Saturday, July 31, 2010

NYT Sunday 8/1/10 Brendan Emmett Quigley - D-Day

Brendan Emmett Quigley's byline used to make me quake in my boots, as I have consistently run into problems with his puzzles at the ACPT. To try to get on his wavelength, I've been solving BEQ's excellent self-published puzzles at his blog and that seemed to help with this jumbo New York Times crossword.

I tried to get a solid start at the top left, but ran out of steam before being able to solve the first theme answer at 21-Across. I did better in the NE, where the likes of Woolf at 23-Across and Callas at 16-Down played to my strengths and I pieced together shopping spray at 15-Down with 6 minutes on the clock.

In view of the title, it was now clear what the theme involved and I set to work on the remaining theme answers, one of which (valet girl at 27-Down) I failed to notice was such ... it's unusual to have as many as six theme answers in the down orientation in a Sunday puzzle.

The right hand side continued to be easier than the left for me, and the crux of the puzzle was dealing with the SW corner and halfway up the left-hand side ... everything crossing the giving tray at 56-Down in fact - not knowing the book on which the pun is based was quite a problem.

The crossing of 120a Neale and 113d île was tough, but I was eventually confident with my choice at the intersection, despite not having heard of Saint-Martin before. The baseball-oriented crossing of 67a R H E and 55d Ichiro would probably have resulted in a mistake a year ago, but I got the former under my belt last October and the latter in January 2010.

Fun to see some juxtapositions of related clues today: 112a Osric {Duel overseer in "Hamlet"} precedes the thematic pun based on to be, or not to be; then 53d Ewings {Oil family of TV} is appropriately followed by 54d barrel {Oil unit}. Did I miss any?

POSTSCRIPT: several readers wrote and commented to point out a mistake I originally made at the crossing of 58d fancy fray and 103a nobly. When first published, the post had fancy frae and noble ... this now looks so ridiculous, I reckon I just got careless and somehow was blind to the error when commenting. My sincere apologies for the slip-up.
Solving time: 29 mins (solo, no solving aids, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 47a Eden {Location for the Fall}
Solution

Brendan Emmett Quigley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Play Bargaining". A long E sound (as in plea) changes to a long A sound (as in play) making a pun.
21a weigh three kings {Put a few monarchs on the scale?} cf We Three Kings
29a sharpei pen {Wrinkly dog holder?} cf Sharpie pen
105a general lei {Floral garland for whoever?} cf General Lee
114a to bay or not to bay {Indecisive wolf's question?} cf to be, or not to be
15d shopping spray {Mist from a mall?} cf shopping spree
27d valet girl {Miss who parks cars?} cf Valley Girl
33d chez devil {In hell?} cf she-devil
56d the giving tray {Generous carhop's prop?} cf The Giving Tree
58d fancy fray {Brawl at a ball?} cf fancy-free
62d Jay string {Leno's necklace?} cf gee-string
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 71 (16.1%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.29)
Theme squares112 (30.3%)
Scrabble points593 (average 1.60)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



82a Lovett {1996 Grammy winner for the album "The Road to Ensenada"}. Lyle Lovett is an American singer-songwriter and actor. Active since 1980, he has recorded thirteen albums and released 21 singles to date, including his highest entry, the #10 chart hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, "Cowboy Man". Lovett has won four Grammy Awards, including Best Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Album. It's Not Big It's Large was released in 2007, where it debuted and peaked at #2 on the Top Country Albums chart. A new studio album, Natural Forces, was released on October 20, 2009 by Lost Highway Records. Above is the title song from The Road to Ensenada, recorded and released in 1996.

The Doctor is IN

1a onions {Grinder toppings}. grinder = submarine sandwich had better go into Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

23a Woolf {"Orlando" novelist}. I.e. Virginia Woolf.

24a Anne {Sister of Charlotte and Emily}. The Brontë sisters.

33a crema {Espresso topping}. crema is Italian for "cream".

57a fifed {Blew by a drummer, maybe}. The constructor may have had in mind Archibald Willard's The Spirit of '76.

67a R H E {Line score letters}. Scoreboards in baseball show the runs (R), hits (H) and errors (E) for each inning.

100a Leb. {Its cap. is Beirut}. I.e. Lebanon.

109a Igor {Character with a prominent back}. Igor, the archetypal hunch-backed assistant.

32d icon {Only thing between you and an open window?}. Reference to icon in the computing sense.

43d pity {"The scavenger of misery," per Shaw}. Referencing one of Undershaft's lines in Major Barbara.

53d Ewings {Oil family of TV}. The Ewing family in Dallas.

55d Ichiro {First player to hit an inside-the-park home run during an All-Star Game, 2007}. I.e. Ichiro Suzuki aka "Ichi" & "The Hits Man".

78d Celts {Bird and others, once}. Bird =  basketballer Larry is in Pavlov's Guide to Crosswords.

Image of the Day

Beer Bottle Lineup
Beer Bottle Lineup
95d Corona {Dos Equis competitor}. I thought this might have to do with cigars, but no ... Corona and Dos Equis are rival brands of Mexican beer. Dos Equis is a pale lager that was originally brewed by the German-born Mexican brewer Wilhelm Hasse in 1897. It is now produced by the Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma. The brand was named "Siglo XX" ("20th century") to commemorate the arrival of the new century, and the bottles were marked with the Roman numerals "XX", or "Dos Equis" (two X).

Corona Extra, better known as Corona, is a brand of pale lager owned and produced by Cerveceria Modelo at a number of breweries in Mexico. It is one of the best-selling beers in Mexico and is one of the top-selling beers worldwide. Corona beer is available in over 150 countries. Outside Mexico, Corona is often served with a wedge of citrus fruit - usually lime, occasionally lemon - inserted into the neck of the bottle. Within Mexico, especially in the south, Corona served with lime is not uncommon, but is not considered mandatory. In the United States, Corona Extra is the top selling imported beer.

