, pub-2774194725043577, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 L.A.Times Crossword Corner: Thursday October 29, 2009 Don Gagliardo


Oct 29, 2009

Thursday October 29, 2009 Don Gagliardo

Theme: Shoe Store - The end of each theme phrase is a type of shoes. And each four-square corner has a box of S H O E (arranged in counterclockwise pattern and the rotation is changed one space at a time). I've circled the four SHOE BOX in the answer grid.

17A. Kitchen backups: SINK CLOGS. Clogs have thick wood or rubber soles.

31A. North Carolina team: TAR HEELS. Heels over 3.5 inches are considered high-heeled.

40A. Container for the end of 17-, 31-, 47 or 64-Across; there's a literal one in each four-square puzzle corner: SHOE BOX. Brilliant tie-in answer and great shoe box design.

47A. Octane rating sites: GAS PUMPS. Pumps are low-cut heeled shoes without fastenings.

64A. Bonneville Speedway feature: SALT FLATS. Flats have no heels.

And our big shoe buddy E E E E in each corner. Impressive grid, isn't it?

Below are some notes kindly provided by today's constructor Don "Hard G" Gagliardo on the inspiration of the puzzle. Let's have a Q & A Session with Don today. If you have any question regarding today's puzzle, or crossword construction as a whole (I am sure my interviews with different constructors did not fully cover what you've been curious about crossword puzzles), or you'd like Don to know what kind of theme/fill excite or rankle you, please click the Comments at the end of this blog post. Write down your name and your questions/comments. I'll publish a post with Don's answers tomorrow.

I'll start with mine: 1) How to pronounce Gagliardo? Is the second G hard? 2) What kind of music do you listen while constructing crossword? Or do you prefer total silence? 3) Is it wrong to say "I like some of the long Down fills (rather than fill) today"? I noticed constructors use singular "fill" when they refer several or the whole non-theme entries.

Notes from Don:

“Shoe Box” was inspired by Barbara, my wife. She just loves shoes, so I wanted to do something with them. My first idea was to have the entry SHOETREE come down the middle of the puzzle with different kinds of shoes “hanging” off of it. That didn’t work. The next idea was to find phrases with different kinds of shoes that appear in different connotations. To tie it together, I thought that since shoes come in a shoe box, SHOEBOX could appear in the center across answer. Then to take it even one more step, I realized that a shoe box could be a group of letters in the shape of a box composed of the letters S H O E. Perhaps I could stick them in the corners away from everything else where I might get lucky and work them into the puzzle. This is always asking for trouble, trying to get more theme into the puzzle grid. I figured the payoff was high enough that it would compensate for a fill that could be much better. When my first version was not up to snuff, Rich suggested that I make the SHOE box in the corner readable clockwise or counterclockwise. Rich also helped me decide on a different theme answer that would work better in the grid. I went with the counterclockwise pattern for S H O E, and by pure luck I was able to get four different versions of the S H O E box being in different arrangements, and changing rotation one space at a time as one views in a counterclockwise direction.


1. Dawn goddess: EOS. The Greek goddess. Aurara for the Romans.

4. Starbucks flavor: MOCHA. My husband loves Crème brûlée flavored coffee.

9. Bring about: CAUSE

14. "__ 'nuff!": SHO. Sho'nuff is a slang for "sure enough". Unknown to me.

