Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NYT Wednesday 9/1/10 Michael Torch - Saltings

Despite my background (long ago) in Chemistry it took a while for me to work out the theme of this Wednesday New York Times crossword: I got the barnacle in 17-Across, then - finding it hard to make headway through the middle - the theme-defining answer add a pinch of salt with four minutes gone.

Still it didn't sink in until I put the manacles on the end of 46-Across: manacles and barnacle in the same grid couldn't be a coincidence, so I then knew an insert-and-pun theme was on offer, hastening the completion of the puzzle.

cat and fishI feel justified in being held up by the central rows, as they're relatively cut off, with the theme answers standing sentinel ... and the cluing seemed a little tougher there: the area of ward, Sasha and crown gave the most trouble. Sent COD caused some racking of brains here: you don't hear it much nowadays, and I wonder if the constructor was tempted to define it in terms of fish. Under what circumstances would you be sent cod?

Nice to see an étui carrying something a little more hip and trendy than needlework ... today it's a {French CD holder}. I guess to the younger generation, CDs must seem terribly old hat now. C'est la vie, étui!
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 5a Avon {It has ringers on its team}
Solution

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

Theme

NaCl (i.e. sodium chloride, salt) is inserted into a phrase, making a pun; this being indicated by 61a add a pinch of salt {Cooking instruction hinting at this puzzle's theme?}.
17a barnacle chested {Like a sunken treasure?} cf bare-chested
28a Scotch pinnacle {High place near Aberdeen?} cf Scotch pine
46a Fannie manacles {Restraints for writer Flagg?} cf Fannie Mae
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersMichael Torch / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares58 (31.0%)
Scrabble points300 (average 1.60)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



70a yeah {When sung three times, part of a Beatles refrain}. I'm assuming this refers to the iconic She Loves You (Beatles experts, please let me know of any other songs that meet the clue). She Loves You was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney based on an idea by McCartney, originally recorded by The Beatles for release as a single in 1963. The single set and surpassed several records in the United Kingdom charts, and set a record in the United States by being one of the five Beatles songs which held the top five positions in the American charts simultaneously. It is the Beatles' best-selling single in the United Kingdom, and was the best selling single in Britain in 1963.

The British music establishment at that time found the word "yeah" controversial. National radio in the form of the BBC broadcast the single and "in some quarters it was seen to hail the collapse of civilised society". Lennon, being mindful of Elvis Presley's All Shook Up, wanted something equally as stirring: "I don't know where the 'yeah yeah yeah' came from. I remember when Elvis did "All Shook Up" it was the first time in my life that I had heard 'uh huh', 'oh yeah', and 'yeah yeah' all sung in the same song". "The 'wooooo' was taken from The Isley Brothers' 'Twist And Shout'. We stuck it in everything". McCartney recalls them playing the finished song on acoustic guitars to his father at home immediately after the song was completed: "We went into the living room [and said] 'Dad, listen to this. What do you think? And he said 'That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you sing "She loves you, yes, yes, yes!". At which point we collapsed in a heap and said 'No, Dad, you don't quite get it!'".

The Doctor is IN

5a Avon {It has ringers on its team}. Reference to Avon Products, famous for their door-to-door sales force.

20a soft C {Third of December?}. The third letter of "December" is a soft C in the pronunciation.

26a Erin {Secretary on "The Office"}. Erin Hannon, played by Ellie Kemper.

37a oso {Spanish bear}. (He) bear = oso is in Español para los crucigramistas.

38a tornado {"The Wizard of Oz" weather event}. Dorothy and Toto are transported to the Land of Oz by a tornado.

69a rats! {Cry from Charlie Brown}. rats! is Charlie Brown's cry of frustration in Peanuts.

4d sent COD {Not yet paid for, as a mailed package}. COD = collect on delivery aka cash on delivery.

10d Mt Sinai {Tablets site}. Referencing the Ten Commandments.

11d bits {Partner of pieces}. Reference to the idiom "bits and pieces".

29d crown {Bonk}. Equivalents in the sense of "hit (on the head)".

52d mags {High-performance wheels}. magsmagnesium alloy wheels.

Image of the Day

NERF machine gun
The Vulcan EBF-25, an electric, belt-fed NERF machine gun. The belts hold 25 rounds each.
3d Nerf {Hasbro product}. Nerf (trademarked in capitals as NERF) is a toy, created for safe indoor play, that either shoots or is made of foam-like material. The acronym NERF stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam. Most of the toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry, but there were also several different types of Nerf toys, such as balls for sports like football, basketball, and others. The most notable of the toys are the dart guns (referred to by Hasbro as "blasters") that shoot ammunition made from Nerf foam. Since many such items were released throughout the 1980s, they often featured bright neon colors and soft textures similar to the flagship Nerf ball. The product slogan frequently used from the 1990s advertising is "It's Nerf or nothing!"

Other Clues

1a bins {Lost-and-found containers}; 9a umber {Brown shade}; 14a I see {"Got it"}; 15a Ragú {Sauce brand}; 16a stile {Subway station sight}; 21a ELO {Grp. with the platinum record "A New World Record"}; 22a isms {Systems of principles}; 23a choc {Ice cream flavor, briefly}; 34a ward {One in custody}; 35a tea {Breakfast cupful}; 36a tiled {Like most bathrooms}; 41a aga {Eastern V.I.P.}; 42a oh wow! {"Amazing!"}; 44a doe {One fawning}; 45a from {Gift tag word}; 50a Etta {James who sang "A Sunday Kind of Love"}; 51a elhi {Like some textbooks}; 52a moan {Complain}; 55a urn {Grecian art object}; 57a eerie {Creepy}; 65a gizmo {Thingy}; 66a East {A.L. or N.L. division}; 67a bric {___-a-brac}; 68a sneer {Look of superiority}.

1d bibs {Places for double dribbles?}; 2d Isao {Golfer Aoki}; 5d arc {Shot put's path}; 6d Val {Kilmer of "Real Genius"}; 7d ogee {Kind of arch}; 8d nuclei {Centers}; 9d use {Consume}; 12d elem. {Part of 51-Across: Abbr.}; 13d reds {Some wines}; 18d acht {Number after sieben}; 19d horn {Honker}; 24d octo- {Eight: Prefix}; 25d Cher {Singer with a Best Actress Oscar}; 27d into {Loving}; 28d Sasha {Olympic skater Cohen}; 30d panda {2008 Beijing Olympics mascot}; 31d Clare {Irish county north of Limerick}; 32d Legos {Building set}; 33d Edam {Mild cheese}; 34d woof {Pound sound}; 38d twit {Dweeb}; 39d A-one {Super-duper}; 40d deal {25%-off price, e.g.}; 43d one name {What Shakira or 25-Down goes by}; 45d flies by {Passes quickly}; 47d étui {French CD holder}; 48d Marner {"Silas ___"}; 49d chef {Julia Child, for one}; 53d Odin {Thor's father}; 54d adze {Wood shaper}; 56d NCAA {Org. with Divisions I, II and III}; 58d rare {Exceptional}; 59d ilia {Pelvic bones}; 60d etch {Mark permanently}; 62d por {___ favor}; 63d HST {Pres. initials}; 64d OTs {Periods of extra mins.}.

