Friday, April 30, 2010

NYT Saturday 5/1/10 - Jaw-dropping

With this Saturday May 1st New York Times crossword, I managed another sub-half-hour time, though by only one minute today.

I got off to a great start at the top left, guessing moue at 2-Down and building confidently from there. I hadn't heard of empty suit before, but could infer its slang usage. Unfortunately, I couldn't break out of that corner and down to the middle, so had to look for starting points elsewhere.

These I found in both the SE and SW corners, though in each case, it was very difficult to work backwards from just the ends of the 9- and 10-letter answers. This is a perennial problem for me with end-of-week puzzles and I wonder what I can do about it short of lots more practice.

Eventually, I just had the NE corner to go and found that much the toughest. OK, I had a little advantage with Merton {Wimbledon's borough} at 41-Across, and managed to correctly enter resod, EWR and Apolo. But beyond that I couldn't go, until (after a long hiatus) I guessed Chief at the start of 13-Down. That broke the logjam I was experiencing and the rest of the corner followed with a little perseverance.

I thought the quality of the fill in this puzzle rather jaw-dropping ... a good example being the adjacent works for me and amen to that, both clued with {Response of approval}. When I thought I'd seen it all, man breasts at 12-Down was a final surprise.

The only slight infelicity I noticed in the entire puzzle was the juxtaposition of "Polo" in the clue to 10-Down with Apolo as the answer to 11-Down. Could that have been an intentional feature? I somehow doubt it, as you don't normally want to present the seed for an answer in that way. In practice, I suspect 11-Down was a gimme for most solvers anyway.
Solving time: 29 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 61a annotates {Gets some words in edgewise?}
Solution

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

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPaula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.82)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points301 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



38a Natasha {Adversary of Rocky}. Natasha Fatale is a fictional character in the 1960s animated cartoons Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show, collectively referred to as Rocky and Bullwinkle for short. She is voiced by June Foray.

The Doctor is IN

10a AAMCO {Transmission repair chain}. AAMCO has about 800 franchises open in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

16a Spahn {Eponym of an annual award for best left-handed pitcher}. Reference to the Warren Spahn Award.

20a Deco {Like many Miami Beach buildings}. I.e. Art Deco.

21a Alben {Vice president Barkley}. Alben W. Barkley (1877–1956) was veep under President Harry S. Truman.

31a EWR {Airport alternative to JFK or LGA}. EWR is the IATA code for Newark Liberty International Airport.

32a Omertà {Code broken by Joe Valachi}. Joe Valachi was the first Mafia member to publicly acknowledge its existence, breaching the "code of silence" or Omertà.

42a sto {Pou ___ (vantage point)}. Pou sto (Greek for "where I may stand") originates in a remark of Archimedes: "give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth."

48a sporty {Smart}. Equivalent in the sense of "stylish".

52a Edie {Beggar in Sir Walter Scott's "The Antiquary"}. Reference to the gaberlunzie Edie Ochiltree in The Antiquary.

53a spud {K.P. unit}. K.P. = kitchen police, aka spud bashing.

4d tars {Hold hands?}. "Hold hands" in the sense of sailors in the hold of a ship.

5d Yma {Sumac with a wide range}. Yma Sumac (1922–2008) should be in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

6d Sande {Earl ___, 1930 Triple Crown-winning jockey}. Earl Sande (1898–1968) was an American Hall of Fame jockey and thoroughbred horse trainer.

10d Asia {Polo setting}. Reference to Marco Polo.

44d triune {Like Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva}. triune is another term for a trinity.

59d DTs {Lush development?}. I.e. delirium tremens, which lushes are presumably prone to develop.

Image of the Day

Chief Wahoo

13d Chief Wahoo {Cleveland Indians mascot}. Chief Wahoo is a trademarked mascot for the Cleveland Indians baseball team. The illustration is a Native American cartoon caricature. The character's initial incarnation made its first appearance as a shoulder patch on Cleveland uniforms in 1947. The mascot has been accused of reinforcing negative stereotypes about Native Americans, similar to previously discarded mascots like Chief Illiniwek and honorifics like Chief Bender.

Other Clues

1a empty suit {Good-for-nothing}; 15a got a match? {Light seeker's question}; 17a guarantee {Word}; 18a Ionia {Ancient neighbor of Lydia}; 19a sess. {Legis. period}; 22a Perons {Populist power couple of the 1940s-'50s}; 24a orfe {Ornamental pond fish}; 25a waste {It may be radioactive}; 29a slice {Piece of cake}; 34a Dora Maar {Picasso's "private muse"}; 36a Renoirs {Some Musée d'Orsay hangings}; 39a knitting {Mufflers and such}; 41a Merton {Wimbledon's borough}; 43a Eliot {He said "Most editors are failed writers - but so are most writers"}; 45a resod {Fix, as some bald spots}; 46a fork {Stick with it}; 50a other {Alternative}; 57a Rhine {Cologne is found on it}; 58a sound-wave {It can't travel in a vacuum}; 60a Magna {Great, to Gaius}; 61a annotates {Gets some words in edgewise?}; 62a ethyl {Antiknock fluid}; 63a teenspeak {What many text messages are full of}.

1d eggs {They often take a beating}; 2d moue {Sourpuss's look}; 3d PTAs {Grps. concerned with class struggle?}; 7d utters {Spits out}; 8d ice-cold {Opposite of torrid}; 9d The Onion {Its news network won a 2008 Peabody Award}; 11d Apolo {Olympic speed skater Ohno}; 12d man breasts {Unmacho features}; 14d on an errand {Picking up the dry cleaning, e.g.}; 22d petite {Diminutive}; 23d scram {Bolt}; 25d works for me {Response of approval}; 26d amen to that {Response of approval}; 27d senior high {It doesn't include the lower classes}; 28d trot {Go at a clip}; 30d eatery {Bite site}; 33d arils {Botanical casings}; 35d mare {One that may 28-Down}; 37d snipes at {Attacks pettily}; 40d good one! {"Clever!"}; 47d Kenny {"South Park" parka wearer}; 49d tenon {Dovetail, e.g.}; 51d real {Not fantastic}; 53d swap {Quid pro quo}; 54d pate {It may have a bald spot}; 55d uvea {Ciliary body locale}; 56d desk {Word after foreign or city}.

NYT Friday 4/30/10 - Hidden Oona Trick

I can't believe it! It's the third week in a row I've broken 30 minutes on a Friday New York Times crossword. I didn't have much confidence I'd achieve it today, as I got off to a horribly slow start: I was uncharacteristically aware of Björn Again, so did get ABBA right away, but couldn't develop from there.