Other Clues

7a Scalia {Supreme Court justice nominated by Reagan}; 13a Pesci {Real-life actor Joe who is a character in Broadway's "Jersey Boys"}; 18a ski suit {Bunny's covering?}; 19a talons {Bent nails}; 20a Ethan {Furniture retailer ___ Allen}; 25a awry {All wrong}; 26a Luvs {Huggies rival}; 28a PLO {Gaza Strip org.}; 35a spar {Engage in debate}; 36a now {"I said - ___!"}; 37a arc {Firecracker's trajectory}; 38a Sasha {Obama whose Secret Service code name is "Rosebud"}; 40a elitism {Snobbery}; 42a trap-door {Location for a fall}; 45a liens {Bank claims}; 47a Eden {Location for the Fall}; 48a ironed {Helped with the laundry}; 50a czar {Political appointee}; 51a tangle {Cords behind a computer, often}; 54a bitte {Word with a German request}; 59a sightsaw {Played the tourist}; 61a achy {Hurting}; 62a Joe Camel {Smoking character}; 65a tío {Relative in the barrio}; 66a phi {The golden ratio}; 68a harden {Gel}; 69a visors {Golfers' wear}; 71a Ron {N.B.A. All-Star Artest}; 72a rig {Tractor-trailer}; 73a eye {One with a pupil}; 74a Schiphol {Amsterdam air hub}; 76a Sarg {Puppeteer Tony}; 77a Ericsson {Company that merged with Sony in 2001}; 80a Yalie {Brunonian rival}; 81a Hayes {Compromise of 1877 president}; 83a raft {Camper's rental}; 85a detour {Alternate road}; 88a Iler {Robert of "The Sopranos"}; 89a agree {Poll answer choice}; 91a Red Baron {Famed Fokker flier}; 95a centric {Toward the middle}; 98a aargh! {"Why is this happening to me?!"}; 101a eco- {Prefix with tour}; 102a orgs. {Mensa and others: Abbr.}; 103a nobly {With honor}; 108a rat {Kangaroo ___}; 110a Atra {Gillette model}; 111a dads {Many P.T.A. members}; 112a Osric {Duel overseer in "Hamlet"}; 120a Neale {John Mason ___, English priest who wrote "Good King Wenceslas"}; 121a inures {Accustoms}; 122a crimper {Hair-texturizing tool}; 123a as yet {Heretofore}; 124a excess {Overage}; 125a espial {Observation}.

1d Okinawa {Battle site of 1945}; 2d Niger {River on the Benin border}; 3d -ish {-like equivalent}; 4d out {Available for purchase}; 5d NIH {Biomedical research agcy.}; 6d strap {Secure, with "in"}; 7d sternal {Breastbone-related}; 8d caky {Clumped}; 9d Ali {"Prince ___" ("Aladdin" song)}; 10d Lon {Basketball coach Kruger}; 11d ingle {Hearth}; 12d assume {Take as a given}; 13d pews {Sunday seats}; 14d ETO {W.W. II zone: Abbr.}; 16d Callas {Leonard Bernstein called her "The Bible of opera"}; 17d inform {Enlighten}; 18d Senhor {Brazilian mister}; 21d wasn't {"I ___ ready!"}; 22d ewes {Things shepherds shepherd}; 30d padre {Military chaplain}; 31d -eroo {Suffix with stink}; 34d ran a {___ close second (almost won)}; 35d stent {Arterial implant}; 39d sic 'em! {"Attack!"}; 41d Idahos {Baking spuds}; 44d re-fed {Served seconds, say}; 46d Srs. {Yearbook signers: Abbr.}; 49d dices {Cuts up, in a way}; 52d Lahore {Punjabi capital}; 54d barrel {Oil unit}; 60d I too {"Am ___ fat?"}; 63d Oreo {Mousse pie ingredient, maybe}; 64d lipid {Oily substance}; 68d Hester {Prynne of "The Scarlet Letter"}; 70d sheer {Absolute}; 75d hater {Hardly a fan}; 76d Sara {___ Lee bakery}; 79d NRA {Publisher of Shooting Illustrated, for short}; 81d hubba {When doubled, "I like!"}; 84d A Gal {"___ in Calico" (jazz standard)}; 86d tele- {Prefix with copier}; 87d Oder {River to the Baltic}; 90d egg toss {Game in which it's easy to make a mess}; 92d relabel {Change tags on}; 93d O-Cedar {Mop brand that "makes your life easier"}; 94d noisy {Whooping}; 96d erases {Clears}; 97d cootie {Louse}; 99d Herr {Austrian title}; 104d Bronx {Where hip-hop was born, with "the"}; 106d Nance {F.D.R. veep John ___ Garner}; 107d L-dopa {Parkinson's battler}; 109d Ice-T {Entertainer born Tracy Marrow}; 110d ayes {Cries made in passing?}; 113d île {Saint-Martin, e.g.}; 115d Buc {Winning Super Bowl XXXVII gridder}; 116d are {Exist}; 117d ORs {Surgery sites, for short}; 118d tip {20%, maybe}; 119d TMI {"I didn't need to know that," in modern lingo}.

Friday, July 30, 2010

NYT Saturday 7/31/10 Barry C. Silk - A Name to Remember

I found this Saturday New York Times crossword reasonably challenging: it was mostly notable for areas where I had to take pot luck, which - despite one crazy-looking answer - worked out OK for me.

As yesterday, I got a firm grip on the puzzle at the top left, though not at quite such a breakneck pace: zed at 4-Down was a gimme and I guessed an in a start to 2-Down and an -ier ending to 3-Down. Such partial answers are often critical to getting a start on puzzles as difficult as this. Soon I had anaerobe at 15-Across and the whole NW corner was done with four minutes on the clock.

The NE corner was much more of a struggle, not helped by two baseball players crossing (i.e. Tim Raines and Darrin Fletcher). This strikes me as rather inelegant and lacking knowledge of both, I had to just keep my fingers crossed that they intersected at an R ... nothing else gave a plausible forename for the down and surname for the across. There was no point in over-analyzing this situation - if I made a mistake the constructor was in for it anyway - there was no way it would be my fault!

Up to this point, I'd hardly bothered with the bottom half, but now had to get to grips with it. Turning to the right seemed the least painful route and I had the SE corner done after 18 minutes. This area had a nice mixture of obscure answers I did know (e.g. étagère, oyer, épéeist) to get me started, with ones I had to struggle for, given the way they were clued (e.g. Dr. Seuss, Sedona, map).

Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument
So I just had the SW corner to go and that was really all about Tuzigoot - once seen, never forgotten! But until that first sight of it, you wouldn't think it a real word would you? I struggled hard to make it something I could recognize, but the more I looked at it, the more it had to be Tuzigoot. The main worry was the crossing with raze, conceivably spelled rase (which alternate spelling is actually referenced in the clue). I ultimately went with the Z spelling, as I thought that the more common one in the across answer; also I had a gut feeling Tuzigoot was more likely than Tusigoot for a place name in the Southwest. Tuzigoot is going to be hard to forget now!
Solving time: 22 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 44a map {Legend locale}
Solution

Barry C. Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersBarry C. Silk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 29 (12.9%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.44)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points316 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



36d Amarillo {City mentioned in "Route 66"}. (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66, often rendered simply as Route 66, is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry in 1961, The Rolling Stones in 1964, and Depeche Mode in 1987. The song's lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a long distance across the U.S., going from Chicago to Los Angeles. The title was suggested to Troup by his first wife, Cynthia.