Monday, August 30, 2010

NYT Tuesday 8/31/10 Paula Gamache and Ed Stein - Double Crossers

Once fathomed, the theme of this Tuesday New York Times crossword turned out to be extremely helpful: the puzzle ended up a very easy solve, taking around the same time as yesterday's. I suspect only the "rule-breaking" wackiness of the idea pushed it slightly later in the week.

Having solved 20-Across as exploit, I couldn't quite believe that 4-Down had the same answer. Some mistake, shurely? But once I accepted this was actually happening, and must be our cruciverbal fun for the day, I proceeded to "take advantage of" the knowledge at every opportunity - and there was no shortage of such, as the theme squares occupy more than a third of the grid today.

Wall of bottles laying down in the Joseph Drouhin cellar
Wall of bottles lying down in the Joseph Drouhin cellar
I missed seeing an explanatory answer, but I've put what I suspect it might have made a good title ... if the NYT went in for such things on a weekday ... in the title of the post.

Outside of the theme, there was nothing too troublesome. I did pause over 68a last {In the cellar}, as it's an idiom I've never encountered before. My first thought was the clue related to wine. But when I got the answer from crossings, it seemed plausible as referring to athletic standings. If "in the cellar" means last, what is used for being top of the standings? "in the attic" or "on the roof"? perhaps that's not high enough ... how about "with the angels"?
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 33d idea {Invention starter}
Solution

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

Theme

The same seven-letter word appears across and down, intersecting at the central letter, clued using different meanings of the word:
20a exploit {Bit of derring-do}
4d exploit {Take advantage of}

22a present {Here and now}
10d present {Show, in a show-and-tell}

39a address {Lincoln's famous one was just 272 words}
25d address {Prepare to drive, as a golf ball}

56a incense {Aromatic sticks}
44d incense {Make boiling mad}

58a console {Home entertainment centerpiece}
47d console {Say "There, there" to, say}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersPaula Gamache and Ed Stein / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares65 (34.4%)
Scrabble points297 (average 1.57)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



51d Viggo {"The Road" star Mortensen}. Viggo Mortensen is a Danish actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter. He is best known for his roles as Aragorn in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Tom Stall in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence, and his Academy Award-nominated role as Nikolai Luzhin in Cronenberg's Eastern Promises. He also starred in the 2009 film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road, as "The Man".

The Doctor is IN

5a Esth. {Only O.T. book that never mentions God: Abbr.}. Esth. = Esther.

16a Prego {Ragú rival}. Prego and Ragú are pasta sauce brands.

18a PFCs {Ones ranking below cpls.}. PFC = Private First Class.

26a Odette {"Swan Lake" swan}. Odette is the "good" swan, and Odile the "bad" swan, in the ballet Swan Lake.

68a last {In the cellar}. cellar n. the lowest place in the standings (as of an athletic league) [MWCD11].

41d salon {Permanent provider}. perm is a shortening of permanent or permanent wave.

Image of the Day

Amati at the National Music Museum - Vermillion, SD
Amati at the National Music Museum - Vermillion, SD
32a Amati {Cremona craftsman}. Amati is the name of a family of Italian violin makers, who flourished at Cremona from about 1549 to 1740. Andrea Amati (ca. 1505 – ca. 1578) was the earliest maker of violins whose instruments still survive today; indeed he seems more or less responsible for giving the instruments of the modern violin family their definitive profile. He was succeeded by his sons Antonio Amati (born ca. 1550) and Girolamo Amati (1551–1635); "The Brothers Amati", as they were known, implemented far-reaching innovations in design, including the perfection of the shape of the f-holes. Nicolò Amati (1596–1684) was the son of Girolamo Amati; he was the most eminent of the family, and improved the model adopted by the rest of the Amatis, producing instruments capable of yielding greater power of tone; of his pupils, the most famous were Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Guarneri, the first of the Guarneri family of violin makers.

Other Clues

1a bite {Nosh}; 9a Sprat {Jack who could eat no fat}; 14a Amex {Certain charge card, informally}; 15a solo {Aria, typically}; 17a lamp {Tiffany creation}; 19a eeler {Conger catcher}; 24a omega {Alpha's opposite}; 27a rewind {Put the tape back to the start}; 30a Delon {French actor Alain}; 33a idyl {Pastoral poem}; 34a trap {Big mouth, slangily}; 38a HMS {___ Pinafore}; 42a enl. {Photo blowup: Abbr.}; 43a mahi {When doubled, a food fish}; 45a reed {Oboe or clarinet}; 46a acute {Less than 90 degrees}; 48a NCAAs {Big tournaments for university teams, informally}; 50a eloped {Fled to wed}; 51a Viacom {Nickelodeon's parent company}; 54a Saxon {Anglo-___}; 62a gland {Producer of sweat and tears, but not blood}; 63a do it! {"Go ahead!"}; 65a over {Done}; 66a gesso {Painting surface}; 67a Audi {Auto on the autobahn}; 69a otter {Web-footed mammal}; 70a misc. {Catchall abbreviation}; 71a else {"What ___?"}.

1d bale {Unit of cotton}; 2d IMAX {Supersized movie screen format}; 3d temp {Short-term worker, for short}; 5d espied {Spotted}; 6d soft G {Start of either syllable in "ginger"}; 7d TLC {An attentive doc gives it to a patient}; 8d hosp. {Doctor's place: Abbr.}; 9d Speedo {Swimwear brand}; 11d relet {Lease to a new tenant}; 12d agent {15-percenter}; 13d torte {Rich cake}; 21d omnia {___ vincit amor}; 23d Rolls {Status symbol car, familiarly}; 27d Rahm {Obama adviser Emanuel}; 28d Emma {Austen novel}; 29d wash {Get the grime off}; 31d eyed {Gave the once-over}; 33d idea {Invention starter}; 35d re-up {Sign on for another tour}; 36d ante {A chip or two to start with}; 37d pled {Said "Not guilty!," e.g.}; 40d drams {Small amounts}; 49d condor {Flier with a 10-foot wingspan}; 50d exotic {Wonderfully foreign}; 52d inlet {Fjord, e.g.}; 53d a cast {"With ___ of thousands!" (movie ad boast)}; 55d acids {They turn litmus paper red}; 57d Edam {Cheese with a red coat}; 59d oval {Ellipsoid}; 60d less {Minus}; 61d Erté {Art Deco artist}; 64d oui {Non's opposite}.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

NYT Monday 8/30/10 Richard Chisholm - Ambidextrously

I really tried very hard to figure out the theme of this Monday New York Times crossword as I was solving it, glancing back several times at the completed theme answers to look for patterns. No luck.