After an unproductive first pass through all the clues, I revisited the NW corner and finally got somewhere at the second attempt. The long downs barhopping and blueprints enabled progress into the middle, but it was annoying not to get either of the two 15s in the top section from just the starts (there are rather a lot of book titles starting The).

Finally, after getting somewhere in the NE, I got 17-Across (hmm ... I must watch the Jeopardy! DVD I was given for Xmas) and 20-Across in quick succession. The whole of the top section was done after 15 minutes and I just had most of the bottom section and a bit around 29-Across to go.

The larger area of emptiness was actually the quicker to resolve: I had the bottom done to my satisfaction after a further 6 minutes, despite being a little hazy on the Superman lore needed for Kal-El at 49-Down.

The two squares at the start and end of 29-Across were the crux for me and took 5 minutes on their own to deal with. Not seeing the connection with Oona, Lady Chaplin, I only considered Mona, Rona, Iona and Dona as potential forenames. I was also not familiar with the slang meaning of ten required at 31-Down.

Eventually, having considered each of the four forenames in turn and gotten nowhere, I then just assumed 31-Down had to be ten and worked through the alphabet for the first letter of 29-Across. Eventually I got to O, realized that finally resulted in the sensible Oct. for {Campaign crunch time: Abbr.} and recognized who Oona O'Neill must be.

I liked this puzzle a lot as I was solving ... a good level of challenge for me. At first glance, the grid didn't look much like a normal Friday/Saturday themeless; it nevertheless played out like one from the solver's point of view. It was great to negotiate the tougher areas successfully ... it helped today that I'd come across (and blogged about) Bob Saget (5-Across) and Tino Martinez (34-Down) in past puzzles.
Solving time: 26 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30d crop circle {Crushed corn creation}
Solution

Natan Last
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersNatan Last / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points299 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



29d Oona O'Neill {Debutante who dated J. D. Salinger and Orson Welles}. You've got to know Oona, Lady Chaplin (1925–1991) for crosswords. Usually she is the four-letter answer Oona, but today we get her full name before marriage as the answer, and a more-obscure-than-usual reference as the clue. Oona was the daughter of  playwright Eugene O'Neill and writer Agnes Boulton. She dated cartoonist Peter Arno, director Orson Welles, and author J. D. Salinger. To Salinger's disappointment, however, their relationship ended when she met Charlie Chaplin, after having been suggested to him for a part in one of his films. Despite the 36-year age difference, Chaplin wrote in his autobiography that he was instantly smitten by Oona's "luminous beauty and sequestered charm."

The Doctor is IN

10a echo {Waves back?}. An echo is sound waves returning.

14a calc. {It has many functions, briefly}. calc. = calculator.

23a lap {Heat unit?}. Presumably a heat in a race long enough to require more than one lap.

29a Oct. {Campaign crunch time: Abbr.}. Elections being held on the first Tuesday after November 1.

43a loads {Gets charged up?}. Equivalent in the sense of "fills up".

50a Nia {Main role on "My Big Fat Greek Life"}. Nia Miller née Portokalos, played by Nia Vardalos.

63a NLer {Red, e.g., for short}. Red = player in the Cincinnati Reds should be in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

1d Act Two {Drama center, often}. Act Two is the center act of a three-act play.

25d a toi {Tours "yours"}. Tours = place in France was already in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

31d ten {Total hottie}. ten = "one deserving the highest rating; specifically an exceptionally attractive person" is in MWCD11.

37d Ena {Disney doe}. Bambi's Aunt Ena.

44d seller {Bear, say}. A bear is a seller of stock.

47d Ogden {Setting of Hill Air Force Base}. Hill Air Force Base is located just south of Ogden, UT.

49d Kal-El {Lara's son, in DC Comics}. Superman was born Kal-El, the son of Kryptonians Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van.

54d ebon {Like death's dart, in Shakespeare}. References "Love's golden arrow at him should have fled/And not Death's ebon dart, to strike him dead" from Venus and Adonis.

56d tren {Tampico track transport}. train = tren is in Español para los crucigramistas.

Image of the Day

MG Midget

42a MGs {Midgets of the 1960s-'70s, e.g.}. There was a time when Britain had a significant motor manufacturing capability and cars cost $300 or so. The MG Midget referenced in the clue was a small two seat sports car produced by MG division of the British Motor Corporation from 1961 to 1979. The name in fact originated in pre-war MG "Midgets" such as the MG M-type Midget, MG D-type Midget, MG J-type Midget (pictured above) and so on.

Other Clues

1a ABBA {Inspiration for Björn Again}; 5a Saget {Bob of stand-up comedy}; 15a Prado {Art center since 1819}; 16a quad {Risky thing to try in figure skating}; 17a true Daily Double {Risky thing to try for on "Jeopardy!"}; 20a The Sun Also Rises {Novel whose title comes from Ecclesiastes}; 21a Wop {"Doo ___ (That Thing)" (#1 hit for Lauryn Hill)}; 22a con {Nonpro?}; 24a Oprah {Player of Sethe in "Beloved"}; 26a email {It might go through a filter}; 32a pity {Opposite of schadenfreude}; 33a UPS Store {Offerer of package plans}; 35a dino {Source of jumbo eggs, in brief}; 36a beset {Hound}; 38a in on {Complicit with}; 39a Antigone {Subject of a Sophocles tragedy}; 41a snap {Result of excessive bending}; 45a pooch {Hound}; 47a oak {Image on Connecticut's state quarter}; 48a eke {___ out a profit}; 51a The Green Lantern {Justice League member}; 57a hidden ball trick {Diamond deception}; 58a urge {Drive}; 59a donee {Gifted individual?}; 60a Elle {Fashionista's read, maybe}; 61a seen {Like some bets and patients}; 62a snarl {Bottleneck}.

