WEDNESDAY, Mar. 28, 2007 - Burton Clemans

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Solving time: low 7's
THEME: anagrammatic phrases - 5 theme answers are each made up of three 5-letter words that are anagrams of one another:

17A: Harvests more Anjous than needed? (reaps spare pears)

23A: Judges the crying of comic Johnson? (rates Arte's tears)

39A: Imposing look from an angry king? (large regal glare)

51A: Tiny parasites spring from a Los Angeles newspaper (Times emits mites) - I like how the New York Times wants to make it clear that it's the LOS ANGELES Times that has the infestation...

63A: Freshest stories? (least stale tales)

I had some dumb, dumb mistakes sitting in this grid for a while, including PARES SPARE PEARS - I think my mind came up with the anagram quickly and so I failed to re-consult the clue to see if it made any sense (answer: no). I also wrote the correct YAP for 46A: Kisser, but when I couldn't get 48D: Pair of nappies? to work starting with a "P" I somehow misremembered the clue for YAP as something having to do with talking, and changed the "P" to a "K," giving me YAK. This gave me K--- for the "nappies" clue, which didn't work either. Eventually I rooted out the errant "K" and put back the "P" - giving me PEES for the [Pair of nappies?] clue. (Side Note: the recent clue [Third of September] (pee) sent hundreds of people Googling their way to my site, even after they had the answer right, just to figure out what the @#$ it meant). Lastly, as far as stumbles go, I confused one WWII-era answer with another, writing in ETO (European Theater of Operation) when what I wanted was of course EDO (60A: Old Tokyo). Now maybe you're thinking "But Rex, the EDO period ended in 1867 - it's not WWII-related at all." Yes, but Japan is, so in my American brain ... it's all good. Eventually I figured out that ETO was wrong because ITEAL just made no sense for 52D: Old toy company that made Rubik's Cube (Ideal).

1A: Watermelon rind, e.g. (waste)
6A: X-X-X part (tac)
9A: Development units (homes)

The first three across answers, right along the top edge of the puzzle. What did I have? TRASH / TAC / PLOTS. One out of three ain't bad. Oh wait, yes it is. Was unsure of the "A" in TAC because it could have been TIC (hell, it could have been TOE, I suppose), and I was getting Nothing for the Down cross 7D: Culturally advanced (avant). I have never heard AVANT used in English in any way except in the phrase avant-garde. There's also the French phrase occasionally heard in English, avant la lettre. But AVANT on its own? No, not in my world. HOMES is an OK answer for the 9A clue, but as you all know, I am still waiting for the day when it receives its perfect clue, [Great Lakes mnemonic].

15A: Ex of Artie and Frank (Ava)

A gimme. She is crossword gold. I have to stand up for her, though, and say that I'm a bit tired of her being clued by reference to how many men she's been with / married. She gets clued in reference to multiple men more than any actress I know. Maybe if Elizabeth Taylor showed up in the puzzle more, Ava would have some competition. It just seems mildly disrespectful that she gets more credit for the guys she slept with than for the many movies she starred in - like The Killers. That's a great movie. Try that next time.

20A: Coastal flier (erne) - CAW!

21A: Quart halves: Sp. (pintas) - educated guess! So Columbus's ships were named "The Little Girl," "The Saint Mary," and .... "The Pint?" Was it very tiny? Or was it like a floating pub?

27A: Long or short measure (ton) - totally stumbled on this one. I don't know my tons. As far as I know, a ton is 2000 lbs. That, apparently, is the "short ton" - the U.S. ton. The "long ton" was a British Imperial unit of measurement equal to 2240 lbs. Except for its use in the shipping industry, it has been replaced in Britain by the metric tonne - 1000 kg. For all your ton info needs, go here.

43A: Hawaiian coastal area (Kona)
38D: Fragrant necklace (lei) - Hawaii. Reminds me of my family's trip to Hawaii two years ago. Next family trip: Cancun! In Nine Days! It just occurred to me ... how will I blog from a beach in Mexico? I think the answer to that question is: Yes, I will have another margarita, thank you.

61A: Bum (heinie) - gross. I have nothing against asses, but that word just rubs me the wrong way. I really, really wanted the answer to be some version of HOBO, and with the "H" in place, believe me, I was trying desperately to make it happen.

6D: Swinelike animal (tapir) - got this fast, off just the "T" - he will make a nice addition to my crossword zoo (which currently includes OKAPI, ONAGER, MARTEN, ELAND, ORIBI, TIGON, and LIGER. Oh, and of course, their fearless leader, ERNE).

58D: Modern pentathlon gear (epées)
68A: _____ fixes (obsessions) (idées)

Intersecting French feminine plurals! Hot. These answers joins PEES, TEPEES (4D: Conical abodes), and LESSEE (41D: Time-sharer, e.g.) in a Double-E Extravaganza (which sounds like a bra sale for plus-sized women ... but isn't).