Even when I got as far as 59a two hands, I was none the wiser; it only occurred to me to consider hand following each part after I'd finished; and only because it's a common device ... I'm not sure that the theme answers are literally two hands (something implied by the final theme clue).

This for me was one of the harder Monday puzzles: perhaps due to occasionally unspecific cluing ... e.g. 45d {Blazing} allows for a few possibilities; plus this was my first encounter with C.P.O. Sharkey, Dees Ruby and Sandra, not to mention Gail Collins (maybe it would help if I actually looked at more than just the crossword in the NYT). Such gaps in my knowledge invariably take a while to work around.

Having encountered the Oto(e) tribe more times than I can count in crosswords, they're finally coming to life for me as I read the Journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition. I'm looking forward to being enlightened further on the role of Sacagawea and her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau aka Pomp or Pompy (I don't think he's been clued as such in a crossword, but I'll be ready when it happens!).
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 67a owl {Bird that gives a hoot}
Solution

Richard Chisholm
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Two-part answers, both sides of which can be followed by HAND; this being explained by 59a two hands {Things a clock has ... or, literally, what 17-, 25-, 35- and 50-Across are}.
17a off-stage {Where Claudius is during Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy} cf offhand, stage-hand
25a before long {Any time now} cf beforehand, longhand
35a second helping {Extra plateful} cf second hand, helping hand
50a right field {Position for Babe Ruth} cf right-hand, field hand
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersRichard Chisholm / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares51 (27.0%)
Scrabble points300 (average 1.59)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



42d C.P.O. {"___ Sharkey" of 1970s TV}. C.P.O. Sharkey is an American sitcom which aired from 1976 to 1978 on NBC. The series starred Don Rickles as a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. C.P.O. Otto Sharkey was an abrasive, sharp-tongued veteran in charge of a company of new Seaman Recruits on a San Diego naval base. Rickles is famous for his jokes about various ethnicities and this show provided him with a vehicle for his politically incorrect humor. The young company consisted of Daniels, an African-American; Kowalski, a Polish-American; Skolnick, a Jewish-American, Mignone, an Italian-American and Rodriguez, an Hispanic-American. Sharkey's best friend on the base was Chief Robinson (Harrison Page) who was African-American.

The Doctor is IN

29d SROs {Sellout signs}. SRO = standing-room only.

44d Giants {San Francisco nine}. I.e. the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

Image of the Day

peanut butters

2d Jif {Skippy alternative}. Peanut butter is one of many examples of food products where there's little commonality of naming across the Atlantic. In fact I think of Jif as a household cleaner, although I understand Unilever have now renamed their cleaning products to Cif in the UK, in the interests of marketing harmonization. What would I have to talk about without all these naming differences?

Jif is made by The J.M. Smucker Co. and is the leading brand in the US apparently. Skippy is interesting because Percy Crosby, creator of the "Skippy" comic strip, objected to the trademarking of the name - apparently litigation has been in progress on this point since 1934 with no sign of a conclusion being reached.

Other Clues

1a PJs {Sleepwear, informally}; 4a SFPD {Law enforcement org. featured in "Bullitt"}; 8a somber {Like a requiem}; 14a Rio {___ de Janeiro}; 15a Ilie {Tennis's Nastase}; 16a Quayle {Former vice president Dan}; 19a unseat {Defeat, as an incumbent}; 20a thump {More than a gentle tap}; 21a Bic {Inexpensive pen}; 22a Nia {Actress Vardalos of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"}; 23a posy {Bouquet}; 28a -eth {Biblical verb ending}; 29a senior {12th grader}; 30a ewes {Rams' madams?}; 31a wooer {One who goes a-courting}; 33a Snead {Three-time Masters winner Sam}; 40a a sore {Stick out like ___ thumb}; 41a Eniac {Early computer that weighed 30 tons}; 43a agas {Old Turkish leaders}; 46a toy car {Matchbox racer}; 49a nip {Tiny bite}; 52a St Lo {Normandy battle site}; 53a Tal {1960s world chess champion Mikhail ___}; 54a Rod {Tennis legend Laver}; 55a orate {Make a grand speech}; 57a inaner {More nonsensical}; 62a stream {Creek}; 63a Unis {Les États-___}; 64a Deo {___ gratias (thanks be to God: Lat.)}; 65a tsetse {Feared African fly}; 66a esto {This, in Tijuana}; 67a owl {Bird that gives a hoot}.

1d pro {___ or con}; 3d soft-shoe {Form of tap dance}; 4d situ {In ___ (as found)}; 5d flambé {Served on fire, as cherries jubilee}; 6d pigpen {Sty}; 7d Dee {Ruby or Sandra of film}; 8d squirrel {Acorn lover}; 9d ounce {1/16 pound}; 10d MAs {Some grad school degrees}; 11d bye now {"See ya later"}; 12d Elaine {Actress/director May}; 13d retags {Changes the price of, as at the supermarket}; 18d shy {Reluctant to meet people, say}; 21d Boone {Frontiersman Daniel}; 23d pew {Sunday seat}; 24d Otos {Plains tribe}; 26d fisheye {Kind of lens with a wide angle}; 27d led in {Saw to a seat at church, say}; 32d Ecash {Online money}; 34d aper {Copycat}; 36d not for me {"No thank you"}; 37d droid {R2-D2, for one}; 38d Nintendo {Video game maker that owns the Seattle Mariners}; 39d Gail {Collins on the Op-Ed page}; 43d artist {Warhol or Wyeth}; 45d aglare {Blazing}; 47d clowns {Performers with big red noses}; 48d adroit {Dexterous}; 51d treas. {Club finance officer: Abbr.}; 52d sta. {Depot: Abbr.}; 56d ah so {"I see," facetiously}; 58d net {Butterfly catcher}; 59d Tue. {U.S. Election Day, e.g.: Abbr.}; 60d dew {Morning moisture}; 61d sol {Note above fa}.

