Friday, January 30, 2009

New York Times, Sat, Jan 31, 2009 Ken Bessette / Will Shortz

Probably the toughest puzzle of the year so far in the New York Times. After a little over an hour I had two-thirds done, but the top left and bottom right sections were largely unfilled.

For the top left, I got help from Magdalen: she'd given up a lot sooner, but at least had pass the hat and on the stage correct. Neither of us could do the bottom right, but TEA came up with some critical answers like adaptation and Fodor.
Solving time: 90 mins (no mistakes, but lots of cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 29d Honest Abe [Copper head?]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 29 (13.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.60)
Scrabble points291 (average 1.48)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

17a Kool-Aid Man [Ad pitcher who's really a pitcher] - I was totally out of my depth with this clue, but I see now that the Kool-Aid Man is something of a cultural icon.

19a Eureka [College of the Redwoods locale] - not Eureka College in Illinois, but a community college in Eureka, CA.

25a MLS [Chicago Fire's sports org.] - for once football is the kind I recognize. Chicago Fire is a Major League Soccer team.

26a Apu [Satyajit Ray's "The ___ Trilogy"] - so you can clue Apu without reference to The Simpsons.

37a Andress [Player of the first Bond girl] - memorable for her Venus-like emergence from the sea in Doctor No.



51d -A-Mole [Whac-___ (carnival game)] - this looks like fun!

Dici Clues

1a pass the hat [Seek change?] - nicely cryptic with a nod to an Obama slogan - a shame I didn't see this as it would have broken open the top left nicely.

57a asci [Fungal spore cases] - had an advantage with this one, as I've seen it innumerable times in cryptic crosswords.

62a ears [They're near temples] - very cute clue.

63a erector set [Toy with blueprints] - I had the right idea with this one, but put in Meccano Set, the British equivalent. This gave me writer's block big time.

1d pokes [Dawdling sorts] - I'd come across slowpoke, but this shortening is new to me.

33d snees [Bygone stickers] - I've found it hard to justify this - snee is a verb meaning to cut, but it's not in any of my dictionaries as a noun.

41d the wave [Stand-up routine?] - we use mexican wave in Britain, since the phenomenon first gained worldwide notice in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

43d Madame [One of a couple at a French restaurant] - ie how the Mrs would be addressed (Magdalen had to explain that one to me).

Quicky Clues

11a brer [Southern appellation]; 15a on the stage [Between wings]; 16a lamé [Showy wear]; 18a tias [Some familia members]; 20a Iva [___ Archer, with whom Sam Spade had an affair]; 21a snit [Red state?]; 22a steps [They have their ups and downs]; 23a stens [Weapons once produced extensively by the Royal Small Arms Factory]; 27a tamale [Dish with cornhusks]; 29a hardships [Trials]; 35a Nokia [Big name in cells]; 36a one unit [Blood drive quantity]; 39a Nance [Actor Jack]; 40a stag party [No place for a lady]; 42a esteem [Hold up]; 44a HBO ["Thrilla in Manila" airer]; 45a sta. [Timetable listing: Abbr.]; 46a safes [Combinations' locations]; 48a nag at [Badger]; 53a talk [Yak]; 55a DOW [It has its ups and downs, with "the"]; 56a sesame [Kind of beef or chicken]; 58a adaptation [Evolutionary process]; 60a bias [Diagonal]; 61a movie title [Marquee name].

2d an out [Have ___ (not be trapped)]; 3d store [Link in a chain?]; 4d shlep [Cart]; 5d teaks [Trees of the verbena family]; 6d Hsia [Early Chinese dynasty]; 7d ETD [Capt.'s announcement]; 8d ham it up [Hot-dog]; 9d agave [Pita source]; 10d tenant [Kind of farmer]; 11d BLTs [Short orders?]; 12d rainmaker [Indian tribe V.I.P.]; 13d email list [Spammer's resource]; 14d rests easy [Stops stewing]; 23d spits [Hot rods?]; 24d S and P [Market yardstick, for short]; 26d ahi [Yellowfin, on Hawaiian menus]; 28d Mora [Last name of father-and-son N.F.L. coaches]; 29d Honest Abe [Copper head?]; 30d Anastasia [Bergman title role]; 31d rental car [Terminal offering]; 32d duce [Italian leader]; 34d Saabs [Automotive debuts of 1949]; 38d Ngo [___ Dinh Diem (first president of South Vietnam)]; 47d Fodor [Travel writer Eugene]; 48d neato [Swell]; 49d astir [Still no longer]; 50d gaits [They're shown at horse shows]; 52d tenet [Something a believer believes]; 54d kiss [It's often planted]; 56d stet [Keep in]; 59d pic [Shot].

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Sun, Jan 25, 2009 - Solution

Last Sunday's puzzle on NPR's Weekend Edition was this:
Think of a word that starts and ends with the letter 'm'; drop the first 'm,' insert an 'o' somewhere and you'll get a new word that means the same thing as the first word. What words are these?
This struck me immediately as a puzzle TEA could help with. When I couldn't think of anything within a few minutes, I started up the software and typed the pattern m*m.

This asks TEA to search for all the words starting and ending with the letter 'm'. I didn't think this would give too many results because 'm' (a 3-point letter in Scrabble) is a fairly constraining letter.

It helps a lot, of course, that TEA classifies words by how well-known they are: the Core English list contains the 65,000 most common words in English; the results from searching it appear in the top pane.

I thought it likely that common words would have been chosen for the puzzle and indeed the answer maxim was the sixth result shown. When the 'm' is removed and an 'o' is inserted, this becomes the synonym axiom.

As often in English, the dual influence of Latin and Greek results in two words with roughly the same meaning: maxim comes from the Latin maxima, while axiom comes from the Greek axioein to think worthy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New York Times, Fri, Jan 30, 2009 Brendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz

Wow that was a tough one. Intersecting "meta" clues describe my feelings when hitting the brick wall of the bottom center and right (47a we're doomed!) and on completing the grid (47d we did it!).

What really annoyed me was the long answers that I would have died to know, but which a Brit couldn't realistically have heard of. For example, Seth Low, Matt Drudge, Larry David (OK, I suppose I could have known him). I managed to skirt round these unknowns and figure them out through cross-checking, but that does slow things down.
Solving time: 55 mins (no cheating)
9d skate [Work on one's figure, say]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.2%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.50)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

19a Seth Low [Early 20th-century New York City mayor]. Is Seth Low well-known to Americans, or is the crossword compiler (not unreasonably) just being a little NY-centric?