The Doctor is IN

9a doo-wop {It was sung in Rocky Balboa's neighborhood}. Doo-wop features in several movies in the Rocky series, e.g. as sung by Frank Stallone, Sylvester's brother.

19a epi- {Center opening?}. Reference to epi- as a prefix in  epicenter.

22a DST {Forward-moving occasion?: Abbr.}. DST = Daylight saving time, when clocks go forward.

25a Esai {Tony's portrayer on "NYPD Blue"}. Esai Morales plays Tony Rodriguez on NYPD Blue.

26a C cup {Measure of support?}; 27a straps {26-Across attachments}. Brassiere references.

43a raze {Word whose antonym is its own homophone}. "raise" (the antonym) sounds like "rase" (variant spelling of raze).

45a get set {Ready}. (to) ready is equivalent to (to) get set.

4d zed {London Zoo opening?}. The first letter of "Zoo" is spelt zed in Britain.

29d SST {Retired runway model}. SST = supersonic transport, none now being in commercial service.

34d Jane {Doe being defended}. Reference to a Jane Doe.

47d Eroica {Musical work whose name means "valiant"}. Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 is so named.

54d dele {Word often written in red}. dele is a proofreader's direction and therefore liable to be in red ink.

55d Sela {Ward with awards}. Reference to actress Sela Ward.

Image of the Day

Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair
Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair
52a Eero {Interior designer Aarnio}. Aargh, the Eeros are back! Eero Aarnio is a Finnish interior designer, well known for his innovative furniture designs in the 1960s, notably his plastic and fibreglass chairs. Our Eero studied at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, and started his own office in 1962. The following year he introduced his Ball Chair, a hollow sphere on a stand, open on one side to allow a person to sit within. The similar Bubble Chair was clear and suspended from above. Other innovative designs included his floating Pastil Chair (similar to a solid inner tube), and Tomato Chair (more stable with a seat between three spheres). His Screw Table, as the name suggests, had the appearance of a flat head screw driven into the ground. He was awarded the American Industrial Design award in 1968.

Aarnio's designs were an important aspect of 1960s popular culture, and could often be seen as part of sets in period science-fiction films. Because his designs used very simple geometric forms, they were ideal for such productions. Aarnio's later work replaced the use of fibreglass (material that can be dangerous especially for those who are directly involved in its manufacturing) with safer types of plastic. He continues to create new designs, including toys and furniture for children.

Other Clues

1a pizza box {It may measure 16" x 16" x 2"}; 15a anaerobe {Septic tank resident}; 16a albino {Accidentally uninked embossed stamp}; 17a Panderer {"___ to Power" (Frederick J. Sheehan's exposé of Alan Greenspan)}; 18a Raines {1987 All-Star Game M.V.P. Tim}; 20a so sorry! {"My bad!"}; 23a reel {Suffer the effects of a haymaker}; 30a inn {Traditional gathering place in old Europe}; 31a Iago {Literary character whose first word is "'Sblood"}; 32a basest {Least dignified}; 34a Javan {Like the rarest rhino}; 35a patents {Preventers of many thefts}; 38a étagère {Holder of ornaments}; 40a a mule {"And Absalom rode upon ___": II Samuel 18:9}; 41a Sedona {New Age mecca in the Southwest}; 44a map {Legend locale}; 49a arid {Like arroyo areas}; 50a oyer {Legal hearing}; 53a fig {Whit}; 54a Dr. Seuss {One of his aliases was Theo. LeSieg}; 57a pop {Frequent sound at a wine tasting}; 58a flower {Bed riser?}; 60a I meant it {"My comment was serious"}; 62a Iloilo {Philippine port}; 63a solstice {Occurrence after the fall}; 64a not new {Used}; 65a trash-can {Pitching target}.

1d papers {Researchers' output}; 2d in a pet {Miffed}; 3d zanier {Comparatively clownish}; 5d Ares {His chariot was drawn by fire-emitting horses}; 6d Boro {___ Park (B'klyn neighborhood)}; 7d obese {Extremely upscale?}; 8d xerosis {Possible result of vitamin A deficiency}; 9d Darrin {Catcher Fletcher of the 1990s Expos}; 10d Olay {Big name in anti-aging products}; 11d obi {One getting waisted in Tokyo?}; 12d Wind Cave {National park in South Dakota}; 13d one sugar {Coffee specification}; 14d postpone {Shelve}; 21d ranted {Didn't just opine}; 24d labeled {Pigeonholed}; 26d CIA-gate {The Plame affair, informally}; 28d pane {Window shopper's selection}; 33d essays {Some nonfiction}; 35d paraffin {Coating of cheese}; 37d Tuzigoot {National monument near Flagstaff}; 39d tog {Deck (out)}; 42d épéeist {Jabber in a mask}; 44d morrow {"Good ___" (quaint greeting)}; 46d septic {Infected}; 48d Top Ten {Billboard's best}; 51d rumor {One may circulate quickly}; 56d sass {Reason to scold a kid}; 59d win {Have the best time, say}; 61d nth {Last in a series}.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NYT Friday 7/30/10 Kevin G. Der - Real Stunner

Hey! A new record solving time for a Friday puzzle. But I get the distinct sense that this New York Times crossword will have been easy for everybody else too.

I got off to a great start in at the top left, guessing an up ending to 1-Down, then une at 25-Across, Sras. at 18-Across; with that the downs started to fall like dominoes and I consequently had all three 15-letter answers at the top inside two minutes. Phew!

It wasn't all that easy and working downwards got progressively more challenging: the 15-letter answers at the bottom were hard to pin down, even with around two-thirds of the crossings. It didn't help that I had one plausible-but-wrong answer with dined rather than dug in at 45-Down.

butene
butene
Interesting to see a chemical formula again, at 42-Down, and I now know that these appear correctly with subscripts in the printed version of the crossword (limitations in Across Lite meant I saw C4H8, not C4H8). Despite that, my rusty chemical knowledge told me that the answer would be an unsaturated hydrocarbon (twice as many hydrogen atoms as carbon atoms) and the four carbon atoms pointed to butene (the alkene series going ethene, propene, butene, pentene etc). My chemistry degree was not wasted after all!
Solving time: 12 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 34a spears {Potential game stoppers}
Solution

Kevin G. Der
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersKevin G. Der / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 20 (8.9%) black squares
Answers64 (average length 6.41)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points316 (average 1.54)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



42a Bizet {See 36-Down}; 36d enfants {"Jeux d'___" (42-Across keyboard work)}. Jeux d'enfants ("Children's Games") Op. 22, is a set of twelve miniatures composed by Georges Bizet for piano duet in 1871. Five of the most popular numbers from this set (Nos. 6, 3, 2, 11, 12) were later orchestrated as the Petite Suite.