NPR Puzzle 8/29/10 - I'm Sorry, Did You Just Cough?

Here's this week's puzzle:
Take the word "bookman." Change one letter and rearrange the others to name a famous writer. Who is it?
That was easy.  Or maybe we all have colds in the Crossword Man household.  We'll find out next week, by which time we should be feeling better.

Don't forget -- and Anonymous, I'm talking to you! -- if you KNOW the answer, don't send it to us, don't write it in the comments, but do click here so you can submit it properly to NPR.  Thanks.

Hey, Natasha won this week's Pick-a-Range contest!  Whoo-hoo! Congratulations, Natasha.  Email your address to Magdalen or Ross at Crosswordman.com.  We'll get your prize out to you in the next couple days.  (And no hints about what it is, Mendo Jim -- although yours may not have arrived yet -- so that it's a big surprise for Natasha.)

In this week's photo session, I've got pictorial representations of some less well-known titles of this week's bookman.  Trust me, it's highly unlikely that you'll solve the puzzle from any of these, but you're welcome to figure out what I was going for AFTER you've solved the puzzle.





You can click on any of these photos to read more about them, and the titles of our bookman's works are right there.  They just aren't famous titles...

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 bookman challenge above.  If you want to win that awesome prize (because we have just one left*), 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.
 
* And then we'll have to get a new sort of prize.  Remember, troublemakers get the American Girl puzzle book, so play nice.  :-)

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.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

NYT Sunday 8/29/10 Derek Bowman - Alphabetti Spaghetti

The theme for this jumbo New York Times crossword seemed most mysterious: I can't remember another instance where we'd worked out nearly half the answers before deducing what was going on. Seeing "run" in the title, I wondered if gray hairs might involve and pun on hares; I also had to run back to the computer to see if the Across Lite puzzle was accompanied by the famous "notepad". We finally got the idea after spotting the juxtaposition of inside job and kitty litter ... a sequence that could be no accident.

The penny now having dropped, we could write in the initial letters for the remaining theme answers; their clues became a whole lot easier too. But the theme rather lacked entertainment value vis-à-vis the usual punny fare on a Sunday, where each theme answer involves some new twist on the joke: today's crossword seems more of a constructor's puzzle, to be admired for the achievement of thinking up a novel idea and pulling it off with some Flair - note that the grid has a highish 129 theme squares, apart from the central mixed nuts, disposed in rows with just a single black square.

Writing up this report, I note that Winter X Games isn't quite consistent, being three "words" (at least according to Wikipedia ... other sources might well hyphenate X-Games). The difficulty could perhaps have been worked around if the WX answer had been nine-letter, allowing the familiar Windows XP as an answer; perhaps that was considered, but created other worse problems elsewhere? An amusing 12-letter alternative I came across was Wonka Xploder, but I'm guessing that obsolete candy bar is even less familiar than the Winter X Games.

to talk with God, you don't need a cellphoneDespite the grid size, there were few trouble spots today ... but then it's rare for Magdalen and I to both be ignorant of both answers confirming a square. The trickiest crossing was that of 53a Neale {"Conversations With God" author ___ Donald Walsch} and 37d Benigni {Oscar winner for "Life Is Beautiful"}; seeing how the area was shaping up, I guessed Peale and we needed to be on our toes to later notice that Bepigni was highly unlikely and make the correction.
Solving time: 30 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 106a used vehicle {It's got some miles on it}
Solution

Derek Bowman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Going for a Run". Theme answers are two-part phrases whose initial letters form an alphabetical sequence from AB through to YZ:
22a army brat {Kid constantly switching schools, maybe}
23a carbon dating {Age-revealing method}
29a exhaust fans {Stale air removers}
33a gray hairs {Supposed results of stress}
58a inside job {Embezzlement, e.g.}
60a kitty litter {Pet shop purchase}
68a mixed nuts {Party bowlful}
78a outer planet {Pluto, e.g., before it was plutoed}
81a quick read {Harlequin romance, e.g.}
101a speed trap {Leadfoot's downfall}
106a used vehicle {It's got some miles on it}
117a Winter X Games {Annual sports event since 1997}
120a year zero {Beginning of time?}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersDerek Bowman / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 76 (17.2%) black squares
Answers136 (average length 5.37)
Theme squares129 (35.3%)
Scrabble points636 (average 1.74)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeaturePangrammatic
Video of the Day



77a Ain't I {"___ a Woman?" (Sojourner Truth speech delivered in 1851 in 71-Across)}. Ain't I A Woman? is the name given to a speech, delivered extemporaneously, by Sojourner Truth, (1797–1883), born Isabella Baumfree, a slave, in New York State. Some time after gaining her freedom in 1827, she became a well known anti-slavery speaker. Her speech, which became known as Ain't I a Woman?, was delivered at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio on May 29, 1851. Truth argued that while American culture often placed white women upon a pedestal and gave them certain privileges (most notably that of not working), this attitude was not extended to black women. Above it's read by Alfre Woodard.

The Doctor is IN

26a KSU {The Wildcats, for short}. KSU = Kansas State University really ought to be in The Crucy League.

89a Sheba {Title dog in an Inge play}. Sheba of Come Back, Little Sheba is a Cruciverbal Canine.

4d Ebb {"Cabaret" lyricist}. Fred Ebb (1928–2004) of Kander and Ebb.

9d Mr Big {"Sex and the City" character also known as John}. John Preston, played by Chris Noth.

34d HSN {Cable inits. for sales pitches}. HSN = Home Shopping Network.

37d Benigni {Oscar winner for "Life Is Beautiful"}. Actor, comedian, screenwriter and director Roberto Benigni.

80d Ned {Nancy Drew's beau}. I.e. Ned Nickerson.

83d IGA {Supermarket with a red oval logo}. IGA = Independent Grocers Alliance.

Image of the Day

an unknown Humber Humberette from about 1912
an unknown Humber Humberette from about 1912
84d cyclecars {Low-cost, lightweight autos of the 1910s-'20s}. Cyclecars were small, generally inexpensive cars manufactured mainly between 1910 and the late 1920s. They were propelled by single cylinder, V-twin or more rarely four cylinder engines, often air cooled. Sometimes these had been originally used in motorcycles and other components from this source such as gearboxes were also employed. Cyclecars were half way between motorcycles and cars and were fitted with lightweight bodies, sometimes in a tandem two-seater configuration and could be primitive with minimal comfort and weather protection. They used various layouts and means of transmitting the engine power to the wheels, such as belt drive or chain drive often to one rear wheel only to avoid having to provide a differential.

