Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NYT Thursday 4/1/10 - That Fool April

It was clear something was very foolish about the clues for this Thursday New York Times crossword and it didn't take that long to work out that words were being rearranged. I wondered for a bit if this was restricted in some way ... first and last words swapped, or two arbitrary words swapped? But after a while I gave up on that idea and just assumed the words could be in any wrong order.

Once I'd seen the idea, the solving process was still fairly lengthy, even for a Thursday. It seems the unscrambled clues were deliberately on the easy side, but that didn't completely compensate for the complications of the gimmick.

I've made sense of almost all the clues to my satisfaction and appended what I consider the correct clue below. In a few cases, there are perhaps multiple possibilities: would 23a infidel have been clued as {A person without faith} or {Person without a faith}? I'm going for the former, even though the indefinite article wouldn't be usual in a normally-clued crossword.

28d cants {Secret thieves of slang} is the one clue where I'm a bit flummoxed, since it's not clear how it can be disentangled and still indicate a plural answer.
Solving time: 21 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23d Isaac {Stern violinist}

Glickstein Lee
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


The order of the words in the clues is changed for April Fool's Day. This was indicated by the following identically-clued answers (I'll give the correct version of each after the printed one):
17a rearranged {Like the clues in all the words in this puzzle} => {Like all the words in the clues in this puzzle}
53a out of order {Like the clues in all the words in this puzzle} => {Like all the words in the clues in this puzzle}
11d moved around {Like the clues in all the words in this puzzle} => {Like all the words in the clues in this puzzle}
25d flip-flopped {Like the clues in all the words in this puzzle} => {Like all the words in the clues in this puzzle}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersLee Glickstein / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.22)
Theme squares42 (21.8%)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.51)
Video of the Day

36d open road {Drivers of love} => {Love of drivers}. An answer that conjured up for me The Wind in the Willows and Toad's love the the open road ... first as experienced in a horse-drawn caravan and then in a motor car. Poop poop!

The Doctor is IN

For each clue, the printed version is followed by the correct version:

1a chats {Talks little} => {Little talks}.
 6a pecs {Short chest, for muscles} => {Chest muscles, for short}.
10a Omar {Funny co-star in "Barbra's Girl"} => {Barbra's co-star in "Funny Girl"}.
14a Puget {Washington's Sound ___} => {Washington's ___ Sound}.
15a agua {Main contents of the Spanish} => {Contents of the Spanish Main}.
16a robe {Clothing court} => {Court clothing}.
19a Ivan {The Terrible ___} => {___ the Terrible}.
20a mixes {As a grasshopper prepares} => {Prepares, as a grasshopper}. See grasshopper.
21a digest {Food process} => {Process food}.
23a infidel {Faith without a person} => {A person without faith}.
26a decades {Years of plenty} => {Plenty of years}.
 27a silted {Fine with choked sand} => {Choked with fine sand}.
28a cinema {Date for many a place} => {Place for many a date}.
29a alien {Visitor space} => {Space visitor}.
30a pave {Drive off the top?} => {Top off the drive?}.
31a irae {"___ Dies"} => {"Dies ___"}.
34a alp {Music backdrop of "The Sound"} => {"The Sound of Music" backdrop}.
35a tornado {Alley ___} => {____ Alley}.
38a OCS {General program for a future, maybe: Abbr.} => {Program for a future general, maybe: Abbr.}. See OCS.
39a café {Of kind society} => {Kind of society}.
41a pots {Supply nursery} => {Nursery supply}.
42a pouts {Faces sulky} => {Sulky faces}.
44a lapels {Places small American flags for} => {Places for small American flags}.
46a Minnie {Mouse ___} => {____ Mouse}.
47a two-tone {Old like some painted cars} => {Painted like some old cars}.
49a dined in {Cleared home at the plate?} => {Cleared the plate at home?}.
50a rapier {Tool fencing} => {Fencing tool}.
51a Sofia {Union in the European capital} => {Capital in the European Union}.
52a ESPN {Channel game} => {Game channel}.
58a Viet. {Some served veterans there: Abbr.} => {Some veterans served there: Abbr.}.
59a afar {Cry ___} => {____ cry}.
60a N-test {Brief blowup, in "Big"} => {Big blowup, in brief }.
61a Indo- {Opening China?} => {China opening}.
62a dogs {Example, for boxers} => {Boxers, for example}.
63a shape {For one square} => {Square, for one}.

1d CPR {Revival of a cause, briefly} => {Cause of a revival, briefly}.
2d hue {Cry of partner} => {Partner of cry}.
3d aga {Respect of Eastern title} => {Eastern title of respect}.
4d termite {Of a colony member} => {Member of a colony}.
5d strident {Having a sound grating} => {Having a grating sound}.
6d panel {Show part of a game} => {Part of a game show}.
7d eggs {With spurs on} => {Spurs, with on}.
8d cue {Go on to signal} => {Signal to go on}.
9d saddened {Low on the side} => {On the low side}.
10d origami {Craft paper} => {Paper craft}.
12d abase {In lower rank} => {Lower in rank}.
13d rents {Letters for checks} => {Checks for letters}.
18d axed {In a split way} => {Split, in a way}.
22d ice {Cooler drink} => {Drink cooler}.
23d Isaac {Stern violinist} => {Violinist Stern}.
26d divas {Attitude with singers} => {Singers with attitude}.
28d cants {Secret thieves of slang} => {Secret slang of thieves}.
30d prole {Worker routine} => {Routine worker}.
32d Act II {Half of a musical second} => {Second half of a musical}.
33d Essen {City steel in Europe} => {Steel city in Europe}.
37d opinions {Judges of written works} => {Written works of judges}.
40d eat into {Part of drain} => {Drain part of}.
43d on earth {Heaven, not in here} => {Here, not in heaven}.
45d Poe {A dreary poet upon midnight, once} => {"Once upon a midnight dreary" poet}. See The Raven.
46d miff {Off tee} => {Tee off}.
47d Trevi {Fountain ___} => {___ Fountain}.
48d Was in {"When Flower ___ Knighthood" (1922 film)} => {"When Knighthood ___ Flower" (1922 film)}.
49d doors {Opportunities to speak so} => {Opportunities, so to speak}.
51d stag {Does partner for} => {Partner for does}.
54d ufo {Light sky, maybe} => {Sky light, maybe}.
55d DEA {Traffic group that may stop: Abbr.} => {Group that may stop traffic: Abbr.}. See DEA.
56d ESP {To know one way} => {One way to know}.
57d rte. {Offering G.P.S.} => {G.P.S. offering}. "route" abbreviates to rte.