2d barhopping {Lush travel plan?}; 3d blueprints {Detailed outlines}; 4d aces {Hotshots}; 5d Spano {"Apollo 13" actor Joe}; 6d Ariane {1906 Massenet opera}; 7d gall {Brass}; 8d Edy's {Brand with the flavor Fudge Tracks}; 9d to-do list {It might include check boxes}; 10d equip {Outfit}; 11d cubs {Litter lying around a den}; 12d hale {Fit}; 13d Odes {Pablo Neruda's "Elemental ___"}; 18d duchy {Brunswick, e.g., once}; 19d orals {Grad students often dread them}; 27d mused {Said reflectively}; 28d ape {Make like}; 30d crop circle {Crushed corn creation}; 34d Tino {Martinez of the diamond}; 35d dam {Clog}; 36d book-ends {Title holders}; 40d glare {Driving problem}; 41d spent {Ready for retirement}; 46d hanker {Long}; 51d thus {So}; 52d hire {Give a name badge, say}; 53d edge {Work (in)}; 55d Nana {Family moniker}.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NPR Puzzle 4/25/10 -- Not Someone You Say "Here, Birdie, Birdie" To

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a famous person whose first name is seven letters long and ends with the name of a bird, and whose last name is also seven letters but starts with the name of a bird. Hint: One of these birds is the general name for the bird, and the other is a specific type of bird. Who is it? 
The answer is StepHEN HAWKing.  And while I gather from his Wiki page he's actually got a good sense of humor, Stephen Hawking is not someone I'm comfortable mocking.  So let's mock hawks instead:


That's Pierce, the hawk.  To read more about her (yes, they know it's a girl hawk), go to her Flickr page, which is headed, "Hawk, the Herald Angels Sing."  Only, I didn't think hawks sang very well.  Raptors are not exactly song birds.

I did promise I'd explain the tenuous connection that Ross has to Stephen Hawking.  Well, they're both graduates of University College, Oxford.  Mind you, Hawking's Oxford degree was precisely 20 years before Ross's but still.  Of course, Hawking then decamped to Cambridge for his Ph.D. and to teach.  (Ross's comment: "Apostate!")  (I asked Henry, a Cambridge man, if he'd cared to comment on Ross's comment.  He merely pointed out that Oxonians haven't forgiven his lot for leaving 801 years ago...)  (All of which makes a US college rivalry -- think Florida vs. Florida state, or Arizona vs. ASU -- about as civilized as a barroom brawl.)

Oh, and I looked.  Oddly enough, there weren't any quirky Flickr photos of hens. 

Let's see who's picked what for the Guess the Number of Entries game this week:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500
500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800
800 - 900 -- Ross
900 - 1,000 -- Ben
1,000 - 1,100 -- Dave
1,100 - 1,200 -- Magdalen
1,200 - 1,300 -- Tom
1,300 - 1,400 -- Mendo Jim
1,400 - 1,500 -- Natasha
1,500 - 2,000 -- Roxie
2,000 - 2.500 -- Jordan
2,500 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,500
3,500 - 4,000
4,000 - 4,500
4,500 - 5,000
More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NYT Thursday 4/29/10 - Forever Odd

This Thursday New York Times crossword seemed tough to start with: I got few answers in a first pass through the acrosses and downs. As a lot of these were clustered in the SE corner, I focused there in the hopes of discovering the theme quickly.

Unfortunately, it wasn't till about 8 minutes were on the clock that I finally worked out 54-Across, but then I could see what 17- and 37-Across would be right away. A quick glance at the grid confirmed its "curious property".

Because the theme squares are relatively few, and knowing the grid property didn't help any with the remaining answers, the puzzle now played out much like an easy themeless. In fact it took me a minute longer than last Friday's crossword to nail the completed grid.

Most of the difficulties were concentrated in the NW corner, it seemed: I had to kick myself over 4-Down, which I confidently entered as ocher ... I still have the problem of not seeing anything incongruous in "Autumn" and hence not realizing a non-standard spelling is called for.

39-Across was also a challenge because of red herring answers: I considered steal into and break into long before the correct answer. It crossed with the tough 31-Down, which was hard to recognize as a (5,4) phrase and, even knowing that, getting poker at the start was a challenge.

I managed to resolve all these difficulties in time, and was just faced with the mysterious Maurice Stans at 5-Down. Here I had to rely on correctly guessing nearby fill-in-the-blanks to get his name right. But I made a fascinating discovery in connection with his name: there is an Accounting Hall of Fame which was established at the Ohio State University in 1950. Who knew?

The number of quotation clues is striking in this puzzle: four, of which I managed to track down the source of all but one (the Dean Inge quote at 28-Across) ... no worries! I particularly like quotation clues and am happy to see more of them.
Solving time: 15 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 35d rhyme {Gun, for one}
Solution

David J. W. Simpson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A quirky grid with answers of only odd lengths: 3-letter answers (21); 5-letter answers (37); 7-letter answers (4); 9-letter answers (8); 15-letter answers (2). This was indicated by 17a/37a/54a each answer has an odd number of letters {Curious property of this crossword}.

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDavid J. W. Simpson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.25)
Theme squares33 (17.5%)
Scrabble points305 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



44a Valerie {Actress Harper}. Valerie Harper is an American actress, best known for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s television show The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and for her starring roles on the sitcoms Rhoda (a spin-off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Valerie. Here's the first part of her interview for the remarkable Archive of American Television project.

The Doctor is IN

15a is a {"Every day ___ new day"}. A quotation from The Old Man and the Sea.

38a tooth {Nail's partner}. Reference to "(fighting) tooth and nail".

51a ere {"___ fancy you consult, consult your purse": Benjamin Franklin}. A quotation from The Way to Wealth (1758).

60a Uta {Hagen with three Tonys}. Crossword regular Uta Hagen (1919–2004).

2d ora {60 minuti}. Hour and minutes in Italian.

4d ochre {Autumn shade}. The use of "Autumn" signals the usual British spelling of ocher.

5d Stans {Maurice of Nixon's cabinet}. Maurice Stans (1908-1998) was inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame in 1960.

35d rhyme {Gun, for one}. "Gun" rhymes with "one".

46d lemon {It may be found often in a shop}. lemon in the sense of a defective automobile.

48d Poe {Who wrote "I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him"}. Words said by the unnamed narrator in The Tell-Tale Heart (1843).


50d Estée {First name in perfume}. Estée Lauder (1906-2004).

56d FTD {Busy co. on Mother's Day}. Florists' Transworld Delivery.

Image of the Day

El Misti

6d Misti {Peruvian volcano El ___}. I've seen El Misti mentioned recently in a couple of other crosswords, but only in the clue; I'm very glad it has finally appeared as an answer in an NYT puzzle so I can see a picture and find out all the details. El Misti, also known as Guagua-Putina, is a stratovolcano located in southern Peru near the city of Arequipa. With its seasonally snow-capped, symmetrical cone, El Misti stands at 5,822 metres (19,101 ft) above sea level and lies between the mountain Chachani (6,075 m/19,931 ft) and the volcano Pichu-Pichu (5,669 m/18,599 ft). Its last eruption was in 1985. El Misti has three concentric craters. In the inner crater fumarole activity can be seen.