22a Raj [Rule that ended in 1947] - also a sympathetic character on my fav sitcom Big Bang Theory - he's so shy he's unable to speak to women (especially beautiful ones) - I can relate to that!

23a Matt Drudge [Journalist with a widely read "Report"] - famous for being the first to break news of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

38a Jif [Peter Pan rival] - as usual, I'm at a disadvantage with brand names - I see Jif and Peter Pan are peanut butters.

39a Carr ["The Emperor's Snuff-Box" novelist John Dickson ___] - but I knew this author right away (if not the book) - he's famous for locked room mystery detective stories.

47a we're doomed [Cry when you don't think you'll make it] - also the catch-phrase of Frazer on the greatest ever BBC sitcom Dad's Army. Frazer was the dour Scottish undertaker who never failed to see the worst in any situation.

54d Mav [Big D cager]. A series of hurdles: cager is slang for a basketball player; Big D is slang for Dallas; the Dallas basketballers are the Mavericks, shortened to Mavs, so a Dallas basketball player is a Mav. Don't expect me to solve this sort of clue first - or at all!

Dici Clues

1a moth [Woolly bear, eventually] - a woolly bear is a large hairy caterpillar, especially that of the tiger moth.

15a INRI [Cross letters] - from the initials of "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" in Latin.

34a data [It may be mined] - "data mining" is extracting nuggets of useful information from large databases.

35a avisos [Warnings, to Juan] - oops, that one was missing from Español para los crucigramistas - it is now!

49a LTs [Some linemen: Abbr.] - LT = left tackle - more American football lingo to learn.

51a rips one [Hits a line drive] - I had no clue about this one, but Magdalen explained it was to do with baseball. I did go to see a Binghamton Mets game, but I can only take in so much information at once.

52a outside man [Gardener or landscaper] - this seems a tad obscure. I've found outside man in Partridge and the Oxford English Dictionary, but only as US slang meaning "a lookout man for criminals but particularly for a 'firm' of card sharps engaged in the three-card trick".

4d high treason [It has made many people lose their heads] - not height reason - the makings of a thematic puzzle?

5d actor [Person in an apron] - ie an apron stage - a nice clue that had me thinking of a cook, chef, even smith (which fitted the squares, but no crossing answers).

9d skate [Work on one's figure, say] - also a super clue - the figures of figure skating are the compulsory patterns such as circles, figures of 8 etc.

28d kit [Young fox] - had cub to start with, but young foxes can also be called kits.

34d digerati [Computer-savvy crowd] - a lovely word to get into the grid - coined in the 1990s, it has had time to make it into the dictionaries.

35d axolotl [Salamander variety] - another great word, which comes to us from the Nahuatl atl 'water' + xolotl 'servant'. Anytime an English word ends -tl, it probably comes from the Nahuatl.

37d in a stir [Excited] - couldn't get this right away, since in a spin was more tempting (but wrong).

Quicky Clues

5a Addis Ababa [City at the foot of Mount Entoto]; 16a crankcases [Sludge buildup sites]; 17a a log [Like falling off ___]; 18a terracotta [Brownish orange]; 19a Seth Low [Early 20th-century New York City mayor]; 21a att. [Many a defender: Abbr.]; 23a Matt Drudge [Journalist with a widely read "Report"]; 25a tiro [Newbie: Var.]; 26a avers [Maintains]; 27a pas [Not overseas]; 28a Kodak [___ moment]; 29a sere [Not at all wet]; 30a sob [Be visibly disconsolate]; 31a rib eye [Steakhouse order]; 32a Avon [Foundation maker]; 38a Jif [Peter Pan rival]; 39a Carr ["The Emperor's Snuff-Box" novelist John Dickson ___]; 43a Xenon [1980s Big Apple nightclub with a chemical name]; 44a sag [Mattress problem]; 45a scree [Cliffside detritus]; 46a on an [___ outing]; 47a we're doomed [Cry when you don't think you'll make it]; 49a LTs [Some linemen: Abbr.]; 50a Len [ESPN analyst Pasquarelli]; 55a Hite ["Women and Love" writer]; 56a triplicate [Some forms are filled out in it]; 57a Orem [City south of West Jordan on I-15]; 58a Larry David [1993 Emmy winner for "Seinfeld"]; 59a Pers. [Asian lang.].

1d miasmas [Noxious vapors]; 2d on leave [Ashore, maybe]; 3d trotter [Horse in harness];
6d drew upon [Tapped]; 7d Dar [___ el Beida (Casablanca, to its natives)]; 8d in rags [Destitute-looking]; 10d acct. [A.T.M. receipt abbr.]; 11d Bao [___ Dai (last emperor of Vietnam)]; 12d astride [One way to sit on a chair]; 13d beta ray [Tritium output]; 14d as a joke [Facetiously]; 20d LDS [Denom. with elders]; 24d dab [Touch]; 25d tobacco shop [Briar locale]; 30d SOS [911 call, e.g.]; 31d RAF [Org. involved in the gulf war]; 33d von [From, in some names]; 36d Ventura [Classic Pontiac]; 38d jar [Big bump]; 40d armoire [Dresser alternative]; 41d re-enter [Verify, as a password]; 42d redeems [Saves]; 44d Seneca ["Phoenissae" playwright]; 45d sop [Offering of appeasement]; 47d we did ["___ it!" (cry of accomplishment)]; 48d dined [Had a 31-Across, e.g.]; 50d lily [Asparagus's family]; 53d spr. [May days?: Abbr.].

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New York Times, Thu, Jan 29, 2009 Barry C. Silk / Will Shortz

This was the second Barry C. Silk puzzle of the year, and I think he is the first compiler to be so honored in 2009. I seem to be on his wavelength as his puzzle last Friday seemed straightforward and I logged a reasonable time for this.

My strategy with this type of puzzle is to try to get the theme answer being defined (bar in this case) as early as possible. I was hampered by the difficulty of 56d and 57d, but realized what was going on after about 5 minutes.

Is Barry an Apple fan, as I can see three of their best-known products in the grid: Macs, iPods and the iPhone?
Solving time: 14 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 22a oars [They're inserted in locks]
Theme

Five answers define the last across answer 66a bar:
17a legal profession
25a banish by decree
35a taproom
45a unit of pressure
58a musical notation
The last down answer 60d law [66-Across topic] was also clued with reference to the theme.

Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Scrabble points318 (average 1.68)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

15a iPhone [Time magazine's 2007 Invention of the Year]. Last year's was the Retail DNA Test.

16a Yves [Jacques Cousteau's middle name] - not known to me, but the answer seems eminently suitable for the great French oceanographer.