Image of the Day

555 LED flasher

24d Nilla {Wafer ___} => {____ wafer}. Nilla is a brand owned by Nabisco that is mainly associated with its line of wafer cookies. The name is a shortened version of vanilla, a flavor common to all Nilla-branded products (Nilla cookies have been flavored with synthetic vanillin since their introduction). Nilla wafers are round, shortbread-style cookies that are often eaten with milk as a snack. The above picture shows a foolish use of a Nilla wafer as a ceramic disc capacitor in a production of the circuitry snacks project.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NYT Wednesday 3/31/10 - On The Money

We see a return of an embedding theme with this Wednesday New York Times crossword; after getting 17-Across, I looked for what the circled letters spelled out, but must have entered something wrong as they didn't make sense.

After that, I just plowed ahead with filling and ignored the theme until I hit 38-Across and spread the wealth. At this point, I glanced back to the top two theme answers and magically saw that bread and dinero had appeared. Redistributionism in the economic sense is new to me, but I could still make sense of the theme.

Manolo BlahnikFilling the bottom half wasn't quite such a breeze, mainly because I'm not familiar with Manolo Blahnik (49-Across) and the letters of moolah didn't - alas - confirm the crossing answers I was most unsure about. I suspect the brand must have been mentioned on Ab Fab a few times, but it didn't stick in the mind.

The other area that gave some grief was the top right, where 10-Across (I think) allows multiple different spellings of the autocratic ruler (tsar, tzar, csar?, czar ... blogger certainly has a preference for the official answer). I stupidly opted for tsar initially, requiring two corrections to make sense of the downs - 10-Down was surprisingly easy once I thought of Camino Real.

There's one nuance to the thematic implementation which became apparent when I prepared this post: there's only one way the letters of the money terms could have been circled in each ... normally there are several possibilities and there is a certain arbitrariness about which is chosen. This may just have been accidental, but I think it's a neat feature (and if not accidental, must have constrained the theme somewhat).
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 46d garage {Mustang's place}

Chuck Deodene
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


38a spread the wealth {Redistributionist's catchphrase ... or a hint to the words formed by the circled letters}. Slang term for money are spread in the long answers.
17a by popular demand {How a former product may be brought back} => bread
23a Dante's Inferno {Tale of a hellish trip} => dinero
49a Manolo Blahnik {Upscale shoe brand} => moolah
59a pleasure cruises {Escapes via luxury liner} => lucre
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersChuck Deodene / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares71 (37.6%)
Scrabble points294 (average 1.56)
Video of the Day

40d Edna {Cross-dressing "Dame" of humor}. Another fine excuse to show a clip of the wonderful Dame Edna Everage. I calculate that she's now in her mid- to late-70s, yet she doesn't look her age and shows no signs of slowing down: Dame Edna is currently starring in All About Me on Broadway.

The Doctor is IN

43a Rhys {Actor Jonathan ___ Meyers}. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an Irish actor and the face of Hugo Boss.

48a ANC {Ruling party in Johannesburg: Abbr.}. African National Congress.

6d Adlai {Dwight's two-time opponent}. Adlai Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

10d camino {Spanish road}. Road = camino in Spanish is a new one for Español para los crucigramistas.

12d Arne {Obama education secretary ___ Duncan}. Arne Duncan.

18d Ursa {Bear overhead?}. Ursa Major or Ursa Minor.

24d tree {Dendrologist's subject}. Dendrology = tree science.

25d Enna {Central Sicilian city}. You've got to know Enna for crosswords.

51d Becky {Tom Sawyer's crush}. Rebecca "Becky" Thatcher.

54d Kesey {Merry Prankster Ken}. The Merry Pranksters formed around author Ken Kesey.

Image of the Day

Puente Romano (Segovia)

41d arch {Roman aqueduct support}. What did the Romans ever do for us? One answer is the aqueducts, many of which survive to this day, in some cases still performing their original function. The methods of construction are well described by Vitruvius in his work De Architectura written in the first century BC. The picture above shows the Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the most significant and best-preserved monuments left by the Romans on the Iberian Peninsula. It provided water to Segovia, mainly to the Segovia Alcázar, until recently.

Other Clues

1a Gates {Billionaire Bill}; 6a abed {Sleeping in, say}; 10a czar {Bolshevik's foe}; 14a Osage {Lake of the Ozarks feeder}; 15a drei {Eins und zwei}; 16a aero {Streamlined, in brief}; 20a Ali {Louisville sports icon}; 21a raw {Like steak tartare}; 22a riles {Provokes}; 28a RNA {Biochem strand}; 29a unsound {Faulty, as a plan}; 32a Auden {"City Without Walls" poet}; 35a Esso {Shell alternative}; 37a sou {Trifling amount}; 42a toe {"Piggy"}; 44a dry as {___ dust (so-o-o boring)}; 45a in agony {Suffering torment}; 55a outré {Eccentric}; 57a pea {Soybean relative}; 58a été {Valéry's vacation time}; 64a anag. {Puzzling jumble: Abbr.}; 65a Turk {Izmir native}; 66a got me {"Good question"}; 67a lame {Half-baked}; 68a eBay {"Buy It Now" site}; 69a hussy {Impudent lady}.

1d go bad {Sprout mold, say}; 2d asyla {Places of respite}; 3d tap-in {Anticlimactic putt}; 4d ego {Elitist's problem}; 5d Sep. {Patriot Day mo.}; 7d brawn {Brain's counterpart}; 8d e'er {Unceasingly, to Burns}; 9d did {Accomplished}; 11d zealously {With fervor}; 13d rods {Concrete reinforcers}; 19d errs {Muffs}; 26d fuses {Amalgamates}; 27d enow {Adequate, in verse}; 30d nota {Part of N.B.}; 31d duhs {Cries from the momentarily stupid}; 32d Asti {Moscato d'___ (Italian wine)}; 33d up on {Knowledgeable of}; 34d dream team {Superstar assembly}; 35d ethyl {Alcohol type used as biofuel}; 36d shy {Short}; 39d Dr. No {Fleming supervillain}; 46d garage {Mustang's place}; 47d ones {Vending machine input}; 48d Alar {Former orchard spray}; 50d opera {Teatro La Fenice offering}; 52d nests {Snuggles}; 53d items {Lovey-dovey pairs}; 55d opal {Queensland gem}; 56d ulna {It parallels the radius}; 60d ute {RAV4 or TrailBlazer, briefly}; 61d rub {Chafe}; 62d ugh {Cry made while holding the nose}; 63d IOU {Note from a busted person}.

