Monday, August 31, 2009

NYT Tuesday 9/1/09 - Any Which Way You Can

This Tuesday New York Times crossword offers a twist on the "answers with a common definition" theme: here there are two common definitions ("hook" and "crook"), and I like the way the two answers for each definition use radically different meanings of the word.

With this type of theme, it can be hard to see the basis until you get the one key answer. I was lucky here to see by hook or by crook after getting just the first four letters or so, which helped pin down every other theme answer when I got to the relevant part of the grid.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 35d sot {Pink elephant sighter}
Theme

37a by hook or by crook {How 18-, 24-, 47- and 56-Across may be defined}: the other theme answers may be defined alternately by hook or crook:
18a sharp turn {See 37-Across, i.e. hook}
24a shepherd's cane {See 37-Across, i.e. crook}
47a swinging punch {See 37-Across, i.e. hook}
56a racketeer {See 37-Across, i.e. crook}
Solution

Steven Ginzburg
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersSteven Ginzburg / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.87)
Theme squares59 (31.9%)
Scrabble points326 (average 1.76)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

23a Eadie {"___ Was a Lady" (Ethel Merman tune)}. Eadie Was a Lady is a hit song from the 1932 musical Take a Chance - sung by nightclub singer Wanda Brill, a role Ethel Merman created.



sushi55a ahi {Tuna at a sushi bar}. I assumed that ahi was a Japanese word, but it seems it's the Hawaiian for two types of tuna: yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna. So why the reference to sushi? I see lots of sushi restaurants are called Ahi Sushi, and perhaps this is also the generic name for a cuisine that's a fusion of Japanese and Hawaiian? Can any readers help out with this one?

64a Tess {"Guarding ___" (1994 MacLaine movie)}. Guarding Tess is the movie about a former first lady with a difficult personality. Assigned to guard her is a Secret Service squad headed by a reluctant Doug Chesnic (Nicolas Cage).



12d Teri {Garr or Polo}. I knew Teri Garr from movies like Young Frankenstein, but the younger Teri Polo is less familiar. Her best-known film roles seem to be Meet the Parents (2000) and its sequel Meet the Fockers (2004), in which she plays the schoolteacher with the intimidating parents.



13d Anne {Rice who wrote of vampires}. I wasn't sure why "wrote" was in the clue, since Anne Rice is alive and writing. It seems, though, that since her return to the Catholic Church, she will "write only for the Lord". Which presumably means there are to be no more of the vampire books that made Anne so popular (her books have sold nearly 100 million copies). Interview with the Vampire (1994) is a movie adaptation of an Anne Rice novel.



46d LGs {Some football linemen: Abbr.}. Although I can't predict what the answer might be in the absence of crossings, I can just about work out the player when I know the letters: an LG is a left guard, right?

Noteworthy

34d code names {Utah, Omaha and others, on D-Day}. This reminds me of a famous crossword legend: in 1944, schoolmaster Leonard Dawe, constructor of crosswords for Britain's Daily Telegraph, got a surprise visit from MI-5 officers who were alarmed by a number of suspicious words in his recent puzzles: MULBERRY, NEPTUNE, OMAHA, OVERLORD, PLUTO and UTAH. He managed to persuade the spooks that this was pure coincidence, but a pupil of his later claimed that Dawe delegated grid filling to the boys, who may have overheard the codewords from servicemen stationed nearby. Marc Romano in Crossworld is skeptical of this rationale, his best argument being that such codewords wouldn't have filtered down to the rank-and-file soldiers most likely to encounter local schoolboys. I'm not sure we'll ever know the whole truth about this one.

Pink Elephant35d sot {Pink elephant sighter}. Neat clue to an oft-used three-letter word. Why do sots sight pink elephants? The expression was apparently well-established in 1913, since Jack London refers to it when describing an alcoholic in John Barleycorn:
the man whom we all know, stupid, unimaginative, whose brain is bitten numbly by numb maggots; who walks generously with wide-spread, tentative legs, falls frequently in the gutter, and who sees, in the extremity of his ecstasy, blue mice and pink elephants. He is the type that gives rise to the jokes in the funny papers.
48d items {"10 ___ or less" (checkout sign)}. This ubiquitous wording has long been a pet peeve for linguistic purists. The beef is that "less" (=a smaller amount of) refers to something that can't be individually counted, "fewer" (=a smaller number of) being used for things that can be counted. The British supermarket Tesco caved to the complainers by changing their signs to "Up to 10 items". All this didn't discourage the producers of the movie 10 Items or Less (2006).



The Rest

1a bonds {Moody's rates them}; 6a vast {Oceanic in scope}; 10a beta {Early software version}; 14a opera {Musical work that's often not in English}; 15a icky {Gross, in kidspeak}; 16a oxen {Cart-pulling beasts}; 17a artsy {Pretentious and showy}; 20a raw {Uncooked}; 21a shoe {Old woman's home, in a nursery rhyme}; 28a I aim {"___ to please!"}; 29a easy {"Careful, now!"}; 30a angst {Woody Allen's trademark emotion}; 32a bark {It may be worse than a bite}; 34a CST {Winter hrs. in New Orleans}; 41a cut {Director's "Stop!"}; 42a wigs {Tops of many Halloween getups}; 43a had to {"You ___ be there"}; 44a Avon {Bell-ringing cosmetics company}; 46a loge {Theater area}; 52a fleas {A pet collar repels them}; 54a toss {Flip, as a coin}; 59a he-man {Rambo type}; 61a ante {Start the pot}; 62a arms {Equips for war}; 63a overt {In-your-face}; 65a base {First, second, third or home}; 66a pests {Noodges}.