23a Giza [City on the Nile] - familiar as the site of the Great Sphinx and Great Pyramid.

31a Galen [Influential Greek physician] - he was considered the authority on medical matters for over a thousand years.

34a URI [Sch. with a Providence campus] - University of Rhode Island. Kind of the compiler to give a strong hint to the RI bit.

39a Zak [Ringo's drummer son] - Zak Starkey (since Ringo's real name is Richard Starkey) - born with a silver drum in his mouth according to this vintage news clip:



50a Lett [Riga resident] - Latvia used to be called Lettland and its citizens are still called Letts. They speak Lettish. I'm not making this up!

54a Amarillo [Texas panhandle city] - and a cue for a song (this takes me back to when I was a tweenager):



64a Xena [TV heroine who wielded a chakram as a weapon] - a chakram is a throwing weapon somewhat like a discus.

65a tweens [Sixth graders, e.g.] - I'm still struggling to understand the US grade system (the UK does things differently).

If I understand this Wikipedia article right, someone in grade X is usually X+5 to X+6 years old. So a sixth grader is usually 11-12, the classic tweenager:
tweenager: a child who, although not yet a teenager, has already developed an interest in fashion, pop music, and exasperating his or her parents.
The Chambers Dictionary
1d Iola [Seat of Allen County, Kan.] - I'm expected to remember this place?

8d in F [Like Beethoven's Sixth Symphony] - these clues now seem rather pointless to me: isn't it equivalent to saying "the answer starts IN and ends A thru G"?

11d Avia [New Balance competitor] - a new name to me, and with that letter pattern, it's worth remembering. Makers of sports shoes with a fun web design.

37d pope [The Swiss Guards guard him]. Why Swiss guards? Swiss mercenaries used to be employed as guards in many European courts - the Vatican is just the last surviving one.

47d Elmore ["Get Shorty" novelist ___ Leonard] - here are the rules he follows as a writer.

48d Seaton [George who directed "Miracle on 34th Street"] - George Seaton at IMDb.

56d Loma [___ Linda, Calif.] - a group of Seventh-day Adventists here have the highest longevity rate in the US according to researchers.

Dici Clues

1a -ize [Suffix with social] - not the most helpful clue, since there are so many possible suffixes: TEA also gives -ism, -ist, -ite, -ise and -ity.

4a outwit [Best in mental combat] - "Best" is nicely misleading. The clue could also have been "Worst in mental combat", but maybe that's a little too devious!

22a oars [They're inserted in locks] - great clue - had me thinking of keys and then I couldn't let go of that.

32a øre [1/100 of a krone] - could be referring to either the Norwegian or Danish currencies.

52d cuke [Salad veggie] - more subtle than I originally thought - the informal "veggie" specifically indicates an informal answer.

54d ante [Chip without dip?] - referring to anteing up with a poker chip.

Quicky Clues

10a macs [Some rain gear]; 14a own [Hold one's ___]; 20a airspeed [Cockpit datum]; 21a I pass [Bridge declaration]; 33a eave [Roof projection]; 40a robs [Plunders]; 42a roe [Some eggs]; 43a iPods [Products once pitched by U2 and Eminem]; 49a apse [Basilica part]; 51a I came [Start of Caesar's boast]; 61a akin [Related]; 62a patrol [Soldiers may be on it]; 63a Mme. [Abbr. in French mail].

2d zwei [Deux : France :: ___ : Germany]; 3d engr. [Technician: Abbr.]; 4d oil paint [Artist's application]; 5d uppers [Amphetamines, e.g.]; 6d thresh [Separate the wheat from the chaff]; 7d wood [Golf club]; 9d tee [Place to start a hole]; 10d MySpace [News Corporation acquisition of 2005]; 12d CEOs [Business honchos]; 13d SSNs [I.R.S. data: Abbr.]; 18d as one [In harmony]; 19d size [Tag info]; 23d gyro [Greek restaurant offering]; 24d ideo- [Logical introduction?]; 25d baron [Captain of industry]; 26d alibi [Out]; 27d borer [Hole-making tool]; 28d razor [Shadow remover]; 29d evade [Duck]; 30d eeks [Mice might elicit them]; 31d guru [Wise guy]; 36d arfs [Pet sounds]; 38d mistrals [Cold northerly winds of southern France]; 41d stamina [Endurance]; 44d put it ["___ down!" ("Drop the gun!")]; 46d OPEC [Crude letters?]; 51d IMAX [Big film shower]; 53d asin [Q ___ queen]; 55d limb [An arm or a leg]; 57d oner [Humdinger]; 59d apt [Fitting].

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New York Times, Wed, Jan 28, 2009 Michael Langwald / Will Shortz

Well this puzzle had a certain enigmatic quality, particularly on the middle right, where several tough answers hung out to ambush me. But I managed to circumvent what Trapps there were and was heartened by another oked puzzle.
Solving time: 20 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzze: 37a lei [Ring around the collar?];
Theme

Four theme answers, the first words of which are a pun on "Made in Taiwan", a mark commonly found on the fifth thematic answer, 60a child's toys:
17a Maid Marian [Robin Hood's love]
24a innkeeper [One at the front desk, perhaps]
38a tie game [Nail-biter, perhaps]
49a Juan Peron [Leader deposed in 1955]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.2%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Scrabble points290 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

13a Ernő [Puzzlemaker Rubik] - his cubes were big in my early 20s - being a puzzle genius, I was supposed to be able to solve this, but I found the best technique was to get close and then swap the sticky squares over as necessary.

14a Hanes [Big name in briefs] - not so big in our household where Tommy Hilfinger is the brand of choice.

23a Mel [Blanc who voiced Porky Pig] and 999 other cartoon characters - he's The Man of a Thousand Voices.

40a I Go [Billy Joel's "___ to Extremes"] - a track from the 1989 album Storm Front. Although I didn't know the song, the answer was very guessable.

44a Taos [Pueblo dweller] - a North American people native to New Mexico. I could only get this answer from cross-checking - Native American tribes are another area to study for the championship.

54a Ino [Rescuer of Odysseus] - Ino of the slim ankles helps Odysseus with his difficulties with Neptune:
"My poor good man," said Ino, "why is Neptune so furiously angry
with you? He is giving you a great deal of trouble, but for all
his bluster he will not kill you. You seem to be a sensible
person, do then as I bid you; strip, leave your raft to drive
before the wind, and swim to the Phaeacian coast where better
luck awaits you. And here, take my veil and put it round your
chest; it is enchanted, and you can come to no harm so long as
you wear it. As soon as you touch land take it off, throw it
back as far as you can into the sea, and then go away again."
from Homer's Odyssey
55a Emma Peel [1960s role for Diana Rigg] - the name is a pun on the phrase "M(an) Appeal", what the producers of The Avengers sought for in the character.