Other Clues

1a dodos {Rattlebrains}; 6a MST {Winter hours in Colo.}; 9a debug {Fix, in a way}; 14a erect {Stiff-backed}; 16a erase {Clear}; 20a or not {"Whether ___ ..."}; 21a key {Common item in a purse}; 22a age {Mellow, say}; 23a James II {King with a statue in Trafalgar Square}; 25a waddles {Imitates a penguin}; 27a ESP {It may actually be a hunch}; 28a worry {"Interest paid on trouble before it falls due," per W. R. Inge}; 29a swoop {What hawks do}; 32a Zen master {Asian spiritual guide}; 36a Tasso {"Jerusalem Delivered" poet}; 39a sneak into {Enter surreptitiously}; 41a entry {Dictionary listing}; 42a gecko {Lizard that chirps}; 43a hem {Something that may be let out}; 47a appease {Quiet}; 52a bed {Foundation}; 53a toast {Hold over the fire, say}; 59a U-boat {W.W. II blockade enforcer}; 61a henna {Salon supply}; 62a sands {Smooths}; 63a TDs {Some sports scores, briefly}; 64a sedan {U.S. term for a British "saloon"}.

1d dee {Subpar grade}; 3d decompose {Rot}; 7d SSW {Dir. from Paris to Bordeaux}; 8d tae kwon do {Olympic sport since 2000}; 9d dehydrate {Parch}; 10d Era {Procter & Gamble's first liquid laundry detergent}; 11d basal {___ metabolism}; 12d usage {Dictionary topic}; 13d genes {Code carriers}; 18d no I {"___ did not!"}; 19d rearm {Abrogate a peace treaty, maybe}; 23d jests {Isn't serious}; 24d Aswan {City on the Nile}; 26d Dyson {Big name in vacuum cleaners}; 28d wed to {Conjoined with}; 30d Osage {County name in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma}; 31d poker bets {Pot contents}; 32d zonked out {Totally beat}; 33d to that end {For the reason stated}; 34d êtres {French beings}; 40d icier {Less welcoming}; 44d Venus {Mythological subject for Titian and Botticelli}; 45d Aruba {One of the ABC islands}; 47d atlas {Mini-section of an almanac}; 49d paths {Walks}; 55d bad {Misbehaving}; 57d RNA {Material in protein synthesis}; 58d San {Colorado's ___ Luis Peak}.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NYT Wednesday 4/28/10 - Spouting Off

With this Wednesday New York Times crossword we're finally into something meatier; although from a thematic point of view, it played out like the preceding two days: solving the first long across - ace invader - I thought to myself "space invader" and immediately suspected a spout would be involved at some point.

The next two theme answers were straightforward, but I did have problems with (sp)ell binders ... not with the ell part, but with binders. I tried hard to get that second word from the crossings, but eventually it proved easier to just think through how the pun might work. Getting that final long answer unlocked the tough SE corner for me.

Although the idea is somewhat familiar and predictable, I thought it very well done; I particularly like the constraint that the deletion always occurs at the start of the phrase. Some of the extra challenge in this puzzle came from ambiguities, deliberate or otherwise: I had caws for {Bird sounds} at 19-Across and tied for {Neck and neck} right next-door.

Then there were clues that had a bit of spin on them: is 33d most {Kind of votes a candidate wants} playing fair with the solver ... is "Kind" the mot juste? Concerning 51d reset {Change, as an alarm}, I normally think of resetting an alarm as restoring it to a known state, not changing it in any significant way.

Finally, I got into difficulties with 9d per {A pop} - a clue which I see has been used a lot historically. Even so, I have trouble getting my head around the equivalence of per and a pop. I get it that both can replace "for each" in a different context ("gas is $2.99 per/for each gallon" and "they're a snip at $2.50 a pop/for each"), but I thought the ultimate test is that clue and answer should be substitutable in the same context and I can't think of one: per is usually followed by a noun and a pop isn't usually followed by a noun. Readers help me out here!
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1d abaci {Early counters}
Solution

Andrea Carla Michaels and Peter L. Stein
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

SP is deleted at the start of phrases, making puns. This is indicated by 66a spout {Teapot part ... or a two-word hint to 16-, 25-, 43- and 59-Across} reinterpreted as SP out.
16a ace invader {Attila, for one?} cf space invader
25a ring chicken {Cowardly boxer?} cf spring chicken
43a in the bottle {Where to find a genie?} cf spin the bottle
59a ell binders {Holders of some pipe joints?} cf spell binders
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersAndrea Carla Michaels and Peter L. Stein / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares47 (25.4%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.54)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



10d aria {"Habanera" from "Carmen" is one}. The Habanera is a famous aria from the opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. It is sometimes referred to as "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (love is a rebellious bird). Its score was adapted from the habanera "El Arreglito," originally composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Yradier. Bizet used the melody in the belief that it was a folk song. When he was made aware that it had been written by a composer who had died only ten years earlier, he added a note to the vocal score of Carmen, acknowledging its source. The great Maria Callas (1923–1977) sings it in the above clip.

The Doctor is IN

36a Elon {North Carolina's ___ University}. Elon University is in The Crucy League.

37a deism {Jefferson's religious belief}. See Thomas Jefferson and religion.

39a état {"L'___ c'est moi"}. A phrase attributed to Louis XIV of France.

64a TSA {Carry-on checkers: Abbr.}. TSA = Transportation Security Administration.

2d recon {Military drone's job, for short}. "drone" in the sense of unmanned aerial vehicle.

9d per {A pop}. Equivalent in the sense of "for each".

28d Kato {Green Hornet's sidekick}. Kato from The Green Hornet series.

42d pes {Foot, to a zoologist}. pes (Latin for "foot") is the zoological term for the distal portion of the hind limb of tetrapod animals.

49d enero {Summer month in South America}. January = enero is in Español para los crucigramistas.

56d Ilsa {She said "Play it, Sam"}. The quote is what Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman) actually says in Casablanca (1942).