15. Saint associated with the Russian alphabet: CYRIL. Hence Cyrillic.

16. Weed B Gon maker: ORTHO. No chemical spray in our garden.

19. Took to jail: RAN IN

20. Alley Oop's girl: OOOLA. I misremembered as OOONA.

23. Minnesota twins?: ENS. Two letter N's in Minnesota.

24. Snootiness: AIRS. Wrote down BIAS first.

26. Great server: ACER. Tennis. Crosswordese.

28. Island big shot: KAHUNA (kuh-HOO-nuh). A native medicine man or priest in Hawaii. Have vaguely heard of it.

35. Grassy tracts: LEAS. Sounds so idyllic.

36. Illustrator Silverstein: SHEL. He wrote and illustrated "The Giving Tree"

38. Rub the wrong away: ERASE. Did you misread the clue as "Rub the wrong way" also?

42. Veep before Al: DAN (Quayle). "For NASA, space is still a high priority." So many funny quotes from him.

43. Put into law: ENACT

45. Bridge expert Sharif: OMAR. He does not play bridge any more.

46. Clears after taxes: NETS

49. Widely separated: SPARSE

51. Opposite of away: HOME. 'OME in Cockney.

52. Part of a yard: FOOT. Such a straightforward clue.

53. Prefix with meter: ODO. And another prefix SONO (3D. Prefix with gram).

55. Astronomer Tycho __: BRAHE (Brah). His name escape me. I did recognize his mustache when I googled.

58. Western border lake: TAHOE

62. Demolish: TOTAL

66. Chicago hub: OHARE. Named after WWII flying ace Butch O'Hare.

67. Tours ta-ta: ADIEU. And MER (48D. Sea, to Sartre). Noticed the alliterations in both clues?

68. ALers who don't play the field: DHS (Designated Hitters)

69. Adlai's running mate: ESTES (Kefauver). Given name in the clue, given name in the answer.

70. Computer image dot: PIXEL

71. Manager Torre: JOE. Current manager for the LA Dodgers. He's probably very happy that Yankees lost last night.


1. Gas sign north of the border: ESSO. It's only replaced by Exxon in the US.

2. Columbus's home: OHIO. I wonder how many cities in the US are named Columbus.

4. Obama's opponent: MCCAIN. I like this "opponent" rather than "Loser to Obama" clue.

5. Skinny Olive: OYL

6. Interbreed: CROSS

7. Word with five or noon: HIGH. "High Noon" is Bill Clinton's favorite movie.

9. General Mills cereal: CORN CHEX. It's not gluten-free. RICE CHEX is.

10. Heavenly altar: ARA (EY-ruh). Latin for "altar".

11. Eclectic bimonthly digest: UTNE READER. Nice to see the full name.

12. __ guard: bit of catchers' gear: SHIN

13. Tons of time: EONS

18. Actor Kinski: KLAUS. Completely unknown to me. German actor. He looks so cold.

25. Itch source: RASH

27. Musket end?: EER. Musketeer. Would be a great clue for TEE too, isn't it? The last letter of musket is T.

28. __ light: filmmaking arc lamp: KLIEG

29. WellPoint rival: AETNA. Named after the volcano ETNA.

30. Is in the running for: HAS A SHOT AT. Did the answer come to you immediately?

32. Jessica of "Dark Angel": ALBA. Wardrobe malfunction? By the way, have you tried ALBA coca butter lotion? It smells so good.

33. Exams for future litigators, briefly: LSATS (Law School Admission Tests)

40. Trips: STUMBLES. Verb.

41. Thereabouts: OR SO

44. USN noncom: CPO (Chief Petty Officer). Not a familiar abbreviation to me.

50. Amount of soup on the stove: POTFUL

52. Cartoon cat: FELIX. Felix the Cat.

53. Oklahoma tribe: OTOE. UTE too.

54. Outbursts from Homer: D'OHS

56. "Stat!" cousin: ASAP

57. "__ only known!": HAD I

59. Meccan pilgrimage: HADJ. Or HAJJ. Mecca pilgrimage hajj. And the person who has been to Mecca is called HADJI or HAJJI.

60. First century Roman emperor: OTHO. He was emperor for only three months.

61. Latin being: ESSE

65. Top with a slogan: TEE. Saw similar clue before. Still loved the clue.

Answer grid.



Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning, CC and Friends. What a great puzzle. I loved this theme. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the theme clue ~ A container that would house CLOGS? Then I had my D’Oh! moment. I have so many shoes, my middle name should be Imelda. I didn’t have any trouble filling in the “container” after that.

Some fun clues were Tours Ta-Ta and Part of a Yard: FOOT.

Anyone else see a connection between ORTHO (16A) and OTHO (60D)?

QOD: If you want work well done, select a busy (wo)man. The other kind has no time. ~ Elbert Hubbard

Dick said...

Good morning C.C. and all, I got my wish this morning and had a puzzle that caused some angst. Most of the problems were self inflicted, like spelling mocha as mocca, and iso in lieu of odo. Inserting iso caused me to struggle with that whole corner. I finally erased the entire section and started again and as soon as I saw “OTOE” that corner fell.