59a Liam [Writer O'Flaherty] - an Irish novelist.

4d Rodgers ["Blue Moon" composer] - what's the weirdest interpretation of this standard I can find? Perhaps the Trinity College Cambridge choir adrift on the treacherous waters of the Cam - will someone please rescue them:



8d LeAnn [Rimes of country music] - all I can think of when I hear the name is "but LeAnn doesn't rhyme with anything - why wasn't she christened June or something" (at least it helps me remember it). But Magdalen put in a request for How Do I Live (Without You) in memory of her mother Jo :



11d Renee [Zellweger of "Nurse Betty"] - to me, she's always Bridget Jones.

38d Trapp ["The Sound of Music" family name] - in a recent New England tour, it surprised me that the von Trapp's had settled in Vermont. They have a lodge where you can stay.

44d Tiny Tim [Dickens lad] - pediatric neurologist Donald Lewis concludes that Tim suffered from distal renal tubular acidosis and recommends a course of antacids.

48d Nils [Rock's Lofgren] - our friend Coffee Jones is Nils' Greatest Fan, so this one's for her (do you want to add guitar lessons to all the other things you're doing Ms Jones?):



56d Edna [Novelist Ferber] - her novel Show Boat was the basis for the musical.

Dici Clues

1a tier [Level] - typical later-in-the-week clue, with the definition capable of many interpretations, all of which could lead to four-letter answers no doubt.

16a used [Played for a cat's-paw] - ie got someone else to do the dirty work - its origin is the fable of the monkey who wanted roast chestnuts from the fire and used the paw of his sleeping friend the cat to get them - ouch!

28a enc. [Business letter abbr.], 29a alts. [Relief map figs.], 30a PTAs [Some fund-raising orgs.] and 33a St Pat. [Parade honoree, familiarly] - abbreviations for enclosure, altitude, Parent-Teacher Association and Saint Patrick. To have four consecutive abbreviations seems a little clumsy.

37a lei [Ring around the collar?] - a nicely misleading clue - I could only think of dirty shirts.

2d irae ["Dies ___"] - the liveliest part of any Requiem. Verdi's is hard to beat, though I also love Britten's setting, The War Requiem.

5d shad [Roe source] - I'm told cod's roe was my fav food as a baby - I don't think I've ever tried shad's roe.

15d snake [Plumber's tool] - a long flexible wire used to clear obstacles in piping - yuk! Also known as a "toilet jack" or "electric eel".

52d rehab [Dry out, in a way] - yes rehab can be a verb too.

Quicky Clues

5a soul [Record store section]; 9a sure! ["Natch!"]; 19a sung [Like some telegrams]; 20a pegged [Identified]; 21a on a spree [Frolicking]; 25a hearten [Cheer up]; 41a occur [Come to mind]; 43a lore [It's handed down]; 45a nab [Catch in the act]; 47a awnings [Storefront shaders]; 55a Emma Peel [1960s role for Diana Rigg]; 56a Élysée [___ Palace (French president's home)]; 62a laze [Kick back]; 63a haven [Safe place]; 64a îles [Specks in the Seine]; 65a oked [Gave the nod]; 66a beta [Test version]; 67a More [Thomas who wrote "Utopia"].

1d temp [Fill-in]; 3d enigmatic [Tough to figure out]; 6d oar [Galley need]; 7d union [Men in blue]; 9d suspect [Any character in Clue]; 10d usurp [Take forcibly]; 12d edger [Neatening tool]; 18d melt [Cheesy entree]; 22d sense [Pick up on]; 24d Intel [Major chipmaker]; 25d halo [Symbol of goodness]; 26d elec. [It may be D.C.]; 27d epi- [Prefix with center]; 31d ago [Way back when]; 32d Saran [Wrap in a roll]; 34d piano solo ["Layla" has one]; 35d agog [Totally wowed]; 36d toss [Deep-six]; 39d mew [Copy cats?]; 42d unnamed [Like a ghostwriter]; 46d beech [Nut producer]; 49d jello [Molded fare]; 50d umiak [Eskimo boat]; 51d amaze [Totally wow]; 53d olive [Place for pimiento]; 57d eyer [One who's "just looking"]; 58d esse [Latin 101 verb]; 61d let [Rent out].

Monday, January 26, 2009

New York Times, Tue, Jan 27, 2009 Jim Hyres / Will Shortz

I was finally tripped up by today's puzzle, caught out by my ignorance of proper names. Mize crossing with Orrin sent me sprawling, as I knew of neither: I guessed Maze and Orran, because I thought it more likely that the compiler would have used a dictionary word than not.

Magdalen, who Knows Her Golf, got the puzzle right, but took slightly longer. I think under the ACPT rules, she'd have got better marks as there are stiff penalties for mistakes - and rightly so.
Solving time: 15 mins (no cheating, but two wrong answers)
Theme

Four phrases with the sound of "born" at the end:
17a Mille Bornes [Game with "Out of Gas" cards]
58a Jason Bourne [Robert Ludlum protagonist]
11d firstborn [Heir to a throne, typically]
33d wind-borne [Like the dust in a dust storm]
I hadn't heard of Mille Bournes, although Magdalen has played it. Was it ever marketed in the UK?

There's a fifth homonym bourn, and TEA even finds a 15-letter pitcher "Old Hoss" Radbourn that could have been used. But I'm not sure stretching the idea to include a fifth thematic entry would have improved the puzzle.

Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.4%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.22)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.56)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

1a Capp [Li'l Abner creator Al]. The American cartoonist Al Capp is easily mixed up in my mind with the British cartoon character Andy Capp (how a Northerner, dropping 'is aitches, would say 'andicap).

11a FSU [Seminoles' sch.] - Florida State University, whose athletic teams are named after the Seminole tribe. A cheat sheet of University towns, states, nicknames and abbreviations would definitely come in 'andy.

14a Alou [Baseball's Moises or Felipe]. Felipe Alou and Moisés Alou are father and son.

26a Astor [Furrier John Jacob ___] - John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) was the first multi-millionaire in the US.

28a I, Robot [Classic Isaac Asimov short-story collection]. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics first appear in this collection:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
34a Zales [Big name in retail jewelry] - America's diamond store since 1924 - the name derives from two of the founders, surnamed Zale.

