06.13 Mon

June 13, 2011
Jeff Chen

Theme: Double A's — Theme answers are names that contain AAs.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Johnny Carson's predecessor (JACK PAAR).
  • 21A: "Misery" co-star (JAMES CAAN).
  • 36A: "I, Robot" author (ISAAC ASIMOV).
  • 55A: Vice president involved in a historic duel (AARON BURR).
  • 61A: Common batteries, and a feature of 17-, 21-, 36- and 55-Across (DOUBLE A'S).
Good Monday morning, everybody. I am back from my whirlwind New York weekend. Actually it wasn't really much of a whirlwind now that I think about it. It was a quick trip, but it did involve many hours of sleeping in and sitting around by myself on Sunday morning. Boring? Actually, I'm pretty sure that's what heaven is like.

Nice to get home last night and find this little gem waiting to be solved. On a Monday, you can't really ask for more than what we have here: a simple theme with straightforward cluing that manages to include some nice medium-to-long answers, a touch of Scrabbliness, and very little in the way of what I consider crap fill. Unfortunately (?), that means there's also not much to talk about. I did hesitate a little on the first theme answer because I can never remember how to spell Jack PAAR even though we've covered it in CW101. I'm thinking that its inclusion in this double-A theme might actually help me remember it in the future. Thanks, Jeff!

The only other comments I really have are that with the U in place for [62D: Mex. neighbor], I actually entered URU. at first, which I believe should get me a Most Idiotic Misstep By a Crossword Blogger nomination this year. Also PAJAMAS / ANATOMY / MACARONI is a really nice stack right up there in the northwest corner (1D: Bedtime garb / 2D: TV's "Grey's __" / 3D: Cheese companion). And did you notice that MACARONI's symmetrical partner in the grid is VELVEETA (39D: Kraft cheese spread)? Nice touch.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 20A: Pong producer (ATARI).
  • 42A: LAX approximation (ETA).
  • 59A: Justice Kagan of the Supreme Court (ELENA).
  • 64A: Vaulted recess (APSE).
  • 29D: "The Lord of the Rings" monster (ORC).
  • 46D: Rodeo gear (RIATAS).
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Everything Else 1A: Frying pan spray (PAM); 4A: Fanatic's feeling (ZEAL); 8A: Player on stage (ACTOR); 13A: Santa __: city SE of Los Angeles (ANA); 14A: "Joy of Cooking" writer Rombauer (IRMA); 15A: Curvy ski race (SLALOM); 19A: "I need a hug" ("HOLD ME"); 23A: Pat of "The Karate Kid" (MORITA); 25A: Binary code digit (ONE); 26A: Animal like new? (GNU); 27A: "Famous" cookie creator (AMOS); 28A: Floated upward (ROSE); 31A: Alternative to leaving a test question blank (GUESS); 33A: Roget entry: Abbr. (SYN.); 34A: Pulled in different directions (TORN); 35A: Pasty (WAN); 40A: "Car Talk" airer (NPR); 41A: Front of a clock (FACE); 45A: Worry persistently (BROOD); 48A: Blue state? (FUNK); 49A: Dab at with a towel, as a spill (BLOT); 50A: __ Tin Tin (RIN); 51A: NATO part: Abbr. (ATL.); 53A: Turn like a chair (SWIVEL); 60A: Masonry finish applied when wet (STUCCO); 63A: Pick up the pace (HASTEN); 65A: Windsor knot neckwear (TIE); 66A: Clam-digging area (SHORE); 67A: Blacken on the grill (SEAR); 68A: Gore and Hirt (ALS); 4D: "Not another word!" ("ZIP IT!"); 5D: Prohibition __ (ERA); 6D: Key with three sharps: Abbr. (A MAJ.); 7D: Zhivago's beloved (LARA); 8D: Pale (ASHEN); 9D: Nip and tuck contest (CLOSE GAME); 10D: Skin-soothing powder (TALC); 11D: Golden years (OLD AGE); 12D: Friends-countrymen link (ROMANS); 16D: Lists of computer options (MENUS); 18D: Singer Kristofferson (KRIS); 22D: Stooge with a bowl haircut (MOE); 24D: Cacophonous, as a crowd (AROAR); 30D: Major mess (SNAFU); 32D: Spanish 25-Across (UNO); 34D: Hoofer, so to speak (TAP DANCER); 35D: Candle threads (WICKS); 37D: Commercial prefix with Cone or Ball (SNO-); 38D: Japanese honorific (SAN); 43D: Polished part of a piggy? (TOENAIL); 44D: Books of maps (ATLASES); 45D: Full of chutzpah (BRASH); 47D: Surge (ONRUSH); 48D: Cause of chills and fever (FLU); 49D: Tab at a bar (BILL); 52D: Steak selection (T-BONE); 54D: Big brand in barbecues (WEBER); 56D: Prefix with -pus (OCTO); 57D: Nutrient guidelines, briefly (RDA'S); 58D: Rodeo gear (ROPE).


gespenst said...

