Feb 22, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015 Alex Vratsanos

Theme: "The '60s*" - Each theme entry has 6 T's.

39A. *Congressional authorization of its creation was partly contingent on its forbidding
polygamy : UTAH STATE CONSTITUTION. Some sects there still practice polygamy.

45A. *Gossip : TITTLE-TATTLE

67A. *1976 Doobie Brothers hit : TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS. Gimme, D-Otto?

93A. *Knocking sound, in Joyce's "Ulysses" (longest palindromic word in the OED) :
TATTARRATTAT. Neat trivia. Learning moment for me.


28D. *Jolson classic : TOOT, TOOT, TOOTSIE

So did you get the theme before coming to the blog?

Very seldom do we get an asterisk mark in the theme title. Rich might be worried that the theme is tricky for solvers to grasp. Some might think those long 10's in the Across spots are theme answers. Normally when we have asterisk marks in theme entries, we have a reveal entry.

Construction-wise, this puzzle is technical feat.


1. Alice's cat : DINAH.  "Alice in Wonderland".

6. Dix follower : ONZE. 11 in French.

10. Site of the house that inspired "American Gothic" : IOWA

14. Bikini specs : C-CUPS

19. "Fear of Fifty" author Jong : ERICA

20. Vacuum : VOID

21. Diagnostic tool : MRI SCANNER. And 25. Criminals are often behind them : PRISON BARS. Lovely stack of 10's crossed by WIIMOTES (12D. Nintendo controllers).

23. Kid : JOKE AROUND. One more 10.

26. Blood-typing letters : ABO

27. Show mastery of : SHINE AT

29. Parrot : MIMIC

30. Tenn. athletes : VOLS. Tennessee Volunteers.

32. Money changers?: Abbr. : EDS (Editors). Money magazine.

33. Purposeless : OTIOSE. Not a word I use.

36. IRS hiree : CPA

46. Skipped town, maybe : MOVED

47. Newsman Roger : O'NEIL. Hey, AILES has the same letter count.

49. Ship staff : MAST. Tricky "staff".

50. From one tone to the next, in music : STEPWISE. New concept to me.

53. Vouchsafes : BESTOWS

56. Han River capital : SEOUL. Of course I was thinking of the Han River in China.

59. Henri's here : ICI

60. Fleur in heraldry : LYS. Or LIS.

61. Ward with Emmys : SELA

62. "So-o adorable!" : AWW

64. Mild, chili-wise : ONE ALARM. How high can you go?

73. Terminus : END POINT

74. With 123-Across, personal annoyance : PET. And 123. See 74-Across : PEEVE

75. Judge : DEEM

77. Pacific finger food : POI. Never had it. But I like baked taros & taro cakes.

80. "You Gotta Be" singer Des'__ : REE. We had this singer before.

81. Zenophile? : STOIC. Zeno the Stoic.

84. "Plum Island" author Nelson : DEMILLE. Marti & Hahtoola might have read this book.

86. Apple sites : ORCHARDS

89. Bone: Pref. : OSTE. Also OSSE.

91. Metroliner successor : ACELA

92. Shrek creator William : STEIG

103. Red team : SOX

104. Little work for a gardener? : BONSAI. Cute clue/answer.

105. Educational org. : PTA

106. The Aragón feeds it : EBRO

107. As a companion : ALONG. Oh, like in "Come along".

109. 1930s Rhine/Zener experiment : ESP TEST. Another learning moment for me.

113. L.D.S. school : BYU. Why did you go to BYU, Barry G? Were you a Mormon for sometime?

114. When vacations often don't start? : SOON ENOUGH. True.

119. Experiment subjects : GUINEA PIGS. Great entry also.

121. Alabaman, e.g. : SOUTHERNER

122. Walked : TROD

124. They're under heads : TORSI. Not NECKS.

125. "A Series of Unfortunate Events" villain Squalor : ESME. No idea. But inferable given Salinger's "For Esme – with Love and Squalor".

