Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NYT Thursday 7/1/10 Clive Probert - Inspect A Rebus

This Thursday New York Times crossword is decidedly rebus-based, and yet the term "rebus" seems to have been adopted in America for puzzles where more than one letter is written in a square. I'm not sure how that peculiar usage came about, but it means I have to be careful when describing something as a "rebus puzzle".

The nature of the theme was clear within the first minute, when I noticed the cross reference from 1-Across to the clue below and immediately thought of eggs over easy. Then I knew what to expect, although I was also prepared for left-right juxtapositions and those didn't materialize: the constructor went for a streamlined set of over/under answers, which is both completely symmetrical in position, and balanced in having over opposite under everywhere. Neat!
Anagram Map of the London Underground
As I was solving, I noted the real danger with this idea: that having two entries relating to a single clue together can leave a gaping hole if you fail to solve the clue. This happened to me in the northeast corner (where the answer is the horribly familiar London Underground ... isn't that ironic!) and that corner stayed stubbornly empty until I worked my way into from a different direction. (Looking for a tube map, I found the highly amusing one above with anagrams of each station .... have fun working them out!)

The constructor(s) may have erred on the side of caution, as I found most of the cluing to be very straightforward and this resulted in one of the fastest Thursday times I think I've recorded. My nine minute solving time is certainly WAY faster than the 25+ minutes I've experienced in the last couple of weeks.
Solving time: 9 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 28d drop-outs {Classless group?}
Solution

Clive Probert
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

The middle of a three-part phrase is implied by the juxtaposition of two grid entries:
1a/14a eggs over easy {Breakfast order?}
16a/8a London Underground {World's oldest subway system?}
34a/42a one over par {Bogey?}
45a/42a one under par {Birdie?}
70a/67a you are under arrest {Dreaded words from a cop?}
69a/72a mind over body {Motto of a fitness trainer?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersClive Probert / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 44 (19.6%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.64)
Theme squares49 (27.1%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



44a These {"___ Eyes" (1969 hit)}. These Eyes is a song by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who. The song was co-written by the group's lead guitarist Randy Bachman and lead singer Burton Cummings and originally included on the band's 1968 album Wheatfield Soul. Bachman had the original piano chords with a title of These Arms. Cummings changed the title to These Eyes and added the middle eight. The song has been used in the films Now and Then (1995), Stay (2005) and Superbad (2007).

The Doctor is IN

15a lei {Romanian "dollars"}. lei is the plural of the Romanian currency leu (from their word for "lion").

19a Ottawa {Pontiac, for one}. Reference to Chief Pontiac, an Ottawa leader.

47a Uru. {Winner of the first World Cup: Abbr.}. Uru. = Uruguay, FIFA World Cup winners in 1930 and 1950.

58a SNL {Longtime TV inits.}. SNL = Saturday Night Live.

3d GSA {Govt. office supplier}. GSA = General Services Administration is in Alphabet Soup.

11d Udall {One of a Western political family}. The Udall family has been in politics over 100 years and four generations.

51d Spiro {Dick's partner}. Spiro Agnew, the veep under President Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon.

62d zoo {Morning ___ (radio format)}. See morning zoo.

64d mio {Puccini's "O ___ babbino caro"}. O mio babbino caro (Oh my dear papa) is an aria from  Gianni Schicchi.

Image of the Day

alligator gar

2d gar {Long-nosed fish}. The gar and the ged are two crossword pikes I learned from cryptics. The term gar, or garpike for long, is strictly applied to members of the Lepisosteidae, a family including seven living species of fish in two genera that inhabit fresh, brackish, and occasionally marine, waters of eastern North America, Central America, and the Caribbean islands. In British English the name gar was originally used for a species of needlefish, Belone belone, found in the North Atlantic, itself likely named after the Old English word gar meaning "spear". Belone belone is now more commonly referred to as the "garpike" or "gar fish" to avoid confusion with the North American gars of the family Lepisosteidae. The alligator gar Atractosteus spatula (shown above) is the biggest, with specimens recorded up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) in length.

Other Clues

5a ETs {U.F.O. crew}; 17a grab {Show greed or impatience}; 18a yak {Fat-mouth}; 20a ads {___ by Google}; 22a haw! {"Left!"}; 24a à la {Like}; 25a decried {Condemned}; 29a deeply {With fervor}; 31a upriver {Away from the mouth}; 32a HDL {Good cholesterol, for short}; 33a coati {Raccoon relative}; 36a erect {Put up}; 41a acted {Put on a show}; 43a copra {Coconut oil source}; 46a tacit {Implied}; 49a noisome {Sickening}; 51a snap at {Answer angrily}; 54a trotter {Entry at a hippodrome}; 55a pat {Like some answers}; 56a tsk {When repeated, it might accompany a finger wag}; 59a Pius II {15th-century pontiff who was the only pope to write an autobiography}; 61a Uzi {Weapon in "The Terminator"}; 63a amie {Confidante, say}; 68a Ron {Actor Moody of "Oliver!"}; 71a too {"___ bad!"}.

1d EEG {Result of a certain med. test}; 4d sybarites {Lovers of luxury}; 5d Elysée {Parisian palace}; 6d tea {What the Mad Hatter pours on the Dormouse to wake it up}; 7d Sikh {Turban wearer}; 8d glowed {Was radiant}; 9d rot {Balderdash}; 10d on tap {Ready}; 12d no way! {"Keep dreaming!"}; 13d DNA {"CSI" topic, often}; 21d divide up {Split}; 23d adherent {Stalwart supporter}; 25d ducat {Coin in "The Merchant of Venice"}; 26d epoch {Eocene, e.g.}; 27d crate {Jalopy}; 28d drop-outs {Classless group?}; 30d election {Run for it}; 35d nan {Tandoori-baked bread}; 37d roast lamb {Traditional Easter entree}; 38d Epcot {Florida tourist attraction}; 39d crime {Bookstore section}; 40d tater {Spud}; 48d ratite {Many an Australian bird}; 50d Orsino {"Twelfth Night" duke}; 52d Nauru {Pacific republic}; 53d at sea {Not like a landlubber}; 57d Kurt {Mathematician Gödel}; 59d pay {Subject of union negotiations}; 60d Isr. {Neighbor of Syr.}; 65d Ind. {Neighbor of Ill.}; 66d Edy {Joseph who co-founded an ice cream company}.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NYT Wednesday 6/30/10 Kristian House - Sing Quartet

I found this Wednesday New York Times crossword remarkably straightforward, taking a minute less than yesterday, despite only knowing one and a half of the artists involved in the theme: I actually own the Jewel album that includes You Were Meant for Me, but haven't listened to it in ages (she was recommended based on some of the other female artists I like, but didn't appeal enough for regular listening).