1d boars {Sows' mates}; 2d Oprah {TV host with a book club}; 3d net weight {Food package datum}; 4d Drs. {"M*A*S*H" staffers: Abbr.}; 5d says hi to {Greets informally}; 6d visor {Baseball cap part}; 7d ached {Needed a massage, maybe}; 8d ska {Precursor of reggae}; 9d Tyr {49-Down war god}; 10d botany {Plant expert's field}; 11d exude {Give off, as charm}; 19d peas {Accompaniers of carrots in a Birds Eye package}; 22d hem {Haw's partner}; 25d Paso {El ___, Tex.}; 26d Serbs {Belgrade natives}; 27d caky {Forming clumps, like drying mud}; 30d ABC {Epitome of simplicity}; 31d NYU {Big Apple sch.}; 32d boing {Spring sound}; 33d Arg. {Land SW of Uru.}; 36d TKO {Fight ender, for short}; 38d Kwon {Tae ___ do}; 39d chop shop {Hot car's destination}; 40d Ragu {Giant in pasta sauce}; 44d awakes {Responds to a morning alarm}; 45d vise {Workbench gripper}; 47d sects {Sunni and Shia, for two}; 49d Norse {Like Odin or 9-Down}; 50d chart {Business presentation aid}; 51d hints {Aids for the stumped}; 52d frat {Rush week venue, for short}; 53d lane {Sprinter's assignment}; 57d tab {Running account at a bar}; 58d era {Geologic time}; 60d eve {Day before a big event}.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

NYT Monday 8/31/09 - A Cause for Celebration

Iffley RoadThis New York Times crossword seemed really easy even by Monday standards. Maybe it helped that 17-Across was a gimme for me: is Roger Bannister as well-known in the US? After that, the theme seemed relatively straightforward and nothing really held me up at all.

Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England - a venue I went to once in my undergraduate days there: not to run, but to take my final exams. There being insufficient space to house all the exam takers in the historical Examination Schools buildings, the Sports Centre was turned over to the purpose for a few days.

Another advantage to that locale is that the large crowds there to celebrate the end of exams with their friends can pop champagne corks, spray the assembled mass with bubbly and otherwise have a great time without interrupting the flow of traffic in The High.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 49a alien {Visitor in "District 9"}
Theme

Phrases starting with different spellings of the "for" sound:
17a four-minute miler {Roger Bannister was the first}
35a for old time's sake {How something may be done, nostalgically}
54a fore-and-aft sails {Features of yawls or ketches}
Solution

Fred Piscop
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersFred Piscop / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares45 (23.8%)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.54)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

49a alien {Visitor in "District 9"}. An alarmingly (but pleasingly) up-to-date reference, since the clued movie District 9 was only released this month. In it, members of an alien species land on earth and must be moved from one government refugee camp to another by our hero Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley).



Marine One9d One {Marine ___ (presidential helicopter)}. I knew about Air Force One, but I hadn't appreciated there is a special name for the helicopter carrying the pres. Of course these are not single aircraft: two Boeing 747-200B aircraft are equipped to be "Air Force One" and presumably many more helicopters are in use as Marine Ones.

Noteworthy

14a O'Hara {Tara's Scarlett}. The names betray the Irish origins of the founder of the plantation at the center of Gone with the Wind. Tara is named for the hill of Tara, once the capital of the High King of ancient Ireland.



TWA39a TWA {Old competitor of Pan Am}. The old quip among disgruntled transatlantic passengers was that TWA stood for "Try Walking Across". Now Pan Am has gone ... and TWA too, merged into American Airlines in 2001.

Orlon60a Orlon {Fabric introduced by DuPont}. Orlon is the trademarked name for the first acrylic fiber, created in 1941.

Raul Castro3d Raúl {Fidel Castro's brother}. Raúl Castro temporarily assumed the duties of President of Cuba when Fidel became seriously ill in July 2006. He's now formally elected President, after Fidel decided not to stand for election in 2008.

45d Dafoe {Willem of Spider-Man movies}. Willem Dafoe plays Norman Osborn alias the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man franchise.



The Rest

1a screw {Fastener that may have a Phillips head}; 6a also {"One more thing ..."}; 10a spew {Eject, as 16-Across}; 15a noon {Factory whistle time}; 16a lava {Material from a volcano}; 20a AOL {"You've got mail" co.}; 21a plod {Trudge (along)}; 22a ovine {Sheeplike}; 23a duly {In the proper manner}; 24a clients {Agents' customers}; 26a harems {Women's quarters, in sultans' homes}; 29a whirr {Fan sound}; 30a evac. {Emergency removal of people, for short}; 31a shine {"Rise and ___!"}; 32a bag {"Paper or plastic?" item}; 40a arose {Heeded the alarm}; 41a prim {___ and proper}; 42a smart {Mensa-eligible}; 43a plains {Area west of the Mississippi}; 45a despite {Regardless of}; 48a ream {500 sheets}; 50a peas {Little vegetables that roll}; 51a psi {Pitchfork-shaped Greek letter}; 58a op-ed {Essayist's newspaper piece}; 59a -aire {Suffix with billion}; 61a e'ens {Poetic nights}; 62a peer {Use a spyglass}; 63a skeet {Sport with shotguns}.

1d sofa {Couch}; 2d choo {Part of a sneeze after "ah-ah-ah ..."}; 4d err {"To ___ is human ..."}; 5d wampum {Indian beads used as money}; 6d annoy {Really bother}; 7d loud {Ear-busting}; 8d sot {Drunkard}; 10d sliver {Tiny slice of pie}; 11d Palin {Politico Sarah}; 12d event {Long jump or 100-meter dash}; 13d wares {Peddlers peddle them}; 18d ills {Woes}; 19d moires {Fabrics with wavy patterns}; 23d Deco {Art ___ (1920s-'30s style)}; 24d chime {Doorbell}; 25d line {Queue}; 26d heft {Test the weight of}; 27d avow {Swear to}; 28d rara {___ avis}; 29d whist {Predecessor of bridge}; 31d store {Part of a mall}; 32d Bari {Italian port on the Adriatic}; 33d akin {Closely related}; 34d gems {Rubies, emeralds, etc.}; 36d lamina {Thin layer}; 37d drat! {"Dang!"}; 38d spam {E-mail often caught in filters}; 42d speeds {Risks being caught in a radar trap}; 43d peat {Bog fuel}; 44d lassos {Rodeo ropes}; 46d elope {Run off to the justice of the peace}; 47d siren {Patrol car wailer}; 48d refer {Direct, as for information}; 50d pare {Whittle down}; 51d pile {Heap}; 52d sloe {___ gin fizz}; 53d isn't {"Money ___ everything!"}; 55d nap {40 winks}; 56d die {Expire}; 57d ark {Noah's vessel}.