126. Six-yr. pols : SENS (Senators)

127. De-pressurized? : EASED


1. "I've seen this before" feeling : DEJA VU. Sparkling fill.

2. Asimov classic : I, ROBOT

3. Inventor on Serbia's 100-dinar note : NIKOLA TESLA. Full name!

4. Opening day starter : ACE. And 43. One making many calls : UMPIRE

5. 2011 FedEx Cup winner Bill : HAAS. Son of Jay Haas.

6. Egg-shaped : OVOIDAL. Same as Oval, right?

7. Morphological component, in linguistics : NOUN STEM. Another word I never used, but  inferable.

8. Fan mag : ZINE

9. Source of Norse mythology : EDDA

10. Mischief-maker : IMP. Hi there Spitzboov!

11. "Catch-22" pal of Yossarian : ORR

13. St. Francis' home : ASSISI

14. "Is it okay, mom?" : CAN I

15. "Mad Money" network : CNBC

16. Italian article : UNA

17. Rate word : PER

18. Many AARP members: Abbr. : SRs

22. Tailed orbiter : COMET

24. Butler created by Mitchell : RHETT. "Gone With the Wind".

31. Asian mushroom : SHIITAKE. When I worked in Guangzhou, my lunch was often rice noodles with shiitake.
34. Blowup cause : TNT

35. U.K. component : ISL (Island)

36. __ service : CIVIL

37. Art of verse : POESY

38. Long range : ANDES

40. 1944 invasion city : ST LO

41. DFW postings : ETAs. Dallas–Fort Worth.

42. Docket item : CASE

44. Trailer, say : TOW

47. Dictionary cousin of arch. : OBS. Obsolete.

48. Bygone depilatory : NEET

51. Out of vertical : TILTED

52. French game in which the king is the highest card : ECARTE. Do any of you play this game?

54. Roam : WANDER

55. Ran through a reader : SWIPED

57. Durham sch. : UNH

58. Jack Reacher creator Child : LEE

63. Yemen became its 160th mem. in June, 2014 : WTO. Unaware of the trivia. But it was a big deal when China joined WTO in 2001.

65. Ophidiophobe's fear, perhaps : ASP. OK, fear of snakes.

66. Great Society program : MEDICARE

68. Shabbily dressed : IN RAGS

69. "My country __ ... " : 'TIS

70. Prov. bordering four Great Lakes : ONT

71. Kids' TV quartet : TELETUBBIES. Four main characters from left to right: Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa, Po & Dipsy.

72. Get cash for : SELL

76. __ culpa : MEA

77. Goal pair : POSTS

78. Bug-B-Gon maker : ORTHO

79. Climber's implement : ICE AX

82. World Golf Hall of Famer Aoki : ISAO

83. Corner key : CTRL

85. Falcons quarterback Ryan : MATT

87. Good guess in Battleship : HIT. Another game I never played.

88. WWII weapons : STEN GUNS

90. 1991 Pinatubo event : ERUPTION

94. Common batteries : AAS

95. Sched. opening : TBA

96. Doesn't blow off : ATTENDS

97. Coquette : TEASE

99. Sirloin alternative : T-BONE

100. Writer __ de Balzac : HONORE

101. __ Lie, first U.N. secretary-general : TRYGVE. One more learning moment for me. He's Norwegian.

102. Contained : HOUSED

107. "A Bug's Life" colony : ANTS

108. City near Provo : LEHI. We see OREM more often.

110. Boot camp NCOs : SGTS

111. Immaculate : PURE

112. Gift-wrapping aid : TAPE

114. Retiree of 2003, briefly : SST

115. Winning combo : OOO

116. Possession indicator : OUR

117. Marvel : GEM

118. The Battle of Austerlitz precipitated its end: Abbr. : HRE. Stumper for me.

120. Royal pain? : PEA. "The Princess and the Pea".



George Barany said...

Congratulations to my friend Alex Vratsanos on his LAT debut, and to my friend C.C. for her masterful writeup. Some of us saw an earlier version of this puzzle quite a while ago, but I'm impressed at the final product, which reflects Rich Norris's editorial magic.