I'd also heard of MC Hammer, but didn't know it was acceptable to drop the MC. He also goes by Hammertime apparently. The Hammer at 10-Down could have easily been a different artist for all I knew. And in fact, the puzzle can be solved easily enough without knowing any of the singer's names - perhaps a good thing given the obscurity of some.

Very few problems outside the theme: not being au fait with the Georgetown Hoyas, I had to get to 15-Across via the sometimes tricky down cluing and only then remembered having seen Hoya before in at least one puzzle. The other hiccup was leaping on instinct to NASA for 19-Across {Major in astronomy?} without really understanding the workings of the clue - it became my favorite clue once I realized what was going on.

Who else might have been pulled into the theme? How about Usher? Chief Usher won't do, as the first word has to be a verb ... how about {Woo the "Lil Freak" singer} for Court Usher? That's the best I can come up with in five minutes or so, and I don't think it trumps any of the examples in the constructor's 10-letter quartet.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19a Ursa {Major in astronomy?}
Solution

Kristian House
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Puns based on the stage names of popular singers:
17a crown Jewel {Conk the "You Were Meant for Me" singer?}
62a claw Hammer {Scratch the "2 Legit 2 Quit" rapper?}
10d harbor Seal {Protect the "Kiss From a Rose" singer from the cops?}
28d tickle Pink {Amuse the "Get the Party Started" singer?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKristian House / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares40 (21.2%)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.60)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



31d Norma {Singer of the "Casta diva" aria}. The bel canto era operas aren't my favorites, but I love some of their set pieces and the aria Casta diva from Bellini's Norma is a great example of such. The opera is set in the time of Asterix and Norma - a high priestess of the Druids - addresses Casta diva ("O pure Goddess") to the moon. Anna Netrebko, one of Playboy's "sexiest babes of classical music", sings it above.

The Doctor is IN

15a Hoya {Georgetown athlete}. The athletics teams of Georgetown University are nicknamed the Hoyas.

39a steel {1943 penny material}. Wartime copper shortages gave rise to the 1943 steel cent, aka the steelie.

3d Amos {Andy's partner in old radio}. Reference to Amos 'n' Andy.

12d mead {Drink in "Beowulf"}. A mead hall called Heorot features prominently in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf.

27d Irina {"Three Sisters" sister}. Once again Chekhov's Three Sisters are Olga, Masha, and Irina.

Image of the Day

pillow shams

9a sham {Bedding item}. Until I met Magdalen the Bedding Connoisseur, I had no idea how many different things you could fit out a bed with. If these exist outside of the USA, then they almost certainly have other names: dust ruffles, mattress pads, patchwork quilts, and now European shams and pillow shams. Shams are decorative pillow coverings, normally placed behind the pillows used to sleep on, which would be covered with regular pillowcases.

Other Clues

1a I Had {Harry James's "___ the Craziest Dream"}; 5a tied {Knotted up}; 13a Tomei {Marisa of "The Wrestler"}; 16a nape {Rabbit punch target}; 19a Ursa {Major in astronomy?}; 20a has a go {Attempts, with "at"}; 21a ad-libbed {Did improv}; 23a Roys {Rogers and Bean}; 25a anno {The "A" of A.D.}; 26a pit stops {Truckers' breaks}; 30a scorns {Has contempt for}; 33a cri {Dernier ___}; 34a suits {Goes well with}; 36a assoc. {Org.}; 37a lice {Cause of head-scratching, perhaps}; 41a Eero {Architect Saarinen}; 42a ankle {House arrestee's bracelet site}; 44a sitar {Instrument that's usually played cross-legged}; 46a amt. {Tbsp., e.g.}; 47a balers {Some farm machinery}; 49a novellas {"Billy Budd" and "Of Mice and Men"}; 51a emit {Radiate}; 52a Fila {Nike competitor}; 53a typecast {Pigeonholed, in moviedom}; 57a Soweto {Site of a 1976 South African uprising}; 61a as in {Speller's words of clarification}; 64a dent {Car door ding}; 65a kite {Cousin of an eagle}; 66a damns {Sends to blazes}; 67a arks {Torah holders}; 68a sped {Floored it}; 69a NATO {Defense grp. since 1949}.

1d itch {Trigger finger problem?}; 2d hora {Dance done to "Hava Nagila"}; 4d Dewar's {White Label Scotch maker}; 5d the {Everyday article}; 6d Iowa {Early caucus state}; 7d eyed {Checked out}; 8d Dallas {Miss Ellie's soap}; 9d snubnose {Revolver feature, perhaps}; 11d apse {Cathedral recess}; 14d ingots {Bars at Fort Knox}; 18d joyous {Festive}; 22d Inca {Quechua speaker}; 24d spits {Rotisserie parts}; 26d PC Lab {Programming class locale, perhaps}; 29d stein {Oktoberfest memento}; 32d Scots {Tartan hose wearers}; 35d set of {Play by a different ___ rules}; 38d elements {Mendeleev's tabulation}; 40d lavish {Like an inaugural ball}; 43d Eric {Children's author Carle}; 45d reload {Do a musketeer's job}; 48d stacks {IHOP servings}; 50d lawman {Wyatt Earp, e.g.}; 53d tada! {"Look what I did!"}; 54d Yser {River through Flanders}; 55d slip {Break one's resolution, say}; 56d Tate {___ Modern (London gallery)}; 58d Emma {Austen classic}; 59d tent {Camper's carry-along}; 60d or so {Roughly}; 63d wed {Got hitched}.

Monday, June 28, 2010

NYT Tuesday 6/29/10 Peter A. Collins - Monochrome Display

I found this Tuesday New York Times crossword puzzle rather tougher than usual. I struggled to get going on the left hand side, failing to see snow-leopard early on (maybe it was easier for users of Mac OS X Snow Leopard).

Reaching the central row, I could only put in white to start with and didn't finally see the theme (and hence add black and) till I got to good old {Shamu, for one} at 60-Across, Shamu references have gone from whas? to a gimmes since I started solving.

After this, the going was reasonably good in most areas, but I got stuck on a string of answers in the SW corner. Problems may have come down to having miser for {Choir support}at 55-Down. I was thinking of misericords and imagining a non-existent shortening. I've now seen riser in the platform sense a couple of times in crosswords and since I wasn't aware of that meaning at all in the UK, this suggests an apparently technical sense of riser is more generally known over here.