Other Clues

1a booed {Like villains}; 6a Velma {Middleton who sang with Louis Armstrong}; 11a prams {They might carry babies in nappies}; 16a Pooh-Bahs {Muckety-mucks}; 19a alarm {Cell phone feature}; 20a aisles {Auditorium features}; 25a cape {Headless Horseman's wear}; 27a pained {Kind of expression}; 28a riot {Real cutup}; 35a HRH {Danielle Steel novel about a European princess}; 36a Loeb {Lisa with the #1 hit "Stay (I Missed You)"}; 38a arfs {Barks}; 39a och {"Gee," in Glasgow}; 42a late-model {Newer, as a car}; 46a intro {"Ladies and gentlemen ...," e.g.}; 50a Moab {Biblical kingdom}; 52a Dansk {Big name in dinnerware}; 53a Neale {"Conversations With God" author ___ Donald Walsch}; 56a Kent {British American Tobacco brand}; 62a stake {Gamble}; 63a orig. {Not an imit.}; 65a weds {Makes one}; 66a UPI {Reuters competitor}; 67a sic 'em {Words a house burglar doesn't want to hear}; 71a Akron {Highest point on the Ohio & Erie Canal}; 73a in a {"___ moment"}; 74a USAF {Thunderbirds' org.}; 76a vain {Like peacocks}; 85a neck {Isthmus}; 86a liter {Wine order}; 87a bulgy {Protuberant}; 88a set a {___ precedent}; 91a diplomacy {Delicate skill}; 94a sod {Cover some ground}; 95a Otts {Cards once traded for Gehrigs, say}; 98a erat {Part of Q.E.D.}; 99a La-Z- {___-Boy (brand of furniture)}; 112a olés {Some World Cup cheers}; 113a eagled {Was two under}; 115a Ric {Flair of pro wrestling}; 116a grog {Matey's libation}; 122a sesame {Bagel request}; 123a e-zine {Online mag}; 124a stream in {Arrive continuously}; 125a synod {Religious council}; 126a darts {Around the Clock is a version of this}; 127a sages {Solomons}.

1d borax {Antiseptic agent}; 2d oomph {Zip}; 3d oh yeah! {"You bet!"}; 5d dark shade {Navy, e.g.}; 6d vac {Cleaner, for short}; 7d elapsed {Went by}; 8d Lara {Newswoman Logan}; 10d Amon-Ra {Egyptian god of the universe}; 11d paddy-field {Rice source}; 12d ria {Small inlet}; 13d astra {"Per ardua ad ___" (Royal Air Force motto)}; 14d MLIII {900 years before Queen Elizabeth was crowned}; 15d Señor {Mister abroad}; 16d pace {Tempo}; 17d hast {Own, in the past}; 18d Stuf {Double ___ (Oreo variety)}; 21d Sgts. {Some police personnel: Abbr.}; 24d near {About}; 30d URL {Web address}; 31d alms box {Donation location}; 32d nook {Cozy spot}; 39d omission {Skipping}; 40d continues {Carries on}; 41d has a catch {Is not as easy as it seems}; 43d Taj {Atlantic City hot spot, with "the"}; 44d Eno {Musician Brian}; 45d let {Court cry}; 47d tkt {Purchase at a booth: Abbr.}; 48d returnees {Soldiers home from service, e.g.}; 49d one potato {Start of a popular children's rhyme}; 51d bike {Hog}; 54d at. wt. {Elementary figure: Abbr.}; 55d lyes {Corrosive cleaning agents}; 57d Trinidad {Where the limbo dance originated}; 59d demur {Object}; 60d kid at {Be a ___ heart}; 61d Isaak {Chris with the top 10 hit "Wicked Game"}; 64d reverie {Woolgathering}; 68d Mali {Where the Senegal River begins}; 69d if at {"___ all possible"}; 70d unquote {Citation's end}; 72d kirs {White wine cocktails}; 75d splattered {Like aprons, at times}; 79d eke {Squeeze (out)}; 82d Ulm {Locale of an 1805 Napoleon victory}; 87d Blas {Lesage book "Gil ___"}; 90d bod {Gymgoer's pride}; 92d prudent {Sensible}; 93d yah {Derisive call}; 96d Trax {"Time ___" (1990s sci-fi series)}; 97d sagged {Gave under pressure}; 100d zigzag {Many a path up a mountain}; 101d sows {Foments}; 102d plies {Wields}; 103d eensy {Teeny-tiny}; 104d Están {"Dónde ___ los Ladrones?" (1998 platinum album by Shakira)}; 105d plaza {Square}; 107d drys {Temperance proponents}; 108d Viet {___ Cong}; 109d crème {___ de cacao}; 110d Loris {Petty and Singer}; 111d Egon {Von Furstenberg of fashion}; 114d emir {Kuwaiti dignitary}; 118d emo {Alternative rock genre}; 119d ses {Parisian possessive}; 121d Rea {Actor Stephen}.

NYT Saturday 8/28/10 Xan Vongsathorn - Stimulating Work

This Saturday New York Times crossword put up a fierce struggle, but eventually succumbed with a little persistence. Puzzles that take over half an hour can start to wear a little now, but this one didn't strain my patience too much, as progress was always maintained, if rather slowly during the middle stages. It certainly stimulated the little gray cells tonight.

I got off to a great start at the top left, helped by thinking of miso soup and then Odor Eaters right away. I quickly built from there as far down as 39a aperture and as far right as 21a scholar before running into a temporary wall. The relatively isolated NE corner looked troublesome and I ducked that till near the end.

If I'd realized the deception at 24d {Angel player of the 1970s} immediately, I might have kept some momentum, but I assumed this clue related to baseball and hence was beyond my ken. I was able to make tentative starts elsewhere, but it took a very long time for anything to gel. When I eventually had all the SE corner done, 30 minutes had already gone by. Ouch!

Mr. ToadThe relatively isolated SW corner then gave the same grief as the NE, especially as the only literary character I could think of for 45a was Al Joad. The NE fell first, exile at 10d being the critical answer; once I'd seen chirrup at 50a that did for the SW corner and I finally realized Mr. Toad would fit the bill at 45a.
Solving time: 36 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 24d Fawcett {Angel player of the 1970s}
Solution

Xan Vongsathorn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersXan Vongsathorn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.46)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points325 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



24d Fawcett {Angel player of the 1970s}. Oh no, not another impossible baseball clue! Drat ... fooled again! Farrah Fawcett (1947–2009) was an American actress and artist. A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the first season of the TV series Charlie's Angels, in 1976. Fawcett was a sex symbol whose iconic poster, released the same year Charlie's Angels premiered, broke sales records, making her an international pop culture icon. Her hair style was emulated by millions of young women for nearly a decade, beginning in the 1970s and through early 1980s.