Overall I liked this crossword as it made me think more than the other ones this week.

Way to go Phils!!!

It looks like a nice day today so it is off to the links.

Hope you all have a great Thursday.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the circles. now i am admiring the extra "one more step". thanks, don.

MJ said...

In yesterday's Barry Silk puzzle, I noticed many clues referencing cities and states. (Seven total if you count 30D Riyadh resident.) Would this be considered a sub-theme? If not, what constitutes a sub-theme?

Dick said...

BTW Don G. I thought your construction today was a stroke of pure genius. I cannot imagine how long and hard you must have worked to do this. Congrats!!

Carl said...

@Don, why do you only contribute to LA Times?

Lemonade714 said...

This was an awesome puzzle, with so much tied to the theme. I particularly love the shoe in each corner. I appreciate Don’s comments, and know how many hours must have been invested to make this puzzle work, and still have tricky clues like: Top with a slogan: TEE, or fun clues like Alley Oop's girl: OOOLA.

In keeping with the recent Vampire theme, you all should watch KLAUS KINSKI as NOSFERATU .

Hawaii really is an interesting culture, with the KAHUNA a complicated group.

tfrank said...

Good Morning, C.C. and all,

Great puzzle today, Don!

I got the main theme pretty quickly, but never saw the corner theme until I came here. My only hangup was Hadj for which I used the alternate spelling, Hajj, which made jhs nonsense. The rest was smooth sailing except for Brahe, Utne Reader and Klaus, all of which I got from the perps.

I am grateful for the trend away from early week no brainers. I think this week's offerings have been about right.

More rain in the offing for South Texas today. Jean and I got caught at the supermarket on Monday when a violent thunderstorm came through. A gust of 81 mph was recorded at the NAS which is only a mile from our house. No damage here except for a few palm fronds blown down. We both got soaked getting to the car and loading groceries. The temperature dropped about 25 degrees in an hour.

Peace be with you all.

Carol2 said...

Good morning CC, Argyle and gang,

I think the puzzles have been outstanding this week. Thanks to Jerome, Fred and Don. Today's was a bit more difficult for me. Had to google Kinski and did not know ooola - wanted sona instead sono. Never head of Utne Reader? Do I have some incorrect letters here? Still don't understand the four square puzzle corners. I must have cobwebs in my brain this morning. Well, it is close to Halloween! Loved Otoe - relates well to the puzzle theme. Toe, foot, shoe.

So sorry to hear that so many of you are ailing. Hope everyone is soon on the mend.

Wonderful pitching by Cliff Lee last night! Go Phillies!

Jeannie said...

I caught on to the theme right away but since I do the puzzle on line the corners didn’t have the circles so I would never have thought to notice the corner “shoes.” Don, I think your shoe tree idea would have been cute too. I like the idea of different shoes hanging off the tree. I only had to hit the g-spot for one answer and that was Brahe. Perp help included odo, mer, estes, and ara. My favorite clue was “top with a slogan” tee.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the internet. I can’t believe how much I rely on it both for business and pleasure.

Warren said...

Hi C.C. and gang,

We managed to finish 3/4 of today's puzzle before my wife left. I finished by entering out text into the online version and found a few mistakes that way. Unknown words include 'OTHO', 'HADJ' (I can never seem to remember that one), 'UTNE' reader?

My wife got the theme entry shoebox and the astronomer Tycho Brahe.

Question about circle comments? The printed puzzle in today's Mercury News didn't have any circle entries?

Aside: Best wishes Dennis for a quick recovery!

Anonymous said...

My paper does not have circles.

Andrea said...

Morning all -

What a GREAT puzzle today - so clever with the theme and the cluing. Only a couple little hiccups to work through (like bran chex for corn chex), but very enjoyable.

Saw Abba Mania with a group of friends last night. Lots of fun singing and dancing. Especially fun to see the age range in the audience. With the popularity of the movie Mamma Mia, lots of little girls there with Moms and Grandmoms. Now I want to find some 70's sparkly platform boots - what fun for Halloween.

Hope everyone who is under the weather is feeling better, and that those who aren't stay that way!

Enjoy the day.

Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel said...

I always have an answer grid at the end of each blog entry so others can check for answers they are not sure of. Look at today's answer grid, see those circled S H O E in each corner? Those are the four-square corners Don refers to.