Image of the Day

Lena the Hyena

41d Lena {___ the Hyena of "Li'l Abner"}. In Al Capp's Li'l Abner newspaper strip, Lena the Hyena is a hideous Lower Slobbovian gal, referred to but initially unseen, or only glimpsed from the neck down. Lena was so ugly that anyone who saw her was immediately driven mad. No sane person, therefore, could tell you what she looked like. After weeks of teasing his readers by hiding Lena's face behind "censored" stickers and strategically placed dialogue balloons, Capp invited fans to draw Lena in a famous nationwide contest in 1946. Lena was ultimately revealed in the harrowing winning entry, (as judged by Frank Sinatra, Boris Karloff and Salvador Dalí) drawn by noted cartoonist Basil Wolverton.

Other Clues

1a aroma {Appetite arouser}; 6a clap {Show appreciation, in a way}; 10a ado {Busyness}; 13a below {Reporting to}; 14a Rome {"Gladiator" setting}; 15a prop {Groucho's cigar, e.g.}; 18a riot {First-rate stand-up comic}; 19a coos {Bird sounds}; 20a even {Neck and neck}; 21a wears {Is tiresome}; 22a in stone {How some things are set}; 24a cha {When said three times, a dance}; 31a demur {Voice opposition}; 35a roughage {Food with lots of fiber}; 40a massless {Like a photon}; 42a prods {Herders' tools}; 46a ant {Colony worker}; 47a yes, dear {Polite reply that may be accompanied by eye-rolling}; 52a Shiva {The Destroyer, in Hinduism}; 55a Fido {Relative of Bowser}; 57a in re {Concerning}; 58a hike {Trek}; 61a open {Start the bidding}; 62a so-so {Middling}; 63a aurae {Nimbi}; 65a peal {Bit of laughter}.

1d abaci {Early counters}; 3d oleos {Spreads in bars}; 4d moist {Like towelettes, typically}; 5d awn {Barley bristle}; 6d craven {Lily-livered}; 7d lode {Prospector's strike}; 8d amen {Word of agreement}; 11d door {"Let's Make a Deal" choice}; 12d opts {Stops waffling}; 15d preacher {Flock leader}; 17d veni {Caesar's "I came"}; 21d Whig {Taylor or Tyler}; 23d Orr {Norris Trophy winner for eight consecutive years}; 24d chum {One to hang with}; 26d grist {Miller's need}; 27d Cos. {N.Y.S.E. listings}; 29d egad {"Yikes!"}; 30d nets {Pulls in}; 31d demi- {Prefix with god}; 32d élan {Zip}; 33d most {Kind of votes a candidate wants}; 34d unshaven {Stubbly}; 37d debt {Cardholder's woe}; 38d eso {That, in Toledo}; 44d Ty-D-Bol {Popular bathroom cleaner}; 45d Leo I {First pope with the title "the Great"}; 48d did up {Fixed fashionably}; 50d Arrau {Pianist Claudio}; 51d reset {Change, as an alarm}; 52d shot {It may precede a chaser}; 53d hips {They may swivel}; 54d Ikea {Self-assembly retail chain}; 55d floe {Ice sheet}; 59d ESP {"I know what you're thinking" skill}; 60d Nas {"If I Ruled the World" rapper}.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NYT Tuesday 4/27/10 - Differently Abled

My experience with this Tuesday New York Times crossword was again of discovering the basis for the theme when all the theme answers were in place; though today I knew from past experience that the circled letters would be jumbles/anagrams of the same set of letters and used that assumption to help deduce the long answers as I encountered them from top to bottom.

Again, there were no great impediments to progress and I found it possible to work straight down the grid: the unfilled gaps that need to be returned to for a second attempt only become common from midweek onwards and are unusual on a Tuesday.

The one answer which completely flummoxed me was SAE at 55-Across. I only know this as a stamped addressed envelope (which it turns out is a UK-specific initialism). Today the constructor rang the changes in a big way with a reference to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. I had no clue what was going on here, so was very careful to double-check the three crossing answers.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 66d dot {Half of a colon}
Solution

Oliver Hill
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Different jumbles of BLADE are embedded in the long across answers, as indicated by 62a switchblade {Street weapon ... or a hint to the circled letters in this puzzle}.
17a Cain and Abel {Genesis duo}
21a bed lamp {It's found on a nightstand}
29a handlebar {Certain mustache shape}
38a heated blanket {Means of staying toasty at night}
50a bald eagle {American symbol}
57a enabled {Made possible}
 Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersOliver Hill / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.69)
Theme squares67 (36.6%)
Scrabble points274 (average 1.50)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeatureLipogram (U absent)
Video of the Day



22d Los {___ Lonely Boys (rock band)}. Los Lonely Boys are a rock band from San Angelo, Texas. They play a style of music which they dub as Texican Rock n' Roll, combining elements of rock and roll, blues, soul, country, and Tejano. The band consists of three brothers, Henry (guitar, vocals), Jojo (bass guitar, vocals), and Ringo (drums, vocals). They follow the tradition of their father, Ringo Garza Sr., who formed a band with his brothers called The Falcones. The above clip is their cover of Santana's "Evil Ways".

The Doctor is IN

55a SAE {Major coll. fraternity}. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was founded at the University of Alabama on March 9, 1856. Of all existing national social fraternities today, SAE is the only one founded in the Antebellum South.

69a Olga {Bond girl Kurylenko}. Olga Kurylenko played Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace.

4d men {Target audience of Details magazine}. Details is a men's monthly, primarily devoted to fashion and lifestyle.

31d let a {"___ thousand flowers bloom"}. The quoted phrase is how the slogan of the Hundred Flowers Campaign is remembered in the West.

53d Olson {Johnny who used to cry "Come on down!"}. Johnny Olson (1910–1985) - his work as a television announcer spanned 32 game shows produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman from the late 1950s through the mid 1980s.

Image of the Day

Detroit Industry (South Wall) by Diego Rivera

14a Rivera {Artist Diego}. Diego Rivera (1886–1957) was born Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez in Guanajuato, Gto. He was a world-famous Mexican painter, an active Communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo, 1929–1939 and 1940–1954 (her death). Rivera's large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance. The above mural is one of a pair at the Detroit Institute of Arts entitled Detroit Industry; painted between 1932 and 1933, it is considered by Rivera himself to be his most successful work. 