The Doctor is IN

5a o' cat {One ___ (kid's game)}. One o' cat is one of a family of games from which baseball ultimately evolved.

21a scholar {Gentleman's partner?}. Referencing "gentleman and scholar", an idiomgoing at least as far back as The Twa Dogs by Robert Burns.

45a Mr. Toad {Literary character who's "always good-tempered" and "not very clever"}. Mr. Toad, one of the main characters in The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

1d megs {Drive units, briefly}. megs = megabytes, units of capacity of disk drives.

2d IHOP {Chain with many links}. Presumably links in the sausages sense, as served in IHOPs.

3d sugar cone {Alternative to a cup}. Options for eating ice-cream.

8d tres {Cube root of veintisiete}. Three and twenty-seven in Spanish.

33d Eden {An old couple fell in it}. Reference to Adam and Eve and their Fall.

36d dumdums {Yo-yos}. Equivalents in the sense of "foolish people".

48d Orton {"The Ruffian on the Stair" playwright}. I.e. Joe Orton (1933–1967).

51d Pats {Three-time grid champs of the 2000s}. The New England Patriots are commonly called the Pats.

54d Enos {1980 TV spinoff}. Enos is a spinoff of The Dukes of Hazzard.

57d sea {Source of rays}. Rays in the fishy sense.

Image of the Day

The Maestà
The Maestà in San Marco, Florence
43d haloes {Features in many Fra Angelico paintings}. Fra Angelico (c. 1395–1455), born Guido di Pietro, was an Early Italian Renaissance painter described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists as having "a rare and perfect talent". He was known to his contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John from Fiesole) and by Vasari as Fra Giovanni Angelico (Brother Giovanni the Angelic One). Fra Angelico is known in Italy as il Beato Angelico, the term "Il Beato" ("Blessed One") being already in use during his lifetime or shortly thereafter, in reference to his skills in painting religious subjects. In 1982 Pope John Paul II conferred beatification, in recognition of the holiness of his life, thereby making this title official. Fiesole is sometimes misinterpreted as being part of his formal name, but it was merely the name of the town where he took his vows as a Dominican friar, and was used by contemporaries to separate him from other Fra Giovannis. He is listed in the Roman Martyrology as Beatus Ioannes Faesulanus, cognomento Angelicus—"Blessed Giovanni of Fiesole, nicknamed Angelico".

Other Clues

1a miso {___ soup}; 9a yeas {Floor support?}; 13a Ehud {Former Israeli P.M. Olmert}; 14a zebra {Beast on Botswana's coat of arms}; 16a axle {Running gear component}; 17a go-go dancer {One might perform behind bars}; 19a kite {The wind unwinds it}; 20a sparers {They let people off}; 23a reek of {Really smell like}; 25a hovers {Hangs}; 26a Occam's razor {Cutting edge of science?}; 29a loots {Grabs and runs, say}; 30a wanna bet? {Words before "You're on!"}; 35a gone {Out of town}; 36a ducks {Avoids}; 38a Dada {Style of Duchamp's "Fountain"}; 39a aperture {Light limiter}; 41a TV set {It's often remotely controlled}; 42a smithereens {Bits}; 49a tamers {They're good at breaking things}; 50a chirrup {Twitter}; 52a lee tide {Danger for small watercraft}; 55a jilt {Drop without warning}; 56a Mason-Dixon {Kind of line symbolizing a cultural boundary}; 58a onto {Able to see through}; 59a steed {Arab, maybe}; 60a St Lo {Historic town on the Vire}; 61a bos'n {Rigging handler, briefly}; 62a sass {Fresh lines?}; 63a eyes {They can be piercing}.

4d Odor Eater {Product associated with the annual Rotten Sneakers Contest}; 5d Ozarks {Range near Wal-Mart's headquarters}; 6d censor {Pixelate, say}; 7d ABC {Epitome of simplicity}; 9d Yakov {Comedian Smirnoff}; 10d exile {What some traitors end up in}; 11d altar {Stopping point for a train?}; 12d seers {Ball-bearing types?}; 15d archons {Ancient Athenian magistrates}; 18d deems {Thinks}; 22d horn {Feature of Africa ... and some of its denizens}; 26d Olga {Bond girl Kurylenko}; 27d coop {Shut (up)}; 28d Zak {Drummer Starkey}; 31d advertise {Throw out pitches?}; 32d base sixty {Number system used by the Babylonians}; 34d tats {Some lasting art, in slang}; 37d Uri {It's between Bern and Graubünden}; 40d tsar {Bolshevik foe}; 41d treed {Unable to escape, in a way}; 44d emends {Fixes}; 45d McJob {Not the most stimulating work}; 46d Rhino {Record label named after an animal}; 47d tilts {Has a list}; 53d dole {Relief}.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NYT Friday 8/27/10 Corey Rubin - Here Comes the Blog

This Friday New York Times crossword puzzle has just 72 answers, qualifying as a themeless. And yet there are two 30-letter phrases split into consecutive rows of the puzzle; seemingly the phrases have little to do with each other, but maybe comment on the how hard the puzzle is (14a/17a) and on the paired 15-letter entries (57a/60a).

I really like this unusual feature, and can imagine it must be a challenge to come up with phrases that result in a viable fill when run into adjacent rows. From the point of view of the solver, a lot rests on getting these 30-letter phrases: until you see them, it's an uphill struggle; once you see them, a large area of the grid has practically filled itself.

Bridal ChorusFor me, both phrases needed some teasing out. I actually got the bottom one first, having approached the lower area from the middle ... which I found relatively straightforward after discarding wrong guesses at 36a, where {Parts of e-mail addresses} turned out to be at signs and not domains and 40a, where the three-letter golfing prodigy was for once not Els, but Wie. With 14 minutes on the clock, I had all but the top six rows done to my satisfaction.

The top had seemed impenetrable at first, but having discovered via 53d that {Lanai's county} at 1a was also an island, I first got Maui and mitt to mesh. Then use no seemed likely at 3d. With a few more crossing letters here and there, I finally saw it's not over till the fat lady sings and - would you believe it - the fat lady was indeed singing in no time at all ... cue the Bridal Chorus.