However, that isn't the whole story: I also struggled to think of answers for {Makeshift seat at a rodeo} at 32-Across, {Cause of a beach closure, maybe} at 33-Down, {Some track-and-field training} at 53-Across, and {Actress Parker} at 54-Down. I'm going to give myself a break and say these were a bit tough for a Tuesday, especially in that combination.

zebra crossingThere's another cultural difference relating to the theme, illustrated by my immediately thinking of panda when I saw {Cop cruiser} at 39-Across: Brits have a habit of naming black and white things seen on the road after animals of a similar stripe:
There's more than that, but I don't want to bore you!
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 49a lie {"The dog ate my homework," maybe}
Solution

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Monochrome animals, as indicated by 39a/41a/43a black and white {Cop cruiser ... or a description of the five animals named in this puzzle}.

snow-leopard
20a snow-leopard {Asian cat}

Shamu - killer whale
60a killer whale {Shamu, for one}

zebra
13d zebra {Equus quagga}

Jingjing
30d panda {One of the 2008 Olympic mascots}

skunk
53d skunk {Polecat}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares49 (25.9%)
Scrabble points297 (average 1.57)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



38d Nena {"99 Red Balloons" singer, 1984}. I somehow was aware of this song when it became a UK hit in 1984 and I remembered all but the singer's second letter immediately ... that's unusual, so maybe Nena struck a chord (pardon the pun) with me. 99 Luftballons is a protest song by the German singer Nena, born Gabriele Susanne Kerner. Originally sung in German (as in the clip above), it was later re-recorded in English as 99 Red Balloons. 99 Luftballons reached #1 in West Germany in 1983. In 1984, the original German version also peaked at #2 on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart and the English-language version topped the UK Singles Chart. When it made the charts in the United States, most US radio DJs incorrectly assumed that "99 Luftballons" translated to English as "99 Red Balloons" and spoke the number 99 in English, saying "Ninety-nine Luftballoons."


The Doctor is IN

23a TOR {Blue Jays, on a scoreboard}. TOR = the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.

34a Sta. {Penn, for one: Abbr.}. Reference to Penn(sylvania) Station.

35a tocsin {Alarm bell}. tocsin n. = "an alarm bell or the ringing of it" is in MWCD11.

21d ears {Prominent features of Alfred E. Neuman}. Alfred E. Neuman is the mascot and iconic cover boy of Mad magazine.

40d Klink {"Hogan's Heroes" colonel}. Wilhelm Klink, played by Werner Klemperer.

54d Posey {Actress Parker}. Parker Posey, sometimes known as the "Queen of the Indies".

55d riser {Choir support}. riser n. = "a stage platform on which performers are placed for greater visibility" is in MWCD11.

63d else {Ultimatum ender}. Reference to the threat "... or else".

Image of the Day

nacho cheese

26d nacho {___ cheese}. A form of processed cheese mixed with peppers and other spices is often used in place of freshly shredded cheese in institutional or large-scale production settings, such as schools, movie theaters, sports venues, and convenience stores, or wherever using freshly grated cheese may be logistically prohibitive. Such processed cheese is referred to in the U.S. as nacho cheese, and alternatively "queso cheese" (or just "queso"). Though originally formulated as a cheaper and more convenient source of cheese to top nachos, this dip has become popular enough in the U.S. that it is available in some Mexican-themed restaurants, and at major grocery stores, in both name-brand (Frito-Lay, Tostitos, and Taco Bell) and off-brand versions. Unlike many European cheeses, "nacho cheese" bears no geographical indication or other regulated guarantee of ingredients, process, or quality, beyond the general legal definition for cheese products as established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Other Clues

1a lobby {AARP or the National Rifle Association}; 6a sans {Without: Fr.}; 10a Metz {French city in 1944 fighting}; 14a a Wire {"Bird on ___" (1990 film)}; 15a état {Lafayette's state?}; 16a Arie {Singer India.___}; 17a penal {Kind of code}; 18a nova {Super star}; 19a iamb {Poetic foot}; 24a clear {Net}; 25a Leonora {Heroine of Verdi's "Il Trovatore"}; 27a ECU {Euro forerunner}; 29a drip {Slo-o-ow leak}; 31a Ana {Santa ___ winds}; 32a bale {Makeshift seat at a rodeo}; 44a scroll {Form of many a diploma}; 46a dab {Smidge}; 48a omen {Sign to be interpreted}; 49a lie {"The dog ate my homework," maybe}; 50a amas {"You love," to Livy}; 52a Uma {Thurman of "Pulp Fiction"}; 53a sprints {Some track-and-field training}; 57a prowl {Move stealthily}; 59a koi {Decorative pond fish}; 64a USSR {"Back in the ___"}; 66a toon {Porky Pig, e.g.}; 67a hotel {Building usually without a 13th floor}; 68a need {Penury}; 69a Bête {"La Belle et la ___" (French fairy tale)}; 70a a loss {At ___ for words}; 71a Kyra {Actress Sedgwick of "The Closer"}; 72a estd. {Cornerstone abbr.}; 73a terse {Like the review "Hated it," e.g.}.

1d laps {Track units}; 2d Owen {Wilson of "Wedding Crashers"}; 3d binocular {Like some vision}; 4d brawl {Melee}; 5d yelled {Bellowed}; 6d señorita {Potential enamorada}; 7d atop {On}; 8d naval {Like some exercises}; 9d stare at {Ogle}; 10d mai {___ tai (drink)}; 11d Erato {Poetic Muse}; 12d Timor {Island near Java}; 22d do now {"What should I ___?"}; 27d ebbs {Wanes}; 28d calc {Class after trig}; 33d E. coli {Cause of a beach closure, maybe}; 36d simulator {Flight training equipment}; 37d item {Thing}; 42d dampened {Made less intense}; 45d Let It Be {1970 #1 hit whose title follows the lyric "Speaking words of wisdom ..."}; 47d Barr {Bob ___, 2008 Libertarian candidate for president}; 51d so what? {"Who cares?"}; 56d sloes {Tart fruits}; 58d whole {Intact}; 61d Lott {Former Mississippi senator Trent}; 62d less {Minus}; 65d RDA {Nutritional abbr.}.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NYT Monday 6/28/10 Joel Fagliano - Gaga Over It

This Monday New York Times crossword makes a cracking start to the week: the idea is straightforward (phrases with a tightly constrained pattern), but there are six examples, with two pairs crossing. The really unusual feature of the grid is the plethora of rarer letters (six X's!!!!!!, three J's!!! and a Q!) raising the average Scrabble value per letter to 1.87.