29D: 1972 Nixon host (Mao)
30D: Ash holder (urn) - I had some eye-skip problem over here in the west for a second and I honestly, though very briefly, thought that the answer to [Nixon host] was URN. Me: "Was he cremated?" Me again: "That's a pretty cruel way to refer to a dead president."

47D: Kutcher of "Punk'd" (Ashton)
69A: Either actress twin on "Full House" (Olsen)

What kind of pop culture hell are you trying to create down here in the SW corner? And ew, gross, these answers intersect. Get a room!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I'm tempted to let ENOL (25D: Hydroxyl compound) into the Pantheon, as I've seen it many times in crosswords and Nowhere else. I don't really like it, though, so maybe I'll discriminate against it based on its ugliness - it'll be just like belonging to a sorority! "Sorry, ENOL, you're smart and nice and all, but you're kinda pudgy and your clothes are totally 1995. See ya."

31 comments:

barrywep 10:38 AM  

PINTAS was much bettar that way than "Columbus Ship and others". I liked your observation on the Times/Times distinction--just Will Shortz protecting his "heine" I'm sure.
I puzzled over the "nappies" PEES for a while. A little bit daring for the NYT, no?

Alex 10:40 AM  

Just what I like, a theme that once understood makes all the other theme entries very easy (there were five, not three, though I know you know that).

I thought MITER is spelled MITRE which gave me RN- for MD specialty. I thought that was a very interesting way to clue RNS before deciding it must be wrong (maybe "MD specialty on ER").

Rex Parker 11:19 AM  

Yes, I goofed up on the constructor's name as well as the number of theme entries (it's all better now). If you ever see any major gaffes like that you can always send a private email with the subject line: "Wake up!" SOMEONE did that today, and it worked.

Anytime you get a word for diaper and word for urine together in the same clue / answer pairing, then yes, I guess that's a "little bit daring." Also a little bit off-putting.

I put in MIT- and then just worked my way into whatever spelling of MITRE/MITER they were going for. ENT was better than any R-word I could come up with for [M.D. specialty].

RP

Sandy 11:33 AM  

In our house, watermelon rind is Compost. But you knew that too.

Orange 11:42 AM  

MITRE is the British spelling, so if the clue specifies an Anglican bishop's hat, you're set.

Rex, couldn't you find a nice picture of Ashton Kutcher? You're ruining my crush.

I love it when you work feminism into your posts, too. Nobody will accuse you of being a humorless man-hater, since you're not female.

Alex 12:05 PM  

My problem is that I thought MITRE a word excluded from having its -RE flipped in the States. So for a while I wasn't even considering the possibility of MITER.

campesite 1:03 PM  

Too bad I wasn't there for you ACPT-ers: my time on the applet was 9-plus hours! (I couldn't see 'tic' for 'tac' and fell asleep.)
I quite liked this Wednesday puzzle, probably due to the anagrams came quickly to me. As an Angelino, I too was surprised they used the LA for the Times anagram.
PS: Loved the Stamford Experience recaps.
PPS: Felt like I was there reading your blog and Orange's. Thanks.

Norm 1:15 PM  

The Nina and the Pinta were both caravels -- smaller ships than the Santa Maria -- but I seem to recall that the Pinta meant the Painted, not a Pint (of rum?).

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Thought I was just a casual user but now know I'm an addict to your blog. I'm reading it regularly; love the stories on the Stamford experience; wish you lots of fun, sun and margaritas in Mexico but will still check to see if you've posted.
Keep up the very fine work
Trish in OP

Linda G 3:12 PM  

This was super easy once I caught the theme, which was pretty early on.

The whole HEINIE thing was strange. Its intersection with PEES put it over the edge.

Would someone please explain the clue/answer for 22A. How does ROE fit a blank before deer? What am I missing?

Aaah, Mexico. We neglected to get our passports in time, so our post-tax season trip will be within the US. Maybe Napa Valley wine country?

barrywep 3:25 PM  

Linda G:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_deer

As far as I am concerned, ROE DEER only exist in crosswords like ERNES and nonhuman TITS.

Linda G 4:01 PM  

barrywep,

There were certainly better ways to clue ROE -- fish eggs, landmark case vs. Wade. Oh, well.

Did I think to look it up in a dictionary before asking via blog? No, because I have friends here who know everything. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

My family and I used to go to Cancun. Then we stopped going there when we realized a disturbing trend developing, to wit one of us would get extraordinary diarrhea when we came home.

Anyway, enjoy the vacation!