Other Clues

1a atomic {Tiny}; 7a Act V {End of a Shakespeare play}; 11a CDs {MP3 holders}; 15a bore {One who talks only about himself, say}; 16a hen {Egg layer}; 19a era {Historical time}; 20a nor {Fish-fowl connector}; 23a Obi {___-Wan with the Force}; 26a pal {Chum}; 28a stop it! {"Enough!"}; 33a so-so {Not great, but not awful either}; 34a screen {TV part}; 35a megs {Computer capacity, informally}; 43a Arod {Yankee nickname starting in 2004}; 44a rein in {Control, as expenses}; 46a iced {Treated, as a sprained ankle}; 52a game on! {"Let's play!"}; 56a red {Sunburned}; 59a in a {"___ moment!" ("Don't rush me!")}; 61a toi {French pronoun}; 68a ill {Under the weather}; 70a ocelot {Spotted feline}; 71a TAs {Profs.' helpers}; 72a NYSE {Wall Street inits.}; 73a estate {Darcy's Pemberley, e.g., in "Pride and Prejudice"}.

1d arc {Parabola, e.g.}; 2d Tia {___ Maria}; 3d ovi- {Prefix with duct}; 5d Iran {Country with a Guardian Council}; 6d can-opener {One use of a Swiss Army knife}; 7d ABA {Lawyers' org.}; 8d Cobb {Ty with batting titles}; 9d trees {Sequoias, e.g.}; 10d veldt {Open grassland}; 11d cheapo {Penny-pincher, slangily}; 12d dermis {Skin layer}; 13d snap to {Wake with a start}; 18d drab {Blah}; 23d ohs {Cries of surprise}; 24d Bach {"The Well-Tempered Clavier" composer}; 25d in re {Memo starter}; 27d lambdas {Greek L's}; 30d DEA {Org. monitoring narcotics smuggling}; 32d Rel. {Bible study: Abbr.}; 36d garden hoe {Tool you can lean on}; 37d snee {Snick's partner}; 39d DOB {When you entered this world: Abbr.}; 40d Kia {Seoul-based automaker}; 41d Engr. {Hwy. planner}; 42d tile {10-point Q, e.g.}; 45d Ned {Actor Beatty}; 46d I get it {"That's clear"}; 47d canola {Kind of oil}; 48d emails {Contacts via the Net}; 49d deb {Girl with a coming-out party}; 51d laic {Secular}; 54d newly {As of late}; 58d digs {Shovels}; 60d ABC's {Rudimentary education}; 63d Tae {___ Bo}; 64d let {Redo, in tennis}; 65d à la {___ mode}; 66d dot {Half of a colon}; 67d été {Summer on the Seine}.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NYT Monday 4/26/10 - Fire Signs

This Monday New York Times crossword is amongst the easiest I can remember. I wondered if I should start including the seconds in my quoted times (in reality I solved this one in about 3:33) but that would seem ridiculous at the end of the week, with solving times often approaching or exceeding an hour. I'm not quite up there with the Amy Reynaldo's of this world.

holy smokeOnce again, the theme made no very great impression on me when solving. After finishing the puzzle, I appreciated the design and like that the sense of the theme word in the answer is different to its sense as a sign of fire. So light is in the sense of not heavy and heat in the sense of a preliminary contest. Does holy smoke! fit into this? Partridge doesn't venture an explanation of the origin of this exclamation, but I'll give the constructor the benefit of the doubt.

Aside from the theme, there were no great difficulties: I still have a bit of trouble thinking of Amana as an appliance brand; and I had plot, then plan for the mysterious plat at 33-Down. On the other hand, I've now mastered Oleg Cassini and also knew the only other word that I thought might merit discussion, shul.
Solving time: 4 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 63a coed {What Yale became in 1969}
Solution

Lynn Lempel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Phrases ending with a feature of fire, as indicated by 37a playing with fire {Doing something risky ... or a hint to the last words of 18-, 24-, 49- and 58-Across}.
18a pack light {Common advice to travelers}
24a dead heat {Race that finishes in a tie}
49a old flame {Bygone love interest}
58a holy smoke! {"Omigosh!"}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersLynn Lempel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares49 (26.2%)
Scrabble points322 (average 1.72)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



25d Daly {Tyne of "Cagney & Lacey"}. Cagney & Lacey is an American television series that first aired on the CBS television network for seven seasons from March 25, 1982 to May 16, 1988. It is considered to be American television's first serious drama series with two female leads. I only remember Sharon Gless in the role of Cagney, but for a change, I've chosen the opening sequence of the first series with Meg Foster in the role (in the original 1981 TV movie, Cagney was played by Loretta Swit, but Swit wasn't released by the producers of M*A*S*H). Meg Foster was replaced by Sharon Gless because CBS were allegedly unhappy with Foster's performance.

The Doctor is IN

47a Oleg {Cassini of fashion}. Oleg Cassini (1913–2006) designed Jacqueline Kennedy's state wardrobe in the 1960s.

60a Amana {Oven brand}. The Amana Corporation was founded in 1934 in Middle Amana, Iowa.

33d plat {Builder's map}. Plat most commonly refers to maps produced to subdivide an area of land into saleable lots.

53d shul {Place for a bar mitzvah service}. A synagogue is commonly spoken of as a "shul" by Orthodox Jews. [Postscript: a reader emailed me to note that "shul" is a Yiddish word, and so is used by many Ashkenazi Jews in America, regardless of affiliation.]

Image of the Day

Arthur Ashe

11d Ashe {U.S. tennis legend on a 37¢ stamp}. Arthur Ashe (1943–1993) was a professional tennis player, born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. During his career, he won three Grand Slam titles, putting him among the best ever from the U.S. Ashe, an African American, is also remembered for his efforts to further social causes. He was a member of a delegation of 31 prominent African-Americans who visited South Africa to observe political change in the country as it approached racial integration. He was arrested on January 11, 1985, for protesting outside the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. during an anti-apartheid rally. He was also arrested again on September 9, 1992, outside the White House for protesting on the recent crackdown on Haitian refugees.

Other Clues

1a Hopi {Navajo's neighbor in Arizona}; 5a Scot {Edinburgh native}; 9a flaw {Defect}; 13a ovals {Racetrack shapes}; 15a eons {Many millennia}; 16a Rosa {Parks who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom}; 17a sinew {Tendon}; 20a end {Terminus}; 21a anise {Seed with a licoricelike flavor}; 23a onset {Beginning}; 26a hug {Warm embrace}; 27a bait {Worms, to a fisherman}; 28a Model Ts {Early Fords that "put America on wheels"}; 32a spell {Say "C-A-T" or "D-O-G," e.g.}; 34a oars {Boathouse gear}; 36a you {"___ don't say!"}; 41a car {Avis or Alamo offering}; 42a ills {Misfortunes}; 43a aunts {Uncles' mates}; 44a at stake {Being risked, as in a bet}; 48a ice {Cubes from the freezer}; 53a spade {Digging tool}; 56a kneed {Weak-___ (easily intimidated)}; 57a wax {Candlemaking supply}; 62a Urdu {Language of Pakistan}; 63a coed {What Yale became in 1969}; 64a yokel {Hayseed}; 65a leap {Vault (over)}; 66a sky's {"The ___ the limit"}; 67a best {Crème de la crème}.