Jeannie, Warren et al,
There are no circles in your paper or in LA Times website. I hand-circled them just to demonstrate the theme.

Argyle said...

Hee-hee, this is how I picture Don upon completion of this puzzle. clip

treefrog said...

Haven't done the puzzle yet but wanted to check in. Been so much going on I haven't had much time for the puzzle or the blog.
Sorry so many are ill. So far so good on this end. All the family is staying healthy also.

Guess I'll go start the puzzle. Just have about 20 minutes to kill until I go for some medical tests. Got to drink the Barium Barf this morning. Yuk.

Clear Ayes said...

Good Morning All, Wow, I'm impressed. I thought the SHOE BOX theme was great and I noticed the quaduple E (width?) in the corners, but I never caught the corner spellings of S H O E. "HAD I only known!"

This puzzle was definitely a picket fence project. I had to make several passes Across and Down in order to fill everything in.

I'm sorry to say I have never heard of UTNE READER and had to google post-puzzle to make sure I was correct. I've never heard of WellPoint Insurance either, but I got AETNA via the perps. On the other hand, I remembered RAN IN and BRAHE, so no worms there.

My favorite fill was CORN CHEX, so creative and different.

KLAUS Kinski does have a rather sinister look. His daughter Natassja Kinski was quite a popular actress in the 1970's and 1980's. She had an affair with Roman Polanski when she was 15. (He liked them young.)

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon, everyone.

C.C. Good to see you after so many talented posters took your place. I was beginning to get worried.

Don G. What an outstanding puzzle! And as I am also most entranced by shoes, I greatly appreciate it. Missed the corners even after C.C. pointed them out. I didn't think of boxes, as directed, and couldn't see shoes.

I think wonderful new clue for erase is most clever. I missed many of the SE because I insisted upon enate rather than natal. It surely messed up my solves!

Of to get a much needed haircut.


Anonymous said...

Mr Gagliardo, when will you construct a Sunday puzzle? I loved your Alfred Hitchcock.

Ingersoll, Ontario

kazie said...

Great job Don G!

Thanks for the circles--they helped, because even after reading your explanation I couldn't see the shoes.

Mine was a picket fence effort today too, but it cam out with perp help, and for the first time in a while, g'spots for EOS (i know, eat worms) and Ooola, a complete newy for me. Also didn't know Tycho BRAHE, but perps got that, didn't understand ALers and had DTS because I thought OTHO was OTTO.

Like Clear Ayes, didn't know Wellpoint but Aetna arrived by itself

Yes, I did read 38A as "the wrong way".

Another balancing act is ESSO in the NW and ESSE in the SE.

Anonymous said...

Is EEEE arrangement intentional?

Bill G. said...

Hi everybody. I enjoyed the puzzle but couldn't find the shoes in the corner until I came here. Fun!

Lots of wind a couple of nights ago. Our power went out. I lit some candles. I wasn't too worried 'cause I actually thought for a few seconds that I could use the computer and watch TV by candlelight. :>) No TV, no Internet, no stove, no microwave, etc. I was embarrassed at how dependent I have become on those things. A half-hour later I was back in business.

I finally got through the Jonesin' puzzle on Cruciverb. It wasn't until I stared at the completed puzzle that I could make any sense out of the theme. Did any of you try it? How did you do with the theme?

Warren said...

Thanks for the circle explanation C.C., I normally don't look at the answer grid and totally missed the corner theme, it's amazing to me how some puzzle masters can be so creative.

Lemonade714 said...

It is hard to believe we have only 20 some comments at 300 pm.

Worth repeating JESSICA ALBA .

Robin said...

Hello All! I have followed this blog for some time. I really enjoy all of you and the help I so badly need at times to do the c/w! Keep up the great work all!

windhover said...

Warning: Whiny rant ahead.