NPR Puzzle -- Leading the Way

Any delays in solving this morning's puzzle can be explained by our sleepy ears & brains having a less-than-accurate grasp of what the puzzle actually wanted. When it was finally posted on the website, we were able to get the point. Here's what Will actually wants:
Name a famous leader in world history — the name by which this person is usually known. Change the first letter of the leader's name to the previous letter of the alphabet, rearrange the result, and you'll name what this person was the leader of. Who is it, and where was this person the leader?
A bit like last week, Ross wandered off while I finished the novel I was reading; when I next saw him, he'd solved it.

We'd been out late last night: dinner and various games with our friends Harry & Mary. They're high-level life-masters in bridge, but they enjoy other sorts of games. They'd happily play bridge with us, but we're so rusty, it would be like expecting impromptu lessons from them. More than a comedown from other, more exalted bridge games they've enjoyed. (Mary once played against Bill Gates...) So we played Quelf (a game, we realized, that rather depends on the lack of inhibition that children and the mildly inebriated possess; we surprised ourselves by enjoying it sober, but it could be fall-over-funny under the right circumstances), Stone Age, Tara (a variant of Go and Reversi that uses Celtic knots in very pretty ways), and Mammoth, a card game Harry had taught us last year. Everyone won exactly one game, so it was the best sort of evening.

Before I get on to the value-added puzzle, here's Will's Happy Birthday challenge, where I asked for world capitals for each of the 13 letters in Happy Birthday:

H - Hanoi, Vietnam
A - Auckland, New Zealand
P - Paris, France
P - Pyongyang, North Korea
Y - Yerevan, Armenia (also Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast)

B - Bern, Switzerland (and 21 more -- by far the most capitals in this set)
I - Islamabad, Pakistan
R - Reykjavik, Iceland
T - Tokyo, Japan
H - Harare, Zimbabwe
D - Damascus, Syria
A - Athens, Greece
Y - Yaounde, Cameroon (also Yangon, Myanmar, formerly Rangoon, Burma)

I picked some obvious capitals, but from my research there are some pretty obscure choices. And it's left as an exercise for the reader whether Libya's capital is a T (Tripoli) or an H (Hun). I've seen it both ways.

Okay, now for the value-added puzzle this week. This is how Will explained it:
Each answer starts with a clue for a six-letter word. If you drop the first letter and read the remaining letters backward, you'll get a five-letter word that answers a second clue. For example, if the clues are "flower parts" and "roofing material," the answers would be "petals" and "slate." (Remove the "p" of "petals" and read the rest backward to get "slate.")
Let's see if we can come up with some new ones!

Ah, at this point I have to confess something. I rely on Ross's software for these things, but while TEA will show me all the five letter words that are words when reversed, and all the six letter words with words in reverse, the added complication of taking off a letter rather changes the matter. It seems this will take some programming by Ross. But it's lunchtime, so I'll publish this for now, then come back and add the value later today.

Thanks to Ross, who dashed off a program while finishing lunch, we have some new value added challenges:

Armadas of ships / material they are made of

Stone of film / Jones of jazz

Type of radish / brand of cell phone

Refuses / river in France

Spies / scoop

Reviews / area

Mistake / student

Type of exam or race / type of runner

Grooms / contemptuous look

Barber's actions / recreation

Stadiums / more sensible

Oblivious / rinds

Value / joins

Advanced / pulled out

Sailboats / reel

NYT Sunday 8/30/09 - Takeaway Meal

Magdalen and I solved this Sunday New York Times crossword very late on Saturday night. We got it done pretty quickly (for us), but this says more about our comfort with the cryptic-crossword-like theme and the fact that we urgently needed to get some sleep.

This was clearly a difficult grid to put together, as there's evidence of strain in the number of abbreviations, and answers that constructors would go a mile to avoid (eg XOO). I really like that each of the seven theme answers has a different device to indicate the removal of letters - it must have been tough to come up with a viable set on this basis and tougher still to get a workable fill.

I was amused to see Eats, Shoots and Leaves among the answers - this lighthearted book on punctuation was a huge bestseller in the UK towards the end of my time there. It resulted in the most unwieldy of the theme clues, but I think it was worth it.
Solving time: 30 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 50a encore {It's music to a musician's ears}
Theme

Seven answers cryptically indicate a phrase with certain letters subtracted, that being the clue:
23a take out of context {-IRC-MS-ANCES}
CIRCUMSTANCES (
context) minus CUT (take)

36a Bloodless Revolution {ANTI--VERNMENT UN--ST}
ANTIGOVERNMENT UNREST (
Revolution) minus GORE (Blood)

52a the missing link {AR--CL-}
ARTICLE (
the) minus TIE (link)

70a Doctors Without Borders {P---ARY CARE PHY-ICIANS}
PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS (
Doctors) minus RIMS (Borders)

86a spare no expense {FI-TH WH--L}
FIFTH WHEEL (
spare) minus FEE (expense)

98a Eats Shoots and Leaves {WHAT A -ANDA DOES IN -EIS-RELY FA-HION}
WHAT A PANDA DOES IN LEISURELY FASHION (
Eats Shoots) minus PLUS (and)

121a lemon drop cookies {W--THL-SS R-AD-TER}
WORTHLESS ROADSTER (
lemon) minus OREOS (cookies)
Solution

Ashish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersAshish Vengsarkar and Narayan Venkatasubramanyan / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 80 (18.1%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares119 (33.0%)
Scrabble points563 (average 1.56)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Fosamax46a Merck {Maker of Fosamax and Zocor}. These sounded more like movie technologies to me. The Muppet Movie, now in glorious Fosamax. Actually Fosamax is a drug used for osteoporosis and other bone diseases; Zocor is a statin and is used to control cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease.

euro area76a euro area {Currency union since 1999}. I would have said eurozone, as that's the usual term for the currency union. But apparently euro area is the official name. They gained a new member this year - Slovakia - and now number 16 countries, with eight more obliged to join when they satisfy the criteria.