37a Erik [Composer Satie] - probably best known for his piano compositions, The Gymnopédies.

41a Benin [Nation once known as Dahomey] - when countries change names, their International Vehicle Registration codes continue to reflect the old name. So Benin cars still show the letters DY. This is worth remembering if you're a cryptic crossword solver in the UK, since abbreviations feature strongly in the wordplay of clues (and IVR codes are very popular abbreviations).

61a Attlee [Former British P.M. Clement ___] - the Labour leader who defeated Winston Churchill at the end of World War II. Britain's publicly funded healthcare system, the NHS, was created during his time in power. The cost of self-funding healthcare is one of the few disadvantages of emigrating to the US.

62a Mize [Larry who won the 1987 Masters] - I wrongly guessed Maze here, as I didn't know this American golfer and didn't know the crossing Orrin.

63a ode [Poem of Sappho] - her poetry is all Greek to me :)

1d Camay [Bar soap brand] - a Procter & Gamble product, as is ...

7d Atra [Gillette razor] - a safety razor used by a lot of crossword compilers. Solving a difficult New York Times puzzle, we often feel like we've gotten a close shave.

8d Sônia [Braga of film] - a Brazilian actress - here she is singing of her love for driftwood:



27d Ramis [Harold of "Ghostbusters"] - he played Dr Egon Spengler in one of my fav movie comedies.

29d Okie [Depression-era migrant] - knew this as I read The Grapes of Wrath in my teens.

41d Bell Jar [Sylvia Plath novel, with "The"] - semi-autobiographical account of a descent into mental illness.

42d Magoo [Myopic Mr.] - Mr Magoo is also the pseudonym of a cryptic crossword compiler in the UK. The tradition of using pseudonyms dates back to very early compilers such as Torquemada. Inquisitorial or otherwise evil-sounding names were popular, although in recent times pseudonyms tend to be derived from the compiler's name or favorite hobby.

In the UK it's the norm for puzzles to be unsigned or published pseudonymously. Yet in the US, the compiler's real name is used - and I gather the use of a pen name is verboten in the New York Times. Why the difference?

Personally, I find pseudonyms more colorful and it's easier to remember that you like, for example, Arcturus puzzles, but find Sabre puzzles impossible. For the humor of the pseudonym itself, it's hard to beat Sue de Nîmes, Mr. E and Dumpynose!

44d Dew [Mountain ___ (soda)] - the source of many a trivia question: Mountain Dew has a significantly higher caffeine content than Coca-Cola.

50d Orrin [Sen. Hatch of Utah] - an incumbent senior senator - sorry I hadn't heard of you buddy.

Dici Clues

5a tea set [China shop purchase] - a somewhat unhelpful clue, since teapot and teacup were possibilities.

21a air taser [High-voltage weapon] - air tasers are now being marketed as an alternative to pepper spray for self-defense.

5d tab set [Typewriter formatting feature] - there was a time when having a "tab set" key on your typewriter meant you were at the cutting edge of technology.

18d eensy [___-weensy] - exactly the same answer and clue as yesterday - an eensy-weensy oversight?

Quicky Clues

15a act one [Play starter]; 16a its ["___ only money!"]; 19a rye [Certain whiskey]; 20a ankles [Spots for spats]; 23a yearned [Had a yen]; 25a agent [Word with double or free]; 31a Downy [Popular fabric softener]; 36a OK's [Gives the thumbs-up]; 38a demos [Some mailings to record execs]; 39a trip [Go sprawling]; 40a MSN [AOL alternative]; 42a manes [Horses' locks]; 43a sodded [Like newly laid lawns]; 45a sedan [Alternative to a station wagon or convertible]; 47a belie [Contradict]; 49a ragtops [Convertibles, informally]; 53a prowl car [Cop's cruiser]; 56a borrow [Check out of a library, e.g.]; 57a ear [Place for a plug]; 60a sin [Ugly as ___]; 64a reseed [Start over with, as a lawn]; 65a snip [Salon sound].

2d A-line [Flared dress]; 3d polka [Oompah band tune]; 4d pull rank [Exert one's superiority]; 6d eco- [Prefix with system or sphere]; 9d energies [Vigorous feelings]; 10d testers [Lab personnel]; 12d stye [Eyelid woe]; 13d user [Tech's customer]; 22d a no ["I'll take that as ___"]; 24d dozen [Dunkin' Donuts order]; 30d tsps. [Recipe amts.]; 31d Dems. [G.O.P. rivals]; 32d or so [Guesstimate phrase]; 35d loner [Asocial sort]; 38d dedicate [Devote wholly]; 39d tantrums [Rugrats' outbursts]; 46d dabbed [Applied gently]; 48d easts [Some bridge seats]; 51d Ponzi [___ scheme (investment scam)]; 52d sweep [Remove dust bunnies]; 53d peso [Colombian cash]; 54d raid [Drug bust, e.g.]; 55d role [58-Across, for Matt Damon]; 59d née [Bridal bio word].

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New York Times, Mon, Jan 26, 2009 Timothy Powell and Nancy Salomon / Will Shortz

Nerts! Those pesky Americanisms are holding me up yet again. Being stalled by cultural references resulted in a solving time that's not entirely respectable for a Monday New York Times puzzle.
Solving time: 12 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 48a naif [Babe in the woods]
Theme

Three phrases equivalent to "Bad idea!". The compilers did well to find the 15-letter and two 14-letter examples, allowing for the symmetry required by convention:
20a let's not go there ["Bad idea!"]
38a you must be joking ["Bad idea!"]
52a I didn't hear that ["Bad idea!"]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Scrabble points314 (average 1.66)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

18a Swit [Loretta of "M*A*S*H"] and 19a Alan [Alda of "M*A*S*H"]. Great to see these two clued consecutively. M*A*S*H certainly made it over to the UK and was a hit there. I remember my barber talking about it in the mid-70s and saying I (at 14 or so) was too young to watch it!

23a Nate [Archibald or Thurmond of the N.B.A.] - Huh? I've no idea how I'm going to learn all these sportspeeps. Maybe by memorizing the Hall of Famers - do you have to be one to get into a crossword? Nate Archibald and Nate Thurmond are both retired players in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

37a Mr. Lee ["My sweetie" in a 1957 hit for the Bobbettes] - new to me, so this calls for a YouTube - I'd no idea the famous Reb general had inspired a hit song:



41a Ol' Man ["___ River" (song from "Show Boat")] - I can't imagine anyone topping Paul Robeson at this one:



43a NSA [Hush-hush org.] - not so hush-hush that it doesn't appear every other day in a crossword.