Since we are among friends, I can confess to having just passed an odometer birthday earlier in the week. My website contains several tribute puzzles which were lovingly constructed behind my back, and those of you who are interested can visit at your leisure. But I particularly want to call your attention to Tom Pepper's ingenious Huh? Could You Repeat That?, which in a curious way, echoes the theme of Alex's LAT puzzle of today. Anyhow, thanks a lot Tom, I'm very touched, and I do hope that readers of C.C.'s blog will try it too.

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers -

Impressive Sunday grid today! Took a few wrong turns, but these were easily corrected by perps. Just a few unknowns, that Steig fellow for one. As many times as we've seen the golfer Aoki, I can NOT recall the name when called upon.

I accessed the puzzle at midnight; since then, there appears to have developed a problem at Cruciverb. Just now, I couldn't open the site via an iPad.

Morning, C.C., good to see your style today!

Rainman said...

For a while, this one could not end SOONENOUGH. I had a hard time getting the theme. (Oh, DOH, six T's, I geddit now!) A pun in a title? Sixties?

Anyway, like CC said, a "learning moment" here and there, so I can't complain too awful much. Some of the more simple clues were good, like Long range = ANDES. I like smidges of misdirection but too much creates smudges. (The RHETT answer was good for Butler something.)

I do admire the work that went into this.

The palindromic clue could be solved using other techniques. I had two letters (out of 12) but they mirrored into four at the outset. TATTARRATTAT. Take that.

Some puzzles, like yesterday's, are just not pleasant, and I'm trying to find why. Today's was not quite as bad... and satisfying enough to finish relatively unscathed.

I wanted to spot the Venus-Mars conjunction last evening but it was just too hazy here to spot Mars with the naked eye.

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Nope, I did not get the theme. My best guess was that the theme answers had something to do with the 1760s, 1860s, 1960s, etc., but that soon turned out to be wrong.

Great puzzle in many spots, but a bear in others. The initial crossing of DINAH/HAAS (two unknowns) almost doomed me from the start, but when I finally got DINA_ from the crosses I was able to make a WAG. It took a long time to get ACE, however.

More problems with obscure names elsewhere in the grid included EBRO/TRYGYVE and DEMILLE/MATT. Once again, however, each pair included a name that could eventually be guessed with enough perps help, so I managed to get through unassisted.

OVOIDAL? NOUNSTEM? STEPWISE? What you talkin' about, Willis?

And can somebody please explain how trailer = TOW? One is a noun and the other is a verb, no? I can't see "trailering" something behind my car, and I wouldn't say I was dragging a TOW behind my car, either.

Rainman said...

BarryG, I thought the same at first, re. TOW and Trailer. Here we often say "Need a tow?" Call AAA. Could be evolved (shortened) from tow-ing. And, I've heard people say "I would trailer that" meaning they wouldn't drive it.
English, who needs it?

desper-otto said...

Wail, wail, wail set disk wicket woof! I scored the triple crown -- three DNF's in a row! Today my downfall was TATTLE TATTLE, making the mushroom SHAITAKE. I should have sussed the double-i; it's also found in Torii gate. Can never remember where the double-s goes in ASSISI -- double letters are my bane.

I got the Doobie Brothers song OK, but they were about 10 years too late for me to remember, C.C.. I'll bet Avg Joe could sing along, though.

My former next door neighbor was a two-time champ at the World Chili Championship in Terlingua, TX. She also battled Bobby Flay to a draw in a TV chili throw-down.

In my ute Isaac Asimov was my favorite author. I, Robot, of course, but also his Foundation trilogy.

Bluehen said...

WEES, except I did know EBRO (Jeremy Whatshisname caught a giant catfish out of it on Discovery Channel), TRYGVIE Lie, and MATT Ryan. A long, sometimes crunchy slog, but in the end doable without cheating. Nice work, Alex and CC.