It seemed about average difficulty for the day: one thing that held me up was being a little confused about the pattern of the theme answers. From a few early examples like la-la Land, I wrongly assumed letters 1, 3 and 5 would be the same - in that way I ended up with Mama Maid at 38-Down, which took a few extra seconds to remedy.

One other oddity about the grid is the orientation: the grid could have been flipped around the diagonal to have four theme answers across and two down (rather than the other way round). I'm not clear why this wasn't done ... maybe because rara avis is one of the least spicy examples and it was thought preferable to kick off with la-la land as the first across thematic.

Tata NanoI thought I'd use TEA to see what might have been left on the cutting room floor: a few alternatives in Mama Bear (but Papa's there already), Papa John and Mama Cass, but nothing terribly exciting ... the constructor seems to have scraped the barrel fairly dry in his choices. I was amused to discover that there's an Indian car maker called Tata and a few of its models fit the puzzle mold including the Tata Nano, the "cheapest car in the world today".
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 47a oxymoron {Clearly confused, e.g.}
Solution

Joel Fagliano
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

(4,4) phrases in which the first and third letters are the same and the second and fourth letters are A. Harder to explain than show the examples:
20a la-la land {Dreamy state}
56a Baba Wawa {Gilda Radner character on "S.N.L."}
5d rara avis {One in a million}
10d va-va voom! {"Hubba hubba!"}
38d Mama Said {1961 hit for the Shirelles}
40d Papa Bear {Owner of the largest bed Goldilocks tried}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJoel Fagliano / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares46 (24.3%)
Scrabble points353 (average 1.87)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



25a Liev {Schreiber who won a Tony for "Glengarry Glen Ross"}. Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1982 play written by David Mamet. The play shows parts of two days in the lives of four desperate Chicago real estate agents who are prepared to engage in any number of unethical, illegal acts—from lies and flattery to bribery, threats, intimidation, and burglary—to sell undesirable real estate to unwilling prospective buyers. The play draws partly on Mamet's experiences of life in a Chicago real estate office, where he worked briefly in the late 1960s. The title of the play comes from the names of two of the real estate developments being peddled by the salesmen characters, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. Liev Schreiber won the Tony for his portrayal of Richard Roma in the 2005 Broadway revival, the part played by Al Pacino in the 1992 movie (trailer above).

The Doctor is IN

1a Jags {Some British sports cars, briefly}. I.e. Jaguars.

47a oxymoron {Clearly confused, e.g.}. "clearly confused" is a contradiction in terms, aka an oxymoron.

2d aria {Mozart's "Il mio tesoro," e.g.}. Il mio tesoro is Ottavio's aria from Don Giovanni.

7d LAPD {"Columbo" org.}. Lieutenant Columbo was a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department.

50d jewfro {Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially}. The term jewfro is a portmanteau of Jewish and Afro.

Image of the Day

veery

28d veery {Small American thrush}. Seems a veery obscure reference for a Monday? The veery, Catharus fuscescens, is apparently a small species of thrush, which is what I'd have taken it for. It is occasionally called Willow Thrush or Wilson's Thrush. This bird has a breezy downward-spiralling flute-like song, often heard from a low but concealed location. The most common call is a vee-er, which gave this bird its name. Although they breed in Canada and parts of the northern USA, they don't show up in Pennsylvania according to our bird book; veeries migrate to eastern South America.

Other Clues

5a rules {Contest specifications}; 10a vest {Third piece of a three-piece suit}; 14a Iraq {Baghdad's home}; 15a apart {Separately}; 16a axis {x or y, on a graph}; 17a lieu {In ___ of (replacing)}; 18a repro {Copy, for short}; 19a Vera {Wang of fashion}; 22a phaser {"Star Trek" weapon}; 24a Road {The Beatles' "Abbey ___"}; 26a live TV {Broadcast with little room for mistakes}; 29a let loose {Unshackle}; 33a ace {Card that may be "in the hole"}; 34a six am {Early morning hour}; 36a Mobil {Exxon merged with it}; 37a seem {Appear}; 39a set up {Provide with a blind date, say}; 41a mace {Anti-attacker spray}; 42a Sarah {Politico Palin}; 44a reran {Aired again}; 46a men {Stag party attendees}; 49a pajama {___ party (sleepover)}; 51a apex {Pinnacle}; 52a jade {Green gem}; 53a fits in {Isn't an odd one out}; 60a area {Side x side, for a 4-Down}; 61a adobe {Hacienda material}; 63a flat {Fizzless, as a Coke}; 64a maxi {Long skirt}; 65a mamba {Lethal cousin of the cobra}; 66a rent {$50 for Boardwalk, in Monopoly}; 67a estd. {Founded: Abbr.}; 68a embar {Put in prison}; 69a oxen {Pair with a plow}.

1d Jill {Jack's partner in rhyme}; 3d Gael {Celt or Highlander}; 4d square {Equilateral quadrilateral}; 6d upend {Overturn}; 8d err {Make a boo-boo}; 9d stop it! {"Cut that out!"}; 11d exes {They've gone their separate ways}; 12d sire {Retired racehorse, maybe}; 13d tsar {Peter the Great, e.g.}; 21d lots {Oodles}; 23d helm {Captain's place on a ship}; 25d lemur {Ring-tailed primate}; 26d lasso {Rodeo ring?}; 27d ice ax {Mountaineer's tool}; 29d laten {Go past midnight, say}; 30d Obama {First president not born in the continental U.S.}; 31d sic 'em {Words to an attack dog}; 32d Elena {2008 Olympics tennis champion Dementieva}; 35d Xerox {Copy, of a sort}; 43d Hopi {Pueblo Indian}; 45d nada {Zilch}; 48d rename {Put a new title on}; 52d Jabba {"Star Wars" villain ___ the Hutt}; 53d fame {Renown}; 54d IRAs {401(k) cousins}; 55d text {Communicate like many teens}; 56d bomb {Fail miserably}; 57d Alex {Trebek of "Jeopardy!"}; 58d wane {What moons do after full moons}; 59d attn. {Abbr. before a name on a memo}; 62d dam {Beaver's construction}.

NPR Puzzle 6/27/10 - Artsy-Fartsy Types

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a famous English composer with two vowels in his last name. Interchange the vowels and you'll get the last name of a famous American writer. Who are these two people?
Ross figures this one is super easy, but then who knows?  We thought last week was easy too...  If you know the answer, submit it to NPR here.

Here's my challenge: to find photos that will amuse those of you who have figured out the answer, while not giving too much away to those of you still working on it.