The Doctor is IN

18a Sras. {Femmes mariées, across the Pyrenees: Abbr.}. I.e. married women across the Pyrenees from France = Señoras.

23a oner {Knockout}. Equivalents in the sense of "remarkable person/thing".

34a spears {Potential game stoppers}. spears might bring down game in the sense of hunted animal(s).

14d eleison {"Have mercy," in a Mass}. As in Kyrie, eleison ("Lord, have mercy").

30d thane {Ross, Lennox or Angus, in Shakespeare}. Ross, Lennox and Angus are sundry thanes in The Scottish Play.

35d pianino {Undersize keyboard}. A pianino is a small upright piano.

47d Mehta {Masur's New York Philharmonic predecessor}. Zubin Mehta and Kurt Masur.

49d caro {Italian sweet?}. caro (fem. cara) is a term of endearment in Italian, roughly equivalent to "my dear".

50d Yoda {Sage exiled on the planet Dagobah}. Reference to Yoda in the Star Wars universe.

Image of the Day

quipu
quipu
6d Inca {User of a record-keeping device called a quipu}. Quipus or khipus (sometimes called talking knots) were recording devices used in the Inca Empire and its predecessor societies in the Andean region. A quipu usually consisted of colored spun and plied thread or strings from llama or alpaca hair. It could also be made of cotton cords. The cords contained numeric and other values encoded by knots in a base ten positional system. Quipus might have just a few or up to 2,000 cords. Some of the knots, as well as other features such as color, are thought to represent non-numeric information, which has not been deciphered.

Other Clues

1a stocking stuffer {Christmas trifle}; 16a machine readable {Like bar codes}; 17a auto accessories {Cup holders and such}; 19a arêtes {Glaciation products}; 20a fit {Tailor's concern}; 21a hived {Joined the swarm}; 24a Lisa {Actress Edelstein of TV's "House"}; 25a Une {"___ Femme Mariée" (Jean-Luc Godard film)}; 26a resat {Convened anew}; 28a color {Walnut, e.g.}; 29a pesterer {Nag}; 31a potent {90 proof, say}; 32a hard clams {Quahogs}; 37a have a cow {Wig out}; 41a hinny {Rare equine hybrid}; 43a arr. {Flight ticket abbr.}; 44a Rafe {___ McCawley, Ben Affleck's role in "Pearl Harbor"}; 45a duty {Airport patrons often avoid it}; 46a omega {Series finale}; 48a in a {___ heap}; 49a cutesy {"Aww"-inspiring}; 51a élan {Bounce}; 52a vintage clothing {It was put on decades ago}; 55a enter into detail {Elaborate}; 56a lose one's balance {Tip over, say}.

1d smash-up {Bad traffic accident}; 2d taurine {Bullish}; 3d octaves {Musical series}; 4d chose {Drew a lot, say}; 5d Kia {Amanti maker}; 7d necrosed {Dead, as tissue}; 8d green architects {Ones concerned with sustainable design}; 9d sestet {Quatrain's longer relative}; 10d Taser {Real stunner}; 11d udos {Japanese salad plants}; 12d far {"___ out!"}; 13d FBI file {Dangerous thing to leak}; 15d restart {Result of jumping the gun}; 22d dreary {Overcast}; 24d lotsa {Mucho}; 27d errs {Goes off}; 28d come to {Total}; 31d pave {Smooth over}; 33d lazy slob {Epithet for an annoying roommate}; 34d shrivel {Decrease in vitality}; 38d Caelian {One of the seven hills of Rome}; 39d organic {Free of hormones, say}; 40d wrangle {Have words}; 42d butene {C4H8}; 45d dug in {Started on a course}; 53d tee {Sports supporter}; 54d tel. {Abbr. that might appear above "e-mail"}.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

NYT Thursday 7/29/10 Peter A. Collins - School's In

Although I sorted out the theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword fairly quickly, it got the better of me in the end, the NE corner in particular being a bit of a nightmare.

Progress didn't look great at the start, especially in the top half, and I got going best in the SW corner. I had 53-Across as stay alert with nine minutes on the clock, noted the hidden Yale and wondered if the theme related to that. I was now primed to recognize middle school at 3-Down and 44-Down, and the bottom half was completely filled after 13 minutes.

Charlie Chan, Mr Moto and Mr Wong
Charlie Chan, Mr Moto and Mr Wong
Fleshing out the skeletal top half from this point was very tricky. The grid was particularly excruciating at the top right where unknowns Harrah, Oland and yuks it up lie alongside each other. The little block just below it and to the right was equally bad, as I was not familiar with the relevant meaning of "whiff" at 25-Down ... in fact I didn't understand why whiff = miss until my researches for this blog.

There's much to admire in the grid, which works in a good number of obscure letters - surprisingly missing being pangrammatic through the absence of an F.
Solving time: 30 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 35d quandary {Bind}
Solution

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

Theme

Universities are hidden in the long across answers, as indicated by 3d/44d Middle School {With 44-Down, educational stage ... or a hint to the contents of 18-, 22-, 47- and 53-Across}.
18a sand rakes {Golf groundskeepers' tools} => Drake
22a Mile High Stadium {Broncos' home, once} => Lehigh
47a center ice circle {Place for an N.H.L. logo} => Rice
53a stay alert {"Keep your eyes open!"} => Yale
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.90)
Theme squares58 (30.4%)
Scrabble points333 (average 1.74)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



32a jugs {Rural musical instruments}. A jug band is a band employing a jug player and a mix of traditional and home-made instruments. These home-made instruments are ordinary objects adapted to or modified for making of sound, like the washtub bass, washboard, spoons, stovepipe and comb & tissue paper (kazoo). The term jug band is loosely used in referring to ensembles that also incorporate home-made instruments but that are more accurately called skiffle bands, spasm bands or juke (or jook) bands (see juke joint) because they are missing the required jug player. In the early days of jug band music, guitar and mandolins were sometimes made from the necks of discarded guitars fastened to large gourds. The gourds were flattened on one side, with a sound-hole cut into the flat side, before drying. Banjos were sometimes made from a discarded guitar neck and a metal pie plate.

The eponymous jug sound is made by taking a jug (usually made of glass or stoneware) and buzzing the lips into its mouth from about an inch away. As with brass instruments, changes in pitch are controlled by altering lip tension, and an accomplished jug player could have a two octave range. The stovepipe (usually a section of tin pipe, 3" or 4" in diameter) is played in much the same manner, with the pipe rather than the jug being the resonating chamber. There is some similarity to the didgeridoo, but there is no contact between the stovepipe and the player's lips. Some jug and stovepipe players utilize throat vocalization along with lip buzzing, as with the didgeridoo. The swooping sounds of the jug fill a musical role halfway between the trombone and sousaphone or tuba in Dixieland bands, playing mid- and lower-range harmonies in rhythm.