CC, I googled Cruciverb on my antique desktop. Their homepage was the first hit and it opened right up. When I tried to open the LA Times crossword from there, I was redirected to Homepage would open, puzzle would not.

HeartRx said...

Good morning everyone.

Well, I really enjoyed the puzzle today. No cheats, no lookups, and a finishing Ta-Da at 18 min. Woo-hoo!

The title gave me the hint to the six Ts in each answer, but I thought it was elegant that Alex took the extra step of including exactly six theme entries, as well.

C.C., mystery novels are not usually on my reading list, so I was unfamiliar with "Plum Island." I just finished reading "Quantum Man," about the physicist Richard Feynman. Now I'm on to "The Accidental Empress," about SIsi of Austria.

Bluehen, if you install Across Lite (free app) on your computer, you will be able to open the LAT puzzle directly from the home page.

Well, I can't put it off any longer. Time to clear the snow off the driveway. :-(

Montana said...

I solved the puzzle last night, with red-letter help. I didn't get the theme. Some of the answers I filled in with perps didn't make sense, but reading CC's expo this morning made everything clear.
Cruciverb on iPad is working right now. I was able to open a new copy of this puzzle just to check.

I have hear of 'trailer' in verb form, as in "I'm trailering horses to Billings and have room for two more."

It's been so nice here in MT, the grizzly bears have started coming out of hibernation early. First one was February 8th, according to the news.


Unknown said...

The Week in Review: M 6:02 T 5:05 W 8:29 T 6:06 F 16:40 S 19:17 S 41:19

Well, the week almost ended with an FIW but, as with Friday and Saturday puzzles, persistence is the key. Today the "usual suspects" in the typo hunt were DINAH and HAAS in the NW, and ESME and MEHI down South. MEHI you ask? Well, AMONG seemed solid so that gave me MEHI. Who knew. I was thinking I'd give up (aka turn on the red letters) at the 60-minute mark even though I felt like I'd already tried everything I could think of. Then, for some reason, I thought AMONG could be ALONG. TaDa! Needless to say, I didn't get the very clever theme. I should also say that if I were doing this on paper I'd have a week of DNFs and FIWs.

We dodged the bullet with last night's snowstorm but a week of sub-zero lows is, once again, in the forecast.

See ya'll next Sunday when, for what it's worth, it will be March.

Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning, C.C. and friends. This was a tough Sunday puzzle. After getting THAT'S THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH and TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE, it dawned on me that the theme meant there would be 6 Ts in each starred answer.

I confidently wrote Crew for Ship Staff.

Hand up for wanting Necks instead of TORSI.

I also thought of Desktop instead of ORCHARDS for the Apple sites.

I did my graduate work at UNH, so the Durham school was a gimme.

My favorite clue was long range = ANDES. I just spent some time in the Peruvian Andes.

Although I have heard of Nelson DeMILLE, I have never read any of his books.

Stay warm and shoveled out.

QOD: I think that being happy makes the biggest impact on your physical appearance. ~ Drew Barrymore (b. Feb. 22, 1975)

Big Easy said...

Good interview C.C. And congratulations on your raise Alex along with the other W-M employees.
But on to the puzzle.

After yesterday's disaster, I refused to give up on this one and THAT'S THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. But it took waaaay tooo long. Even if I had unraveled that 60s meant 6-Ts, it still would have taken the same time. But I completed this one.

My last fill, WII MOTES (one word or two?) just didn't look correct even though I know OTIASE would be incorrect. ESP TEST- all perps.

Some of the waffles I had were SORTED-SWIPED, ORKIN-ORTHO, ANTZ-ANTS, and Ryan LEAF instead of MATT Ryan. And I'm with C.C. on OVOIDAL and NOUN STEM- new words to me.

Other unknowns filled by perps were ONSZ,ONEIL, STEIG, DesREE, Nelson DEMILLE, ESME, ORR, ECARTE, LEE Child, ASP, HRE, and TRYGVE. I had to look at that one real hard because it had to be PET PEEVE on the cross. I guessed TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE (unknown) and worked TATTARRATTAT ( also unknown) from the inside out using the downs.

