Attendee of fictional Lowood Institution for girls / WED 10-24-12 / Now in Nogales / Shipboard punishment / Western accessory / What tosspot fantasizes clouds would do / Entries in two Oscar categories slangily / Stalactite producer

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: GLOSS (37A: Some makeup ... or a hint to 17-, 26-, 43- and 58-Across) — theme answers are all phrases beginning with "G" where the "G" has been dropped, resulting in wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: BAY (35D: Triple Crown winner Citation or Gallant Fox) —
Bay is a hair coat color of horses, characterized by a reddish brown body color with a blackmanetailear edges, and lower legs. Bay is one of the most common coat colors in many horse breeds. (wikipedia)
• • •

Odd solving experience, in that most of it felt very easy, except the the SE, which took me nearly as long as the entire rest of the grid. Big trouble with the longish Downs FRAT ROW (42D: Where many Greeks are found) and BIG TOE (45D: Part that may be pinched). I had almost every letter in FRAT ROW before that one became clear, and BIG TOE was very hard to see because the clue was so vague. "Part" tells me nothing. "Body part" tells me something. Befuddling. IN A STIR (48A: All riled up) is not a phrase I ever hear, though it's crossword-familiar. Clues on BEGOT (54A: Conceived), TONE (64A: Paint swatch choice), and HAT (58D: ___ in hand) were none of them very precise. Tense on the clue for RERAN (51D: Put on again) was ambiguous. Not that I really minded any of this, but it really was out of sync with the rest of the puzzle, which had no tough clue clusters.

I've seen this theme done before, with FLOSS. I remember thinking "oh, you could do that with GLOSS." And now someone has. That should do it for -LOSS puzzles, unless someone is bold enough to try a PANGLOSS puzzle.


I thought FRAT ROW a pretty good answer—original-feeling—and I liked the clue on PAYPHONES (11D: There used to be a lot more of these on corners). Otherwise, this one is well put together but kind of insubstantial. Lots of shortish answers, not a lot of zippy fill, average cluing.

I posted the grid for this past Sunday's puzzle — the contest one — a few hours ago, in a separate post, so if you are still at a loss for answers, check it out.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Actor Norris, after gaining weight? (ROUND CHUCK)
  • 26A: What a tosspot fantasizes the clouds would do? (RAIN ALCOHOL)
  • 43A: Thieves at an all-night dance bash? (RAVE ROBBERS)
  • 58A: Someone responding to a party R.S.V.P.? (HOST WRITER)

Bullets:
  • 19A: Attendee of the fictional Lowood Institution for girls (EYRE) — as in Jane. One of those books I never managed to get around to reading. Some day. Probably. Or not. 
  • 27D: Manhattan Project result, informally (A BOMB) — one of my least favorite crosswordeses, mostly because the first letter can be either A or H. See also [letter]-TEST, where letter can be either H or N. 
  • 8D: Entries in two Oscar categories, slangily (DOCS) — this clue just didn't compute as I was solving, and neither did its neighbor, 7D: Bad fit (AGUE). I think of AGUE as a fever, not a "fit," but it's both, I guess.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

60 comments:

JFC 12:23 AM  

Rex- You put H BOMB in your Bullets when I think you meant A BOMB. Also, the Manhattan Project during WWII was to develop and in fact led to the creation of the atomic bomb. The H Bomb was developed later after the war. So really there is only one correct answer to the clue - A BOMB.

I liked the puzzle....

JFC

jae 12:45 AM  



Easy Wed.  Easier than yesterday's for me. Only erasure was pETAL for SEPAL.  I'm with Rex  DOCS and AGUE, but this was zippy with FISHY LURID GORE and some amusing theme answers, so nice one Ivan!

Clark 12:46 AM  

Semi-Puzzle Partner: It's HOSTWRITER.
ME: It can't be. It's got to start with an R.
SPP: It's HOSTWRITER.
Me: Full explanation of theme, with dropped G leaving an R.
SPP: It's HOSTWRITER.
Me: You're not listening. It's got to start with R. It can't be 3 R's and then an H—or this is the worst theme puzzle I've ever seen!

SPP loves it when I am wrong.

m_crabb 1:11 AM  

I still don't get DOCS.

Clark's SPP 1:12 AM  

SPP doesn't love it when Clark is wrong. SPP loves it when he sees through to the real answer and nails it.

jae 1:37 AM  

@m_crabb. -- Documentaries.

@Clark SPP -- Clark over thought it. I'd encourage Clark to have lower expectations on a Wed. Ivan is good but it is a Wed.