The Doctor is IN

9a Hoyas {Big East team}. I.e. the Georgetown Hoyas.

30a PDQ {[Snap snap]}. The square brackets indicate a non-verbal utterance, in this case snaps of the fingers encouraging rapid action, hence PDQ = pretty damn quick.

40a LAX {Flying Tiger Line hub, for short}. The Flying Tiger Line was a cargo airline based out of Los Angeles International Airport.

43a vox {It came out of Cicero's mouth}. vox = voice in Latin.

55a Boone {Battle of Blue Licks fighter, 1782}. Daniel Boone fought in the Battle of Blue Licks.

57a Eco {"Baudolino" novelist}. I.e. Umberto Eco.

60a ser {To be, in Baja}. to be = ser has been added to Español para los crucigramistas.

61a relos {Moves, briefly}. I.e. relocations.

10d Oland {Chan portrayer in film}. Warner Oland (1879–1938) was a Swedish actor.

25d miss {Whiff}. This could relate to the noun or verb sense of whiff: a failure to hit a ball or to fail to hit a ball.

32d Jax {N.F.L. team with teal jerseys, for short}. Reference to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

39d April {Fourth of 12}. April = fourth month of the years.

53d sac {Kind of fly, for short}. Reference to a sac(rifice) fly.

Image of the Day

The letter by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1655)
The letter by Gerard ter Borch (c. 1655)
5d ter {Dutch painter Gerard ___ Borch}. Gerard ter Borch (or Terburg) (1617–1681) was a Dutch genre painter, who lived in the Dutch Golden Age. Ter Borch's works are comparatively rare; only about eighty have been catalogued. Six of these are at the Hermitage, six at the Berlin Museum, five at the Louvre; four at the Dresden Museum, and two at the Wallace Collection.

Other Clues

1a admit {Take in}; 6a raw {With 55-Down, where to get oysters}; 14a toile {Decorative fabric}; 15a ewe {Milk source}; 16a -A-Lula {"Be-Bop-___"}; 17a Endor {Enchanted world in "Return of the Jedi"}; 20a ands {Added conditions}; 21a cisterns {Reservoirs}; 26a see? {"What did I tell you?"}; 27a inn {Stopover}; 28a ooh! {"Nice!"}; 29a tri- {Prefix with -nomial}; 31a Lux {Unilever soap brand}; 33a toque {Chef's hat}; 36a nor {Here/there separator}; 37a Tapes {"The Basement ___" (1975 Dylan album)}; 38a abut {Rest on}; 39a AOL {Internet giant}; 41a Loa {Mauna ___}; 42a rpm {Tach measure}; 44a sat {Rested}; 51a Dominica {Roseau is its capital}; 52a IHOP {Blue-roofed chain}; 56a aired {Showed}; 58a adoze {Napping}; 59a Clyde {River through Glasgow}.

1d A-teams {Starting groups}; 2d Donnie {___ Walsh, N.B.A. executive}; 4d I lose {"The pot's all yours"}; 6d resign {Bow out}; 7d awash {Inundated}; 8d went sour {Fell apart, as a deal}; 9d Harrah {Casino chain founder William F. ___}; 11d yuks it up {Has some laughs}; 12d ale {Bath suds?}; 13d SAS {Carrier that had a pioneering transpolar route}; 19d detox {Get clean}; 21d cinq {Quitting time in Québec, maybe}; 23d hide {Cow cover}; 24d urge {Press}; 30d put {Worded}; 31d LOL {Titter in a tweet}; 33d talc {Rash treatment}; 34d oboe {High-pitched wind}; 35d quandary {Bind}; 36d nominees {Some contenders}; 37d taxi! {Shout made with a raised arm}; 40d Loca {"Mi Vida ___," gritty 1994 drama set in L.A.}; 42d remade {Like "King Kong" and "Psycho"}; 43d vector {Airplane heading}; 45d Alonzo {Hoopster Mourning}; 46d tepees {Plain homes?}; 48d toyed {Flirted (with)}; 49d Circe {Sorceress on the island of Aeaea}; 50d Rio de {___ Oro}; 54d til {Up to, quickly}; 55d bar {See 6-Across}.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NYT Wednesday 7/28/10 Howard Baker - Elizaword Puzzle

My Fair Lady
My Fair Lady
This Wednesday New York Times crossword has a nice off-beat theme. It's not clear to me whether the crossword that Henry Higgins and Eliza are working has words with Hs (hosier etc) or without Hs (osier etc). If the former, then Eliza would have problems fitting in the answers; if the latter, then the Professor is presumably coming up with new clues on the fly to allow for the dropped Hs. Luckily, the crossword can be solved without this being clear.

I realized that Eliza-speak was involved after having spent about three minutes on the puzzle: 5-Across looked to be osier, but I could see that the "Stocking stocker" mentioned in the clue would lead to hosier. Mention of professor and pupil in this context strongly suggested dropped Hs were involved.

This made the remaining dropped H clues a whole lot more solvable and I got 'eats and 'ewer right away with no crossings; 'alter was a little tougher and couldn't be solved until I began to work the bottom middle area.

The other aspect of the theme - the "story behind" the dropped Hs - was tougher to unravel, particularly 17-Across, which surprisingly included another dropped H. That made it much harder to parse the answer. I didn't notice this during solving, but I now wonder at the inconsistency between the "professor" in the clues and "Mr." in 17-Across.

There were no major trouble-spots outside of the theme: I just got into a bit of a tangle by deciding {Tiny} at 51-Down must lead to petite. That accounts for the only evidence of erasures in my grid.

Incidentally, Pygmalion premiered in 1913, the same year Arthur Wynne invented the crossword puzzle. How neat to link them together in a theme like today's.
Solving time: 11 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 59d home {Pentagonal plate}
Solution

Howard Baker
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Four answers can only fit in the grid if an initial H is dropped, this being called for by 17a/27a/49a/63a Mr. 'Iggins and Miss Doolittle attempt to solve a crossword {The story behind 5-, 36-, 39- and 70-Across}.
5a 'osier {Professor says "Stocking stocker," pupil suggests ...} cf hosier
36a 'eats {Professor says "Qualifying races," pupil suggests ...} cf heats
39a 'ewer {Professor says "Ax wielder," pupil suggests ...} cf hewer
70a 'alter {Professor says "Equine restraint," pupil suggests ...} cf halter
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersHoward Baker / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares66 (34.9%)
Scrabble points265 (average 1.40)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



11d epilog {Feature of TV's "The Fugitive"}. The Fugitive is an American drama series produced by QM Productions and United Artists Television that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1967. David Janssen stars as Richard Kimble, a doctor from the fictional town of Stafford, Indiana, who is falsely convicted of his wife's murder and given the death penalty. En route to death row, Kimble's train derails and crashes, allowing him to escape and begin a cross-country search for the real killer, a "one-armed man" (played by Bill Raisch). At the same time, Dr. Kimble is hounded by the authorities, most notably by Stafford Police Lieutenant Philip Gerard (Barry Morse). Each episode is framed by a prolog and epilog, with voice-over by William Conrad.