Monday, March 29, 2010

NYT Tuesday 3/30/10 - Lording It

I was on to the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword immediately on solving 17d au courant. I don't know what told me this was thematic and not 14d whipped up, but I thought "O, yes - different O sounds" ... and so it turned out.

Actually confirming this from 9a Five-O was not straightforward and that clue was the last to be solved: its letter pattern is not one you'd immediately recognize as an answer and it was well protected with crossings that had tougher than average clues, it seemed. 9d far-flung {Widespread} was among the hardest clues in the puzzle.

The thematic implementation was totally solid, as you'd expect from the second most prolific constructor in my sidebar: five Os differently spelled and yet still sounding the same; plus the neat explanation at 9-Across.

Aside from the NE corner, the other area that caused a little trouble was the block half way up the left hand side. I've came across Liev Schreiber just once in the last year: not enough that his odd forename is a gimme; but enough that his name rings the right sort of bells when I get it from crossings.

The same probably goes for Hi-Ho crackers and that crossed ahs which had a clue {Physical reactions?} lacking in the precision one hopes for in such an area. Anyway, I managed to get this area correct, but it took some time to sort out.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1a SUVs {Explorers on a hwy., e.g.}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Five different spellings of the O sound, indicated by 9a Five-O {Cops, in slang ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme}.
17a au courant {Up-to-date}
23a eau-de-Cologne {Brut or Paco Rabanne}
41a Oh, to be in England {Browning opening line preceding "Now that April's there"}
52a owe back taxes {Be indebted to the I.R.S.}
65a O Pioneers! {Willa Cather novel}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares62 (32.8%)
Scrabble points313 (average 1.66)
Video of the Day

9a Five-O {Cops, in slang ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme}. Hawaii Five-O starring Jack Lord ran from 1968 to 1980 and had one of those iconic openings sequences typical of the period - the show was one of those broadcast in the UK and I remember being glued to it as a kid. The Five-O of the title actually derives from Hawaii being the 50th state of the union, but the show's influence meant it came to be used as a street slang term for the police.

The Doctor is IN

1a SUVs {Explorers on a hwy., e.g.}. The Ford Explorer is an SUV.

28a ahs {Physical reactions?}. Presumably referencing "saying ah" for a doctor at a physical (examination)?

33a Liev {Schreiber of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"}. Liev Schreiber.

35a Elis {New Haven collegians}. Yale University students are nicknamed Elis after benefactor Elihu Yale.

71a Rhoda {Mary's upstairs neighbor, in 1970s TV}. Reference to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

6d Ida {Civil rights advocate ___ B. Wells}. Ida B. Wells (1862–1931), an early leader in the civil rights movement.

24d Ulee {Beekeeper of filmdom}. Ulee (short for Ulysses) Jackson, portrayed by Peter Fonda in the movie Ulee's Gold (1997).

29d Hi-Ho {Bygone cracker brand}. Hi-Hos were made by Sunshine Biscuits.

64d he'd {"I knew a man Bojangles and ___ dance for you ..."}. Lyrics from Mr. Bojangles.

Image of the Day

Rosetta Stone

56d stele {Inscribed pillar}. A stele is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief (bas-relief, sunken-relief, high-relief, and so forth), or painted onto the slab. The Rosetta Stone (pictured above) is one of the most famous examples, being a multilingual stele that allowed linguists to begin the process of hieroglyph decipherment.

Other Clues

5a miso {___ soup (starter at a Japanese restaurant)}; 14a whipped up {Made quickly, as a meal}; 16a Aryan {Indo-European}; 18a Raitt {Singer Bonnie}; 19a therm {Gas bill unit}; 20a in F {Gershwin's "Concerto ___"}; 22a NIH {Medical research agcy.}; 31a slam {Pro wrestling move}; 32a guv {Informal British term of address}; 37a Nadia {Gold-medal gymnast Comaneci}; 44a Tosca {1900 Puccini premiere}; 45a seem {Look}; 46a stoa {Site of Zeno's teaching}; 47a Abe {Civil War prez}; 49a nyet {Natasha's refusal}; 51a any {Whichever}; 57a NEC {Jap. computer giant}; 58a won {Took home the gold}; 59a ethos {Spirit of a group}; 63a aloha! {"Welcome to Maui!"}; 69a is new {"So what else ___?"}; 70a buddy list {Computer setup to facilitate instant messaging}; 72a sped {Floored it}; 73a Eros {Lover boy?}.

1d Swat {Sultan of ___ (Babe Ruth)}; 2d uh-uh {"No way, no how"}; 3d vice {Gambling or drinking}; 4d spore {Fungus production}; 5d mer {Sea, to Cousteau}; 7d sun {Light from above}; 8d optic {Eye-related}; 9d far-flung {Widespread}; 10d IRA {Nest egg for old age, in brief}; 11d vying {Competing}; 12d eat in {Have dinner at home}; 13d on the {Words before rocks, ropes or run}; 15d Pumas {Alternative to Nikes}; 21d nog {Eggy drink}; 25d Dalis {Some Surrealist paintings}; 26d eminent {Distinguished}; 27d ovals {Egg shapes}; 28d a lot {Gazillions}; 30d sets {Squash match units}; 34d vocab. {Lexicon contents, for short}; 36d see ya! {"Adios!"}; 38d data {Facts and figures}; 39d in on {Privy to}; 40d A Day {The Beatles' "___ in the Life"}; 42d Baba Wawa {Gilda Radner character}; 43d N.Mex. {Ariz. neighbor}; 48d eco- {Prefix with friendly}; 50d teeny {Wee}; 52d on air {Broadcasting now}; 53d Welsh {Like the name "Bryn Mawr"}; 54d Econo {___ Lodge}; 55d knobs {Door handles}; 60d heir {Prince, e.g.}; 61d or so {Roughly}; 62d SSTs {Former fast jets}; 66d pup {Young dog}; 67d -ide {Chemical suffix}; 68d odd {Like 1, 3, 5, 7 ...}.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

NYT Monday 3/29/10 - Hair Style

I didn't get a clear idea of what was going on with this Monday New York Times crossword until solving 38-Across. As this didn't happen until about a minute before I completed the grid, I'd been left wondering for a very long time what connected the people whose "features" were referenced in the clues.

