Saturday, September 11, 2010

NYT Sunday 9/12/10 Paula Gamache - Members Only

Fels Naptha ad 1936Three of us worked on this Sunday New York Times crossword and yet it took quite a bit longer than average to finish it. OK, we were trying to eat and solve at the same time, but still it does suggest the puzzle was harder than average.

The title didn't immediately suggest anything to us, but after a short struggle at the beginning, we noted a rebus square at the crossing of 23a bear market and 3d Starman. We then knew we should be looking for legs to balance out ... we have come to expect NYT puzzles to be well-behaved in this way. Our thinking was that legs should be below arms, but that was clearly not the case - in writing up this report, I can see that arms are on the left, legs on the right, perhaps paralleling the phrase that inspired the puzzle "it'll cost you an arm and a leg".

The difficulty could have came from a number of obscurities throughout the grid, the prime example being 109d Fenn, clued as {George Manville ___, English adventure writer}. None of us had heard of George Manville Fenn (1831-1909) and the brevity of his Wikipedia entry suggests he's not much read today, even though he may have been le dernier cri in late Victorian times. But looking at the other Fenns, it's not clear how you'd do better.

He didn't cause too much trouble, thanks to relatively generous cross-checking in the SW. Our big problem area was the NE corner, which resisted numerous assaults. None of us knew of the expression tattle-tale gray and Magdalen was convinced that Fels-Naptha is used for moth extermination (as well it might be from the name). See the accompanying picture for an example ad that justifies the clue.
Solving time: 50 mins (with Magdalen and Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 16d Tara {Butler's place}

Paula Gamache
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


"It's Going to Cost You" ... an arm and a leg. In this rebus puzzle, five arms are entered into a single square on the left hand side of the grid, and five legs are entered into a single square on the right hand side of the grid. This affects the following pairs of answers:
23a bear market {Bad news on Wall Street}
3d Starman {David Bowie single with the lyric "If we can sparkle he may land tonight"}

25a tattle-tale gray {What Fels-Naptha banished, in old ads}
15d allege {Assert without proof}

36a regular meals {Three squares}
29d charmed {"___, I'm sure"}

59a double-glazed {Like some doughnuts and windows}
51d phlegm {Throat stuff}

61a solar mass {Unit of star measurement}
53d alarms {Frightens}

75a bubblegum {Blow it}
69d elegies {Mournful songs}

77a war memorials {Arc de Triomphe and Nelson's Column}
78d Armani {Emporio ___}

94a middle ground {Neutral space}
86d Allegra {Brand for hay fever sufferers}

114a calendar months {April, May and June}
99d smarm {Smugness}

116a idle gossip {Blah-blah-blah}
117d legal {Permitted}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPaula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.35)
Theme squares[not calculated]
Scrabble points527 (average 1.43)
Video of the Day

18d Rhye {"Seven Seas of ___" (early Queen hit)}. Seven Seas of Rhye is a song by English rock group Queen. Written by Queen lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, it is the final track on both the group's debut album Queen (1973) and its follow-up Queen II (1974). However, only a less-developed instrumental version was featured on the former. The completed version served as the band's second single, the earliest-released song to appear on their Greatest Hits album, with the exception of some versions where their first single, "Keep Yourself Alive", is included. In a 1977 radio interview, Freddie Mercury described the subject of the song as a "figment of his imagination." In the Queen musical We Will Rock You, the Seven Seas of Rhye is a place where the Bohemians are taken after they are brainstormed by Khashoggi.

The Doctor is IN

19a let {Cry after poor service?}. Reference to a let in tennis.

25a tattle-tale gray {What Fels-Naptha banished, in old ads}. Fels-Naptha is a brand of bar laundry soap used for pre-treating stains on clothing and as a home remedy for exposure to poison ivy and other skin irritants. See the top of the post for a sample of the referenced ad.

31a menthe {French ice cream flavorer}. menthe is mint in French, as in crème de menthe.

52a Leia {Alderaan royal}. Princess Leia in the Star Wars universe (that Star Wars 101 post is well overdue).

56a tora {When said three times, a W.W. II cry}. tora, tora, tora (literally "tiger, tiger, tiger") were the Japanese code-words indicating complete surprise in an attack, as referenced in the 1970 movie Tora! Tora! Tora!.

67a Mbeki {Mandela's presidential successor}. Thabo Mbeki, the second post-apartheid President of South Africa.

101a ora {Mezzanotte is one}. "hour" and "midnight" in Italian.

118a Brando {Subject of the 2008 biography "Somebody"}. Stefan Kanfer's biography of Marlon Brando references the quote "... I coulda been somebody ..." from On the Waterfront (1954).

16d Tara {Butler's place}. Referencing Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

38d Aso {Kyushu volcano}. Mount Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan.

40d eat a {"Do I dare to ___ peach?"}. Reference to a line from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

68d bbls. {Crude qty.}. bbl is an abbreviation for barrel.

75d Baloo {He taught Mowgli the law of the jungle}. Reference to The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling.

84d sud {South of France}. sud is "south" in French.

108d O-Lan {Pearl Buck heroine}. O-Lan is the heroine of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth.

112d -adee {Chick's tail?}. Reference to -adee as a suffix in chickadee.

Image of the Day


65a knish {Deli nosh}. A knish (pronounced with a "k") is a German, Eastern European, and Yiddish snack food made popular in North America by Jewish immigrants, eaten widely by Jewish and non-Jewish peoples alike. A knish consists of a filling covered with dough that is either baked, grilled, or deep fried. Knishes can be purchased from street vendors in urban areas with a large Jewish population, sometimes at a hot dog stand. In the most traditional versions, the filling is made entirely of mashed potato, ground meat, sauerkraut, onions, kasha (buckwheat groats) or cheese. More modern varieties of fillings feature sweet potatoes, black beans, fruit, broccoli, tofu or spinach.