The Doctor is IN

33a Uru. {Neighbor of Arg.}. Uru. = Uruguay.

38a artis {MGM motto ender}. The full motto being "Ars gratia artis" ("art for art's sake").

46a Endor {Biblical witch's home}. The Witch of Endor in the First Book of Samuel.

69a Neal {"Hud" Oscar winner}. Patricia Neal won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Alma Brown in Hud, co-starring with Paul Newman.

71a esas {Those, in Toledo}. Those = esas is in Español para los crucigramistas.

7d Ilsa {"Play it, Sam" speaker}. Ilsa Lund's "Play it, Sam" in Casablanca (1942) is the closest anyone gets to the misquotation "Play it again, Sam".

9d Randi {"Amazing" magician}. I.e. James Randi.

10d mom {Soccer or hockey follower}. Reference to "soccer moms" and "hockey moms".

28d or a {"... ___ mouse?"}. As in "are you a man or a mouse?".

47d Nicole {Paris's "The Simple Life" co-star}. The Simple Life co-starred Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

 65d Syr. {Onetime U.A.R. member}. Syria merged with Egypt to form the U.A.R. between 1958 and 1961.

Image of the Day

Halvah
Halvah
12d sesame {Halvah ingredient}. Halva (or halawa, haleweh, ħelwa, halvah, halava, helava, helva, halwa, aluva, chałwa) refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Balkans, and the Jewish world.
This term is used to describe two types of desserts:
  • Flour-based: This type of halva is slightly gelatinous and made from grain flour, typically semolina. The primary ingredients are oil, flour, and sugar.
  • Nut-butter-based: This type of halva is crumbly and usually made from Tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. The primary ingredients are nut-butter and sugar.
Halva may also be based on numerous other ingredients, including sunflower seeds, various nuts, beans, lentils, and vegetables such as carrots, pumpkins, yams, and squashes.

Other Clues

1a opts {Declines, with "out of"}; 10a mesa {Badlands formation}; 14a Hari {Mata ___}; 15a balsa {Model glider material}; 16a open {Still unfilled}; 20a scene {Public commotion}; 21a gaudy {Like much Vegas stagewear}; 22a law {Postgraduate field}; 23a Sara {Ramirez of "Spamalot"}; 25a income {1040 entry}; 32a eager {Ready to rock}; 34a wee lass {Bonny young girl}; 43a carrion {Buzzard's fare}; 45a -ese {Suffix with Brooklyn}; 52a diatom {Simple bit of plankton}; 54a roes {Some reddish deer}; 55a ich {"___ liebe dich"}; 56a seeth {Has in view, archaically}; 60a Pepsi {"Twice as much for a nickel" sloganeer, once}; 66a olio {Hodgepodge}; 67a roomy {Like limousines}; 68a -ette {Un-P.C. suffix, to many}.

1d ohms {Resistance units}; 2d parc {Parisian picnic spot}; 3d tries out {Goes for a spot on the team}; 4d signal {Prepare to turn}; 5d obi {Kobe sash}; 6d sang {Turned state's evidence}; 8d Esau {Genesis twin}; 13d answer {Respond to a knock}; 18d Geri {Ex-Spice Girl Halliwell}; 19d dynes {Force units}; 24d at war {Fighting it out}; 26d case {Docket item}; 27d due {Directly}; 29d terra {Earth, in sci-fi}; 30d let it {"___ ride" ("Don't change a thing")}; 31d Eliot {Poet whose work inspired "Cats"}; 35d Asner {Ed of "The Bronx Zoo"}; 37d Scot {Kilt wearer}; 40d wet spots {Signs of leaks}; 41d -est {Jocular suffix with "best"}; 42d REO {Flying Cloud automaker}; 44d arose {Came about}; 46d Edison {"Speaking machine" developer}; 48d dahlia {Mexico's national flower}; 50d mops {Beatlesque dos}; 51d peewee {Tiny}; 53d Meara {Anne of "Archie Bunker's Place"}; 57d ecol. {Life sci. course}; 58d trot {Gait slower than a canter}; 59d home {Pentagonal plate}; 61d Srta. {Madrid Mlle.}; 62d ides {Fateful day in the Roman senate}; 64d vol. {Solid geometry abbr.}.

Monday, July 26, 2010

NYT Tuesday 7/27/10 Mike Torch - On The Whole

This Tuesday New York Times crossword seemed really easy to me, taking slightly less time than yesterday's. It helped to have a very straightforward theme, and I wrote in nine yards with no cross-lights at all, the others mostly requiring just a few crossings to be recognizable. The exception was schmear which I've heard of seldom, if at all, in the thematic context.

VW T2 Campervan
Vee Dub
I took a few wrong turnings on the way down the grid today, going for neck {Nail-biting margin of victory} at 31-Across, then having pair for {Twosome} at 42-Across and Adonis for {Lover in a Shakespeare title} ... I guess randomly choosing a six-letter Shakespearean lover is a bit of a long shot. These missteps didn't seem to cost me much in terms of time, though.

Do people really call VWs Vee Dubs? I never heard that name used in the UK, despite having two VWs in my life. When I was growing up, our family had a J Reg Volkswagen Type 2, aka a "hippie van", and that was one of the earliest cars I drove. The first car I owned was a Volkswagen Golf, known by the less exciting-sounding name "Rabbit" in the USA.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 20a ailed {Had a bug}
Solution

Mike Torch
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

{The whole ___} idioms:
17a enchilada {The whole ___}
25a shebang {The whole ___}
38a shooting match {The whole ___}
51a schmear {The whole ___}
63a nine yards {The whole ___}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMike Torch / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares45 (24.3%)
Scrabble points279 (average 1.51)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



42d Das {"___ Boot"}. Das Boot ("The Boat") is a 1981 feature film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, adapted from a novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on U-219, served as a consultant, as did Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the captain of the real U-96. The film is the story of a single patrol of one World War II U-boat, U-96, and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country. The story is based on an amalgamation of the exploits of the real U-96, a Type VIIC-class U-boat commanded by Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, one of Germany's top U-boat "tonnage aces" during the war.