I don't know what Fri/Sat might be, but if one were planning to give up crossword puzzles forever, this would have been the week that would allow you to finish up with the best. A great week of puzzles by a great group of constructors. Someone else already said it, but the design today was genius.
Unfortunately, I had to quit several weeks ago because many of my fellow Kentucky solvers are evidently idiots. Today's Commuter puzzle couldn't please anyone who has completed the fifth grade. I have never finished a LAT puzzle in under about 12 minutes, and it usually takes 15 or 20. Today: 6 minutes. Why did I bother? Addicted, I guess, and still frustrated at my inability to get the puzzle on the Iphone. I have pursued everyone's suggestions (Thanks!), but to no avail. Back to lurking.
Biscuits and Gravy:
Your post a few days ago suggests you are a Kentuckian. From where? I am near Lancaster, south of Lexington.

hypatia1 said...

Hi all!

Glad to have you back C.C.!! Everyone else, best wishes for speedy recoveries.

Have been suffering with really painful shoulder for over two weeks, after nasty fall. Finally got to see orthpod. Had MRI. Will have to have surgery for torn ligaments, soon. They plan to lock me up after surgery in some recovery place for 2 weeks. Won't go unless a can take Macbook Pro with wifi card. Can't miss daily crosswords and sudokus! Not to mention dogs.

Loved toda'ys puzzle, except for unknown spelling of hajj as hadj. Thanks Don!

BTW, Aurora is spelled as written. Like Aurora Borealis. Wish I could see it.

fermatprime said...

Whoops! Sorry about typo in post as hypatia1.

Why can't I get my preferred moniker (hypatia1) in blue too?

Clear Ayes said...

Anon@1:38, yes, EEEE was intentional. See Don Gagliardo's "Notes from Don" right before C.C.'s "Across" writeup. Also look at the "Answer grid" at the end of C.C.'s writeup. Don's creativity today is a wonderful example of what a crossword puzzle can be.

Welcome to Robin. What an interesting job you have. It must really be a challenge. When Dennis gets back I'm sure he'll have questions about your avatar. Is that your airplane?

Lemonade, too many sickies in the last couple of days. When they get back, we'll have more posts. Take care PJB, Dennis and any others.

I thought I was coming down with something yesterday. I kept sneezing and having to blow my nose. Then I remembered the wind was really acting up, blowing around the allergens, so I took an Allegra and haven't had much of a problem since then.

WH, you may be posting a few hours later, but keep asking the Irish to bring the puzzles home for you. We wouldn't like it if you didn't check in at all.

embien said...

8:20 today. Boom! A bombshell of a puzzle. I loved the theme (which I got immediately); loved the SHOE boxes in the corners (which I saw after the 40a clue (SHOEBOX), which tells you to look for the SHOEs in the corners (I'm not sure how some missed that, unless the printed version didn't have that clue); totally missed the EEEE in the corners (wonderful bonus theme fill).

A masterpiece by Don G, and a reminder as to why I enjoy puzzles with good themes so much--you can keep your themeless puzzles as far as I'm concerned. Theme, baby, theme!

For Don G: besides liking a good theme, I really love it when there is "bonus material" involved, like today's SHOE boxes and EEEE in the corners.

Favorite clue was "ALers not playing the field" for DHS. Just think how boring that would have been with a straightforward clue for Dept of Homeland Security.

According to Streets & Trips, there are 22 Columbuses in the US, including two in Kentucky.

Anonymous said...

From Vern:
39A--For what it's worth

If they ever haul me away to the booby hatch, it will be the constant use of the apostrophe in the possessive its. I see this everywhere--newspapers, TV, internet.
My own Pastor, who prides himself on proofreading our weekly bulletin, meticulously adds an apostrophe to every possessive its he finds. I, anonymously of course, send him messages saying, the apostrophe is only used when you can substitute it is. Next week, sure enough, the apostrophe appears again. I may need to change churches.

Anonymous said...

From Vern:

The reason I appear as "Anonymous" is that google refuses to recognize my password, so I fooled them!

Clear Ayes said...

hypatia1, do you have a Google Account in your hypatia1 name?

There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to have an account other than Lorraine L. If you don't care about keeping the Lorraine L. moniker, you could Edit that user profile and change the Display Name to hypatia1.

I don't really know much about it, but I've never had a problem being "blue", so I must have done something right.

Hahtoolah said...

I must admit that I didn't see the SHOEs in the corner. Thanks to CC for circling the letters.

Windhover, I agree with Clear Ayes, do come back every day after the Irish brings you the puzzle. I miss your clever repartee.

kazie said...