Other Clues

1a ass {Obstinate type}; 4a Moog {Electronic music pioneer Robert}; 8a add to {Boost}; 13a boater {Straw hat}; 20a Aare {River with the Reichenbach Falls}; 21a neons {Some commercial signs}; 22a unlash {Remove ropes from}; 27a UMass {Where N.B.A. coach Rick Pitino played college ball}; 28a oscine {Relating to songbirds}; 30a increase {Boost}; 33a ahh! {"So nice!"}; 34a land, ho! {Excited call to a crew}; 39a Leica {Classic camera maker}; 44a Fra {How to address a brother}; 47a sellers {Large group in a 23-Across}; 48a gas planet {Heavenly body that humans will never set foot on}; 54a Sea-Doo {Jet boat brand}; 55a OTOH {Alternatively, in Internet lingo}; 57a acolytes {Followers}; 62a monodrama {Beckett's "Krapp's Last Tape," e.g.}; 66a oat bran {High-fiber, low-fat cereal ingredient}; 72a oil slicks {Hazards for marine life}; 81a pass line {Bet in craps}; 82a hale {Strong}; 83a mega- {Part of MHz}; 84a Searle {Company that introduced NutraSweet}; 87a seta {Botanical bristle}; 88a ink eraser {Tough rubber?}; 90a unloose {Relax}; 92a San {Angelo or Antonio}; 93a tie to {Connect with}; 97a lessen {Diminish}; 102a prints {Crime scene evidence}; 106a pro forma {Merely routine}; 110a strata {Levels}; 113a opera {Works in the music business}; 119a noire {Bête ___}; 120a neat! {"Super!"}; 121a tap {Object of many a court order}; 122a sennas {Some flowering shrubs}; 123a error {Overthrow, e.g.}; 124a gels {Hair goops}; 125a sly {Like a three-card monte player}.

1d album {Contents of a sleeve}; 2d see me {Request for face time}; 4d marshes {Reed sites}; 5d oak {Flavor associated with Chardonnay}; 6d Oreo {Treat in a blue wrapper}; 7d gets all A's {Contends for valedictorian, say}; 8d antihero {See 9-Down}; 9d Dean {James known for playing an 8-Down}; 10d do tell! {"Let's hear it!"}; 11d TNT {It does a bang-up job}; 12d Oslin {Singer K. T. ___}; 13d Butch {Relative of Rover}; 14d on a roll {Doing really well}; 17d esas {Those, to Tomás}; 24d Astr. {Galaxy sci.}; 26d end {Squelch}; 32d egests {Disgorges}; 35d as good as {About equal to}; 37d Ulee's {"___ Gold"}; 41d in Oz {"Rinkitink ___" (L. Frank Baum book)}; 42d cere {Smear with wax, old-style}; 43d a tad {Slightly}; 44d flask {Hooch holder at a ballgame}; 45d recon {Intel mission}; 46d aïoli {Provençal sauce}; 49d a turn {Take ___ for the worse}; 50d soba {Japanese noodle}; 58d yahoo {Swiftian brute}; 59d dork {Unhip sort}; 60d lambs {Farm newborns}; 62d Mallarmé {"L'Après-midi d'un faune" poet Stéphane ___}; 63d Otis {Lift innovator}; 64d NBC {"ER" network}; 66d Osage {___ orange}; 70d Kunta {___ Kinte of "Roots"}; 71d I mean {"Um ... well ... it's like ..."}; 73d Irma {"___ la Douce"}; 74d lies {Fabrications}; 76d uses up {Depletes}; 77d whit {Slightest amount}; 79d Elke {Actress Sommer}; 80d meet {Sports competition}; 81d prorating {Dividing fairly, say}; 85d endorser {Check person}; 89d Rolonda {Watts who hosted a 1990s talk show}; 91d enroots {Implants}; 95d in stir {Behind bars}; 96d dips {Quick swims}; 98d Erdős {Mathematician Paul}; 100d Saône {It joins the Rhône at Lyon}; 103d nests {Places for some newborns}; 104d trial {"Perry Mason" scene}; 105d sappy {Tear-jerking}; 106d PCBs {Chem. pollutants}; 107d rare {In short supply}; 109d Fenn {George Manville ___, English adventure writer}; 111d Thro {"Comin' ___ the Rye"}; 115d nor {Neither's partner}.


Gareth Bain said...

Old advert is a hoot - that melodramatic expression middle right!! Have a whole bunch of early Reader's Digests with similar gems! Laundry soap that kills moths is a good idea, maybe? Seeing MBEKI in this puzzle gives me hope that ZUMA in a puzzle I sent off won't be red-flagged...

Magdalen said...

Fenn? How about Sherilyn Fenn, who played Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks?

Crossword Man said...

Can't see a problem with Jacob Zuma. There's also Zuma Beach and Neil Young's album inspired by it, so don't count on a South African signature to your puzz!

Yes Sherilyn Fenn would have been perfect.

Anonymous said...

agreed - this one was harder than normal i though. it took forever to get the trick - and yet i still only thought it was missing an AR and just left those out.

Anonymous said...

Great puzzle . I found the rebus / trick very fAst due to starman and tattle tale gray (i thought grey) and of course the title of the puzzle. took me an eternity to finish though lol. I have 1 complaint it s mallARMe ( i tried to put ARM in 1 square) ... it seems bad form to have a rebus 3 letter combo that is not in rebus form. btw I enjoy your blog immensely and consult it when i m finished as solution (or when I decide it s gonna be a NF...)

Normand Houle

Crossword Man said...

Yes, Normand, Mallarmé was an unfortunate answer in the context - I was going to mention it, but forgot. Thanks for your kind comments re the blog.