would have wanted my young children to witness Gaga's performance the other night. That was a little over the top for such a young audience.

mac said...

I enjoyed solving this puzzle, but I have to say, too, that the T in covert mobile hangs there, doesn't belong. The other theme answers are cleaner.

Had a bumpy ride at first, but the crosses were not to be denied. Don't know why, but I had no problem with regime. I talk food and diet quite a bit.

I have to ask my son about alder for guitars. I know I've heard him mention maple.

Learned Courtesy copy and TTYL today.

@CoffeeLvr: it may feel a little better to call a "superior" missy.

Merriam-Webster said...



b: a regular pattern of occurrence or action (as of seasonal rainfall)

c: the characteristic behavior or orderly procedure of a natural phenomenon or process

Example: "He was put on a strict exercise regime."


Anonymous said...

hmmm thank you MW!

Anonymous said...

Too many poor definitions and obscure answers. Did not care for this puzzle