1d hosed {Cleaned with water, as a sidewalk}; 2d ovine {Sheeplike}; 3d panda bears {Adorable zoo critters from China}; 4d -ile {Suffix with percent}; 5d sepia {Tone of many old photos}; 6d coast {Where a hurricane makes landfall}; 7d once {___ in a blue moon}; 8d tsk! {"For shame!"}; 9d fringe {Outer edge}; 10d logs {Hearth contents}; 12d watt {The "W" of kWh}; 14d Swahili {Widespread language of East Africa}; 19d loud {Earsplitting}; 22d net {Ping-Pong table divider}; 26d host {Party giver}; 28d MRIs {CT scan alternatives}; 29d lying awake {Suffering from insomnia}; 30d tort {Wrong that's adjudicated in court}; 31d sues {Takes to court}; 32d SPCA {Org. for cat and dog lovers}; 34d ogle {Look at lustfully}; 35d awl {Hole-making tool}; 38d Nike {Athletics brand with a swoosh}; 39d half-day {9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., say, for a worker}; 40d fuel {Gasoline or peat}; 45d tidy up {Neaten}; 46d aces {Unreturned tennis serves}; 47d Ode {Keats's "___ to Psyche"}; 49d on key {Not sharp or flat}; 50d Leeds {Textile city of north-central England}; 51d manes {Grooms comb them}; 52d exalt {Praise mightily}; 54d pore {Skin opening}; 55d Alda {Alan of "M*A*S*H"}; 56d kook {Nutcase}; 59d MCs {Introducers of a show's acts, e.g.}; 61d mob {"The Godfather" crowd, with "the"}.

NYT Sunday 4/25/10 - Pyramid Scheme

We thought this Sunday New York Times crossword a bit tougher than usual. Magdalen and I didn't get around to it until breakfast on Sunday, as we'd been to see Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure at The Cider Mill Playhouse the night before and were perhaps not on best form ... and distracted by thoughts of the NPR Sunday Puzzle too.

Things didn't start well when we assumed baths for {Tubs} at 1-Across. Then we had a bash for {"Give it ____"} at 2-Down. We eventually gave up on that corner and revisited it once we had 23-Across and could finally fix the problems.

The theme was well-signposted, even if not the most straightforward idea. We note that the puzzle is tied in with the 93rd birthday of I. M. Pei tomorrow - many happy returns to the number one architect in crosswords!
Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 52d capital A {April first?}
Solution

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

Theme

"Monumental achievement". When PYRAMID is traced out using the circled letters, a picture of a pyramid appears. Other long across answers relate to this theme, with [] standing for pyramid in the clues:

cheerleading formation
23a cheerleading formation {[ ]}

image on a dollar bill
37a image on a dollar bill {[ ]}


55a yoga pose {[ ]}

The Louvre
66a The Louvre {Paris attraction that features a [ ]}

78a card game {[ ]}

glass design by I.M.Pei
89a glass design by I.M.Pei {[ ] that was the creation of an architect born 4/26/1917}


three-dimensional shape
109a three-dimensional shape {[ ]}

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 70 (15.9%) black squares
Answers142 (average length 5.23)
Theme squares110 (29.6%)
Scrabble points556 (average 1.50)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



61d Henie {"Thin Ice" star Sonja}. Sonja Henie (April 8, 1912 - October 12, 1969) was a Norwegian figure skater and actress. She was a three-time Olympic Champion (1928, 1932, 1936), a ten-time World Champion (1927-1936) and a six-time European Champion (1931-1936). Henie won more Olympic and World titles than any other ladies figure skater. At the height of her acting career she was one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. No clips of Thin Ice, so here is One in a Million (1936) from the previous year.

The Doctor is IN

29a Renoir {"Le Déjeuner des Canotiers," e.g.}. Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881), housed in The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

49a ask not {Start of a famous J.F.K. quote}. Reference to "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" from his Inaugural Address.

33a ski cap {Top of a mountain?}. I.e. a hat you might wear on a mountain.

80a Ens. {Coast Guard rank: Abbr.}. Ens. = Ensign.

84a Ley {Willy who wrote "The Conquest of Space"}. Willy Ley (1906-1969) science writer and space advocate.

85a load {Whites or colors, e.g.}. load as in a batch of laundry.

106a Cmdr. {Naval officer: Abbr.}. Cmdr. = Commander.

52d capital A {April first?}. The first letter in "April" is a capital A.

74d TRL {Bygone daily MTV series, informally}. Total Request Live was replaced by  FNMTV in November 2008.

102d Akers {Singer/actress Karen of Broadway's "Nine"}. Karen Akers.

111d sch. {Brown, e.g.: Abbr.}. Brown =  a university is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

Image of the Day

litchis

88d litchis {They're nuts}. The lychee (usual English spelling) or laichi and lichu is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree. It is primarily found in Asia, Southern Africa and Mexico. It is a fragranced fruit with a sweet taste. The lychee is a medium-sized evergreen tree, reaching 15–20 m tall, with alternate pinnate leaves, each leaf 15–25 cm long, with 2-8 lateral leaflets 5–10 cm long; the terminal leaflet is absent. The newly emerging young leaves are a bright coppery red at first, before turning green as they expand to full size. The flowers are small, greenish-white or yellowish-white, produced in panicles up to 30 cm long. The fruit is a drupe, 3–4 cm long and 3 cm in diameter. The outside is covered by a pink-red, roughly-textured rind that is inedible but easily removed. They are eaten in many different dessert dishes. The inside consists of a layer of sweet, translucent white flesh, rich in vitamin C, with a texture somewhat similar to that of a grape only much less moist. The edible flesh consists of a highly developed aril enveloping the seed. The center contains a single glossy brown nut-like seed, 2 cm long and 1–1.5 cm in diameter. The seed, similar to a buckeye seed, is poisonous and should not be eaten.