Barry G. said...

I have heard of 'trailer' in verb form, as in "I'm trailering horses to Billings and have room for two more."

Hmmm... OK. I'm guessing it's a regional thing, but maybe I just don't get out enough.

I should have mentioned, btw, that having gone to BYU I knew that LEHI was right near Provo, which helped in two different answers today.

As to why I went to BYU, my parents converted to "Mormonism" when I was very young and that's how I was raised. It didn't stick, however. If anybody cares, you can click on my profile picture and read a blog I created called "Essays on Atheism" to provide some more background on my beliefs (or lack thereof).

Big Easy said...

Make that ONZE instead of ONSZ. The keyboard on my laptop is starting to go haywire. Sorry.

Avg Joe said...

Congratulations on your LAT debut, Alex.

I found this pretty tough sledding for a Sunday. It took perhaps twice the normal time. Yes Otto, first theme fill was Takin It To The Streets, but that didn't make the theme clear. So I stumbled through it all clueless. Only grasped the significance after I'd filled the grid.

But, alas it was a FIW. I was sure shiitake was spelled shiatake, and O'neal was as good as O'neil. So I've got to take a fail. But it was fun nonetheless.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

I got the theme very early on but it didn't help me to avoid a FIW. The crossings of step wise, poesy and lys did me in. Oh well, I enjoyed the solve, even though there were some head-scratcher clues.

Nelson De Mille is one of those writers who either hits it out of the park, or strikes out swinging, IMO. I have read quite a few of his books, loving some and being greatly disappointed with others.

Congrats, Alex, on your impressive LAT debut; we'll look forward to seeing you again. Thanks, CC, for your informative summary. Hope you are keeping warm in that frozen tundra you and Boomer call home!

Have a great day.

Madame Defarge said...

Good Morning,

Thanks C.C. for the informative interview and the helpful run through. Congratulations Alex.

This was challenging, yet fun and enlightening, filled with Ah-Ha moments and new knowledge. Most of my difficulties came clear via the perps. A real delight after yesterday.

Hope it's also sunny where you are.

coneyro said...

60s=6Ts..Ah, just got it. I noticed all the starred answers had a lot of Ts in them, but I didn't bother to count how many in each. Very clever and some feat to pull off. Congrats!

Much better on my nerves than yesterday. Favorite answer was BONSAI, as little work for a gardener. Cute. Names don't come easy to me, so I need to wait for perps.

ONE ALARM CHILI...I used to enjoy spicy food. I've noticed that as I've gotten older, my taste buds are more sensitive. Everything is TOO spicy, salty, sweet etc. for me, and I don't look forward to my meals anymore. Such a shame. And me, a gourmet cook to boot. Oh well....

Everone ready for the Oscars tonight? I'm rooting for J.K. Simmons to win. Love this actor.

Another week begins. Let's hope it's a good one.

Lucina said...

Greetings, puzzlers!

I've concluded that this is my learning weekend and so with that attitude I tackled today's puzzle. My problem is being unfamiliar with current popular culture, i.e., STEIG, WIIMOTES, etc. But I soldier onwards.

However, HONORE Balzac, Nelson DEMILLE, ERICA Jong and even TRYGVE are well known to my age group. SEOUL is one I certainly know but the spelling doesn't stick.

I thought of Misty at the Ulysses reference and of Barry at BYU.

One FIW, ONZE because CINE/ONCE looked right. Sigh. I must learn to count in every language.

So thank you to Alex Vratsanos for enlightening me and to C.C. from whom I always learn something. In spite of my frustration with yesterday's puzzle, I do admire the effort of constructing. I couldn't do it!

Have a delightful Sunday, everyone!

Husker Gary said...

I slew the dragon yesterday but STEPWISE, TOW, POESY, LYS did me in with three bad cells and literal me had to get the theme from C.C. Coupled with clever cluing, Wow!