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

I swear I've seen this puzzle somewhere. Exactly the same puzzle! Is this possible? I've solved some USA today puzzles and Los Angeles times puzzles online, I may have seen it there. But is this possible? (I know I said that twice, but I'm that disturbed)

Wendy 8:47 PM  

In re: ERNE. Do you think constructors include such words more frequently than is even usual because they undoubtedly know there are people like us out there commenting on these things? I can just picture them rubbing their hands together with glee every time they slap a pat of OLEO onto the mix or slip us the old ERNE. Or are such Pantheonia just essential to constructing?

DONALD 9:07 PM  

Orange said: "Rex, couldn't you find a nice picture of Ashton Kutcher? You're ruining my crush."

For "nice picture" follow this link, you may want to enlarge once you've arrived!

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

Linda,
Roe Deer are found throughout Europe , including Great Britain. They look different from "American" deer and are an entirely different species. They are the only ruminant animal which has the reproductional tactic of delayed implantation of the egg. As a former dilletante of zoology, Roe Deer seems like a good clue to me. It's more legitimate than Erne/Ern which is more crossword fill in than proper zoological terminology. One would not have to be a zoologist to refer to the animal in question as Roe Deer as there are other types of deer in Europe. Unlike in the US where I believe there the deer are all closely related.

ProfPhil

Rex Parker 8:27 AM  

Hey, you can support ROE all you want, but hands off ERN/E.

Pantheona get that way because they are convenient, grid-wise. I doubt many constructors are thinking "I've got to find a way to use ALAI today."

As for Mexico - I'm not afraid of illness. Secret to not getting sick: proper tequila intake (too much will, of course, make you sicker than you've ever been in your life, if my experience is any indication). My passport (recently arrived) has a photo that makes me look like an escaped mental patient. No exaggeration. I love it.

RP

eric 9:37 AM  

Am I the only one who though "__deer" might be DOA, as in "Do, a deer, a FEmale deer..."? - Eric 'n Boston

mmpo 9:41 AM  

Went through the same process as Rex on mitre / miter--undoubtedly at a much slower pace (I continue to shake my head in wonder at how someone has time to get mired in a quandary of unsolvability and still finish a puzzle in seven or eight minutes...).

Roe deer is familiar to me as the translation of the French chevreuil--not to be confused with chèvre :)--which you're much more likely to come across on menus or in casual conversation than venison or deer.

Rex Parker 10:00 AM  

"DO A deer" could be horribly, if hilariously, misconstrued. I like D.O.A. DEER, though, as a potential answer for some as yet unformulated theme clue.

RP

OzzyOsmond 10:39 AM  

I'm embarrassed to admit I still don't get the "nappies" -> "pees" clue. Would someone please fill me in?

Thanks.

m

Rex Parker 10:54 AM  

NAPPIES has two PEES in it, as in the letter "P."

RP

Linda G 10:56 AM  

I also had DOA deer. I must have put that on Amy's blog. I get confused as to what I've written where. I know I'm not alone there.

OzzyOsmond, nappies is another word for diapers. Diaper can be paired with pee for obvious reasons, so the plurals of both can apparently be paired.

Rex, it's too bad you couldn't use your blog picture on your passport. That is SO how I picture you -- and will continue to do until I meet you in Brooklyn ; )

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

there are two "p' s in the word "Nappies"

Eric 12:43 PM  

Rex, your "misconstrued" comment about DO A DEER made me laugh so hard I sputtered my coffee. I'm either going to have to read this blog uncaffeinated, or start wearing a bib. -- Eric (p.s. very nice meeting you, albeit too briefly, Sunday before lunch - I was standing w/ Dave).

Linda G 1:05 PM  

I guess I way overthought the nappies/pees connection. But nappies is the Brit expression for diapers, so I wasn't completely out there.

Larry 2:31 PM  

Pair of nappies/"Pees" is one of the most inane things I've seen in the puzzle in a while, and the only word I got wrong. I had absolutely no idea "nappies" meant diapers.

I know it's desperately trying to be clever and precious and cutesy and everything, but man is that one awkwardly constructed clue.

Orange 2:32 PM  

DO A DEER: What grown-up Bambi does vis-à-vis Faline.

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

In my world, a D.O.A. deer would be "dead on arrival" to the clinic. But never mind that. I must enter the fray and insist, Mr. Barrywep, that ROE is positively NOT just silly crosswordese! One cannot simply say "deer" and have anyone who cares know what you are talking about. There are roe deer, fallow deer, and red deer (which aren't really deer at all, but actually elk) in Europe, not to mention reindeer (also not truly deer, but so very dear to young children worldwide). Here in the west, we have white-tailed deer (white-tails), mule deer (mulies), and black-tailed deer galore. And don't forget the diminutive Key deer.

jae 9:31 PM  

I was looking for a comment on Spader, knowing how you feel about Ally McBeal. Is it just Ally or are all things Kelly reviled??

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