Evan 2:10 AM  

Some of the same difficulties here, like REair to RERuN to RERAN. The first mistake gave me enter instead of WOMEN. FRAT--- gave me nothing until the crosses came in. CALI had a pretty tricky clue; I'm not familiar with it in the Colombian context, but I have seen it as the slang for the U.S. state.

Just curious: While I like the clue/answer combo for RAIN ALCOHOL, does anyone actually say "tosspot" these days? I've certainly never heard it outside of crosswords, like its close cousin "sot."

Some other possible theme answers:

OLD STANDARD ("The earth is flat," e.g.?)
ROWING PAINS (Crew injuries?)
OLDEN STATE (Prussia, for one?)
RAD STUDENT (Big man on campus?)
LASS BLOWING .... yeah, I'm not going to make a clue for that. Use your imaginations.

PurpleGuy 2:13 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle from start to finish.
Like @jae, I also had PETAL first,before SAEPAL made sense.
In the SE, I had trouble like @Rex. Had W_ITER and put in an "A" thinking something "waiter." Took me a while to finally get FRATROW so "WRITER" presented itself.

Somehow OPER over WOMEN just seems right. I love opera and was a season MET patron when I lived in NY, and now am a season ticket holder for the Arizona Opera. We started off with an incredible performance of "Lucia" with the soprano from the MET.
I would go outside with many bowls if it would RAIN ALCOHOL.

Have a great Wednesday all. This is hump day!!

Shanti -
Bob/PurpleGuy

syndy 2:17 AM  

I had REdoN for 51 down so that se corner was a real bear.I've never pinched my BIGTOE the little piggy though...some of the clues were a little FISHY.

chefwen 3:05 AM  

@syndy - I had REdoN also and said "God, I hope that is wrong" and it was, big sigh! That would truly be a groaner.

@Clark and SPP- you guys gave me the biggest laugh of the day. When are you coming back? I have muffiiinsss!!!

Loved the puzzle, a little chewy for a Wednesday, but doable. Ian L.G. always delights.

Unlike the capchas, I think three tries aughta do it. Nope it took 5.

Ahora Cali Mesas 3:18 AM  

@DR Clark
Ha! I had the same conversation ...sans partner. Just all in my head!
I thought it HAD to start with R.
Inconsistent but not as dire as you make it.
But I concur, either go with three GRs or make one of the other ones a nonR.

@Evan
Your RADSTUDENT is an excellent suggestion and the right amount of letters!

Not even sure I like the G in ANGST, but RADARGUNS is cool...
oh, now I see two more Gs in the NE too....
PAGE/AGRA. I'd have gone with PACE/ACRA
And another AGUE/EGOS ... Tricky.

Ian is normally more consistent than this. I'll bet he could have had a grid with no extra Gs and a tighter fourth theme...esp because HOSTWRITER is the least fun of the four.

And where is the S on THROE? Looks weird but that ain't no one's fault. It just throe me off.

@rex
How optimistic to want a PANGLOSS theme! ;)

loren muse smith 6:24 AM  

@Syndy and @chefwen – hand up for “redon” and hoping I was wrong.

I was *certain* that it was “rant” WRITER, and I was trying to make that and “rat” in hand make sense.

I considered “phone booths” for 11d, saw it didn’t fit, and moved on.

I’ve seen my share of RADAR GUNS at lacrosse tournaments; they clock the speed of shots on goal.

Southeast was definitely way harder than the rest. Once I finally saw BIG TOE, TADA – my “rat” in hand (huh?) became HAT in hand, and I was done.

I love themes like this. Nice one, Ian.

Ginger 6:34 AM  

Docs. Documentaries. A bomb for sure. Certainly passing the time on a chilly and gray day. And I have yet to look at the answers to the Sunday puzzle!

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

I guess I'm a robot cuz it sure is a challenge proving I'm not!!

Campesite 6:50 AM  

Greetings Rexworld,
I'm in England right now, and here Tosspot might not pass the breakfast test.
I liked this puzzle--very lively cross section of personalities in the NW.
Toodles,
Mark

Milford 6:57 AM  

Basically all of the problems and writeovers already mentioned. The same SE issues as @Rex, except it crept further up to NAB, so I'd rate this more challenging, even for a Wednesday. .

Also thought there was a G at the beginning of all themes, buy what really tripped me up before that was the ROUND CHUCK, which had me entertaining all kinds of beef/food themes since ROUND can also be beef-descriptive.

Didn't help that I was thinking tosspot meant a jerk in general, and not a drunk.

AGUE always makes me think of Little House on the Prairie, when the Ingalls all got Fever n' AGUE, aka malaria, in Kansas. Always thought AGUE meant body aches, but I guess it means delirium.

