Wall Street Journal, 5/21/10

“Friends in Low Places” by Harvey Estes – 19:36

Hi everybody. Despite being on a top secret mission in deepest darkest Ontario, I’m here for your blogging pleasure. After all, if I miss too many, the Fiend Executive might start to notice and dock my pay.

I wore my Crosswords LA t-shirt for the first time today and it appears to have LA T-Shirt 002magical powers. I checked into my hotel room and waiting for me were 2 mini-packs of OREO cookies. Awesome. Thank you, Crossword Gods. Ok, let’s get to this week’s Wall Street Journal crossword.

Region capture 4“Friends in Low Places” is by Harvey Estes. It took me forever to get the almost too-clever theme, which is taking “PAL” out of  phrases in the top of the grid and adding it to phrases in the bottom of the grid. I only noticed the addition of PAL while solving and kept trying to add it to the top answers.

Theme answers:

23A. [Fighter pilot from an English town?] – BUCKINGHAM [PAL]ACE
36A. [Anxiety about roads through mountains?] – CAR[PAL] TUNNEL SYNDROME
54A. [Theological basis of “Father Knows Best”?] – PA[PAL] INFALLIBILITY
79A. [Song about one young man’s truly burning desire?] – A BOY NAPALMED SUE  [eww](A Boy Named Sue)
94A. [One ogling a woman in a Chevy?] – IMPALA GIRL WATCHER (I’m a Girl Watcher)
116A. [Tea Party movement members?] – THE PALIN CROWD (The In Crowd). Seed entry?

Other stuff:

1A. [Like a serving of eels, perhaps] – JELLIED. NW was the last to fall, as I couldn’t get 1-across.
20A. [Glass-walled enclosures] – AQUARIA. I know it’s right but I always think it should be aquariums.
27A. [Lost cause] – GONER. “Lost” is soon a goner; I never watched it.
30A. [Brad Garrett sitcom “___ Death”] – TIL. Don’t watch this either. Is it still on?
32A. [Baldwin’s TV co-star] – FEY. This I watch.
45A. [Mark Antony was his great-grandfather] – NERO. New fact to me.
48A. [Feminist princess of opera] – IDA. Not my favorite Gilbert and Sullivan. How about some “Mikado”?
72A. [Activist Brockovich] – ERIN. As opposed to any other noted Brockovich’s?
77A. [1973 album featuring the song “Photograph”] – RINGO
114A. [Its national anthem is “Maamme”] – FINLAND. From the classic musical?
124A. [Greasy spoon dare] – EAT HERE. “Dare” seems odd.
1D. [Sci-fi crime lord] – JABBA. Should not have taken me as long as it did.
4D. [Chad and Albert] – LAKES. Was thinking Lowe. Who is Albert Lowe?
10D. [Instrument with finger holes] – OCARINA. Hated word that got me in my first ACPT. Never again.
42D. [Victim of recession] – HAIR LINE. Why are you looking at me?
47D. [“Hold On Tight” band] – ELO
2D. [President who served a month in office] – HARRISON. Today we learn that Garfield and Harrison share three letters.
58D. [1983 role for Barbra] – YENTL
68D. [Painter Schiele] – EGON. Who?
71D. [“Turn! Turn! Turn!” songwriter] – SEEGER
113D. [Cab Calloway specialty] – SCAT

Overall, a clever theme that just didn’t grab me. How about you?

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6 Responses to Wall Street Journal, 5/21/10

  1. joon says:

    EGON schiele, expressionist austrian painter. funky stuff, and he’s a reasonably big name, although i’m not really a fan. i’d go with EGON from ghostbusters, myself.

    i liked the theme quite a lot. A BOY NAPALMED SUE is absolutely inspired.

    you need to get over your OCARINAphobia and play some zelda 64. still the best video game ever, i think.

  2. ArtLvr says:

    ERIN, EGON, IDA, PETE (Rose), SEEGER and BAER I knew, FEY, RICCI, RINGO, JABBA and HARRISON I could guess. I managed to finish the same way as mentioned, bottom half first with the amusing added PALs, but then was tricked into looking for more until BUCKINGHAM ACE revealed the unique sinking feature of the lowlifes!

    Thus my overall admiration — but I could have done without all the obscure name-clues: MONICA, SPADER, LESLIE, KELSEY, CAROLYN, INGEMAR, DR DRE, etc. — not particularly a propos for a WSJ opus? I’m surprised Mr. Estes didn’t RUB IN that aspect with a RUBIN person: for example, former Treasury Secretary Robert RUBIN would have fit better in this setting…

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    I agree with Joon, I like it. I didn’t know anything with NAPALM in it could be funny but somehow Harvey pulled it off.

    This is a pretty new twist on add/remove letter(s) themes — remove letters from one theme entry and put them in another. Brendan did one with the letters RNA and the key phrase was TRANSFER RNA, and I think someone did it with the letters ID and the kicker was IDENTITY THEFT.

    So it’s still quite virginal territory, aspiring themesters take note.

  4. Alex says:

    There was also the NOW YOU SEE IT NOW YOU DONT puzzle from a Sunday NYT a while back.

  5. joon says:

    dan naddor did an “organ transplant” sunday puzzle in the LAT last year.

  6. Tina Curran says:

    Thank you for this site! Always wonderful to find fellow puzzlers.

    I thought, fairly recently, I found a Maltby/Harper’s section on here – but now the site’s Search genie turns up nothing. This reminds me of the Maltby forum on the old NYT forum, which also seemed to disappear.

    Where can I find a discussion group of his puzzles? Why not here? I mean on this site, Diary of a Crossword Fiend, not on this particular puzzle’s comments section where I seem to have ended up – I did try to find a ‘general’ section!

    Many thanks.

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