I had to ask Magdalen about 27d in hospital {Like many laid-up Brits}. How could Americans say anything different to that? In the USA, the idiom is in the hospital apparently. Really? I'm so used to Americans eliding articles, and other small words, that this came as a complete surprise.
Solving time: 21 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 43d pinkos {Types a little to the left}
Solution

Corey Rubin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersCorey Rubin / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 33 (14.7%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.46)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



58d Mýa {R&B singer with the hit "It's All About Me"}. Mýa Marie Harrison, who performs under the mononym Mýa, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, actress, and model. Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Harrison's eponymous debut album with Interscope Records was released in April 1998, and sold over two million copies in the United States, producing the gold-certified top ten single "It's All About Me" featuring Sisqo. Harrison was the runner up on the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars. Billboard named Mýa the 97th Hot 100 Artists of 2000s.

The Doctor is IN

5a Abes {Five-spots}. I.e. five-dollar bills.

18a tonus {Normal muscle tension}. tonus noun a state of partial contraction characteristic of normal muscle (MWCD11).

26a riots {Occasions to use pepper?}. Referencing pepper spray, used in riot control.

31a I saw {Caesarean section?}. Reference to Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered.)

40a Wie {Golfer who turned pro at age 15}. Not Ernie Els, for once, but Michelle Wie.

3d use no {"I swear I ___ art at all": "Hamlet"}. Words spoken by Polonius in Act II Scene 2.

5d att. {Court fig.}. att. = attorney.

10d Enid {Often-referenced but never-seen wife on "Scrubs"}. Bob Kelso's wife Enid.

12d Big D {Stars' city, informally}. Big D = Dallas, home to the Dallas Stars professional ice hockey team.

13d Elsa {The bride in Wagner's "Bridal Chorus"}. Elsa von Brabant in Lohengrin.

28d odea {Concert halls}. odea is the plural of odeum noun a theater or concert hall (MWCD11).

50d Alda {1985 Oscars co-host with Fonda and Williams}. Alan Alda co-hosted the 58th Academy Awards.

Image of the Day

Bathysphere used by William Beebe and Otis Barton
Bathysphere used by William Beebe and Otis Barton
9a Beebe {Deep-sea exploration pioneer}. William ("Will") Beebe (1877–1962) was an American naturalist, explorer, and author. His interest in deep-sea exploration led to the development of the bathysphere, a spherical metal diving vessel, with Otis Barton. In 1930, he descended 183 m (600 ft) off Nonsuch Island in Bermuda, where in 1934 he made a record descent of 923m (3,028 ft). Beebe made a total of 35 dives in the bathysphere between 1930 and 1934.

Other Clues

1a Maui {Lanai's county}; 14a it's not over until {With 17-Across, encouragement for a trailing team}; 17a the fat lady sings {See 14-Across}; 19a scan {Search}; 20a Dada {It originated at Zurich's Cabaret Voltaire in the 1910s}; 21a lose {Get blitzed}; 22a tuned {Ignored, with "out"}; 24a Estees {Actress Chandler and others}; 34a ore {See 46-Down}; 35a BandBs {A.A.A. listings}; 36a at signs {Parts of e-mail addresses}; 38a dry heat {Baking need}; 39a Mai Tai {Tiki bar order}; 41a oars {Things locked into place}; 42a Stahl {Newswoman Lesley}; 43a prawns {Wharf fare?}; 45a Eliot {1948 Literature Nobelist}; 47a OPEC {Vienna-based grp. with no European members}; 50a à moi {Opposite of yours, in Tours}; 54a entr {___'acte}; 55a vials {Apothecary's stock}; 57a let's make it a true {With 60-Across, risky "Jeopardy!" declaration}; 60a Daily Double Alex {See 57-Across}; 61a at sea {Out with the junk, say}; 62a spec {It's risky to build a house on this}; 63a lest {In case}.

1d mitt {A baker might have a hand in it}; 2d Athol {Massachusetts city called Tool Town}; 4d infuse with {Give the flavor of}; 6d bolsters {Gives a shot in the arm}; 7d evacuee {Hurricane survivor, maybe}; 8d sedans {Lots are in lots}; 9d bus {Something to take a pass on}; 11d Etna {Site of Vulcan's smithy}; 15d oases {Relief providers}; 16d Ryne {Slugger Sandberg}; 23d dray {Transporter of heavy loads}; 25d Toni {Lydman of the N.H.L.}; 27d in hospital {Like many laid-up Brits}; 29d T-bar {Apparatus for pull-ups?}; 30d SSTs {They had Machmeters, briefly}; 31d Iams {Pedigree alternative}; 32d stat {Recap figure}; 33d Asia {Java setting}; 35d brew {Java, e.g.}; 37d gale {One might make waves}; 38d diatribe {Venomous venting}; 40d wrote up {Put to paper}; 43d pinkos {Types a little to the left}; 44d novae {Bright spots in the sky}; 46d lead {With 34-Across, slag furnace input}; 48d Earle {1960s Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Wheeler}; 49d clues {Things pieced together}; 51d meat {Nut part}; 52d Otis {Its products go up and down}; 53d isle {1-Across, for one}; 56d sext {Send explicit come-ons by cell phone}; 59d TLC {R&B group with the hit "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg"}.

NPR Puzzle 8/26/10 -- Happy Birthday, Will Shortz!

First things first.  We went out and rented a complete family -- even the dog -- and posed them just so to create the perfect photo for Will Shortz's birthday.


(Sorry about the Tennessee basketball jersey, Will -- they were out of Indiana at the shop.)

Here's this week's puzzle:
Take a country whose name contains a symbol for a chemical element, and change it to a different chemical element to get another country. For example, if Aruba were an independent country, you could take the "AR," which is the chemical symbol for argon, and change it to "C," which is the chemical symbol for carbon, to come up with Cuba. There are two answers to this puzzle, and both must be found.
I thought four answers would suffice: ICELAND, IRELAND, MALI and MALTA but it turns out we needed six: ALGERIA and NIGERIA work as well.  Here are six country pictures, then, in alphabetical order:

Algeria:


Iceland:


Ireland:


(If you look closely, there's a cross on the top of that mountain -- the highest peak in Ireland, or so Flickr says.)

Mali:


Malta:


Nigeria:


The correct order of the four photos I posted was 4, 2, 3, 1 -- no one was fooled by which was Mali and which was Malta, but I did trick some people by the photo of Iceland, which looked a bit more like Ireland for some of you.  Look at it again -- what looks like clouds behind the hills is actually a glacier!

Sorry about missing Algeria & Nigeria -- I could have had some fun confusing you with those extra African nations!

Time for ...