95a tonal {Like the Vietnamese language}. Not being a linguistics expert, I found this tough. I gather a tonal language distinguishes meaning by changes in the intonation given to words or syllables. Chinese languages such as Mandarin are the best-known examples, and Vietnamese is also tonal.



lomi-lomi107a lomi-lomi {Hawaiian massage}. Magdalen read this as {Hawaiian message} to start with, which didn't help (we were solving the puzzle around midnight). It seemed reasonable to assume that the answer was reduplicative, which it turned out to be. Apparently our cats Linus and Polly are experts, as the underlying meaning of lomi is "to work in and out, as the claws of a contented cat".

Kung Pao chicken7d Pao {Kung ___ chicken}. Just when I got used to General Tso's chicken, this comes along to throw a spanner in the works. Kung Pao chicken is another dish in Szechuan cuisine, named after Ding Baozhen (1820–1886), whose title was Gōng Bǎo (宮保), or palatial guardian.

Otis Chandler Car Collection43d Otis {___ Chandler, longtime publisher of the Los Angeles Times}. Otis Chandler (19272006) did for the LA Times what Adolph Ochs did for the NYT, increasing the paper's prestige and its profit margins during his tenure from 1960 to 1980. "No publisher in America improved a paper so quickly on so grand a scale, took a paper that was marginal in qualities and brought it to excellence as Otis Chandler did," according to one history of the company. He is also known for The Chandler Museum, his extensive transportation collection, particularly of vintage automobiles.

55d Nicol {"Excalibur" star Williamson}. Nicol Williamson is the Scottish actor who was cast as Merlin by John Boorman in the 1981 Arthurian fantasy Excalibur.



Noteworthy

33a -ola {Pay stub?}. Constructors can get fanciful with indicating a suffix, as here: the reference is to payola, bribery by record companies to get air time. The chances are any Sunday puzzle will have at least two suffixes, so it's good to have a bit of variety in the ways they are clued.

50a encore {It's music to a musician's ears}. Amusing clue ... of course musicians like to hear encore: just not too many times - they have to get home too.

105a XOO {Tic-tac-toe loser}. An ugly answer - good evidence that the thematic phrases were particularly hard to fill around, along with the many three-letter words with a preponderance of abbreviations.

Ellis Island15d Ellis Island {National monument site since 1965}. Any mention of Ellis Island makes me think of previous generations of immigrants. It's part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Liberty has been a wonderful backdrop for the golf tournament du jour, The Barclays at the Liberty National Golf Club.

92d aleatory {Dependent on chance}. Familiar from aleatoric music, the term derives from the Latin for dice alea. Much classical music from the 1950s onwards sounds aleatoric even if it wasn't intended to be.



The Rest

1a Adam {Singer Lambert, runner-up on the 2009 "American Idol"}; 5a yap at {Talk to shrilly}; 10a rhomb {Four-sided figure}; 15a eggs {Halloween purchase}; 19a fine {"___ by me"}; 20a -orama {Slangy commercial suffix}; 21a ASPCA {Shelter org.}; 22a leak {Scuba diver's worry}; 26a laze {Be a couch potato}; 27a Agathas {Mystery writers' awards}; 28a monk {Person with few possessions}; 29a Dies irae {Hymn whose second line is "Solvet saeclum in favilla"}; 31a snap {Breeze}; 35a ass {Ninny}; 45a goad {Urge}; 47a Ida. {Moscow's home: Abbr.}; 48a stoa {Covered walkway}; 57a litre {Size unit of an English soda bottle}; 58a Dem. {Like 11-Down: Abbr.}; 59a in a sec {Soon}; 60a it I {"Is ___?"}; 61a roots {Underground network}; 66a Thom McAn {Shoe brand reputedly named after a Scottish golfer}; 77a in all {Together}; 78a NEA {PBS benefactor}; 79a strati {Low clouds}; 82a RNA {Stranded messenger?}; 84a Eagan {1991 Tony winner Daisy}; 92a advice {Tips, e.g.}; 93a EKGs {Heart lines: Abbr.}; 94a OTB {Where some people get tips: Abbr.}; 97a intr. {Like some verbs: Abbr.}; 104a ant {Tiny tunneler}; 106a spar {Box lightly}; 112a NLer {Met, for one}; 115a Atlanta {Home of the N.H.L.'s Thrashers}; 120a Iran {Modern home of the biblical Elam}; 124a daze {Stun}; 125a erase {Take out}; 126a Oscar {8 1/2-pound statue}; 127a in re {Regarding}; 128a sled {Bob in the Olympics}; 129a nexus {Connection}; 130a sassy {Fresh}; 131a Nana {Favorite baby sitter, maybe}.

1d Afta {Brut rival}; 2d diag. {TV screen meas.}; 3d Anka {"It's Time to Cry" singer, 1959}; 4d meet {Hook up}; 5d you and me {Us}; 6d art sale {Gallery event}; 8d AM-FM {Alternative to satellite}; 9d taco {Kind of shell}; 10d rankle {Stick in one's craw}; 11d HST {Pres. when the C.I.A. was created}; 12d op-ed {Piece of a newspaper?}; 13d MCXI {1,111}; 14d bateau {French river craft}; 16d gear {Skis, boots, masks, etc.}; 17d Gaza {Mideast tinderbox}; 18d skee {___-Ball}; 24d oh so {Very}; 25d on or {"___ off?"}; 30d SST {Bygone flier}; 32d pert {Fresh}; 34d Avis {Company name that becomes another company name if you move its first letter to the end}; 36d bonito {Mackerellike fish}; 37d lactic {Kind of acid}; 38d odor {Effluvium}; 39d sch. {Principal location?: Abbr.}; 40d sked {TV exec's concern}; 41d ODs {Some E.R. cases}; 42d Lai {Chou En-___}; 44d none {All's opposite}; 45d gelid {Icy}; 49d AKC {Dog breeders' org.}; 51d reroute {Send another way}; 53d methane {Dangerous buildup in a mine}; 54d IMHO {Preface online}; 56d gnarled {Knotted up}; 62d Orrin {Senator Hatch}; 63d oso {Spanish bear}; 64d TWA {Bygone flier}; 65d sir {Word often following yes or no}; 67d oui {Agreement abroad}; 68d Mtn. {Atlas abbr.}; 69d MBA {Wharton deg.}; 71d tear-stained {Like the face after a good bawl}; 72d Terp {A.C.C. athlete}; 73d engine {It typically has lots of horses}; 74d reacts {Isn't inert}; 75d saner {Less bananas}; 79d SSE {Toledo-to-Columbus dir.}; 80d tpke. {N.J. or Pa. route}; 81d raga {Music in Mysore}; 83d anta {Architectural pier}; 85d Aviv {Tel ___}; 87d ooh {Cry at a circus}; 88d ETO {W.W. II arena}; 89d Xbox {Wii alternative}; 90d son {Male delivery}; 91d ends {Some receivers}; 96d alpacas {Sources of fleece}; 99d SNL {NBC inits. since 1975}; 100d stolen {Pirated}; 101d tonnes {British weights}; 102d sold {Cry after the rap of a hammer}; 103d Arlo {Man's name that's an anagram of 108-Down}; 107d lids {Caps}; 108d oral {Exam format}; 109d maze {Something to be threaded}; 110d mere {Pure}; 111d IMAX {Kind of screen}; 113d Eros {Psyche's love}; 114d Rosa {Sub ___ (confidentially)}; 116d akin {Similar}; 117d Nina {Ship that sailed "the ocean blue"}; 118d tern {Shore flier}; 119d a-sea {On the ocean}; 122d OSU {The Cowboys of the Big 12 Conference}; 123d PCs {They may be cloned}.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NYT Saturday 8/29/09 - Dig Doug

