Sunday, December 19, 2010

NYT Monday 12/20/10 Donna Hoke - Cryptozoology

This Monday New York Times crossword was one of the hardest I can recall; but since that came down to the effect of just three clues, the difficulties may well have been peculiar to me.

I had no problems identifying the theme: having got cat's cradle and monkey's uncle I saw what was going on right away. Except I failed to appreciate 36-Across was involved and so tried decades for {Long time} there before crossing answers forced a rethink.

Jughead JonesMy problems all came from 5-Down and its top and bottom intersections, involving unfamiliar references to Marilyn McCoo and Mr. Haney of Green Acres. Naturally all the issues would be resolved once I figured out what {Jarhead} referred to, but I unfortunately got my jarheads and jugheads mixed up, and spent at least two minutes at the end going through the multitudinous options for the down answer before I hit on marine.

I have a minor issue with 48d Usenet {Early computer forum}, as Usenet is better pictured as a collection of forums, these being termed newsgroups. Although I was an avid reader and contributor to newsgroups such as rec.puzzles.crosswords in the early days, their function has long since been replaced by other Internet sites for me. I gather than many ISPs are discontinuing Usenet access due to the decline in readers and the inevitable problems of spam.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 10a rest {Observe the Sabbath}
Solution

Donna Hoke
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Things animals have, in idioms:
17a cat's cradle {Game played with strings looped over the fingers}
22a monkey's uncle {Self-description of someone who's surprised}
36a dog's age {Long time}
50a elephant's ear {Taro}
60a lion's share {What a greedy person may grab}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDonna Hoke / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares51 (27.0%)
Scrabble points307 (average 1.62)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



25a Mr. Haney {Farmer-turned-con man in a 1960s sitcom}. Mr. Haney (given name apparently either Eustace or Charleton) was a local farmer turned salesman and con man in the rural Hooterville community who was a supporting antagonist character on the 1960s CBS television series Green Acres.

Haney, portrayed by veteran character actor and longtime Western film sidekick Pat Buttram with an odd, yodeling voice, sold his family's ancient, dilapidated farm to Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert) when he and his wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) left New York City for rural Hooterville and their new life as farmers. In the process of the sale, Haney stripped the farm of everything of value down to the plumbing.

The Doctor is IN

5a McCoo {1960s-'70s R&B singer Marilyn}. Marilyn McCoo is best known for being the lead female vocalist in the group The 5th Dimension, as well as hosting the 1980s music countdown series Solid Gold.

63a Ariel {Disney mermaid}. Princess Ariel is the protagonist of The Little Mermaid.

3d alts. {Cockpit readings: Abbr.}. alts. = altitudes.

4d postman {One who "always rings twice," in an old movie}. Reference to The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).

Image of the Day

jarheads

5d marine {Jarhead}. The high and tight is a military variant of the buzz cut. It is a very short hairstyle most commonly worn by men in the United States armed forces. Due to the functionality of this hairstyle, it is also popular with law enforcement officers and other public safety personnel. Marines are called jarheads because the hairstyle resembles a mason jar.

While many variations of the style exist, the one common feature is that all of the hair on the sides and back of the head is clipped very close, usually 1/16 inch or shorter, up to a point above the temples. In some cases, a sharp line delineates the boundary between the close-cut sides and back and the longer top portion, but most often a gradual, tapering effect, or "fade," is achieved. The crown of the head is spared the closest shaving to safely accommodate the weight of a combat helmet. The length of the top portion may vary, usually being 5-10 mm (1/4 to 3/8 inch), but sometimes left long enough to comb. Sometimes the back and sides of the head are shaved completely with a razor.

Beginning in the late 1980s, it crossed over into civilian life, being embraced first by mostly young African-American males (see hi-top fade), then spread to like-aged men in other groups. Although "high and tight" is a term commonly used within the military and law enforcement communities, the same haircut is sometimes referred to by civilians as a "skin fade," meaning that the back and sides are shaved to the skin and the top is blended or faded into slightly longer hair.

Other Clues

1a leap {Jump}; 10a rest {Observe the Sabbath}; 14a Oslo {Norway's capital}; 15a a rail {Thin as ___}; 16a Otto {"Beetle Bailey" bulldog}; 19a Thai {Spicy Asian cuisine}; 20a hustling {Shaking a leg}; 21a quill {Feather pen}; 28a a tad {Not much}; 29a Beene {Designer Geoffrey}; 30a Ada {Oklahoma city named for the daughter of its first 4-Down}; 31a afar {Many miles off}; 35a AMA {Docs' org.}; 40a ace {Hole in one}; 41a solo {Song for one}; 43a zap {Electrocute, in slang}; 44a Zaire {Former name for Congo}; 46a semi {Big hauler}; 48a umpired {Called balls and strikes}; 54a pears {Bosc and Bartlett}; 55a reassign {Move to another job, say}; 59a sore {Smarting}; 62a only {The "O" in CD-ROM}; 64a O God {Prayer starter}; 65a mess {Meal on a military base}; 66a pasty {Ashen, as a complexion}; 67a wows {Blows away}.

1d Loch {___ Ness monster}; 2d Esau {Biblical twin who sold his birthright}; 6d cranky {Ill-tempered}; 7d cadge {Bum, as a cigarette}; 8d oil {OPEC supply}; 9d olé {Cheer for a toreador}; 10d rotunda {Capitol feature}; 11d ethic {Body of values}; 12d stall {Suddenly stop, as an engine}; 13d toile {French fabric}; 18d cloned {Like Dolly the sheep}; 21d qua {Sine ___ non}; 23d yada {When said three times, "and so on"}; 24d stag {Fawn's father}; 25d MBAs {Many corp. hirees}; 26d Remo {San ___, Italian resort on the Mediterranean}; 27d heal {"Physician, ___ thyself"}; 30d asp {Nile snake}; 32d fair {Place to buy cotton candy}; 33d acre {Farming unit}; 34d reed {Wetlands plant}; 37d Ozma {Princess in L. Frank Baum books}; 38d gain {Loss's opposite}; 39d E-ZPass {Modern toll-paying convenience}; 42d ospreys {Fish-eating birds}; 45d airshow {Event for stunt pilots}; 47d ehs {Quizzical utterances}; 48d Usenet {Early computer forum}; 49d measly {Pathetically small}; 50d Epsom {___ salts}; 51d Leone {Africa's Sierra ___}; 52d earls {Some English nobles}; 53d trois {Un + deux}; 56d Iago {Othello's betrayer}; 57d grow {"Oh, ___ up!"}; 58d Neds {Nancy Drew's beau and others}; 60d lap {Napkin's place}; 61d IRA {Savings for one's later years, for short}.

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