Milford 7:12 AM  

Ok, I'm wrong, the AGUE is a "fit of shivering", not delirium. I guess with malaria you go back and forth with fever and chills, which come to think of it, is exactly as Laura Ingalls Wilder describes it in the book.

Z 7:20 AM  

@Evan - Lad's Dream?

Hand up for REdoN.

Unlike everyone else so far, it was the NE that caused me ANGST. Had RAINAL----- and just could not see (g)RAIN ALCOHOL for the longest time. Having apES before ICES and pEtAL before SEPAL did not help. Finally spent some time on figuring out SPEECH and the corner finally opened up. I spent as much time in the NE as the entire rest of the puzzle.

@JFC - I see you beat me to the A-BOMB observation. H and A are often options, but not when the clue is WWII specific.

John V 8:04 AM  

Exactly as @Rex, SE took a while. Stared at FRATROW approximately forever until I understood what it meant. HOSTWRITER took a while, even with the theme in hand. An average Wednesday, pretty good fun, Ian.

Susan McConnell 8:09 AM  

Gee...I thought this was kinda blah. Not a fan of the clue for BIGTOE. I liked the HOSTWRITER theme answer because it started with H and so made it a little trickier. But overall, pretty simple and a bit flat for me.

Rob C 8:15 AM  

Fun puzzle. Seemed sort of easy considering such a tricky theme for a Wed.

Theme answers have some inconsistencies that seem to bother some once in a while, but not all the time:

-In 26A, RAIN ALCOHOL, the first word is a verb. First word is an adjective in all of the other theme answers.

-43A is 'artificially' pluralized.

Generally, I don't even notice these type of things until someone points out. But for some reason today I did notice. Didn't bother me though.

@Evan - awesome ideas-can we expect another gloss puzzle in the near future?

jackj 8:42 AM  

Tricky as ever, Ian Livengood gives us the old “drop the G and pick up the giggle” theme but, with ROUNDCHUCK cluing a beefed up actor Norris, the mystery doesn’t last past 17 across though the ultimate reveal of GLOSS is superb.

RAVEROBBERS was best of the theme entries while RAINALCOHOL was diminished by Ian’s use of the too twee “tosspot” in his cluing. Puzzle rules should insist on a limit of one “super hip” clue per puzzle and by using “tosspot” and then doubling down with “Emo emotion” for ANGST, Ian‘s one over the limit.

The “knock, knock” clues, especially paired together, offer a cute mini-misdirect of STOP and ICES and constitute a warm-up act of sorts as they provide a lead-in for the best bit of fill, LURID.

Those thinking they would find many Greeks at the Hellenic Community Center will be miffed as they learn that FRATROW is the clever answer and though one’s BIGTOE usually gets stubbed, the “pinched” clue works when we recall the pain just recently inflicted by Patrick Berry’s hellish STILETTOHEELS.

Another nice puzzle from Ian who has now given us 21 puzzles of varying degrees of difficulty and, missing only a Saturday in his crossword oeuvre, we should hope he “hits for the cycle” ere long.

dk 8:47 AM  

GSPOT as the revealer would liven up this morbound little number. Everything about this puzzle was just okay. My only THROE was just that.

No challenging corners etc. so a Tuesday experience por moi.

Warmish here in SoCal. Big disappointment has been the LA Times. It, along with SF Chronicle, Globe, Times-P and NYT were my favorite US papers. The LA Times reads and feels like an ad reader: heavy sigh.

** (2 Stars) another heavy sigh.

Ed 8:58 AM  

I had trouble with the SE, too, but mostly because I didn't think it'd really be FRAT ROW - nothing in the clue indicates that one should shorten "fraternity" into "frat." And I've never heard it referred to as "frat row," but rather as "fraternity row," even if I have heard the shortening to "frat" more times than the actual word "fraternity."

HOSTWRITER also tripped me up because it broke the convention of starting with an R.

Carola 9:18 AM  

Got a kick out of RAIN ALCOHOL, otherwise liked a lot of the non-theme answers - PAY PHONES, FRAT ROW, LURID GORE, FISHY.

Ditto on the harder-than-the-rest SE - and it didn't help that I got off to the wrong start by writing in an R for the first letter of 58A before even looking at the clue.

@loren - Subcategories of writos: misreading a letter you've already written in (me - the H in REDHEAD as an M to start off the symbols of speed) and entering an answer in the wrong spot (me in that SE again, will spare you the details). No wonder it was a slow Wednesday for me!