47a Edy's [Ice cream brand] - the Edy's flavors I've tried were yum, but my current project is to work through Turkey Hill's repertoire.

64a O'Neal [Center Shaquille] - another basketball player new to me, nicknamed Shaq.

2d Auel [Jean who wrote "The Clan of the Cave Bear"] - Jean Auel writes fiction with the unusual setting of prehistoric Europe.

13d Anne [One of the Brontë sisters] - the sisters chose pseudonyms with matching initials, so Anne wrote as Acton Bell.

40d Jeter [Shortstop Derek] - now we're on to a baseball player. With a name like Jeter, he must have a good throwing arm.

Dici Clues

15a he-he [Gleeful giggle] - I had te-he to start with, which was wrong on two counts: that kind of laugh isn't giggly and it's spelled te-hee or tee-hee anyway.

44a kibitz [Offer advice from around a card table] - two Bs or not two Bs, that is the question. kibbutz has two Bs, but kibitz doesn't.

48a naif [Babe in the woods] - made me smile.

21d nerts! ["Phooey!"] - this caused a lot of difficulty and I've found it hard to justify the answer from my reference books. However, it is in online dictionaries. Apparently a euphemism, one wonders just what is so terrible about saying "nuts!" that it needs to be euphemized.

45d zither [Instrument with 30+ strings] - Anton Karas used one to great effect in The Third Man.

49d f-hole [Cello feature] - I love an answer that starts in a way no word should.

Quicky Clues

1a nag at [Bother persistently]; 6a on TV [Airing]; 10a nada [Zilch]; 14a furor [Lots of screaming and shouting]; 16a oxen [Plow team]; 17a leery [Distrustful]; 24a hers [His and ___]; 25a sets [6-1, 3-6 and 7-5, in tennis]; 27a rev [Race, as an engine]; 30a seabed [Sunken ship's locale]; 34a ach ["Oh!" in Österreich]; 35a stair [Steps between floors]; 42a Seder [Passover meal]; 46a sot [Barfly]; 50a estd. [Cornerstone abbr.]; 58a Dior [Couturier Christian]; 59a hoax [Elaborate April fool]; 60a Oates [Hall's singing partner]; 62a esta [Are, in Argentina]; 63a else ["You're something ___!"]; 65a shag [Kind of carpet]; 66a reed [Woodwind item]; 67a pesky [Bothersome].

1d NFL [Org. for Patriots and Packers]; 3d greenthumb [Gardener's gift]; 4d aortas [Arterial trunks]; 5d tryst [Romantic rendezvous]; 6d oh so [Very]; 7d newt [Small salamander]; 8d thigh [Chicken piece]; 9d vetoes [Presidential noes]; 10d Noah's ark [Two-by-two vessel]; 11d axle [Car bar]; 12d dear [Letter starter]; 22d tremor [Cause of a low Richter reading]; 25d say OK [Give the go-ahead]; 26d e-coli [Undercooked meat danger]; 28d eats [Has dinner]; 29d vibes [Aura, informally]; 31d blind dates [Social arrangements that don't always work out]; 32d eensy- [___-weensy]; 33d Degas [Edgar who painted ballerinas]; 35d suntan [Beachgoer's acquisition]; 36d redo [Work over]; 39d main drag [Central street]; 47d ethane [Flammable gas]; 51d stoop [Bend to go through a doorway, say ... or what may be in front of the door]; 52d ides [Fateful day in March]; 53d dish [Satellite signal receiver]; 54d iota [Letter after theta]; 55d ease [Lighten, as a burden]; 56d axed [Pink-slipped]; 57d teak [Wood for shipbuilding]; 61d sly [Wily].

NPR Sunday Puzzle, Sun, Jan 25, 2009

I loved the "on-line challenge" in today's NPR Sunday Puzzle segment. It involved sentences in which the names of cars were hidden.

Hiding answers in sentences is a common feature of cryptic crosswords: in the "hidden" clue type, the answer is concealed in consecutive letters of the clue; the words not needed for that are the definition of the answer (cryptic clues almost always give you two ways to get the answer - some kind of wordplay and a definition).

Coming up with hidden word clues is lots of fun and gets progressively more difficult the longer the answer. The compiler Brian Greer (a former crossword editor of the London Times, who wrote about how to solve that Times Crossword) managed the prodigious feat of hiding Bath and Wells (which is a diocese - or "see" - in the Church of England). The whole clue read:
Some job at hand? We'll soon see
The challenge for the listeners this week was:
Think of a word that starts and ends with the letter 'm'; drop the first 'm,' insert an 'o' somewhere and you'll get a new word that means the same thing as the first word. What words are these?
This is exactly the sort of question that my TEA Crossword Helper software can help out with. In this case, it came through with the answer very quickly. I'll give more details after the closing date for the puzzle.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New York Times, Sun, Jan 25, 2009 FIDDLE DEE DEE Michael Torch / Will Shortz

Sunday's New York Times puzzle and it's time for a collaborative solving effort with Magdalen. This thematic puzzle took about 45 minutes, though we didn't make a serious effort at timing ourselves.

Theme

Phrases with DD instead of TT, our fav being Puddin' on the Ritz - we feel that Peter Boyle's performance in Young Frankenstein puts Fred Astaire in the shade:
22a udder nonsense [Dairy frivolity?]
40a Puddin' on the Ritz [Creamy dessert atop a cracker, informally?]
56a caddy remarks [Advice for golfers?];
61a shudder speed [Measure of reaction to horror?];
80a Ladder Day Saints [Guardians of a house painters' celebration?];
102a online bedding [Linens purchased through a Web site?];
2d bidder cold [Why the eBay user was laid up?];
69d faddy acids [Trendy lab hazards?];
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid21x21 with 68 (15.5%) black squares
Answers136 (average length 5.49)
Scrabble points571 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

48a Elihu [Root of government] - the initial capital fooled us for a while - it's Elihu Root, the American lawyer and statesman.

110a Tso [General on Chinese menus] - the reference is to the dish General Tso's Chicken - although there was a General Tso, he's unlikely to have tasted the concoction as it seems to have been invented in America in the 1970s.

96d Devo [Rock group whose members wear red flowerpots on their heads]. This I have to see:



Dici Clues

51a dance [Monkey, pony or alligator] - dances from the 1960s.

109a tosspots [Sponges] - ie heavy drinkers.

19d sub [Hero] - the many-named sandwich - take your pick from blimpie, bomber, cosmo, grinder, hoagie, Italian sandwich, poor boy, rocket, spuckie, torpedo, wedge and zeppelin.