I found this Saturday New York Times crossword easier on the right hand side, making reasonable progress at both the top and bottom. Unfortunately, getting crossing answers from the ends of words is a whole lot more difficult than when you have their beginnings. It was largely a repeat of yesterday's experience of getting bogged down after a great start.

After about half an hour, I only had the NW corner to go, eventually cracking it after negotiating the red herring cills at 4-Down (no American-born would even think of that). I also had an (I think viable) alternative at 25-Down with meter, but once I got 7-Down as atomized (or just conceivably atomised) things had to change there too.
Solving time: 35 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30d map-maker {Creator of the stuff of legends?}
Solution

Doug Peterson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDoug Peterson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 23 (10.2%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.94)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points339 (average 1.68)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Mike Mussina1a Mussina {2001-08 Yankees pitcher with seven Gold Gloves}. Mike Mussina aka "Moose" is too recent a retiree to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so my recent visit there didn't help any. I gather there's some debate about whether he is quite in that class, as Mike was a consistently great player, but other pitchers had stronger peaks of performance.

23a Chan {"Keeper of the Keys" was the last novel he was featured in}. Somehow I guessed Charlie Chan on very little evidence, and certainly not knowing this title. Earl Derr Biggers (18841933) only wrote six novels in the Charlie Chan series: Biggers' untimely death from a heart attack meant this 1932 novel is the last.



9d Apted {"Nell" director Michael}. Fellow-Brit Michael Apted is familiar to me from other movies, but I didn't recognize him from Nell (1994) as I haven't seen this strange movie about a young woman (played by Jodie Foster) having to cope with the real world after being brought up in isolation. Co-starring are Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson, who married the year the film was released.



27d Jules {Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Feiffer}. Jules Feiffer won the Pulitzer in 1986 for his work in The Village Voice. He's also an author of children's books and screenplays such as that to Popeye (1980).



32d Plutarch {"On the Malice of Herodotus" author}. I got two similar names confused here and tried Petrarch (1304–1374) to start with. Problems in the center caused a rethink and I had more success with Plutarch (c. AD 46–120).

Noteworthy

J'accuse8a J'accuse {Headline during the Dreyfus Affair}. I got this after a few crossings, but wasn't sure whether "headline" was meant literally or figuratively. It seems the former, since Zola's famous letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism made the front page of L'Aurore with this answer as the headline.

33a gaoler {Worker in a big house near Big Ben}. I tried hard to think what the "big house" might be, but didn't guess a prison until I saw what the answer had to be from cross-checkings. A problem with this clue is there's no prison anywhere near Big Ben these days - I may have been the only solver to have worried about that. Of course, historically, there were many prisons in central London: e.g. Millbank (demolished 1890) may have perhaps been in sight of Big Ben (built circa 1859).

41a sette {Otto follows it}. Lovely deceptive clue: nothing to do with Beetle Bailey this time ... you needed to be counting in Italian.
1 = uno
2
= due
3
= tre
4
= quattro
5
= cinque
6
= sei
7
= sette
8
= otto
9
= nove
10
= dieci
43a sal {Seasoning cristales}. This clue calling for a translation of salt into Spanish was rather more straightforward.

44a Sasha {"Peter and the Wolf" bird}, 45a Sonia {"Peter and the Wolf" duck}. The last time Sonia came up, I had a premonition that the other characters would get used some day. Today was that day.



28d prone {Back up?}. I don't think of someone lying prone as necessarily being face down, but i guess that's the most common usage ... especially as being prone suggests vulnerability and you're much more vulnerable face down. Researches suggest the anatomical meaning of prone is downward facing, the opposite of supine.

30d map-maker {Creator of the stuff of legends?}. My favorite piece of deception in the puzzle: the legends called for here are the keys to the map symbols.

Albert Sabin41d Sabin {___ vaccine}. The vaccine developed by Albert Sabin (1906–1993) is one of two approaches to combat poliomyelitis, the other being due to Jonas Salk (1914–1995). I must have had the (orally administered) Sabin vaccine, as I remember taking it in a sugar lump. The depredations of the disease were evident in several of my school teachers, so I am very glad my generation is free of that legacy and look forward to the global eradication of the disease.

48d -Doo {Ending with Sea or Ski}. Ski-Doos are a familiar sight round these parts, but not so much their sister products Sea-Doos, as the many lakes in the vicinity are a bit small for motorized craft.

The Rest

15a intimate apparel {Revealing pieces}; 17a cellphone towers {Some coverage providers}; 18a mauls {Heavy hitters}; 19a mages {Conjurers}; 20a tri- {City or state lead-in}; 21a asks {Puts it to}; 22a mimed {Acted out}; 24a cee {Artichoke heart?}; 25a dozer {Inattentive type}; 26a Erato {Classical lyre holder}; 27a jewel {Particularly prized possession}; 28a planer {Carpentry machine}; 29a imputed {Credited}; 32a precede {Appear before}; 34a clock {What an antsy person might watch}; 35a upper {Boot part}; 36a daunt {Cow}; 37a pew {Hymnbook holder}; 40a emus {Some farm stock}; 42a bale {Straw unit}; 46a skateboard trick {Something shown off on a half-pipe}; 49a Security Council {Russia, China and France are in it}; 50a oregano {Greek salad ingredient}; 51a honesty {It can be brutal}.