Here's a clue:










           to        









        








Now for a clue to the other name:

That's Estacion de Aranjuez.  You can click on the photo for more information.

Here's another great photo:


Again, click on any photo to see if it helps.  (I wouldn't say that if I thought it would give the game away too easily!)

It's time for


P I C K   A   R A N G E

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the puzzle above.  It was a bit surprising last week that there were only 1,300 - 1,400 entries, particularly as the lowest guess we had here was 1,800.  This week's puzzle strikes me as even easier, but it's a holiday weekend coming up, so maybe people are already on holiday and just don't care.

What do you think?  Leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive; first come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post.  After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed.

Here are the ranges:

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 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,900
1,900 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 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.



*Sorry, Ben -- we changed your name to Pick-a-Range.  Less chance for people to think we had anything to do with the "fat cats on Wall Street."  But you still get credit!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

NYT Sunday 6/27/10 Michael J. Doran - Western Weevil

Magdalen and I returned to the normal routine this weekend and solved this Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle together over Saturday dinner. Glancing down at the clues to the long answers, it was immediately clear what was going on, but the theme clues were still quite a challenge to work out.

The theme started out strongly at the top, with {Irate} for film critic and the like being nicely solid. Further down, the examples moved further away from dictionary entries and that seemed less satisfactory, eBay patron from {Ibid.} being our least favorite.

I can see it was fun to come up with this idea as I've had a go at a few more examples myself. How about these:
careless driver {Ident}
pit worker {Imine}
commis chef {iPod}
garbageman {Irid}

Yeah, not that great I agree. I think that explains why the ones in the puzzle couldn't all be as good as 23-Across.

Apart from the theme, the puzzle seemed on the easy side. There were a couple of trouble spots where I might have got into difficulties on my own: 59a Sert and 54d IED was a mean crossing - my instinct was to go for an E (probably based on having seen Sert before), but I couldn't think of what IED might expand to by way of confirmation. Luckily Magdalen had heard of improvised explosive devices on news programs and could explain.

We also debated over 31d Darla and 31a depend. I'm apparently now considered the household expert on Our Gang, but couldn't remember Darla Hood. Ultimately, the only way to make a word out of 31-Across was to put a D at the front, but maybe {Bank} was still a little tricky given the crossing?
Solving time: 30 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 11d art majors {Drawers in some college dorm rooms?}
Solution

Michael J. Doran
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"To Thine Own Self Be True". One-word clues can be reinterpreted as starting with the personal pronoun "I", as follows:
23a film critic {Irate} => {I rate}
28a Olympic luger {Isled} => {I sled}
52a tabloid writer {Islander} => {I slander}
88a election loser {Iran} => {I ran}
109a telemarketer {iPhone} => {I phone}
117a eBay patron {Ibid.} => {I bid}
33d Ponzi schemer {Icon} => {I con}
42d casino worker {Ideal} => {I deal}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMichael J. Doran / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 68 (15.4%) black squares
Answers142 (average length 5.25)
Theme squares94 (25.2%)
Scrabble points557 (average 1.49)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



92a Rho {When written three times, fraternity in "Revenge of the Nerds"}. Revenge of the Nerds is a 1984 American comedy film satirizing social life on the campus of the fictional Adams College. The film stars Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards, with Curtis Armstrong, Ted McGinley, Julia Montgomery, Brian Tochi, Larry B. Scott, John Goodman, and Donald Gibb. The film was directed by Jeff Kanew. The film's storyline chronicles of a group of nerds trying to stop harassment by the persecuting jock fraternity, the Alpha Betas. Here are all the fraternities and sororities in the movie, for future reference:
  • Fraternities

    • ΑΒ - Alpha Beta, athletes' fraternity
    • ΛΛΛ - Lambda Lambda Lambda, aka "Tri Lamb" a black fraternity that has a nerd chapter at Adams College
    • PPP - Rho Rho Rho, a fraternity in the Greek Sing contest
    • ΝΤΝ - Nu Tau Nu
    • ROTC - Reserve Officers' Training Corps (note, while not a fictional fraternity, it is treated as one in its access to the Greek Games in the movie)
    • AN - Alpha Nu
  • Sororities

    • ΩΜ - Omega Mu, sorority for nerds and fat girls
    • ΠΔΠ - Pi Delta Pi, sorority of pretty girls affiliated with ΑΒ
    • ΙΣΠ - Iota Sigma Pi
    • ΩΨ - Omega Psi
    • ΞΣΡ - Xi Sigma Rho
    • ΡΟΤΧ - Presumably matched up with ROTC (the Greek letters are the closest equivalent to ROTC)
The Doctor is IN

51a Liz {Tina's role on "30 Rock"}. Liz Lemon, played by Tina Fey.

55a ser. {Father's speech: Abbr.}. ser. = sermon.

126a Anna {Title girl on the first Beatles album}. Anna (Go to Him) on the 1963 album Please Please Me.

31d Darla {Alfalfa's sweetie}.  Darla Hood, and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer of the Our Gang comedy shorts.

54d IED {Roadside bomb: Abbr.}. I.e. improvised explosive device.

64d her {Every other hurricane}. Hurricanes are given male and female forenames alternately - see lists of tropical cyclone names for all the details.

90d Ollie {Half of an old comedy duo}. Presumably Oliver Hardy.

112d tres {Square root of nueve}. three = tres and nine = nueve are in Español para los crucigramistas.

Image of the Day

Joan Miró Museum - Parc Montjuïc

59a Sert {Miró Museum architect José Luis ___}. Josep Lluís Sert (1902—1983) was a Spanish Catalan architect. He completed the Fundació Joan Miró on Montjuïc in Barcelona in 1975. Sert conceived the museum like an open space, with big terraces and interior courtyards that allowed a correct circulation of the visitors. It also has sculptural roof forms designed to bring natural light into the galleries.