Two accomplishments for me today; first, it was under 5:00 for me (well, it IS a Monday puzzle) and second, I knew all of the theme answers right off the bat, and got the reveal easily. Usually I have to leave theme answers blank and come back after I have crosses. I was going to get annoyed that there were two answers with the AA in the last name, then one with the AA in the first name ... but since it ended up two and two, I decided that was ok.

I thought it was fun to have WAN and ASHEN in the same puzzle.

Couple write-overs, but no real hang-ups. I liked this straightforward (Monday) puzzle :)

mac said...

Very nice Monday puzzle, and I will also remember Paar's name from now on!

I tought the EE in Velveeta might be considered a nono in a AA themed puzzle?

Hope it will finally stay dry so I can use that WEBER!

Sfingi said...

Terrific Monday puzzle, Chen! Full names, a collection of AAs that have been in the back of my mind for a long time. 3 mini-themes: Binary code ONE and UNO; pale and pasty, WAN and ASHEN (I resemble that remark); Rodeo gear, ROPE and RIATA.

For TBONE, I thought Tough, but I guess few people would choose that. Had TAIL before NAIL on piggy part.

@PG - I distinguish PAAR from PArR, by thinking of Old Parr the Englishman who supposedly lived 152 years (1483-1635), though probably it was 2 people. PArR is English and PAAR is Dutch, and Jack PAAR sure looks Dutch.

imsdave said...

I also thought this was great stuff! Well done Mr. Chen!

Now on the dark side of puzzle constructing, I wonder if any of the theme purists will complain about the 3 A's in:


I certainly hope not.

Anonymous said...

Nice puzzle. The extra A's didn't bother me at all, imsdave. Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi would have made another good entry.

Golfballman said...

I said it when she was first nominated, good bye Ms verdugo hello Ms Kagan. Golfballman

CoffeeLvr said...

Despite 3D and 39D, this puzzle isn't cheesy at all. I enjoyed solving it. Only hangup was trying to put "lariat" for RIATA, more a thought than an entry, but it slowed me down.

@Sfingi, I noticed the nice touches of redundancy too, redundant in a good way.

Another hand up in praise of the use of full names, Mr. Chen.

C said...

Good one today. Simple theme that led to fun answers. Even though pretty straight forward, fun puzzle to solve nonetheless.

Tip of the hat to Mr. Chen for not using the obvious 'AARON' in today's puzzle. He worked for his double A's.

Alan Alda said...

@C - Uh, 55-Across is AARON BURR.

Nighthawk said...

Nice and straightforward. Thanks for pointing out all the mini-themes, @PG.

Fun cluing, especially Blue state for FUNK.

@Alan Alda-I think C was referring to "Hammering Hank."

lit.doc said...

Agree with all--what a wonderful Monday puzzle!

@P>G>, don't be so hard on yourself re URU. Who can say that the initial U wasn't misleadingly ambiguous? Also, you avoided the common URA misspelling. And really, who can say that Uruguay isn't our neighbor--we are, after all, on the same contiguous land mass, no? ;)

Conrad said...

@PG - yeah today's was a nice little puzzle, but what I really wanted to say was how much I like the new mobile version of your site. Fantastic! I do my Xwords on the cell, so this is very... handy.

Anonymous said...

What does DFer stand for when you blog about it?

Anonymous 2 said...

DFer? Where do you see that?

C said...

Thanks, @Nighthawk, for helping explain where I was going. I was completely referring to Hammering Hank. Full credit to @Alan Alda as well, my post wasn't well written in the regards that I was referring to a specific 'AARON'

BTW, I did like the 'AARONBURR' answer, reminds me of the 'Got Milk?' ad.

mac said...

I thought we might run into good old Aalto here. Or Eero Saarinen.

Alan Alda said...

@C & Nighthawk - Makes sense now!

I love that ad. I can't hear the name "Aaron Burr" without thinking of it.

Jeff Chen said...

I wanted to clue AARON BURR as "trivia answer mumbled through a mouthful of peanut butter", but that might have taken it out of Monday territory. =]

Thanks to Rich, who pointed out my first version of this (started with ASMARA) was too hard for a Monday!

Anonymous said...

Mobile version?

Conrad said...

@Anonymous yeah when I loaded the page on my phone yesterday, it loaded a different, cell-friendly version. First time I've seen it; figure it's new.