1d Micmac {Algonquian language}; 2d unease {Butterflies, say}; 3d St Luke {He wrote of the prodigal son}; 4d sills {Sash supporters}; 5d imps {Hell-raisers}; 6d nah {"Ixnay"}; 7d atomized {Like turbojet fuel}; 8d jaeger {Bullying seabird}; 10d CPOs {Coast Guard noncoms}; 11d caw {Field call}; 12d urethane {Bowling ball material}; 13d serrated {Like many leaves}; 14d Elsinore {"To be, or not to be" soliloquy setting}; 16d enamel {Coat in one's mouth}; 22d mower {It may be pushed or ridden}; 23d crack {Figure out}; 25d deter {Check}; 26d elect {Awaiting induction}; 29d I guess so {"Um ... all right"}; 31d populace {Hoi polloi}; 34d Cathay {Old Silk Road destination}; 36d De Soto {Studebaker alternative}; 37d panics {Loses it}; 38d elicit {Summon up}; 39d weakly {Without conviction}; 42d borne {Shouldered}; 44d sera {Clinic supplies}; 45d stun {Overwhelm}; 47d tug {Harbor pusher}.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

NYT Friday 8/28/09 - Play Safe

I started off this Friday New York Times crossword very easily: thanks to Adelina and the Vatican, I got the whole SE corner in a few minutes. But I knew I was in trouble after this, as nothing else seemed to gel.

I plodded through the whole of the top half, and eventually had all but a few answers in the SW done by the half hour. In that area, safe sex was the key answer, but it took me ages to see it (I don't know what that says about me).

I'd like to mention some special crosswords I've come across this week and enjoyed solving: the puzzles from the Lollapuzzoola 2 contest are now available - this is the other New York City crossword tournament, run by bloggers Ryan and Bryan and going from strength to strength after its second year (ca. 30 competitors in 2008, ca. 75 in 2009 ... congratulations guys!). Andrea Carla Michaels also came up with a birthday puzzle for Will Shortz which is available in Across Lite's PUZ format; if you don't know what that means, you'd better try the PDF version.
Solving time: 35 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19a Hal {Memorable 1968 movie villain}
Solution

David Quarfoot
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDavid Quarfoot / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.50)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points322 (average 1.63)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

16a Boola {Part of a college cheer}. The only crossing I wasn't certain of here was 13-Down, giving the fourth letter. Unfortunately, this could in theory have been a variety of things, but I eventually decided that L was the most likely: the Romanian Ilie Nastase was an influence and I thought I remembered Iliescu from somewhere. I gather "Boola Boola" is a fight song at Yale. Two other Yale fight songs were written by Cole Porter during his undergraduate days, but this one was penned by Allan M. Hirsh, class of 1901:
Boola, Boola, Boola, Boola,
Boola, Boola, Boola, Boola,
When we're through with these poor fellows,
They will holler Boola, Boo,
Rah, Rah, Rah,
Yale, Eli Yale.
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale,
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale,
Oh, Yale, Eli Yale!

Chorus of Boola, Boola
17a The Grudge {2004 horror film about a passed-on curse}. You know with a clue like this that (1) the film is going to be an obscure one and (2) that the wording of the clue is going to be confirmatory of one or more answer words. When I got The Grudge I wasn't surprised I hadn't heard of it, but was satisfied I had it right anyway.



28a Gunn {Jazz-loving TV sleuth of the 1950s-'60s}. Magdalen is a big fan of Tim Gunn and would certainly have clued the answer that way if she had the option. Peter Gunn was a series created by Blake Edwards, 114 episodes of which aired between 1958 and 1961. The title character is a PI in the Sam Spade tradition, but portrayed (by Craig Stevens) as a sophisticated dresser and lover of cool jazz.



Sigma Sigma Sigma39a SSS {Recruiting org.}; 42a ROTC {Recruiting org.}. I'd heard of the latter, but the former was a bit of a mystery and didn't help with my resolution of the SW corner. I assume SSS stands for the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma in this context, since it has more than 100,000 recruits. POSTSCRIPT: a reader generously pointed out to me that SSS actually stands for Selective Service System, the military conscription program ... oops!

40d Sha La La {Title syllables in a hit 1964 song}. Tra La La and Sha Na Na were potent red herrings here. I gather "Sha La La" was originally recorded by The Shirelles, but didn't become a hit until covered by Manfred Mann.



Noteworthy

19a Hal {Memorable 1968 movie villain}. The reason I like this clue is almost certainly personal to me: 2001: A Space Odyssey was a great favorite of mine as a kid and I remember it well. And yet, this answer proved elusive and came as a delightful surprise when I eventually got it. Rumors that Hal is a dig at the one-letter-different IBM seem to be unfounded as the movie's creators were on good terms with the computer company, who gave a great deal of help during its production.



37a red A {Hawthorne novel stigma}. A reference to The Scarlet Letter, a novel high on my reading list as I try to get beyond Melville and Twain in absorbing American literature.

62a simpatico {Congenial}. Perhaps I knew a little too much here, but that last letter is a bit of a minefield given the way Italian words are inflected. I plumped for the O based on the most likely surname in 47-Down and reasoning a constructor would be more likely to use the masculine singular. My worries all came from remembering this passage by Evelyn Waugh:
He was not loved, Guy knew, either by his household or in the town. He was accepted and respected but he was not simpatico. Gräfin von Gluck, who spoke no word of Italian and lived in undisguised concubinage with her butler, was simpatica. ... The Wilmots were gross vulgarians; they used Santa Dulcina purely as a pleasure resort ... They were simpatici.
From Sword of Honour
67a Penny Lane {Where "all the people that come and go stop and say hello"}. Strangely familiar words. Of course ... Penny Lane! Penny Lane is a must-see on any Beatles tour of Liverpool.