Other Clues

1a swale {Low-lying land}; 6a slur {"Dirty rat," e.g.}; 10a darts {Moves quickly}; 15a sand {Take the edge off?}; 19a Pisan {Tower city resident}; 20a tune {Ensure that a G is actually a G, say}; 21a Drury {___ Lane, home of London's Theatre Royal}; 22a Agee {Pulitzer-winning James}; 25a atman {Universal soul, in Hinduism}; 26a love {Troubadour's subject}; 27a biers {Coffin frames}; 31a depend {Bank}; 34a Karl {Benz of Mercedes-Benz fame}; 36a all set {Ready}; 37a amoroso {Lovingly, in music}; 39a Skopje {Macedonian capital}; 41a pecan {Texas' state tree}; 45a rant {Talk until you're blue in the face}; 46a erat {Part of Q.E.D.}; 48a Yao {Shanghai-born N.B.A. star}; 49a ages ago {Way in the past}; 56a alibi {Defendant's testimony, maybe}; 58a Sirs {Elton John and Paul McCartney}; 60a mine {Word of greed}; 61a situ {In ___ (unmoved)}; 63a tithe {What most Mormons do}; 66a disbands {Breaks up}; 68a licking {Rout}; 71a Aleve {Naproxen, commercially}; 73a pea-coat {Double-breasted winter wear}; 74a aches for {Greatly desires}; 76a Erins {Moran and Gray}; 78a trow {Think, in olden times}; 79a need {Financial aid factor}; 80a Eros {One taking a bow?}; 82a Act I {When the tempest occurs in "The Tempest"}; 84a Enoch {Grandson of Adam}; 87a cam {Bit of video gear, for short}; 93a exempts {Lets off}; 95a rel. {Hinduism, e.g.: Abbr.}; 96a open {Dentist's request}; 97a skål {Swedish toast}; 98a Teris {Actress Hatcher and others}; 99a aisles {Large planes have two}; 101a Ed Meese {Attorney general under Reagan}; 103a no-risk {Like some investments}; 106a I get {"___ the picture!"}; 108a soared {Rose and rose and rose}; 113a hours {Word with kilowatt or business}; 115a olio {Mix}; 116a yes or {"___ no?"}; 122a Gael {Certain Scot}; 123a o' nine {Cat-tails connector}; 124a tine {Trident feature}; 125a Laura {Bush with the memoir "Spoken From the Heart"}; 127a nenes {Baja babies}; 128a -ster {Suffix with hip}; 129a Srtas. {Madrid misses: Abbr.}.

1d SPF {Lotion letters}; 2d Wii {What to play Super Mario Galaxy on}; 3d ASL {Communication for the deaf: Abbr.}; 4d Lambert {St. Louis airport}; 5d Encino {City near Sherman Oaks}; 6d stir {Mix}; 7d Lutsk {Ukrainian city in W.W. I fighting}; 8d uni {College, across the pond}; 9d recork {Close again, as a wine bottle}; 10d D-day {Event depicted in "Saving Private Ryan"}; 11d art majors {Drawers in some college dorm rooms?}; 12d rumple {Make wrinkly}; 13d trail {Crumbs, in "Hansel and Gretel"}; 14d syncs {Makes match up}; 15d salutes {Private greetings?}; 16d agog {Awestruck}; 17d Neve {Actress Campbell}; 18d deer {A couple of bucks?}; 24d Red Sea {Part of Eritrea's border}; 29d Lloyd {Christopher of "Back to the Future"}; 30d leper {Recipient of Jesus' healing}; 32d email {Google or Yahoo! service}; 35d Astoria {Area in Queens}; 38d orbs {Earth and moon}; 40d paw {What a dog might "shake" with}; 43d agenda {Outline of a sort}; 44d no rest {What the weary get, in a saying}; 47d alit {Got off}; 49d atrip {Off the bottom, as an anchor}; 50d get set {Words before "go"}; 52d titis {South American monkeys}; 53d istle {Basketry fiber}; 57d biked {Competed in a velodrome}; 60d Macon {"Heart of Georgia"}; 62d unfelt {Like a mild earthquake, maybe}; 65d Evian {Fiji competitor}; 67d barer {Less furnished}; 68d lancet {Surgeon's tool}; 69d ice-axe {Sherpa's tool}; 70d Gores {Al et al.}; 72d enclose {Pen}; 75d Roc {___-A-Fella Records}; 77d stop {Pull over}; 81d strike one {Call from home?}; 83d I see {Therapist's reply}; 85d chase {Part of many an action movie}; 86d holed {In hiding, with "up"}; 88d Epsom {English racing town}; 89d -ies {Suffix with pant}; 91d ends up {Becomes}; 94d Mineola {Long Island town where the Wright Brothers experimented}; 97d sea-star {Ocean dweller with five points}; 99d asks in {Is a polite host to}; 100d egrets {Marsh sights}; 102d morals {Fable teachings}; 104d rayon {Silky material}; 105d Irene {"Me, Myself & ___," 2000 Jim Carrey movie}; 107d thane {"The ___ of Fife had a wife": Shak.}; 109d toga {"Spartacus" attire}; 110d élan {Panache}; 111d lien {Certain claim}; 114d oyer {Open hearing, in law}; 118d bit {Drill part}; 119d rut {Cause of a bump in the road}; 120d or a {"... boy ___ girl?"}; 121d Nas {"If I Ruled the World" rapper}.

Friday, June 25, 2010

NYT Saturday 6/26/10 - Climb Elk-y Mountain

This Saturday New York Times crossword was fairly straightforward, though every section of the grid seemed to have something a little challenging; so I needed to take two (or more) bites of the cherry in a lot of spots.

It's nice to get a reasonable start at the top and I found gimmes with ovo- (or was it ovi-) at 2-Down, yenta at 8-Down, adit at 11-Down, fiancé at 9-Across. I fairly soon had the start of the topmost 15-letter answer as something ..., but couldn't finish it due to mistakes at 10-Down (invest) and 14-Down (eco-).

learn how to pan for goldSo I moved down to the middle stratum (the grid does rather split into three layers) and got going really well there. Again, it was a challenge to finish the 15-letter answer off, as the right hand side was a thicket of obscure references, among which Whitehorse and Neri at 41-Across and 39-Down.

A revisit to the NW corner with the advantage of knowing the end of 3-Down allowed me to complete that area, but the NE looked stubborn enough that I left it to the end. The bottom layer now got all the attention and I think that turned out the easiest of three. It helped that I knew every answer, even Elk (Mountain) as it's our local ski resort, our neighbors work there etc.

After 18 minutes, I had done everything except the gnarly NE corner, but concentrated attention soon led me to look at 10-Down again and I changed invest to infest. When solving I hoped invest met {Take over}, but it doesn't really, as it means "to surround with troops or ships so as to prevent escape or entry". It was now easy to finish off 17-Across and get all the downs via 16-Across ... Fiske and Cohn being unknown to me ... I also couldn't see how nose satisfied the enigmatic {A hook might give it a hook}. See below for my explanations of all these.