Quicky Clues

1a abs [Objects of core workouts]; 4a on a spree [Carousing]; 12a podcast [Certain audio download]; 19a slip [Goof]; 20a rent roll [Landlord's schedule]; 21a crisper [Refrigerator compartment]; 24a to spare [Extra]; 25a bad loans [Default subjects]; 26a Zach ["Scrubs" actor Braff]; 28a large [Living ___]; 29a états [Dakota du Nord et du Sud, par exemple]; 30a Laos [Mekong River locale]; 32a anointed [Chosen]; 35a strode [Moved with purpose]; 37a main [Cardinal]; 38a sneak [Creep around]; 39a locus [Place]; 46a I not ["How could ___?"]; 47a walls [Labyrinth parts]; 49a E.Lee [Gen. Robt. ___]; 50a gal [Guy's date]; 52a Peete [QB Rodney]; 53a ahead [Leading]; 54a Old Irish [Source of the word "clan"]; 58a Nev. [Home of the Excelsior Mts.]; 59a Rye [New York town with Playland amusement park];
60a fen [Swamp]; 67a going far [Succeeding]; 72a eased [Smoothed]; 73a eeler [Sushi supplier]; 74a world [With 78-Across, stated desire of many a Miss America]; 75a Ada [Home to Ohio Northern University]; 76a Adee ["Zip-___-Doo-Dah"]; 77a banal [Overused]; 78a peace [See 74-Across]; 79a RDAs [Vitamin amts.]; 83a dodge [Evade]; 84a meets [Where races are won and lost]; 85a LCDs [Some TV screens]; 86a brayed [Acted like an ass]; 87a premiere [Red carpet affair]; 91a clay [Adobe material]; 92a Too-Ra ["___-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral"]; 93a revet [Support, as an embankment]; 94a Spee [Losing admiral in the Battle of the Falkland Islands, 1914]; 96a dixie cup [Disposable bathroom item]; 99a alerted [Tipped off]; 105a dangelo [Actress Beverly who played Patsy Cline in "Coal Miner's Daughter"]; 106a step over [Avoid, as a sleeping dog, maybe]; 107a adds [Annexes]; 108a opted in [Chose to participate].

1d Alda [Pierce player on TV]; 3d spelt out [Clarified, in England]; 4d ornate [Plain's opposite]; 5d neons [Some signs]; 6d Ann's [St. ___ Head Lighthouse (Welsh landmark)]; 7d Sts. [Blvds.]; 8d pre- [Historic leader?]; 9d Ronzoni [Pasta brand]; 10d Elsas [Style expert Klensch and others]; 11d elec. [Engineering subj.]; 12d pct. [Part of A.P.R.: Abbr.]; 13d oro [Conquistador's plunder]; 14d dislike [Aversion]; 15d C-SPAN ["Washington Journal" airer]; 16d apart [Separated]; 17d serge [Suit material]; 18d treed [In a tough position]; 23d roads [Pikes, e.g.]; 27d Hannity [Fox News opinionator]; 30d ladle [Dish out]; 31d aids [Assists]; 33d nether [Infernal]; 34d Oahu [Home of Wheeler Army Airfield]; 35d Sligo [County next to Mayo]; 36d tonal [Like the Chinese language]; 37d mulch [Gardener's bagful]; 38d soled [Having a bottom]; 40d pans [Oil receptacles]; 41d needed [Obligatory]; 42d rehang [Put back up]; 43d Iler [Robert of "The Sopranos"]; 44d teak [Patio furniture wood]; 45d zeds [Snore symbols in England]; 47d waive [Relinquish]; 51d Dredd [Judge ___, Stallone title role]; 52d payer [Check writer]; 53d amend [Alter]; 55d indeed ["Definitely!"]; 56d creels [Anglers' baskets]; 57d e-file [Submit tax returns via the Net]; 61d seal [Circus performer]; 62d hada ["We ___ ball!"]; 63d used [New's opposite]; 64d reader [Schoolbook]; 65d senates [Deliberative bodies]; 66d plays [Halfback option and Hail Mary]; 67d goats [Sources of milk for chèvre cheese]; 68d orcs [Tolkien monsters]; 70d adage [Saw]; 71d rased [Demolished, in Essex]; 74d Wendy [Fast-food eponym]; 77d Bree ["Desperate Housewives" role]; 78d pica [12-point type]; 79d roared at [Really enjoyed, as a joke]; 81d emitted [Put out]; 82d alleles [Genotype determinants]; 83d droid [Intelligent bot]; 86d boxers [Some underwear]; 87d Prado [Place to see Goyas]; 88d relap [Pass once more]; 89d event [Schedule listing]; 90d merge [Sign near a freeway entrance]; 91d cento [Italian 100]; 92d Tibet ["The roof of the world"]; 95d post [Assignment]; 97d undo [Take back]; 98d PGs [Some film ratings]; 100d Eli [Clockmaker Terry]; 101d don [Dress in]; 103d IPS [Tape player spec: Abbr.]; 104d nop [Alphabet trio].

Friday, January 23, 2009

New York Times, Sat, Jan 24, 2009 Mark Diehl / Will Shortz

Another record (for me) with Saturday's New York Times crossword. Am I starting to get the hang of this, or was it just an easier than average puzzle? I'll have to check what other bloggers have to report.
Solving time: 30 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 37d ears [Hammer holders]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.7%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.63)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

1a Jiffy Pop [Brand for preparation on a stovetop] - I had an advantage with this popcorn product as Magdalen brought some over to England for me to try back in 2006. I was curious about it after seeing it featured in Scary Movie.

18a de Sade ["The Crimes of Love" author] - the Marquis de Sade published this in 1800, shortly before being arrested by the Little Corporal.

22a SSR [Old atlas inits.] - Soviet Socialist Republic, making up a component of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

32a Nepal [Land where the air is thin] - the percentage of oxygen in air doesn't change with altitude, but the lower air pressure means there's up to 33% less oxygen available to your lungs.

46a Odie [Funny papers pooch] - he's in the Garfield strip.

47a Nyes [Longtime North Dakota senator Gerald and others] - Gerald Nye was a prominent anti-war activist and was quoted as saying "this was just what Britain had planned for us" immediately after Pearl Harbor. (He did subsequently join the unanimous senate vote declaring war.)

57a Bret [Pitcher Saberhagen] - baseball player nicknamed Sabes.

58a Rotary [Civic club] - Rotary International.

1d Java man [Early hominid] - Pithecanthropus erectus. I love that J in the top left corner - it's very beautiful to see two longish answers crossing at a low frequency letter. Java man was around between 600,000 years and 1 million years ago, well before the ...