Napoleon5d tart {Napoleon's cousin}. The initial capital nicely disguises small 'N' napoleon, the dessert, aka "millefeuille". Le petit caporal has no connection with the dish, the name seemingly deriving from napolitain, the French adjective for Naples.

Thomas A Edison9d TAE {Inventor's inits.}. You could clue tae as "Scot's too" (by analogy with nae), but nobody does. The Wizard of Menlo Park it must be.

Ion Iliescu13d Iliescu {Two-time president of Romania}. Necessary to know Ion Iliescu if you didn't go to Yale. I must have encountered the name somewhere before, given the confidence with which I chose Boola for 16-Across. Ion (nice to have another way to clue that!) twice served as the Romanian president in the post-communist days: from 1989–1996 and 2000–2004.

safe sex39d safe sex {Transmission blocker?}. I suppose this really should have been the clue of the puzz, as it was highly elusive and the key to finishing the SW corner. I couldn't stop thinking of radio transmissions with this one ... or car transmissions.

41d satiric {Swiftly done?}. A neat reference to the satirist Jonathan Swift.

45d Adelina {Legendary soprano ___ Patti}. A gimme that got me off to a great start in the SE corner. Soprano Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was one of the greatest opera singers of all time, famous for coloratura roles like Lucia di Lammermoor and La Sonnambula. Here she is as the soubrette Zerlina in Don Giovanni.



USS Cole47d USS Cole {Destroyer in 2000 headlines}. USS Cole made headlines for all the wrong reasons: it was the vessel that was damaged in the suicide attack in Aden in 2000 - 17 sailors were killed and 39 injured. The ship is named in honor of Marine Sergeant Darrell S. Cole, who was killed in action on Iwo Jima.

The Rest

1a free Tibet {Rallying cry supported by some monks}; 10a Act IV {When Antony says "I am dying, Egypt, dying"}; 15a Air Canada {Company with a maple leaf logo}; 18a brain {Major processing center}; 20a tide {Geophysics topic}; 21a joshed {Chaffed}; 22a Enos {Book of Mormon book}; 24a took it easy {Chilled}; 26a année {A year abroad}; 29a tick {Second indicator?}; 30a Da Gama {He sighted and named Natal on Christmas Day of 1497}; 32a taxi {Airport waiter?}; 34a rue {Wish unmade}; 35a tins {Cans}; 44a déjà vu {Literally, "already seen"}; 48a ahas {Words teachers like to hear}; 50a Diaz {Princess Fiona's voicer in "Shrek"}; 52a sodas {Pops}; 53a fatal error {A bug may cause it}; 56a bets {All of them may be off}; 57a elides {Leaves out}; 58a foil {That's a wrap}; 60a lic. {Hunting req.}; 61a sarin {Lethal compound}; 64a e-list {High-tech subscription aid}; 65a Erie Canal {Construction with many locks}; 66a X-Acto {Brand for hobbyists}.

1d fat-head {Dolt}; 2d Rihanna {One-named Grammy winner of 2007}; 3d erelong {By and by}; 4d ECG {Beat recorder: Abbr.}; 6d Inuit {Kayak propeller}; 7d bad dog {Rebuke to Bowser}; 8d edge out {Barely best}; 10d abbot {Superior title?}; 11d corset {One with staying power?}; 12d to a hair {Right in every detail}; 14d Vandyke {Facial feature with a point}; 21d jinxed {Under a whammy}; 23d seat {Bottom}; 25d knar {Wood blemish}; 27d emir {Kaffiyeh-clad commander}; 31d anodes {Some poles}; 33d ides {10/15, e.g.}; 36d stir {The cooler}; 38d a job {Do ___ on}; 43d car fire {Shoulder inflammation?}; 46d Vatican {Swiss Guards' setting}; 49d sadist {Happily humiliating type}; 51d zoom in {Get close, maybe}; 54d lento {Funeral march direction}; 55d ripen {Soften, often}; 59d lacy {Like some clouds}; 62d sep. {Third qtr. ender}; 63d tal {"Qué ___?" (José's "How's it going?")}.

NPR Puzzle 08/24/09 -- Rolls Royces for NASCAR?

We have a special feature today (we're only a day late for this), but first -- last week's puzzle:
Think of two words that each mean "bowler." Put them together, one after the other, and you'll name a sport in two words that is not related to bowling.
The answer is Roller Derby. For Ross's benefit, here's what Roller Derby looks like. And if anyone wants to know the rules, check out an odd computer-animated explanation here.






The explanation is pretty straightforward. Bowlers roll the ball (bowler = roller) and a bowler hat in the US is called a derby. Of course, "roller" is also slang for a Rolls Royce, and derby is a race (e.g., the Kentucky Derby), so how cool would NASCAR be with Rolls Royces? I'd watch that!

We learned that yesterday was (is?) Will Shortz's birthday. Happy birthday, Will!

In his honor, here's a special value-added puzzle. We all know his categories puzzles for NPR's on-air contestants. Well, here's a fun one. Take the 13 letters of HAPPY BIRTHDAY and for each letter (so, yes, two H's, two P's and two Y's), name a different nation's capital. I'll tell you now that the Y's are the worst, so if mere mortals wish to skip them or look them up, I'm cool with that. As a special bonus round, which letter do you think has the most capitals?

This week's added-value puzzle was explained by Will on the radio --
From two given four-letter words, rearrange the letters of one of them to get a synonym of the other. For example, given "each" and "pain," the answer is "ache," because "ache" is an anagram of "each," and it means "pain."
-- only we used 5- and 6-letter anagrams. I also asked if you could figure out which of the following Ross objected to, albeit mildly. I could have made it slightly less objectionable, but it's such a lovely construction now that I can't bring myself to either delete it or change it.

Start begin/binge

Recap/caper dance

Chews plugs/gulps

Sound blare/abler (this was the one Ross objected to, as sound isn't quite the same as blare)

Bardo/broad woman

Cited named/ad-men

Bugle/bulge surge

Cafe's/faces sides

Craft trade/rated

Float/aloft above

Learn glean/angle

Early/layer sheet

Under below/elbow

Shoal shelf/flesh

Loves beaus/abuse (Henry objected to this because the French would be beaux)

Sherpa/phrase saying

Blamed/bedlam uproar

Erring/ringer expert

Bemoan grouse/rogues

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NYT Thursday 8/27/09 - Pattern Recognition

The theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword was a mystery for a long while, and I hoped to find an explanation of the circled letters that never came. Eventually, I guessed that there was a relationship between the letters in the rows and made sense of it all by writing the circled words alongside the grid.