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, but thought it a little heavy on the prefixes and suffixes. I count four, all in the down clues and wondered why 55-Down wasn't clued as a regular word. Clues like {Egg head?} and {What may start climactically?} are best in moderation ... too many of that type (and I think one per puzzle is about the max) and they lose any potential to deceive and surprise.
Solving time: 19 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 23a wades {Doesn't go swimmingly?}
Solution

Robert H. Wolfe
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobert H. Wolfe / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.34)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points290 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



34d Eat It {1984 hit with the lyric "Have a banana, have a whole bunch"}. Eat It is a hit single by parody artist "Weird Al" Yankovic. It is a parody of the song "Beat It" by Michael Jackson. Eat It earned Yankovic a 1984 Grammy Award in the Best Comedy Recording category. According to Yankovic, when he presented his lyrics to Jackson for permission for the parody, he didn't know what kind of reaction he'd get. Jackson allegedly thought it was amusing, and agreed to allow the parody.

The above clip has Yankovic's version for the soundtrack and the two videos on the bottom. The video on top is Jackson's video for Beat It reedited to match Eat It scene for scene. Pay close attention, as references to this song are not uncommon.

The Doctor is IN

19a peal {Roll}. As in a peal/roll of thunder.

28a ta ta {Heathrow takeoff sound?}. ta ta is British for "goodbye", often heard at Heathrow Airport.

36a Ren {Neurotic toon}. Ren (a Cruciverbal Canine) in The Ren and Stimpy Show.

40a NCO {Elvis Presley was one: Abbr.}. Elvis rose to the rank of sergeant in the U.S. Army before being honorably discharged in 1960.

41a Whitehorse {Trading center during the Klondike gold rush}. Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon.

9d Fiske {Big name in college guides}. As in the Fiske Guide to Colleges.

12d nose {A hook might give it a hook}. We think a reference to boxing, in which a hook (the punch) might break a nose, giving it a hook.

13d Cohn {Columbia Pictures co-founder}. Harry Cohn (1891–1958) founded Columbia Pictures with his brother Jack, and Joe Brandt.

26d lad {Bar mitzvah, e.g.}. A Bar Mitzvah (or Bat Mitzvah) is the term for a boy (or girl) who's reached the age of responsibility, as well as the name for the ceremony itself.

33d Chi {Loop setting, briefly}. Loop = Chicago neighborhood is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

39d Neri {St. Philip of Rome}. I.e. Philip Neri (1515–1595) aka Apostle of Rome.

46d hauls {Does semi-related work?}. Semi = truck is also in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

57d día {Semana segment}. day = día and week = semana are in Español para los crucigramistas.

Image of the Day


47d Elk {Pennsylvania's ___ Mountain (skiing area)}. I could hardly believe this: a clue in the New York Times crossword references something within 20 miles of where we live!! That's a first since I've been solving. I thought it so unlikely that I opted first for Snö Mountain (sic: the umlaut is as silly as the one in Spıal Tap), which Magdalen remarked was stupid, as it was only renamed that two years ago.

Anyway, Elk Mountain is the largest ski area in the Endless Mountain region (our neck of the woods) of Pennsylvania. The ski area was opened in 1959. It is the highest ski area in eastern Pennsylvania. Located about 30 miles north of Scranton, Pennsylvania, it has a 1,000 feet vertical drop. It has 27 trails including 6 greens, 10 blues and 11 diamonds. It also has a new terrain park located on the east side of the mountain off of the Delaware Trail. Many trails are serviced by snow-making facilities. The above picture shows the mountain with the colors typical of a fall round here.

Other Clues

1a not today {Procrastinator's reply}; 9a fiancé {Engagement party?}; 15a overcame {Beat}; 16a indoor {Enclosed}; 17a something's fishy {Rat smeller's words}; 20a take ten {Break}; 21a as a {___ bonus}; 23a wades {Doesn't go swimmingly?}; 24a regular {Alternative to premium}; 32a ice palaces {Winter sports arenas}; 37a don't do that again {Warning to a pest}; 42a dyne {Unit in an erg's definition}; 44a in anger {Way to look back?}; 45a chest {Jewel holder}; 49a as I {"___ said ..."}; 50a asphalt {Court cover-up?}; 53a eras {They're often associated with world leaders}; 56a are you kidding me? {"Seriously?"}; 60a barrel {Crude container}; 61a ligature {Artery binder}; 62a abbess {"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" singer in "The Sound of Music"}; 63a lays into {Rails at}.

1d nos {They're not positive}; 2d ovo- {Egg head?}; 3d temp agency {Placement aid}; 4d tree {Pistachio or almond}; 5d octa- {Prefix with -valent}; 6d Dahl {Gary who invented the Pet Rock}; 7d Ami {1960s-'70s Citroën}; 8d yenta {Grapevine cultivator?}; 10d infest {Take over}; 11d adit {Colliery access}; 14d -ery {Green attachment?}; 18d gad {Knock (about)}; 21d arid {Anhydrous}; 22d second {It goes by quickly}; 23d wrath {Face reddener}; 25d Upton {Baltimore neighborhood that includes Marble Hill}; 27d alow {On a deck beneath}; 29d argon {Composition of some plasmas}; 30d tear-gas gun {Folks may cry after it's shot}; 31d anises {Members of the carrot family}; 35d Sten {9-mm. weapon}; 38d aha {Brainstorm outburst}; 43d echoes {Hollow replies}; 48d still {Allay}; 50d Arab {Many a dinar spender}; 51d Serb {Dinar spender}; 52d pyre {Phoenix construction}; 53d edgy {Envelope-pushing}; 54d rias {Cousins of fjords}; 55d anti- {What may start climactically?}; 56d ABA {Grp. concerned with precedents}; 58d Mr. T {Chain-sporting star}; 59d EEO {Job ad abbr.}.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NYT Friday 6/25/10 - The Midsummer Marriage

I thought this Friday New York Times crossword a lot of fun, but boy was it a tough one! I certainly wasn't expecting a rebus idea this late in the week, but even when I saw what was up, it didn't help much - that's down to the asymmetry of the IDOs ... how mean is that?

I got off to a good start with the puzzle and really thought I'd have a better time than I ended up with. I immediately got traction on the right hand side at the top and on forays into the bottom half, found clues right up my street: 31-Down had to be I Puritani, well-known (to me at least) for being the opera performed on the boat at the end of Fitzcarraldo. 61-Down I knew from the entry in Chambers Dictionary for rosy-fingered, which the lexicographers describe as "Homer's favorite epithet (rhododaktylos) of the dawn".

didgeridoosAll good stuff, but there wasn't enough of it for sustained progress; I was starting to despair when I finally saw a rebus was involved, on completing the SE corner with 10 minutes on the clock. This finally explained the oddities in the NE, where I had hitherto imagined the constructors had conjured up an alternative spelling/plural for didgeridoos. Not so: the normal spelling and plural makes complete sense once you see a rebus is involved.