@Rex - I think you should give Jane Eyre a try.

mac 10:27 AM  

A medium for me, mainly because of a slowdown in the SE. I too wanted an R at 58A.

I so wanted to put bayonet in at 1A!

lawprof 10:38 AM  

Enjoyable for a Wednesday. Picked up the theme early on, but got hung up a bit at 45D when I threw down BotTOm as a "Part that may be pinched" (although not without misgivings -- this being the NYT and all). This led to some confusion after 54A BEGOT made bottom untenable, but I had TiNt at 64A leaving me with BIGT_T at 45D as the pinched part. Whoops! All quickly fixed but left me wondering where my mind is this morning.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

One of the many reasons I love this blog is that I now look first at who constructed the grid. I have come to look forward to Mr. Livengood's work and this was another fun one. Best Aha was the reveal.
Clark and SPP gave me my laugh of the day.
@ jackj, I, too, thought of high heels at big toe.
@ Campesite, Nice to hear from you. Ah, to be in England.

quilter1 10:45 AM  

Quick and easy, although like others the SE was the last to fall.
I've read Jane Eyre a couple of times--I believe it is the original "mad woman in the attic" novel, wildly popular in its day and considered a little racy.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

Dang! I should read faster!

@lawprof beat me by about 15 minutes on both of my points: A non-PC writer-over of BOTTOM before BIGTOE, and some confusion at 54 A: The past tense ruled out BEGET, but can anyone tell me the difference between BEGAT and BEGOT (other than that only BEGOT fits the cross)?

Notsofast 10:56 AM  

A nice mix of usual and unusual words. And many clues have many possible answers. Quick and fun.

Two Ponies 11:33 AM  

@ mac, Yes, bayonets would have been great. Toss in a few horses too!

John V 11:39 AM  

The TOSSPOT thread reminds me that my Irish grandmother would sometimes call me a little PISSPOT. Now, there's a word you don't see very often.

Sandy K 11:46 AM  

No ANGST about this puzzle except that I wanted RADAR GUNS to be RADAR UNS...

...and PAYPHONES to be a theme answer too.

@Evan- any of your possibilities would have been a fun answer!

FRAT ROW and Jane EYRE -Yes!
Tosspot- not so much.

Clark 11:53 AM  

I should say that one of the things I was wrong about was that a theme with 3Rs and an H would be "the worst theme puzzle I've ever seen!" I don't really think that. ("Inconsistent but not . . . dire," sounds about right, as Acme put it.) And the theme was true to its reveal. When I said, "It can't be," I should have noticed that the reveal begged to differ. I love crossword puzzles.

syndy 12:22 PM  

@ Bob Ferfuffle MW unabridge seems to think BEGAT is the archaic of BEGOT I'd say it wasw metarchaic!

Lewis 12:26 PM  

@dk -- GSPOT certainly would liven up the puzzle, but I don't believe it's as accurate a reveal as Ian's.

Mel Ott 12:44 PM  

I thought the constructor chickened out by pinching BIG TOEs instead of BOTTOMs.

JFC 12:48 PM  

@Z - I see Rex has corrected the bullet. I really don't blame Rex for his confusion because, apart form the specificity of this clue, I also suffer from the same problem. It's just that Rex is young and seems to have little interest in pop culture (even it is history) prior to 1980. in this instance Rex was at a serious disadvantage. He didn't live in Chicago (the Manhattan Project originated at the University of Chicago, he wasn't alive during WWII and has no memory of the original A BOMB and he never had a law partner who was in charge of security of the Manhattan Project....

JFC

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

ORAL RATIFICATION (all yeas in the Senate?)

THE LOVED ONE (Michael Jackson to his children?)

REED IS GOOD (Gordon Gekko's quote while listening to Velvet Underground?)

LOSING HER RASP (Singer Adele post-surgery?)

Another Medievalist 2:10 PM  

@JFC - Little interest in pop culture prior to 1980? What we're interested in is pop culture of the Middle Ages. What happened after 1500 is of little interest to us.

Pete 2:58 PM  

@Anonymous 1:24 - I'll give you 1000 points for your first three -- I mean how can one not love oral gratification, Kingsley Amis & Lou Reed. I will have to deduct 1 point for any mention of Michael Jackson & children in the same sentence.

Sparky 3:30 PM  

Hand up for petal before SEPAL, Atest before ABOMB. Also diceY before FISHY. I thought it was going to be just switch the words till ah ha at RAVEROBBERS.

Happy when I see Ian Livengood's name and I won't carp at this.