Once I'd done that, those mysterious "Nth row" clues started to make sense and finishing the puzzle with all this extra help was a cinch.

Note that the words can be transformed into each other simply by a deletion and no jumbling is required. Making the Alphabet Dance: Recreational Wordplay has several longer chains of this type: the neatest IMHO is this one, where all the words are commonplace and letters are removed only from the start or end:

sheathed
sheathe
sheath
heath
heat
eat
at
a
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 12d pedestal {Support for the arts?}
Theme

The circled letters in the grid make a triangle of words formed by deleting one letter at a time from the first row word PATTERN. Each word in the triangle is indicated by a specially-clued answer in the puzzle (43-Down doing double-duty):
52a design {First row} => PATTERN
51d spiel {Second row} => PATTER
43d dad {Third or sixth row} => PATER
64a head {Fourth row} => PATE
4d dab {Fifth row} => PAT
43d dad {Third or sixth row} => PA
61d one {Seventh row} => A
Solution

Derek Bowman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDerek Bowman / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares50 (27.0%)
Scrabble points254 (average 1.37)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Pratt Institute29a Pratt {New York's ___ Institute (art school)}. I thought we might have come across the Pratt Institute already this year, but couldn't find it in the blog, so it must be new. The art school was founded by oil industry pioneer Charles Pratt (1830–1891) and has campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Utica. Its motto is "be true to your work, and your work will be true to you".

60a Vero {___ Beach, Fla.}. Vero Beach seemed an unlikely name, but I trusted the crossings and assumed it was OK. It's a city of some 17,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Florida. Until last year Vero Beach housed the spring training camp of the Los Angeles Dodgers and so was dubbed Dodgertown - looks like they're going to need a new nickname.

68a Raye {Comedic star Martha}. Martha Raye (1916–1994) was a comedienne and singer with a career in movies and early TV.



7d Ito {Japanese butler in "Auntie Mame"}. I don't feel so bad for my ignorance here, as Ito (played by Yuki Shimoda) is way down the cast list. Auntie Mame is a book, movie and musical about an orphaned boy Patrick who is looked after by the eponymous madcap aunt.



Helsinki Central Railway Station40d Eliel {Architect Saarinen}. Aaargh! I thought the architect was Eero Saarinen (1910–1961). Correct, but our Eero's calling was no accident: his father Eliel Saarinen (18731950) was also an architect, famous for his art nouveau buildings of the early 20th century. He designed Helsinki's central railway station, which has these rather witty lantern designs.

53d Irene {Classic Broadway musical with the song "Alice Blue Gown"}. Sorry, it may be a classic, but that's not a song I've heard of. Irene had music by Harry Tierney and opened in 1919. Here's the number as it appears in the 1940 movie adaptation.



Noteworthy

TNT37a TNT {C7H5N3O6}. I assume that this is rendered with subscript in the paper, which is of necessity lost in translation to Across Lite's PUZ format. Once I'd disentangled the formula as a CH3 group and three NO2 groups on a benzene ring, I recognized the compound as trinitrotoluene ... you see my Chemistry degree wasn't completely wasted.

65a Eden {Paradise lost}, 12d pedestal {Support for the arts?}. A couple of neat misleading clues.

The Rest

1a bead {Moccasin adornment}; 5a slip {Faux pas}; 9a a dip {Took ___ (went swimming)}; 13a LPGA {With 14-Across, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam have each won this several times}; 14a title {See 13-Across}; 16a René {Russo who co-starred in "The Thomas Crown Affair"}; 17a Ahab {Literary lead role for Gregory Peck in 1956}; 18a afoul {Run ___ of}; 19a iced {Clinched}; 20a NOP {Alphabet trio}; 21a Alt {Keyboard key}; 22a toe {Boot feature}; 24a Rae {Singer Corinne Bailey ___}; 25a create {Bring into being}; 27a openers {Intros}; 32a errant {Straying}; 33a Astaires {Brother-and-sister dancing duo}; 36a a-sea {Out on the water}; 38a prattle {Foolish chatter}; 41a ESL {Educ. course in which grammar and idioms are taught}; 42a IDed {Verified, in a way}; 44a cruelest {Most merciless}; 46a preamp {Stereo component}; 49a antis {Those against}; 50a solders {Joins}; 56a OMG {Online gasp}; 57a top {"You're the ___" (Cole Porter classic)}; 58a AOL {Popular ISP}; 59a Rio {Brazilian hot spot}; 62a sinew {Muscle connector}; 66a yearn {Have a hankering}; 67a -enne {Suffix akin to -trix}; 69a Leos {Many August babies}; 70a pets {Guinea pigs, maybe}.

1d Blanc {Mont ___}; 2d ephor {Ancient Spartan magistrate}; 3d agape {Wide open}; 5d stale air {Result of poor ventilation}; 6d lift {Boost}; 8d Pluto {Mickey Mouse's puppy pal}; 9d Ari {Shipping magnate Onassis}; 10d decreases {Shrinks}; 11d in earnest {Passionately}; 15d elope {Act without the parents' blessings, say}; 21d a trap {"Don't go in there! It's ___!"}; 23d e'er {Always, poetically}; 26d apt {Fitting}; 28d NRA {Lobby in a D.C. building?}; 30d Trac {___ II razor}; 31d tetra {Neon ___}; 33d Andromeda {Gene Roddenberry-inspired sci-fi series}; 34d steel-grey {Metallic shade, in Sheffield}; 35d stun {Knock out}; 37d tips over {Upsets}; 39d let-downs {Disappointments}; 45d -ess {Suffix akin to -trix}; 47d met {Intersected}; 48d prosy {Like plain text}; 54d giant {Bigger than big}; 55d nodes {Intersecting points}; 58d aero {Aviation-related}; 63d nae {Edinburgh refusal}; 64d hep {Up on things, daddy-o}.