It turns out there's no direct connection between the set of characters other than exemplifying specific types of hair arrangement. What's also important is their disposition in the grid ... crossing at their centers to simulate the cross-hairs of a sighting device. The theme seems unusually subtle for a Monday puzzle, but the cluing was generally very straightforward.

When I finally noticed the byline of this crossword, I realized the constructor (John Dunn) is someone I very much enjoyed meeting at the ACPT this year. We agreed to act as critique partners in our puzzlemaking efforts: John is a couple of steps ahead of me (this is his second puzzle in the New York Times), but I'll be happy to offer such advice as I can. As far as my own constructing efforts are concerned, I certainly need all the help I can get!
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 31d tromp {Give a shellacking}

John Dunn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Each corner of the grid includes two hair styles crossing at their centers. This feature is indicated by 38a in the crosshairs {Fixed as a target ... or a hint to four pairs of intersecting answers in this puzzle}.
 17a pompadour {Elvis Presley feature}

5d beard {Abraham Lincoln feature}

Mamie Eisenhower
19a bangs {Mamie Eisenhower feature}

Tina Turner
11d manes {Jon Bon Jovi and Tina Turner features}

Willie Nelson
60a braid {Willie Nelson feature}

Pippi Longstocking
51d plait {Pippi Longstocking feature}

Betty Boop
62a spit curls {Betty Boop and Superman features}

53d locks {Rapunzel feature}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJohn Dunn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares59 (31.2%)
Scrabble points287 (average 1.52)
Video of the Day

1d SFPD {Dirty Harry's employer: Abbr.}. "Dirty" Harry Callahan is an Inspector in the San Francisco Police Department with firm views on the appropriate garnish for a hot dog (see above clip). Personally, I like Marmite on a hot dog, which Magdalen barely tolerates.

The Doctor is IN

68a SDS {Grp. that opposed the Vietnam War}. Students for a Democratic Society.

55a diablo {Spanish devil}. Devil = diablo in Spanish is in Español para los crucigramistas.

18d Dina {Actress Merrill}. Dina Merrill appeared in 22 movies.

Image of the Day


36d wren {Bird that perches with its tail erect}. A reader told me he thought New York Times puzzles must be easier for Brits because nearly 10-20% of every puzzle's clues reference English idioms in some way. This clue bears him out, because I'm old enough to picture the British farthing coin which was worth a quarter of an old penny, i.e. 0.104 new pence at Decimal Day in 1971 (although the farthing ceased to be legal tender at the end of 1960). As you can see from the above picture, farthings featured one of Britain's smallest birds, the wren.

Other Clues

1a scrub {Wash very hard}; 6a STP {"The racer's edge"}; 9a remap {Chart anew}; 14a flame {Hot love interest}; 15a tra {___-la-la}; 16a Ivana {Former Mrs. Trump}; 20a DDS {Tooth specialist's deg.}; 21a ripest {At the peak of maturity, as an apple}; 23a delt {Shoulder muscle, informally}; 24a Edna {Author Ferber}; 25a nemeses {Formidable opponents}; 27a a lot {Scads}; 30a attired {Clad}; 32a saucy {Insolent}; 34a rpms. {Tach readings}; 35a DWI {Drinker's road offense, for short}; 42a ads {Commercials}; 43a seem {Appear to be}; 44a Yemen {Its capital is Sana}; 45a soda pop {Sugary drink}; 48a rent {Apartment dweller's payment}; 49a apparel {Clothing}; 52a relo {Move, in Realtor-speak}; 54a melt {Opposite of freeze}; 57a tau {T in a fraternity}; 64a Loire {France's longest river}; 65a Tet {Asian New Year}; 66a knife {Weapon in Clue}; 67a enter {Step into}; 69a so bad {Not ___ (middling)}.

2d clod {Dirt clump}; 3d rams {Ewes' mates}; 4d ump {Caller of strikes and balls, for short}; 6d stop at {Pull into}; 7d true {T on a test}; 8d parsnips {Cousins of carrots}; 9d rib {Tease}; 10d evaded {Got around}; 12d angle {It's measured in degrees}; 13d pasts {They may be sordid}; 22d terms {Contract provisions}; 24d etch {Impress, as in the memory}; 26d meshy {Like a net}; 27d Asia {Part of Istanbul is in it}; 28d land {Real estate}; 29d outs {What tagging a runner and catching a fly ball result in}; 31d tromp {Give a shellacking}; 33d yes or {"___ no?"}; 35d dime {Coin with F.D.R.'s profile}; 37d Isn't {George Harrison's "___ It a Pity"}; 39d ceded {Surrendered}; 40d realists {They see things as they are}; 41d aero- {Prefix with dynamic}; 45d satire {Lampoon}; 46d orbits {Circles, as the earth}; 47d pelt {Throw things at}; 49d amble {Mosey along}; 50d Peron {Juan of Argentina}; 56d aped {Parroted}; 57d Trib {Chi-town paper, with "the"}; 58d Alfa {___ Romeo}; 59d used {Preowned}; 61d der {Architect Mies van ___ Rohe}; 63d Uno {Game with Skip and Draw 2 cards}.

NPR Puzzle 3/28/10 -- You Only Think This is Easy

Here's this week's puzzle:
This week's challenge comes from listener Mike Reiss who's a former writer and producer for The Simpsons, and who co-created The Critic. What 6 letter word beginning with the letter "S" would be the same if it started with "TH?"
Got it?  If not, I have precisely one significant hint and you're already looking at it.

Now, we did not get a winner in the "what number of entries will Liane announce" challenge.  The correct guess would have been 1,000 to 1,500, and no one picked that.  But we now officially have prizes!  A copy of a puzzle book, which I'll tell you about on Thursday (because I'm not sure where Crossword Man put them, and he's off being Chainsaw Man and felling a tree so I can't ask).  Not a Will Shortz Deck of Riddles and Challenges; sorry.  This is a bit more generic (i.e., cheap).  But it's a prize and you can win it!!