The reason I missed the SHOE in each corner was that I looked at the shapes, and they all look like a boot shape, turned in different directions, with a little imagination. So I didn't look for the spelled version.

I'm with you on its. I get cajoled here for being a grammar stickler, so watch out, they may start teasing you too!

Jerome said...

This puzzle is a prime example of
creativity. It's superbly ingenious. It deserves a collective "WOW!"

WM said...

So far this is a week of treats so I am expecting a possible trick on Saturday. The list of awesome constructors this week will most definitely spoil us. My only problem was one I created by writing in HERE for 51A and then realized there was no such thing as a CPE...Got CLOGS and thought of shoes before I even got the sink part. Sanita chefs clogs have been my footwear of choice for years. They are very pricey but last for years and I am all about comfort and back support...I rarely put on anything else and they are a dream for travel, exceedingly comfortable and easy to slip on or off at the airport security...I use an old beat up pair in the studio, but they rarely seem to wear out.

Another great puzzle from Don "hard G" Gagliardo...beaucoup thanks.

CA...thanks for the heads up on the wind/allergies as I was thinking I caught my husband's cold and it is most likely allergies...ahhh your mailbox.

Chickie said...

Hello All--A WOW puzzle today. I don't think I've ever done a puzzle with the four corners so cleverly constructed. It was a real treat. We HAVE had some super puzzles this week.

I thought that I was going to have to Google some of the names, but my only slip up was Sona for sono gram and Ooola didn't seem right. I can't rememaber how long ago it has been since I've aread an Alley Oops comic strip and I couldn't remember any names.

I did read Rub the wrong away correnctly and thought that was a clever clue today. We have erase for a fill quite often, but I don't think I've seen that clue before. Also favorites were Tours ta-ta and Top with a slogan.

Robin, Join us. We always love new voices and views.

Hypatia1, sorry to hear about your shoulder. They surely would let you bring your electronics with you to the rehab center.

Get well to those who are under the weather, and stay well to everyone else.

WM and CA, my car was covered with pollen this morning when I went out to pick up the paper, so allergens are definitely in the air here in our area.

Chickie said...

Oops! Even proofreading I missed the word correctly.

Vern, I had a terrible time with password recognition when I first set up my account. I finally changed my password, and all fell into place. It is very frustrating to say the least, especially when you know you are entering it correctly.

windhover said...

ClearAyes & Hahtool,
thanks very much for the compliments and the encouraging words. I am, as I said earlier, addicted, so I'm not really going away. There are two problems with having the puzzle brought home: The Irish is currently working only two days a week off the farm, so I don't get the other 4 days, and secondly, that scenario would mean I would have to avoid the blog all day until the puzzle arrived, because many
of the early comments are about particular words and clues. I'm still determined to somehow get the puzzle via iPhone.
As much as enjoy the challenge of the puzzle, the interaction of all the blog personalities is what brings me here every day.

Anonymous said...

thanks my puzzle creator...clever, clever--i will be sure to attempt to ferret out shoes stowed away in boxes in the future. hope to see a great halloween themed puzzler over the weekend

Lemonade714 said...

Good point:

Get well all, and we will talk....welcome newbies, join us and send C.C. pictures.

MJ said...

Good evening all,
From square one, I thought this was a very clever, delightful puzzle. After hop-scotching in the north section, I came to the clue for 40A and had the AHA moment. I understood the shoe boxes in the corners, but did not see that the absolute corners were EEEE until seeing C.C.'s blog. (Thank you, C.C., and hope you're back to 100%!) That changes my description of the puzzle from "clever and delightful" to BRILLIANT! Thank you Dan Gagliardo!

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

Worked the puzzle this morning, and travelled many miles since. Totally missed the shoes in the corner boxes. The virtuosity went right over my head. As Jerome suggested: WOW!

I wonder about the Jessica Pic - malfunction or not? Sometimes things will show up in flash photography that you can't see with the naked (so to speak) eye. This, IMHO, is a blessing.

Took a picture of the LW once in a perfectly opaque red sweater, and her bra was plainly visible in the photo. Quite unexpected. She was not pleased.

Here is the classic Nastssja Kinski picture. No serpent malfunction.

JzB the sidewinding trombonist

Anonymous said...

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