One of Petersen's goals was to guide the audience through "a journey to the edge of the mind" (the film's German tagline Eine Reise ans Ende des Verstandes), showing "what war is all about." The original 1981 version cost DM 32 million to make. The director's meticulous attention to detail resulted in a historically accurate film that was a critical and financial success, grossing over $80 million ($190.2 million in 2009 prices) worldwide between its two releases in 1981 and 1997. Its high production cost ranks it among the most expensive films in the history of German cinema. It was the second most expensive up until that time, after Metropolis.

The Doctor is IN

34a orator {William Jennings Bryan, for one}. William Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States.

68a Snape {Potter's potions professor}. Severus Snape in the Harry Potter book series.

26d Barts {St. ___ (Caribbean hot spot)}. St. Barts is the informal abbreviation of the French overseas collectivity of Saint Barthélemy.

39d hath {"Hell ___ no fury ..."}. The popular proverb paraphrases lines from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697).

Image of the Day

Prell shampoo
Prell – Vitally Alive – Marilyn Monroe

65a Prell {Shampoo brand}. Prell is a viscous, pearl green shampoo and conditioner product manufactured by Ultimark Products that according to its maker "...contains a unique “rinse clean” formula that provides a thick, rich lather for clean, healthy hair." Prell was introduced by Procter & Gamble in 1947. The original formula was a clear green concentrate packaged in a tube. In 1955 Prell was marketed for "women who wanted their hair to have that radiantly alive look". A woman held the Prell bottle with her hands on both sides, directly in front of her face. Prell and Head & Shoulders, also made by Procter & Gamble, were the two best-selling shampoos in the United States in June 1977. Procter & Gamble sold the brand to Prestige Brands International in November 1999. Prestige then sold Prell, along with its other two shampoo brands Denorex and Zincon, to Ultimark Products in October 2009 in order to focus more on their two larger segments, over-the-counter healthcare and household cleaning products.

Other Clues

1a SPCA {Pet welfare org.}; 5a Oslo {Nobel Peace Prize city}; 9a clues {This puzzle has 78}; 14a Hoya {Georgetown athlete}; 15a IHOP {Stack-serving chain, for short}; 16a lento {Slowly, on a score}; 19a odist {Pindar, notably}; 20a ailed {Had a bug}; 21a welts {Mementos of a caning}; 23a Vee Dub {Autodom's Beetle is one, slangily}; 30a ess {Double curve}; 31a nose {Nail-biting margin of victory}; 35a snap to {Regain consciousness suddenly}; 37a rise {React to a crowing rooster, say}; 42a dyad {Twosome}; 43a talons {Raptor's grippers}; 44a Antony {Lover in a Shakespeare title}; 47a secy. {Cabinet position: Abbr.}; 48a SRO {B'way success sign}; 53a swiped {Ran through, as a credit card}; 55a spews {Expels forcefully}; 58a anode {Battery terminal}; 59a get at {Subtly suggest}; 66a trio {Rock music's Rush, for one}; 67a neos {Revivalists, informally}; 69a sets {What the sun does at dusk}; 70a esta {This, in Toledo}.

1d sheave {Bundle, as wheat}; 2d ponies {Track bettors play them}; 3d cycles {Presoak, wash and rinse}; 4d aahed {Sounded content}; 5d oil {Salad bar bowlful}; 6d Shaw {Clarinetist Artie}; 7d lode {Prospector's strike}; 8d opals {Gems from Australia}; 9d closer {Ninth-inning hurler, often}; 10d led {Took charge}; 11d uni- {Prefix with -form}; 12d ETs {U.F.O. crew}; 13d sot {Sighter of pink elephants}; 18d I dunno! {"Beats me!"}; 22d tho {Even if, briefly}; 24d boat {Vehicle on a trailer, perhaps}; 27d -atic {Suffix with problem}; 28d nosh {Munch on chips, say}; 29d GRE {College sr.'s test}; 32d spit {Rotisserie rod}; 33d etnas {Lab burners of old}; 35d Sodom {Biblical sin city}; 36d ogle {Gawk at}; 38d sync {Align}; 40d mocs {Around-the-house footwear, for short}; 41d anyway {Nonetheless}; 45d nestle {Get cozy}; 46d yap {Talk, talk, talk}; 48d spores {Future ferns}; 49d red dot {Mark of a rifle's laser sight}; 50d Odessa {"The Battleship Potemkin" port}; 52d rents {Most Monopoly income}; 54d inane {Totally absurd}; 56d wire {Electrician's hookup}; 57d snit {Foul mood}; 59d GPS {Modern navigation tool, for short}; 60d -ern {Directional suffix}; 61d Tea {___ Party movement}; 62d alp {Tour de France peak}; 64d Eos {Aurora's counterpart}.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

NYT Monday 7/26/10 Janet R. Bender - I Should Coco

Did I miss a day, because I didn't find this New York Times crossword at all easy? As I worked along the downs it started badly: got tacit OK, but then (having noted tempo across) tried educe for {Draw forth} and metal for {Extracted ore}.

Then there was the crossing of Contra Costa at 17-Across and ETS at 8-Down. They couldn't have clued ETs as {Bug-eyed monsters}? I guessed right, influenced by the number of Spanish names with Costa in them ... but yes, it was a genuine guess.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
I like the theme though, which had me thinking of the slang "I should coco" for the title. I realized (1) that I wasn't sure of the spelling (in fact it's "I should cocoa") and (2) didn't know the origin (rhyming slang for "say so"). Rhyming slang is a wonderful invention that doesn't seem to have traveled well outside the UK.

It was amusing to see the clue {British soldier in the American Revolution} for 41-Down, as I visited Valley Forge for the first time yesterday, accompanied by Hub 1.0. It was one of the hottest days of the year and so very hard to imagine the privations of the Continental Army when they overwintered in 1777–1778.

Attention Blind Solvers and Their Friends

I've been asked to help publicize a new software program for vision-impaired crossword solvers. Called Blind Gamers Crossword Puzzle, it allows blind and partially sighted crossword solvers to tackle puzzles quite independently ... apparently the first product to do this.

BG Crossword Puzzle presents the solver with the same kind of information that a sighted solver gleans from the grid as the puzzle solution progresses. It communicates via SAPI voices on a Windows system. It talks to you (or spells out if required in standard English or international phonetics). The solver uses keyboard entries to communicate. 

The first question I had about the software was whether the Across Lite .PUZ format is supported, as that would really help take-up in the USA. Happily the answer is yes! Like all Spoonbill Software products, BG Crossword Puzzle is absolutely free.

