Jumat, 01 April 2011

04.01 Fri

April 1, 2011
Dan Naddor

Theme: Backwords — It's a quote theme with a twist, only it's not a quote and it's more backwards than twisty.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Start of an aptly expressed linguistic observation (CIBARA DNA WERBEH). [HEBREW AND ARABIC]
  • 31A: Observation, part 2 (DAER ERA). [ARE READ]
  • 45A: End of the observation (TFEL OT THGIR MORF). [FROM RIGHT TO LEFT]
Before we get to the puzzle, I just want to remind everyone that Patrick Blindauer publishes a new free puzzle on his website every month. His April puzzle is available today and it's a doozy. Head on over and check it out if you have the time and the inclination.

I have to admit that even though it's April Fool's Day, I wasn't expecting a tricky puzzle like this from the L.A. Times. The N.Y. Times runs unconventional puzzles like this from time to time. In fact, if you do the puzzle regularly, you know to look out for the trickiness on Thursdays in particular. But the L.A. Times, as far as I know, has always been a more straitlaced puzzle. So, this theme is a little out of the ordinary and I'm sure newspaper editors around the country are receiving whiny letters today.

I had trouble all over the grid until I figured out the trick. Like a lot of you, I'm sure, my confidence was shaken when I entered downs I was sure of but then saw the odd line-up of across letters they created. Let's just say there was lots of erasing until the lightbulb came on.

Stuff I just flat-out didn't know:
  • 37A: Like Cologne and vicinity (RHENISH). It's like the Rhine River only an adjective. Who knew?
  • 22D: Early Chinese dynasty (HSIA). Someday I'm going to learn all the Chinese dynasties. And the Greek alphabet. And the names of all the baseball stadiums.
  • 25D: Canadian young adult fiction author McClintock (NORAH). If you say so!
  • 37D: Hall of Fame defensive back Mel (RENFRO). RENFRO played for the University of Oregon before joining the Dallas Cowboys. In 1962, Rice University officials allowed RENFRO's parents to attend the Rice-Oregon game even though the stadium was a "whites-only" facility.
  • 11A: XXXV years after the creation of the original Magna Carta (MCCL). That L was the last letter to fall for me. I knew [14D: "The Merry Widow" operettist] was someone we'd covered in CW101 in the past, but I couldn't quite remember the name (it's LEHAR).
  • 15A: Apple consumers? (ADAM AND EVE). Ha!
  • 23A: Hand (SAILOR). As in "All hands on deck."
  • 35A: It's about 325 miles east of Texas's H-Town, with "the" (BIG EASY). Do people really call Houston "H-Town"? I assume that's a reference to Houston anyway. That's a pretty lame city nickname if you ask me.
  • 43A: "Bewitched" witch (ENDORA). I'm all, "Samantha, Tabitha, Serena … oh what was her nervous aunt's name? … Clara! …." Totally forgetting about the fabulous ENDORA. D'oh!
  • 49A: Abbr. on folk song sheet music (TRAD.). Ooh, I like this one. Most sheet music lists the piece's composer and/or lyricist, but with a lot of folk songs that information is unknown so it just says TRAD. (for TRADitional).
  • 4D: Inviting words before "Want to come over?" (I'M ALONE). With the I and the L in place my first thought was IT'S LATE. Don't judge.
  • 12D: Plots (CABALS). Interesting. I thought the CABAL was just the group of people plotting, but I guess CABAL can also mean the plotting itself.
  • 28D: Numbers in a corner, often (PAGINATES). "Numbers" is a verb here.
  • 29D: Texters' amused syllables (HEES). Even though the clue clearly says "syllables," the first thing I thought of when I saw I needed a four-letter answer was LMAO. Pretty sure we're not going to see that in the L.A. Times though.
  • 31D: Mexican bread (DINERO). Tried PESETA first. On the right track at least.
  • 34D: City WSW of Sacramento (NAPA). I know that even though we think of California as west of Nevada, parts of California are actually east of Nevada, and I thought this clue was trying to be tricky in that way. But it wasn't.
  • 39D: "Edda" author __ Sturluson (SNORRI). Love this name! Probably because in my head I always say it as SNORRI McSnorilson which you've gotta admit is pretty funny.
  • 40D: Coat opening? (PETTI-). At the junction! Petticoat Junction!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 16A: River through Lake Brienz (AARE).
  • 9D: Mendes of "Hitch" (EVA).
  • 14D: "The Merry Widow" operettist (LEHAR).
  • 26D: Nice summers (ÉTÉS).
  • 47D: __ judicata: decided case (RES).
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Everything Else 1A: Lexington and Concord fighters (MILITIAMEN); 19A: Duplicated (CLONED); 20A: Roma road (STRADA); 21A: Word with sharp or trouble (SHOOTER); 24A: Leagues: Abbr. (ASSNS.); 25A: Like performances by the Wallendas (NETLESS); 27A: Place to build (SITE); 28A: Flying need (PHOTO I.D.); 30A: Is down with (HAS); 32A: Source of support (FAN); 36A: "Return of the Jedi" dancer (OOLA); 39A: Condescend (STOOP); 40A: Fowl with a showy mate (PEAHEN); 41A: Herbal drink (MINT TEA); 44A: Place with swinging doors (SALOON); 50A: Listed (ENUMERATED); 51A: They have their pluses and minuses (IONS); 52A: Fabled tortoise's trait (STEADINESS); 1D: Bud (MAC); 2D: First name in tyranny (IDI); 3D: Checkup charges (LAB COSTS); 5D: Mystical decks (TAROTS); 6D: Vacant (INANE); 7D: Dangerous snake (ADDER); 8D: Darn (MEND); 10D: It may be a scoop (NEWS STORY); 11D: Hitched (MARRIED); 13D: Words to live by (CREDOS); 18D: Latin term usually abbreviated (ET ALIA); 21D: Window part (SASH); 32D: What an asterisk may indicate (FOOTNOTE); 33D: Lotion additive (ALOE); 35D: Lays eyes on (BEHOLDS); 36D: Armchair partner (OTTOMAN); 38D: Like hell (HADEAN); 41D: Volcanic fluid (MAGMA); 42D: Perjurer's admission (I LIED); 44D: "Melrose Place" actor (SHUE); 46D: Explosive initials (TNT); 48D: Some alarm respondents: Abbr. (FD'S).

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