Over hump day. Cheers to @PurpleGuy. Haven't heard from you in a while.

loren muse smith 4:06 PM  

@Carola - I do that sometimes, but more often, I enter the wrong letter because I'm looking at the next letter. This morning I had THHRAN briefly. I bet I do this twice a wekk.

sanfranman59 4:26 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Wed 12:40, 11:50, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:57, 5:57, 1.17, 88%, Challenging

jberg 4:54 PM  

Finished solving on the subway, and wasn't able to post until just now - so I've been beaten to the point on BottOm before BIG TOE (I couldn't believe how far down I had to scroll before someone suggested it! I realize most people thought of it as something that could get pinched - e.g., by a shoe - rather than something you might want to pinch - like a big toe to wake someone up, or a bottom to ??) and on REdoN both thinking of it first and being glad it was wrong.

The real joy for me was the revealer - I didn't understand it at first, so I got to have that Aha! experience - why I do puzzles!

Sean Dobbin 6:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob Snead 6:54 PM  

All of the clues in this read as if they were written by someone other than Will Shortz. Like that Bill Clinton puzzle some years back.

The clues were cool, but...different. Different is good, though.

acme 9:11 PM  

@Bob Snead
That's probably bec the clues were written by Ian! Will leaves things alone if they are accurate and fresh.
And Ian is one of the better constructors...so, that's that. It's prob his "voice" you are hearing.

@Lewis
What if @dk had CANTFINDTHEGSPOT that would be more "spot" on?
(Oh wait, that's 16 :( Damn!)

@Campsite in London, @dk in LA...
May I remind you both that SFO is an international airport and ideal for layovers!

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:45, 6:47, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Tue 9:35, 8:58, 1.07, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 12:49, 11:50, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:52, 3:41, 1.05, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:21, 4:40, 1.15, 87%, Challenging
Wed 6:48, 5:57, 1.14, 85%, Challenging

How 'bout them Giants!

Z 10:41 PM  

@sanfranman59-you really know how to hurt a Tiger fan.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

@Z - How did dyou know that sanfranman59 is really Jose Valverde? He's kept that a closely held secret!

enoughwiththestickers 3:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Spacecraft 11:14 AM  

When I saw XOUT, it put me INASTIR, but at least my ANGST (great word!) was documented nearby. BTW, that corner could be undisturbed by replacing the X with a B--and you really should've, Ian.

I'll add one more to @Evan's list--again, cluing would be a challenge for a family newspaper:
LOVEBOXES.

Enough. I'll add my voice to the chorus of gripes about the clues for AGUE and BIGTOE (pinch any of those lately, Ian? Didn't think so), and add another. LASH ought to be an "old" shipboard punishment. We don't do that any more.

Do we?

All this adding; I guess I'm an adder. Old math joke: How can you get adders to multiply? Put 'em on a log table.

Nice, clever theme; the cluing has begun to toughen up as the week ages, so some thinking is required; and lots of fresh stuff. Thumbs up, overall.

DMGrandma 2:33 PM  

A neat puzzle. I didn't have the "r" expectation problem as I got the theme at HOSTWRITER, and only looked for a missing "g"-which really helped me get RAVEROBBER. Conundrum of another sort- it took me forever to see why people were using REdoN at 51D, as I had only considered some of broadcast answer. So my brief holdup was REair, RERuN, RERAN. Still don't understand why 8D refers to two categories. Isn't a documentary a documentary?

Failed the Captcha again. They're more obscure than the crossword!

rain forest 3:03 PM  

Another in a week of strong puzzles. I echo others' sentiments about the cute theme and the reveal (I do hate using "reveal" as a noun. One only sees that in crosswords). I think Ian was being somehat whimsical using "tosspot" (crosswordese in the extreme)in the clue for RAINALCOHOL, and so it worked for me. For 1A, I was about to enter SABRE when I immediately remembered this is an American puzzle. Always on the lookout for the incorrect spellings...

Ginger 3:17 PM  

Cruised through most of the puzzle, then hit the SE, ugh. Had INAStIr, and orts (for ALPO), so that section took a long time to suss out.

Hands up for pEtAL, but that was quick to rectify. Like the clue for REDHEAD. Good workout this morning, even with the ANGST from Mississippi to Florida.

Michael Moore 3:55 PM  

DMG, there's a doc oscar for Short Subjects and another for Features.

Ginger 4:26 PM  

That's IN A SNIT, Sorry

Dirigonzo 7:12 PM  

I'm glad @Michael Moore dropped by to answer @DMG's question, because I wondered about that too.

I wanted INASTew for All riled up and thought copy was a good answer for Knock off as in, "it looks like a Rolex but it's just a knock off"? Are there any PAYPHONES left anywhere these days?

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