This has made me think what I would do if I were to lose my sight. I guess I could ask Magdalen to read clues to me, as we enjoy solving puzzles together. But that might not always be convenient and there must be many vision-impaired solvers who have to, or want to, solve independently. I can see there's a definite need for this software and hope it does well.
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38d menu {It might start with "Starters"}
Solution

Janet R. Bender
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Two-part phrases where each part starts with CO.
17a Contra Costa {County ENE of San Francisco}
27a computer code {What a programmer writes}
43a Courtney Cox {Monica player on "Friends"}
57a common colds {Winter afflictions}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersJanet R. Bender / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares46 (24.3%)
Scrabble points304 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



50d Misty {"Play ___ for Me"}. Erroll Garner (1921–1977) was an American jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and ballads. His best-known composition, the ballad Misty, has become a jazz standard. The song plays a key role in the plot of the movie Play Misty for Me (1971). Clint Eastwood and Universal paid $25,000 to use the song in the film.

The Doctor is IN

38a más {"No ___!" ("Uncle!," in Spanish)}. more = más is in Español para los crucigramistas, "Uncle!" being in the "cry of surrender" sense. Where I came from (no, not ancient Rome!) we used pax.

8d ETS {Org. that produces college entrance exams}. ETS = Educational Testing Service, which administers tests such as the TOEFL and the GRE. All those abbreviations are just dandy for crosswords!

23d St. Croix {Largest of the Virgin Islands}. Saint Croix is the largest of the United States Virgin Islands.

Image of the Day

Three Gorges Dam

48a dam {China's Three Gorges project}. The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, located in the Yiling District of Yichang in China. It is the world's largest electricity-generating plant of any kind. The dam body was completed in 2006. Except for a ship lift, the originally planned components of the project were completed on October 30, 2008 when the 26th generator in the shore plant began commercial operation. Each generator has a capacity of 700 MW. Six additional generators in the underground power plant are not expected to become fully operational until 2011. Coupling the dam's 32 main generators with 2 smaller generators (50 MW each) to power the plant itself, the total electric generating capacity of the dam will eventually reach 22.5 GW.

Other Clues

1a tempo {Musical pace}; 6a Deere {Tractor maker John}; 11a zip {Do (up), as a fly}; 14a avian {Bird-related}; 15a enter {Opposite of exit}; 16a USA {___ Today (newspaper)}; 19a led {Was ahead}; 20a Ike {___ & Tina Turner Revue}; 21a etas {Greek H's}; 22a issues {Debate topics}; 24a Ted {Hall-of-Famer Williams}; 25a .com {End of many U.R.L.'s}; 26a Bret {___ Easton Ellis, author of "American Psycho"}; 32a oglers {They get an eyeful}; 35a sue {Take to court}; 36a RDAs {Nutritionists' nos.}; 37a pound {Hit with a hammer}; 39a soirs {Evenings in Paris}; 40a état {Coup d'___}; 41a reg. {Lowest-priced gas grade: Abbr.}; 42a Shinto {Japanese religion}; 46a Urdu {Language in Lahore}; 47a air {Broadcast}; 51a big Mac {Alternative to a Quarter Pounder}; 54a shot {Photographed}; 55a oui {"Yes, madame"}; 56a Ava {Palindromic girl's name}; 60a Jew {Observer of Yom Kippur}; 61a taboo {Eating pork, to an observant 60-Across}; 62a unlit {Dark, as a room}; 63a ask {Pose a question}; 64a stags {Does' companions}; 65a testy {Irascible}.

1d tacit {Implied}; 2d evoke {Draw forth}; 3d mined {Extracted ore}; 4d pat {Butter serving}; 5d on record {Publicly known}; 6d decamp {Leave suddenly}; 7d Enos {Grandson of Adam}; 9d retiree {Pensioner}; 10d eraser {Blackboard accessory}; 11d Zulu {Native of eastern South Africa}; 12d I see {"Oh, right"}; 13d pads {Goalie protectors}; 18d atoms {Elementary units}; 26d BTUs {A/C measures}; 27d Centrum {Vitamin brand promoted as "Complete from A to Zinc"}; 28d usage {Custom}; 29d Odin {Chief Norse god}; 30d dart {Missile that might be tipped with curare}; 31d Esso {Old U.S. gas brand}; 32d OPEC {Source of some of the oil for 31-Down}; 33d go to {Attend}; 34d luau {Hawaiian feast}; 38d menu {It might start with "Starters"}; 39d shortcut {Clever travel suggestion}; 41d redcoat {British soldier in the American Revolution}; 42d scion {Offspring}; 44d tracts {Political pamphlets}; 45d yahoos {Brutes in "Gulliver's Travels"}; 48d dolls {Ken and Barbie}; 49d audit {Cheating bookkeeper's fear}; 51d Baja {Lower California, for short}; 52d Ives {Burl who won an Oscar for "The Big Country"}; 53d gawk {Get an eyeful}; 54d smog {Pollution that may sting the eyes}; 58d MBA {Deg. from Wharton}; 59d one {Last number in a countdown}.

NPR Puzzle 7/25/10 - Word Botching

Hi, this is Crossword Man standing in for Magdalen who is in Florida for a conference this week. She chose a fine time to be away, as everything is different today. Please bear with me if I botch my words.

Today's NPR challenge is:
Come up with a riddle that starts off with "What's the difference between" and involves a spoonerism. A spoonerism is when consonant sounds are interchanged. For example, "What's the difference between an ornithologist and a loser in a spelling bee?" The answer: "One is a bird watcher, and the other is a word botcher."
On air, Will also said that he's going to judge entries on the basis of their "originality, cleverness and naturalness of syntax". Note that the deadline is Thursday August 5th and, for once, more than one entry per person is permitted! You can submit entries to NPR here.

Readers are also welcome to email what they entered to Magdalen at CrosswordMan.com who will publish them after the deadline, with our choice of which we think is the best.

Here's an unoriginal example I came up with, and I'll leave you to work out the punchline: what's the difference between an ace detective and a thorough masseuse?

ace detective through masseuse
ace detective thorough masseuse


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 challenge above.

No one got close to "around 4,000 entries" for last week's challenge, although I was nearest with my guess of 2,500 to 3,000! It's interesting to see NPR got a huge "postbag" for the tiger puzzle, after a run of seemingly easy ones that didn't get a big response.

Liane's wording requires a new competition rule today: if the response is said to be "around N", then we are going to assume that's the same as "just below N". A bit arbitrary, but we can't have two people fighting over our awesome prizes.
Want to win that awesome prize?  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, which will be on August 5th for this special two-week competition.  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.