Here's how this challenge works:

Every week, on the radio (and thus the podcast), Liane says, "We had more than / less than _____ entries, and the randomly selected correct entry is . . . " and that introduces the player/winner for that week.  We're inviting readers to guess -- based on as many or as few factors as you like -- what the number will be that she announces.  Generally, it's given in the form of a round number.  Currently, we're doing this in pretty big chunks because not too many people are playing so far, but we reserve the right to carve out some tighter parameters.  (For example, Liane announced it today as over 1,100 entries, which is the 1,000 - 1,500 range for us.  But we might make it 1,000 - 1,100, 1,100 - 1,200, etc. in the future.)

Here are the divisions for right now:

Fewer than 100
Fewer than 200
Fewer than 300
Fewer than 400
More than 400 (but less than 500)
More than 500
More than 1,000
More than 1,500
More than 2,000
More than 2,500
More than 3,000
More than 4,000
More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.

So leave us a comment with your guess as to what the number Liane will announce next week, and if yours is the correct guess, we'll send you this lovely (cheap) puzzle book.

And here, just because I feel like it, is another picture of New Zealand:

And about these photos. They're all from Flickr, and my use of them is governed by the Creative Commons license, which photographers can select when they post to Flickr. If you want more information about any of the photographs in my posts, just click on the photo itself. The attribution at the bottom takes you to the photographer's page at Flickr.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

NYT Sunday 3/28/10 - Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

I ended up doing this Sunday New York Times crossword on my own, as Magdalen had to field a couple of long phone calls at the time we might be solving together. There were a few places where I could have done with her complementary knowledge, but I managed to scrape through the puzzle correctly.

The nature of the theme was very predictable from the title, but it took over five minutes to get enough downs to solve the first thematic answer, which was 23-Across. I like that the basis for the theme answer is invariably a very well known phrase. The puns all made perfect sense to me except for 38-Across: I gather that "hitch" in the sense of a "term of service" is exclusively North American slang.

Aside from the theme, there were two troublesome areas today: first at the crossing of 40d Heloise and 57d OnStar, where I didn't know the latter; I just had to opt for the only real word I knew of for the former ... never mind that the clue didn't make sense to me. In fact I had blogged about "Heloise" the advice columnist on September 3, but had forgotten the encounter.

The other dodgy intersection was at the crossing of 60d rin and 66a inure, which I know can also be spelled enure ... but do Americans spell it that way?? Looking it up, I see that enure would have to be tagged as a variant spelling, the standard rendition being inure. Anyway, my gut feeling was to go with rin (which felt more Japanesy and Ren is always liable to be the toon dog) and inure. Sometimes you just get lucky!
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 88a new high {Wall Street landmark?}

Ed Sessa
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"What Makes It Itch?". Adding CH of course! CH is appended to a word in a phrase, making a pun.
23a no-winch situation {Problem for a crane operator?}
38a one-hitch wonder {Exceptional soldier on his only tour?}
68a mensch fashion {What kind, decent people wear?}
98a patch on the back {Hidden help for one who's trying to quit smoking?}
117a get a load of thatch {Instruction #1 for roofers?}
16d make a bad punch {Hit below the belt?}
56d hot cross bunch {Really angry group?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersEd Sessa / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 66 (15.0%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares99 (26.4%)
Scrabble points600 (average 1.60)
Video of the Day

80a Bésame {"___ Mucho," #1 hit for Jimmy Dorsey}. Bésame Mucho ("kiss me a lot") is a Spanish language song written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. According to Velázquez herself, she wrote this song even though she had never been kissed yet at the time, and kissing as she heard was considered a sin. She was inspired by the aria "Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor" from the Spanish 1916 opera Goyescas by Enrique Granados. Above is a rendition by Andrea Bocelli in 2006.

The Doctor is IN

10a scrum {Rugby gathering}. A scrum in the game of rugby is a means of restarting play after a minor infringement.

46a terne {Lead and tin alloy}. Terne has 20% tin and 80% lead and is used to coat sheet steel to inhibit corrosion.

57a OnStar {G.M. tracking system}. OnStar is a security, hands free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics system with more than five million subscribers.

103a ola {Spanish wave}. wave = ola in Spanish is in Español para los crucigramistas.

106a sei {Twice tre}. Anglo-Italian maths: uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci.

3d new ager {Shirley MacLaine, notably}. Shirley MacLaine believes in new age spirituality and reincarnation.

31d nor {Postman's creed conjunction}. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City.

40d Heloise {Hint offerer}. "Heloise" is an advice columnist.

53d PABA {Sunscreen additive}. PABA is para-aminobenzoic acid, widely used as a UV filter.

60d rin {Old Japanese coin}. A rin, equal to 11000 yen, was taken out of circulation at the end of 1953.

68d MRE {Field ration, for short}. Meal, ready-to-eat.

100d heater {Punk's piece}. Punk in the sense of "petty gangster, hoodlum or ruffian", heater being slang for a handgun.

120d HMS {Britannia letters}. A reference to the many British ships named HMS Britannia.

Image of the Day

Burmese cat

78a Burmese {Cuddly cat}. The second cat in my life was a Burmese, and I can attest to their cuddliness (and playfulness). Ours was one of a pair our grandmother in the Isle of Man owned. When she died, we inherited the surviving cat called "Perry" and he lived with us in Oxford for the rest of his life ... I think around 10 years. Perry was brown (like Howie above), once the exclusive color for the breed; but years of selective breeding have produced a wide variety of color schemes for Burmese cats.