-TAKING required eliding to fit
-Clever American Gothic inclusion @ 3:18 (3:55) in River City, IOWA
-Never heard the word WIIMOTES before, but AWWWWWW
-Peyton last game as a VOL was a 42 – 17 drubbing by the Huskers
-BONSAI trees were one of Mr. Myagi’s passions
-Banzai is an entirely different but similar sounding Japanese word
-The UMPIRE’S strike zone is a big MLB issue this year
-RHETT would have frozen his tuckus according to last week’s Atlanta weather
-TILTED was a consequence of many pinball games for me
-The NFL is considering narrowing the Goal POSTS to cut down on automatic field goals
-There are lots of online Battleship games you can try C.C.
-Doesn’t everyone remember SGT Hulka, “our big toe”?
-Gotta run, read ya later!

Lucina said...

Five alarm chile is the highest I've heard and though I love the heat and spice, I prefer 3 or 4 so I can savor the taste.

OwenKL said...

TITTLETATTLE? TATTARRATTAT? OVIOIDAL? Really? I think Norris has decided to match the NYT difficulty level. Either that or my brain is turning to mush the last couple weeks. Which may be. For 93a I read onomatopoeia instead of palindrome. Mostly WEES, I did start with WWI before Holy Roman Empire.

I'm also a BYU alum, sorta. Went there my freshman year before dropping out. I figure I've spent about 8 years in college at 5 or so colleges without ever getting a degree.

No one's linked TOOTSIE yet?

Argyle said...

Now that's some whistling!

maripro said...

Wow! This was challenging but fun.
Dinah, deja vu, soon enough - all excellent clues. Congratulations, Alex

Spitzboov said...

Good afternoon everyone.

Got most of it without a hassle. Liked the long acrosses. Remembered TRYGVE from all the news accounts of the UN in the 50's. ONZE was cake. Used Rainman's mirror solve for TATTARRATTAT. Little light on the bikini specs - C CUPS. Perps were well organized to assist with the solve. The 4 letter Spanish river in puzzledom is usually EBRO.
Austerlitz involved Napoleon, and HRE was eliminated by Congress of Vienna in 1815 I believe. So it was a good WAG. Red letter for a couple words like POESY.
Enjoyable puzzle, Alex. Thank you.

Jayce said...

Super puzzle today. Fun to solve this admirable piece of work.

C.C. Burnikel said...

Thanks for answering my question. I had a couple disconcerting hours since I could not access Cruciverb to check on the past puzzles Alex Vratsanos had.

Thanks also to George, Argyle, Dudley & D-Otto for giving me prompt feedback via email in those crazy wee hours.

Jayce said...

I did the Huh? Could You Repeat That? puzzle and found to be quite the teaser. Very cute.

Barry G, I read your "Essays on Atheism" and I think they are well written. Dawkins indeed.

I thought of Misty when I read the James Joyce "Ulysses" clue.

Best wishes to you all.

TinoTechie said...


For 6D, I believe an Oval is a plane object (flat) and Ovoidal is a solid (three dimensional) object, like an egg.

For 118D, the HRE is the Holy Roman Empire, which I think was broken up after the battle.


Anonymous said...


From Wikipedia: "The 3-dimensional version of an oval is called an ovoid."

"Ovoidal" is an adjective.

fermatprime said...


Thanks to Alex and CC!

Got this one with no cheats--but took quite a while, retyping over and over it seemed, several first guesses being incorrect.

Used the mirror trick on the palindrome, also. Didn't see the asterisk on the title.

Was hoping to go buy plants today. However, it is pouring. (Would be no fun with a wet scooter.)

Do not complain that this was like NYT. NYT was rather hideous. Shifts of word parts (only) up and down. There does no seem to be a way to save this puzzle, for later, either. (It was very late, so I gave up. (Turns out 5 letters were incorrect. Given more time, I think I could have finished this correctly.)


Dudley said...


Dudley said...

Huh! I was surprised at the long gap after Fermat 5:19, thought there might be a glitch.