Other Clues

1a fatso {Tubs}; 6a kaput {Dead}; 11a scad {Large amount}; 15a Edam {Imported cheese}; 19a Asher {Tribe of Israel}; 20a Omani {Resident of a country that's 97% mountains and desert}; 21a alee {Sailor's direction}; 22a Am To {"Here I ___ Worship" (contemporary hymn)}; 27a toss {Fling}; 28a ands {English connections}; 30a TNT {You may get a charge out of it}; 31a Stefani {Gwen who sang "Don't Speak," 1996}; 35a aurae {Saintly glows}; 41a off to {Leaving for}; 44a do it! {"Go on!"}; 45a alas {"A pity"}; 46a roi {Charles, for one}; 47a tight {Very friendly (with)}; 52a cts. {Price part: Abbr.}; 58a slices {Pizza orders}; 59a daws {Glossy black birds}; 60a D Train {New York City transport from the Bronx to Coney Island}; 61a hot tea {Throat soother}; 63a slip-on {Like clogs}; 65a après {After, in Avignon}; 69a omits {Passes over}; 70a cleats {Football shoes}; 72a unease {Nervousness}; 73a strati {Low clouds}; 75a Maes {Fannie ___ (some investments)}; 76a amnios {Prenatal procedures, informally}; 81a flakes {Snow fall}; 82a afoul {Run ___ of}; 86a Ames {NASA's ___ Research Center}; 87a blare {Trumpet}; 97a lulus {Humdingers}; 98a nuclei {Atomic centers}; 99a Austria {Mozart's birthplace}; 103a USA {Network that airs "WWE Raw"}; 104a anomie {Breakdown of social norms}; 108a conk {Bop}; 114a Elms {O'Neill's "Desire Under the ___"}; 115a Åse's {"___ Death" (Grieg movement)}; 116a CD-ROM {Flat storage place}; 117a rider {Headless Horseman, e.g.}; 118a syst. {Way: Abbr.}; 119a Kert {Larry who played Tony in "West Side Story"}; 120a heaps {Compost units}; 121a assns. {Professional grps.}.

1d facts {Almanac tidbits}; 2d a shot {"Give it ___"}; 3d These {"___ Foolish Things" (1936 hit)}; 4d sees fit {Deems worthy}; 5d Orr {Canadian-born hockey great}; 6d Koenig {Walter of "Star Trek"}; 7d A Mad {"Diary of ___ Housewife"}; 8d pads {Crash sites?}; 9d uni- {Prefix with sex}; 10d tin {Cookie holder}; 11d Safeco {Seattle's ___ Field}; 12d clonal {Like some cell growth}; 13d aeroplane {Part of a Virgin Atlantic fleet}; 14d demi- {Prefix with monde}; 15d eat {"Let's ___!"}; 16d Dmitri {Composer Shostakovich}; 17d atonal {Like Berg's "Wozzeck"}; 18d Montel {Williams of TV}; 24d Lana {Smallville girl}; 25d grid {Sudoku feature}; 26d Ararat {Genesis landing site}; 32d amo {"I love," in Latin}; 33d snit {Tizzy}; 34d Kat {"Krazy" one}; 36d UBS {Financial inst. that bought PaineWebber in 2000}; 38d edge {Upper hand}; 39d ooh! {"I'm impressed!"}; 40d a loss {At ___ for words}; 41d -ory {Suffix with contradict}; 42d food plan {Nutritional regimen}; 43d fig-trees {Parts of some Mediterranean orchards}; 47d toi {French pronoun}; 48d isn't {Exists no more}; 49d altus {High: Lat.}; 50d sieve {It doesn't hold water}; 51d K-car {1980s Chrysler debut}; 53d two-timer {Double-crosser}; 54d SSNs {Payroll stub IDs}; 56d areas {Fields}; 57d past {History}; 58d stoas {Covered walkways}; 59d DiMag {Joltin' Joe}; 62d oleos {Bars from the refrigerator}; 64d Lord {"___, is it I?"}; 65d acme {Tip-top}; 67d hunk {Pinup boy}; 68d Esau {"___ Wood sawed wood" (start of a tongue twister)}; 71d salad {Light lunch}; 77d made noise {Clapped and shouted, e.g.}; 78d così {"___ fan tutte"}; 79d eye {Ophthalmologist's study}; 81d fossae {Anatomical cavities}; 82d ambi- {Both: Prefix}; 83d Fey {Tina of "30 Rock"}; 85d LSU {Baton Rouge sch.}; 86d an E {"Wheel of Fortune" purchase}; 87d bes {Wanna-___ (imitators)}; 89d glutes {Sitting areas, slangily?}; 90d lushly {How rain forests grow}; 91d alarms {Bells and whistles, maybe}; 92d summer {Kind of romance}; 93d iciest {Least friendly}; 94d glen {Valley}; 95d madams {House keepers}; 96d purl {Knitting loop}; 100d roads {Some have forks}; 101d in pen {How some people solve crosswords}; 105d N.Dak. {Neighbor of Sask.}; 106d Cora {Mrs. Dithers of "Blondie"}; 107d MNOP {Run before Q}; 110d est. {Ballpark fig.}; 112d -ide {Chemical suffix}; 113d Sra. {Spanish Mrs.}.

NPR Puzzle 4/25/10 -- Here Birdie, Birdie . . .

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a famous person whose first name is seven letters long and ends with the name of a bird, and whose last name is also seven letters but starts with the name of a bird. Hint: One of these birds is the general name for the bird, and the other is a specific type of bird. Who is it? 
Oh, there are so many ways to hint about this one but I won't.

Nope.  You can stop asking.

Sorry, not even a blurry photo.

Oh, all right: here's a completely useless hint.  There is a tenuous-at-best connection that our "Birdperson of Shortzatraz" has to Crossword Man that she or he does not have to me.  Deets (and be prepared to be underwhelmed) on Thursday. 

Meanwhile, here are some pigeons for aviary inspiration:


Alas, no one won last week's Guess the Entries Game.  Jackie announced "just under 1,500 entries," so the "winning" guess was 1,400-1,500 entries.  (Well, I suppose I "won," but as I don't get the prize, I didn't really win.)  Let's play again, shall we?

Just a reminder:  You're guessing the range that you think includes the number Liane (or guest host) will announce next Sunday as how many entries they got.  You guess this based on how hard (or easy) you think the puzzle is.  Leave a comment with your guess; first come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post and that's when we close the game for the week.  You'll note that up until Thursday, this week's correct guess was still up for grabs -- so never think it's too late.  (Until after 3:00 p.m. on Thursday; then it is too late.)

Here are the divisions:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500
500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800
800 - 900
900 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,500
1,500 - 2,000
2,000 - 2.500
2,500 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,500
3,500 - 4,000
4,000 - 4,500
4,500 - 5,000
More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.