Other Clues

1a isn't {"Coffee ___ my cup of tea": Samuel Goldwyn}; 5a La Paz {World capital at 12,000 feet}; 15a am so {Schoolyard comeback}; 19a OPER {Phone abbr.}; 20a Osage {With 21-Across, native Oklahoma group}; 21a tribe {See 20-Across}; 22a Watt {Eponymous engineer}; 26a okay {Green-light}; 27a kapok {Pillow fill}; 28a soapy {In a lather}; 29a saddle up {Get ready to go}; 31a nag {Noodge}; 32a mea {___ culpa}; 34a Joes {Average fellows}; 36a tie {Haberdashery offering}; 37a Abe {"___ Lincoln in Illinois" (1940 biopic)}; 43a crab {Kvetch}; 45a reran {Showed over}; 47a cigar case {Cuban's home?}; 51a Sara Lee {Food giant based in Downers Grove, Ill.}; 53a put-on {Feigned}; 54a Odin {Chief Norse deity}; 55a chili {Hot dog topping}; 59a striped {Like many a 36-Across}; 61a plod {Plug along}; 62a DUI {Motorist's no-no, for short}; 64a abets {Helps in a heist}; 66a inure {Get used (to)}; 67a rot {Rubbish}; 72a NRA {Colt's fans, for short?}; 73a Oscar {Grouchy Muppet}; 75a beaut {Head turner}; 76a rpm {45 ___}; 77a scar {Leave a mark on}; 83a Noah's {___ ark}; 85a -eroo {Switch add-on}; 86a Incas {Machu Picchu people}; 88a new high {Wall Street landmark?}; 90a descend on {Arrive unexpectedly en masse}; 92a Act II {Play center, often}; 93a rinse {Dentist's directive}; 97a song {iTunes selection}; 101a OTB {Handicapper's hangout, for short}; 105a SoHo {Big Apple neighborhood}; 107a nog {Eggy quaff}; 108a counsels {Court figures}; 111a pored {Scrutinized, with "over"}; 114a Aspen {Colorado resort}; 116a anni {Years, in Rome}; 121a lick {Beat}; 122a uteri {Centers of early development}; 123a genie {Wish granter}; 124a item {News tidbit}; 125a ache {Yearn}; 126a yap at {Vocally bother}; 127a enter {Cry from beyond a closed door}; 128a Ness {Leader of the Untouchables}.

1d ion {Electrical particle}; 2d Spokane {Expo '74 city}; 4d trip {Take a header}; 5d locket {Keepsake on a chain}; 6d ash {Volcanic fallout}; 7d pass {Court transfer?}; 8d agio {Currency exchange premium}; 9d Zeta-Jones {Academy Award winner for "Chicago," 2002}; 10d stayed {Hung around}; 11d CRT {Computer screen, for short}; 12d Riis {Jacob who wrote "How the Other Half Lives"}; 13d U-boat {Maritime threat of the early 1940s}; 14d mendicant {Beggar}; 15d AWOL {Off-base in a bad way}; 17d Staub {Six-time baseball All-Star Rusty}; 18d O-type {Like universal blood donors}; 24d nominal {Hardly worth mentioning}; 25d up one {Ahead, but barely}; 30d Derr {Charlie Chan creator Earl ___ Biggers}; 33d acta {Courthouse records}; 35d secures {Gets hold of}; 39d Hasid {Member of a strict Jewish sect}; 41d Wren {Follower of Christopher or Carolina}; 42d rit. {Slowing down, in mus.}; 44d a coin {Flip ___ (decide by chance)}; 48d gossip {Tittle-tattle}; 49d sierras {Rugged range}; 50d endear {Win over}; 52d ride {Razz}; 55d closure {Conclusion}; 58d Tafts {Ohio political dynasty}; 61d probed {Investigated}; 63d unbend {Straighten out}; 65d threw in {Included for free}; 69d cabanas {Some quick-change places}; 70d hues {Peach and orange}; 71d omni- {It means everything}; 74d Amoco {Bygone brand with a torch in its logo}; 77d sahib {Bygone title of respect}; 79d single guy {Bachelor}; 81d Anchorage {Home of Elmendorf Air Force Base}; 82d Me to {"Fly ___ the Moon"}; 84d ogreish {Beastly}; 87d cop {Filch}; 89d hits {Google stat}; 91d Enos {Genesis son}; 92d achoo {Sound while jerking the head}; 94d Nanette {Tony and Emmy winner Fabray}; 95d sconces {Candleholders on a wall}; 96d EKG {Ticker tape letters?}; 99d top-lit {Like atriums}; 101d Ocala {City in Florida's horse country}; 102d tonic {Gin's partner}; 104d Aleta {Prince Valiant's love}; 109d Nike {"Swoosh" brand}; 110d step {One ___ at a time}; 112d Eden {Heavenly place}; 113d don't {Succinct warning}; 115d pain {Pest}; 118d Ara {Parseghian of Notre Dame}; 119d fie {"For shame!"}.

Friday, March 26, 2010

NYT Saturday 3/27/10 - Alas!

I thought this Saturday New York Times crossword would turn out to be one of my best efforts, but things didn't quite turn out that way.

It started off promisingly enough, with humongous and hunt at 1-Across and 1-Down, which seemed to work fine as far as 7- thru 9-Down were concerned. I had backtrack at 30-Down and got similarly great starts everywhere in the grid it seemed.

I had to backtrack over all these of course, in the case of 1-Across, going via jinormous. These near misses became a regular problem: I had nippers rather than nappers at 23-Across until I luckily caught the problem when 21-Down didn't make sense. I also had {Outcast} as leading to repel, the reverse of the correct answer, at 29-Across; this worked just fine with trip (not slip) for 24-Down.

So instead of finishing the grid in the sub-20 minute time I was hoping for, I came close to going over the 30 minute mark again.

What was worse, I made a mistake at the intersection of 55-Across and 37-Down: I had Irene and Rosanne. This happened because when I looked at 55-Across, I put the only forename I knew that fit the first four letters; when I came to check 37-Down I just assumed Rosanne was the song title ... popular music isn't my forte. I doubt I'll be alone in erring here.
Solving time: 27 mins (solo, no solving aids, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 26d open sesame {Getting in line?}

Samuel A. Donaldson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersSamuel A. Donaldson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 28 (12.4%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.79)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.62)
Video of the Day

54a cameo rôle {Hitchcock trademark}. Thirty-nine of director Alfred Hitchcock's 52 surviving major films contain a cameo appearance by Hitchcock himself. The director would be seen for a brief moment boarding a bus, crossing in front of a building, standing in an apartment across the courtyard, or even appearing in a newspaper photograph (required for the film Lifeboat, which otherwise provided no other opportunity for him to appear). This playful gesture became one of Hitchcock's signatures and fans would make sport of trying to spot his cameos. His appearances became so popular that he began to make them earlier in his films, so as not to distract the audience from the plot. As a recurring theme he would carry a musical instrument — especially memorable was the double bass case that he wrestles onto the train at the beginning of Strangers on a Train.