My immediate thought on the IDOs was that the puzzle must be celebrating someone's marriage. I don't normally look at other blogs for evidence about such things before completing my own post, so I can only speculate at this point. Since I'd discovered two IDOs on the right hand side, I wondered if the corresponding questions were on the left hand side. I certainly didn't expect a string of five IDOs in the middle - a neat feature, but ringing vague (wedding) bells ... has it been done before?

Having no symmetry to the rebus squares was a significant hindrance in the SW, which was finally done after 27 minutes. That just left the NW corner, where (up to this point) I had nothing to go on except SST for 5-Down. I thought it a little cruel here to have one of the toughest clues (but a great one) for an answer affected by the rebus, viz 3-Down libidos. 1-Down was nasty too, cluing Part V with the very specific {Final section of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"}.

Still, I was pleased to get such a grid done at all, and also felt sure of having a correct solution. I worry less that I missed the half-hour by a whisker. If this puzzle is celebrating a wedding tomorrow (or Saturday) I wish the bride and groom every happiness.
Solving time: 31 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 3d libidos {Teen drivers?}
Solution

Robin Schulman and Byron Walden
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

A rebus puzzle in which I DO appears in a single square, affecting the following answers:
18a didgeridoos {Native Australian winds}
19a TV idol {Davy Jones or any other Monkee}
34a I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do {Abba hit of 1976}
45a chili dog {Ballpark fare}
59a humidor {Good place for a smoke}

3d libidos {Teen drivers?}
11d maid of honor {Shower holder}
20d Placido {Spanish man's name that means "peaceful"}
26d paid off {Bribed}
27d Isidora {George Sand title heroine}
28d skidoos {Some snowmobiles}
35d I dotter {Punctilious type, slangily}
39d said OK to {Accepted}
49d peridot {Birthstone for most Leos}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRobin Schulman and Byron Walden / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.46)
Theme squares(not calculated)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



6d Alda {"Crimes and Misdemeanors" actor, 1989}. Crimes and Misdemeanors is one of my favorites of the later Woody Allen movies (was it really 21 years ago?!). It's a black comedy written, directed by and co-starring Woody Allen, alongside Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Orbach, Alan Alda, Sam Waterston and Joanna Gleason. Alda plays a wonderful comic character - the pompous television producer Lester who hires his increasingly reluctant brother-in-law Cliff (Woody Allen) to make a documentary about him. In short, typical Woody Allen fare ... great stuff.

The Doctor is IN

14a alias {O. Henry, e.g.}. O. Henry's real name was William Sydney Porter.

32a Asner {Only actor to win a comedy and drama Emmy for the same character}. Ed Asner achieved this for his portrayal of Lou Grant.

36a Orr {Yossarian's tentmate in "Catch-22"}. All the other crossword Orr's seem to be sports stars.

57a Starr {"It Don't Come Easy" singer, 1971}. I.e. Ringo Starr.

4d Paulson {Geithner's predecessor at Treasury}. Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner.

10d Atropos {Mythological thread-cutter}. Atropos, one of the three Moirae, cuts the thread of life when a mortal dies.

13d mss. {Freelance output: Abbr.}. mss. = manuscripts.

27d Isidora {George Sand title heroine}. Too obscure for Wikipedia, you can nevertheless read the complete French text of Isidora : journal d'un solitaire à Paris at Project Gutenberg.

33d stac. {Short and disconnected: Abbr.}. stac. = staccato.

38d silent R {February 4th, to some?}. The fourth letter of "February" is not pronounced in some accents.

Image of the Day

okapi

25a okapis {Inhabitants of central African rain forests}. I've a feeling okapis have been featured as the Image of the Day before, but no harm in this reminder ... The okapi (Okapia johnstoni) is a giraffid artiodactyl mammal native to the Ituri Rainforest, located in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. Although the okapi bears striped markings reminiscent of the zebra, it is most closely related to the giraffe. Unknown to Europeans until 1901, today there are approximately 10,000–20,000 in the wild and only 40 different worldwide institutions display them.

The body shape is similar to that of the giraffe, except that okapis have much shorter necks. Both species have very long (approximately 30 centimetres (12 in), flexible, blue tongues that they use to strip leaves and buds from trees. The tongue of the okapi is long enough for the animal to wash its eyelids and clean its ears (inside and out). 35 to 46 centimeters (14 to 18 in) in length, the sticky tongue is pointed and bluish gray in color like the giraffe's.

Other Clues

1a palps {Bug detection devices?}; 6a Arab {Yemeni, for one}; 10a AM/PM {Red indication on a clock radio}; 15a lodestars {Navigational reference points}; 17a rebut {Answer}; 20a passed off {Relayed (to)}; 21a vessel {Oiler or liner}; 23a top-hat {Bowler alternative}; 29a no-one {Nary a soul}; 30a wine-cask {Tun}; 33a sop {Drench}; 37a truss {Wooden or metal framework}; 40a frothers {Implements in a coffee shop}; 43a atria {Lobbies, often}; 44a faster {Less leisurely}; 47a enrapt {Engaged, and then some}; 51a ate kosher {Shunned shellfish, say}; 55a a-sea {Aboard a 21-Across, maybe}; 56a plant food {You might get it at a nursery}; 58a pontooned {Nautically equipped, in a way}; 60a stir {Incite}; 61a rosy {"Dawn of the ___ fingers ...": The Odyssey}; 62a amity {Opposite of hatred}.

1d Part V {Final section of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"}; 2d Aleve {Brand with the slogan "All Day Strong"}; 5d SST {"Bird" with a flexible nose}; 7d Rois {Gâteau des ___ (Mardi Gras dessert)}; 8d adds {Kicks in}; 9d beget {Spawn}; 12d profaners {Sacrilegious types}; 16d Sedona {Red Rock State Park location}; 22d eke {Just get (by)}; 24d Terr. {Can.'s Northwest ___}; 30d worth a lot {Dear}; 31d I Puritani {Bellini opera set in the English Civil War}; 41d hen {Chick magnet?}; 42d erratum {Slip}; 46d go for {Fetch}; 48d as am I {"Same here"}; 50d tarry {Be a slowpoke}; 52d sono {"I am," in Italy}; 53d hoes {They might break up a plot}; 54d eddy {Turning point?}; 56d pps {"Also, I almost forgot ...": Abbr.}; 57d sha {Doo-wop syllable}.