2d Iron age [Early period] - the stage of development starting in the 12th century BC.

5d Yma [Peruvian Sumac] - I fell into the compiler's trap here, assuming the answer was a tree. It's a Peruvian singer famous for her extreme vocal range. How about this:




10d Adela [Writer ___ Rogers St. Johns] - an American journalist, novelist and screenwriter, noted for her groundbreaking exploits as a "girl reporter" during the 1920s and 1930s.

14d Tierney ["Laura" star, 1944] - Gene Tierney.

24d Pelé [Sports star with an accent in his name] - the challenge is trying to come up with a different way of cluing him.

26d Frisco ['67 Summer of Love locale] - only tourists call it that. Locals prefer The City of the Bay.

28d Lassen [___ Volcanic National Park] - where you can see Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world.

36d Ann Blyth [Nominee for Best Supporting Actress in "Mildred Pierce," 1945] - here she is in The Student Prince:



38d Howards ["___ End"] - a gimme for me, as I know the book and movie very well. There's no apostrophe in the title - a good thing that's not important for crosswords, as it would catch a lot of folks out.

39d Idahoan [Sarah Palin, by birth] - yes, she was born in Sandpoint, Idaho and moved to Alaska as an infant.

40d Sinatra [Sands part-owner, once] - Sands being a Vegas hotel.

44d Estella [She was a pip to Pip in "Great Expectations"] - a gimme for me, as I'm a Dickens fan and collector.

45d stately [Like elm trees] - presumably a reference to Fredericton, The City of Stately Elms.

61d Rae [English singer Corinne Bailey ___] - an up-and-coming English singer-songwriter:



Dici Clues

19a ante [Buy in] - in the sense of "put up a stake".

23a mat [Where pins are made] - refers to the mat in wrestling in which pinning is a popular maneuver.

29a O.W.L.'s [Fifth-year exams at Hogwarts] - Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations. N.E.W.T.'s are the next level - try to remember this as O.W.L.'s sets a precedent.

38a hiss [Moccasin sound] - a moccasin is also a kind of venomous snake found in the Eastern US (but not as far north as us in Pennsylvania).

48a roast [Certain charity event]. roast doesn't have this meaning in British English - my American English dictionary defines it as "a banquet to honor a person at which the honoree is subject to good-natured ridicule".

53a it a [Give-to-go filler] - ie it a can fill the gap, making "give it a go".

37d ears [Hammer holders] - very nice misleading clue.

56d tats [Needlework, for short?] - tattooing, not cross-stitch.

Quicky Clues

9a racist [Like some misguided remarks]; 15a area maps [Tourist booth handouts]; 16a Adonai [Hebrew title for God]; 17a voltages [Appliance numbers]; 20a entail [Call for]; 24a pry [Use leverage on]; 25a loaf pan [Bakery container]; 27a agile [Not stiff at all]; 31a rice [Jambalaya need]; 33a urge [Press]; 34a inky [Black as night]; 35a sea routes [Lines for liners]; 41a nets [Brings in]; 42a aches [Workout reminders]; 49a wannabe [Hanger-on]; 51a IDs [C.S.I. tasks]; 54a aha! ["I knew it!"]; 55a ulster [Loose overcoat]; 60a adorable [Just too cute]; 62a darn it! ["Aaargh!"]; 63a tuna roll [Sushi bar order]; 64a snatch [Weightlifting move]; 65a speedway [Indy, for one].

3d felt-tip [Kind of pen]; 4d fate [Them's the breaks]; 6d pager [Cell alternative]; 7d open your eyes! ["Look, bonehead!"]; 8d psst [Discreet call]; 9d radio set [Ham's rig]; 11d Cos [Amex listings: Abbr.]; 12d in a spin [Twirling]; 13d sad sack [Born loser]; 21d all gussied up [Dressed to the nines]; 30d wrote [Set down]; 43d hair bow [Girlish accessory]; 50d auric [Golden]; 52d drone [Go on and on]; 57d bard [Minstrel]; 59d ant [Colony member].

Español para los crucigramistas

¡Hola crucigramistas!

Éste es todo lo que usted necesita (salvo errores u omisiones):
a = una
air mail = correo aéreo
are = esta
art = arte
aunt = tía
baby = bebé/nene
ball = pelota
basket = cesta
(to) be = ser
bean = frijole
bear = oso/osa
boss = jefe/jefa
boy = chico
boyfriend = novio
puente deterioradobridge = puente
but = pero
car = coche
cat = gato/gata
chicken = pollo
city = ciudad
cold = frío
cow = vaca
daughter = hija
day = día
devil = diablo
don't mention it = de nada
east = este
Cinco de Mayoegg = huevo
eight = ocho
eleven = once
eye = ojo
five = cinco
flower = flor
four = cuatro
Friday = viernes
girl = chica
girlfriend = novia
gold = oro
good = bueno
happy = feliz
here = aquí/acá
hill = cuesta
hot = caliente
how do you do? = ¿Cómo esta usted?te amo
I love you = te amo
is = esta
island = isla
January = enero
king = rey
kiss = beso
lady = dama
lake = lago
land = tierra
let's go! = ¡vamos!
love = amor
low = baja
Matthew = mateo
maybe = tal vez
miss = srta. (señorita)
mister = señor
Monday = lunes
month = mes
more = más
mouth = boca
mrs = sra. (señora)
nine = nueve
never = nunca
north = norte
now = ahora
one = uno/una
other = otro/otra
palace = palacio
paved road = estrada
peace = paz
perhaps = tal vez
pint = pinta
poem = poema
poor = pobre
port = puerto
quarter = cuarto
queen = reina
red = rojo/roja
rice = arroz
rich = rico/rica
road = camino
tiendaroom = sala
saint = santo
Saturday = sábado
say = decir
sea = mar
see you later = hasta luego!
seven = siete
since = desde
six = seis
sky = cielo
some = unos/unas
son = hijo
south = sur
speak = hable/habla
state = estado
store = tienda
stupid = mensa
sun = sol
Sunday = domingo
ten = diez
that = eso/esa
these = estos/estas
this = este/esta
those = esos/esas
three = tres
Thursday = jueves
today = hoy
tomorrow = mañana
train = tren
Tuesday = martes
twelve = doce
two = dos
uncle = tío
walk = paseo
warning = aviso
water = agua
wave = ola
Wednesday = miércoles
week = semana
year = año
yesterday = ayer
you are = eres
¡Buena suerte, amigos!