The Doctor is IN

10a Ednas {"Hairspray" mom and others}. Edna is John Travolta's role in Hairspray (2007).

18a Doone {Blackmore heroine}. The eponymous Lorna Doone.

20a Lana Turner {Ezio Pinza's "Mr. Imperium" co-star}. Lana Turner plays Fredda Barlo in Mr. Imperium (1951).

22a NIH {Medical research org.}. The National Institutes of Health.

28a St Mark {Donatello sculpture subject}. Donatello's St Mark stands outside Orsanmichele church, Florence.

34a Dacca {Capital on the Buriganga River, old-style}. Dacca was the former spelling of the city of Dhaka.

35a Zorn {Avant-garde saxophonist John}. John Zorn.

50a Crain {"Pinky" Best Actress nominee Jeanne}. Jeanne Crain played the eponymous Pinky (1949).

55a Irena {"The Faerie Queene" character}. A reference to Book V, in which a distressed lady Irena (symbolizing Ireland) is dispossessed of her heritage by a tyrant, Grantorto; she complains to the Faerie Queene who sends Sir Artegal to deliver her.

6d Matlin {Youngest Best Actress Oscar winner, 1986}. Marlee Matlin won at the age of 21 for Children of a Lesser God.

37d Rosanna {1982 Grammy-winning song by Toto}. Rosanna is the opening track from the 1982 album Toto IV.

Image of the Day


52d pog {Faddish disk of the 1990s}. Pogs is a game that was popular during the 1990s. The word "pog" also refers to the discs used to play the game. The name originates from POG, a brand of juice made from passionfruit, orange and guava; the use of the POG bottle caps to play the game pre-dated the game's commercialization. The game of pogs possibly originated in Hawaii in the 1920s or 1930s, or possibly with origins in a game from much earlier: Menko, a Japanese card game very similar to pogs, has been in existence since the 17th century. Pogs returned to popularity when the World POG Federation and the Canada Games Company reintroduced them to the public in the 1990s. The pog fad soared in the 1990s before rapidly fading out.

Other Clues

1a ginormous {Massive}; 15a adaptable {Versatile}; 16a noose {One to hang with}; 17a lost steam {Faded}; 19a alas {Cry after failing}; 23a nappers {Easy tots to baby-sit}; 24a spot-on {Perfect}; 29a leper {Outcast}; 30a built into {Integrated with}; 33a idem {More of the same, in research papers}; 36a pin-pricks {Tiny irritations}; 38a jewel {The Pink Panther, e.g.}; 39a stocks {Old means of public humiliation}; 40a Fossey {Subject of the 1997 biography "Woman in the Mists"}; 41a creases {They're made by origami artists}; 43a sag {Temporary downturn}; 44a cast a spell {Be the charming type?}; 46a wimp {Chicken}; 51a Axis power {Italy, once}; 53a lemon {With 31-Down, its products are often squeezed}; 56a emergency {Occasion to break glass?}.

1d gala {Kind of ball}; 2d idol {Massive star}; 3d NASA {Launcher launched in 1958}; 4d opts {Takes, with "for"}; 5d rts. {They're listed in a bill: Abbr.}; 7d obeah {Magic practiced by native Guianans}; 8d Ulan {___ Hot (city in Inner Mongolia)}; 9d semantics {Linguist's concern}; 10d end up at {Reach}; 11d door prizes {Attendance incentives}; 12d no one knows {"It's anybody's guess"}; 13d Asner {Actor who won comedy and drama Emmys for the same role}; 14d seers {Some card readers}; 21d Tamla {Motown's original name}; 22d nor {"___ the soles of her shoe?": Hamlet}; 24d slip {Fall preceder}; 25d pedi- {Foot part?}; 26d open sesame {Getting in line?}; 27d temptation {"I can resist everything except ___": Oscar Wilde}; 28d sucks {Leeches}; 30d backspace {Move to your previous place}; 31d tree {See 53-Across}; 32d only {Exclusive}; 34d dices {Shoots craps, e.g.}; 38d jog {Nudge}; 40d falser {Less natural}; 41d CCCLI {Last full year of St. Julius I's papacy}; 42d rarer {Not so easy to get one's hands on}; 43d slime {Odious type}; 45d exam {Hospital administration?}; 46d wore {Eroded}; 47d I won {Gloating cry}; 48d Mel C {Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls}; 49d prey {Part of a food chain}.

NYT Friday 3/26/10 - Hooked

I was intrigued to see the byline of Henry Hook on this Friday New York Times crossword: although Henry Hook is something of a legend in the USA as a diabolical constructor (Matt Gaffney devotes a whole chapter to him in Gridlock) I realized this is the first puzzle of his I'd tried.

In truth, I didn't experience anything too different or outrageous in today's puzzle, which may be due to the homogenizing effect of the editing process ... or that constructors know there are limits to what can be perpetrated in the NYT. I certainly enjoyed the solving process very much, despite getting down to it very late (we'd been out on a long day trip).

It helped that I ran into several gimmes in a first pass through the clues: 13d Der Alte, 38d Hutt, 50d/28d Sri Lanka, among them. But building from them to fill complete corners was more of a struggle: I did best in the NE, then tackled the SE and finally worked back to the NW.

You might think that a clue like 4d bowl {Cricketer's action} would be really easy for me. The trouble is that I know too much and {Cricketer's action} could cover a mass of things ... I'm never sure what limited subset of cricketing terms might be known to Americans. I have similar problems with answers that are said to be British slang, because I'm unaware of which of the many slang terms are specific to the UK ... so many have been imported from the US.

The SW corner was the toughest for me, and with hindsight, it's hard to see why it took me so long to get Dr Frankenstein when I had the last seven letters from very early on. I guess that answers preceded by Mr or Dr are always a little surprising as you would either anticipate a 14-letter surname or something like a (6,8) split.

The grid was littered with potential trouble spots where I had to make a guess in at least one direction. I reckon the trickiest crossing was 29a serene intersecting with 23d Verna. I imagine there might be a few Selenes and Velnas around, as I certainly hadn't come across Verna Felton before and had to rely on a rather vague knowledge of what "Apollonian" implied.
Solving time: 38 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 11d luggage {Carousel riders?}

Henry Hook
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersHenry Hook / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.74)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points303 (average 1.55)
Video of the Day

4d bowl {Cricketer's action}. I'd say that bowl is usually a verb, and the action is bowling, but "let me have a bowl" is also used, so the clue's passable. There are two main types of bowling in cricket: fast bowling, where the speed of the delivery is the challenge (as in baseball); and spin bowling, where sideways movement when the ball pitches on the ground is the challenge, despite the slow pace of the delivery. The undoubted master of spin bowling (and of bowling full stop) during my time as a spectator is the Australian Shane Warne, shown above.

The Doctor is IN

1a Casbah {Nightclub in the Trump Taj}. Casbah is Atlantic City's "hottest dance club and luxe lounge".

18a Ethel {"On Golden Pond" wife}. Ethel Thayer played by Katharine Hepburn.

19a revue {"Closer Than Ever," e.g.}. Closer Than Ever is a musical revue, with words by Richard Maltby, Jr. and music by David Shire.

20a GSA {Fed. management org.}. General Services Administration, a United States federal agency.

29a serene {Apollonian}. Apollonian = having the characteristics of Apollo, controlled, harmonious, rational, often opp to Dionysian.

35a Meg March {Oldest of a literary quartet}. Reference to the March sisters in Little Women.

41a Eau {___ Claire}. French for "clear water", as in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and other place names.

45a deo {"Laus ___" (words atop the Washington Monument)}. Laus deo ("praise be to God") is written on the East side at the peak of the Washington Monument.

54a dinero {Lettuce}. Slang terms for money.

1d Castile {Vegetable-oil soap}. Castile soap is made with olive oil originating from the Castile region of Spain.

5d Ala. {Mobile home: Abbr.}. Mobile = a place in Alabama is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

8d annus {CD, e.g.?}. annus = year in Latin, as in CD = 400.

44d paese {Michelangelo's country}. As in Bel Paese, meaning the "Beautiful Country" in Italian.

Image of the Day

luggage carousel

11d luggage {Carousel riders?}. A lovely misleading clue and it's nice to see there are some airport staff who share the constructor's sense of humor (see above). I've been trying to find a history of luggage carousels without success - does anyone know when and where they were first used in an airport? All I can say is that the Oxford English Dictionary's first citation for carousel in the broad sense of assembly line use comes from 1961; the first citation involving a carousel at an airport is as late as 1970.

Other Clues

7a raffled {Like some party prizes}; 14a areola {Part of the iris bordering the pupil}; 15a en route {Getting there}; 16a Schwarzenegger {Famous bodybuilder}; 21a Dian {Zoologist Fossey}; 22a cures {Permanent solutions}; 23a Vail {Resort town on I-70}; 24a Eli {TV lawyer Stone}; 25a camos {Splotchy apparel, familiarly}; 26a begat {Often-used word in Matthew 1}; 27a reclasps {Holds over?}; 30a Arthurian {In days of knights?}; 32a slants {Factors in handwriting analysis}; 39a hulks {Unwieldy ships}; 40a Agony {Song from Sondheim's "Into the Woods"}; 42a UCLA {11-time N.C.A.A. basketball champs}; 43a Swaps {Racehorse whose 1955 Kentucky Derby win kept Nashua from taking the Triple Crown}; 44a pelt {Hide}; 46a Beame {New York City's first Jewish mayor}; 47a Sadat {"In Search of Identity" autobiographer}; 48a Dr Frankenstein {Famous body builder?}; 51a en masse {All at once}; 52a erased {When data's been ___ ...}; 53a re-enter {... you may have to ___ it}.

2d archaic {Old}; 3d sehen {To look, in Leipzig}; 6d harrumph {Disapproving comment}; 7d Reeves {"Speed" star}; 9d free {Priceless?}; 10d fog {Bewilderment}; 11d luggage {Carousel riders?}; 12d etesian {Summer wind in the Mediterranean}; 13d Der Alte {Nickname of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer}; 17d zero-sum game {Balancing act?}; 18d Eder {Broadway star Linda who won $100,000 on "Star Search"}; 22d casts {Flings}; 23d Verna {Actress Felton of 1950s TV's "December Bride"}; 25d carts {Barrows}; 26d beamy {Radiant}; 28d Lanka {See 50-Down}; 29d signs {Makes binding}; 31d reopened {Back in business}; 32d shudder {Some people do it to think}; 33d Lucerne {Swiss canton or its capital}; 34d All of Me {1932 song or 1984 movie}; 36d reedier {More frail}; 37d calando {Gradually quieting, in music}; 38d Hutt {Jabba the ___ of "Star Wars"}; 40d awaker {Reveille, e.g.}; 43d sense {Just know}; 46d bast {Cordage fiber}; 47d Stan {Coveleski of Cooperstown}; 49d ran {Governed}; 50d Sri {With 28-Down, its flag has a lion holding a sword}.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

NPR Puzzle 3/21/10 -- New New Zealand Photos (But No New Gnus or Elands)

Here's this week's puzzle:
Take the plural name of one animal and the singular name of another animal. Say the two words out loud one after the other and you'll name a country. What are the animals, and what is the country?
The answer is GNUS and ELAND = NEW ZEALAND.

Thanks to Mendo Jim for telling us about an 1871 volume with this puzzle in it.  Hmm.  Wonder what other puzzles Will Shortz has found in there?  (Kidding, Will.  I'm sure you thought this one up all on your own.)

I've been to New Zealand; it's easily the most beautiful place on the planet, at least among the places I've been.  I'm now going to post some Flickr images only because when I went there in 1987 I didn't have a digital camera and I can't be bothered to scan in my phenomenally gorgeous photos.  (What can I say?  New Zealand doesn't have a "bad side.")

Please note that the last one is the photo I used on Sunday without proper attribution (I'll go back and amend that post now, but obviously I couldn't link back to the Flickr page without rather giving the game away as to the identity of the country!) Oh, and Henry? The penultimate photo is for you.

Okay, Mendo Jim has picked 2000-2500, I pick 1500-2000 and Ross has selected 4000-4500.  Lots of great slots still going begging, and there are actual prizes...