P I C K   A   R A N G E

Here are this week's picks for the ranges:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500

500 - 600
600 - 700 -- Dave
700 - 800 -- Tom
800 - 900 -- Ben
900 - 1,000 -- Natasha

1,000 - 1,100 -- Mendo Jim
1,100 - 1,200 -- Jimel
1,200 - 1,300 -- Henry
1,300 - 1,400 -- Marie
1,400 - 1,500 -- Ross

1,500 - 1,600 -- Magdalen
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.

And if anyone is still paying attention, Mendo Jim owes a predictably convoluted explanation about Iran, and Henry needs to explain what throwing a wobbly is.  (I know, but his definition will be more uh, definitive.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NYT Thursday 8/26/10 Henry Hook - Noughts and Crosses

Xs and OsThe theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword is neat (in that the three answers to the same clue are very natural 16-letter phrases) but low-key, so that the puzzle played out much like a Friday or Saturday one. Certainly, having got one of the theme answers, it gave you no advantage with the others.

I found the solving experience an even one, with minor challenges all over the place, but each surmountable with a bit of thought. E.g. I had no idea about Jada Pinkett Smith's first name, and have also never watched Let's Make a Deal, but experience of previous puzzles suggested door would be right when I looked at all the options at the 1a/3d crossing and got to D.

My youthful excursions into piano playing paid off at 25-Across: once Bizet didn't work out for the composer of Angélique, I thought of Jacques Ibert, some of whose Histoires I attempted.
Solving time: 15 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 58a Anne {Rice on a shelf}
Solution

Henry Hook
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Each 16-letter answer is clued the same:
18a football diagrams {Where to see X's and O's}
35a end of a love letter {Where to see X's and O's}
56a Hollywood Squares {Where to see X's and O's}
Crucimetrics [about Crucimetrics]
CompilersHenry Hook / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 40 (16.7%) black squares
Answers75 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares45 (22.5%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.62)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Video of the Day



32a shaken {Like 007's martinis}. Shaken, not stirred is a catch phrase of Ian Fleming's fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, and his preference for how he wished his martini prepared. The phrase first appears in the novel Diamonds Are Forever (1956), though Bond does not actually say the line until Dr. No (1958) but says it "shaken and not stirred" instead of "shaken, not stirred." It was first uttered in the films by Sean Connery in Goldfinger in 1964 (though the villain Dr. Julius No offers this drink and utters those words in the first film, Dr. No, in 1962). It was used in numerous Bond films thereafter with the notable exceptions of You Only Live Twice, in which the drink is offered stirred, not shaken (Bond, ever the gentleman and not wanting to cause his polite host embarrassment brushes it off, telling his host it's perfect), and Casino Royale, in which, asked if he wants his martini shaken or stirred, Bond snaps, "Does it look like I give a damn?"

The Doctor is IN

14a Ebola {Virus named for a river}. Ebolavirus is named after the Ebola River Valley in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

24a Jets {Meadowlands squad}. The New York Jets play in New Meadowlands Stadium.

25a Ibert {"Angélique" composer}. Reference to Jacques Ibert (1890–1962).

58a Anne {Rice on a shelf}. I.e. the novelist Anne Rice.

60a trick {Halloween option}. The options being trick or treat.

2d -aboo {Peek follower}. Reference to -aboo as a suffix in peekaboo.

5d split {Alley oops?}. A split in ten pin bowling is undesirable.

10d across {Not this way}. Referencing the answer's orientation, which is down, not across.

11d Shak. {Big section of Bartlett's: Abbr.}. Shakespeare features prominently in dictionaries of quotations, such as Bartlett's.

15d Abner {Capp lad}. I.e. Li'l Abner, created by Al Capp.

31d sel {Season on the Seine?}. sel = salt (the seasoning) in French.

34d srs. {Ones with rings: Abbr.}. srs. = seniors, wearers of class rings.

44d cinq {V as in Versailles}. V as a Roman numeral is 5, or cinq in French.

48d Ahab {Captain with a "regal overbearing dignity of some mighty woe"}. I.e. Captain Ahab of Moby-Dick.

52d Odie {Jon Arbuckle's pooch}. Odie is a Cruciverbal Canine.

53d aria {Met melody}. Met = New York's Metropolitan Opera.

54d neck {Spoon}. Equivalents in the sense of "carry on amorously".

57d OSU {Nebraska rival, for short}. There are three OSUs in The Crucy League. Since the Nebraska Cornhuskers are in the Big 12 Conference, OSU must be Oklahoma State University today.

Image of the Day

Poinciana

51a Poinciana {Bing Crosby hit in which "your branches speak to me of love"}. I had expected Poinciana to be the Video of the Day, but couldn't find a clip with Bing Crosby singing it. However, the strikingly beautiful tree deserves to be seen too, so here goes. Delonix regia is a species of flowering plant from the Fabaceae family, noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. Often grown as an ornamental tree and given the name Royal Poinciana or Flamboyant, it is also known as Gulmohar (Hindi and Urdu), KrishnachuRa (Bengali), Malinche, and Tabachine, and one of several named the Flame tree. The species was previously placed in a genus Poinciana, named for Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy who is credited with introducing the plant to the Americas. Being a legume it has nitrogen fixating and soil improving properties.

Other Clues

1a Jada {Actress ___ Pinkett Smith}; 5a stats {Sports page fill}; 10a as if {Derisive response to "She thinks she's going to be homecoming queen"}; 16a Padre {Texas' South ___ Island}; 17a chai {Spicy tea}; 21a forensics {"CSI" field}; 22a look at {See}; 23a rest {Balance}; 27a provosts {College bigwigs}; 31a snug {Comfy-cozy}; 33a it's {"___ time"}; 39a leg {Journey segment}; 40a A-lines {Flaring garb}; 41a elms {Shade providers}; 42a resulted {Followed}; 44a cures {Medical breakthroughs}; 46a ales {Draft choices}; 47a lint {Fluffy stuff}; 48a acuity {Sharpness}; 59a a slip {"There's many ___ 'twixt ..."}; 61a bead {You might sweat it out}; 62a yules {Year-end celebrations}; 63a yaks {Tibetan herd}.

1d Jeff {One of the acting Bridges}; 3d door {"Let's Make a Deal" choice}; 4d alter ego {Doppelgänger}; 6d talc {Soothing sprinkle}; 7d adds {Tosses in}; 8d tri- {Numerical prefix}; 9d sea-level {It's affected by global warming}; 12d I Am a {"___ Strange Loop," 2007 Douglas Hofstadter book}; 13d fist {Symbol of revolutionary power}; 19d asst. {Staffer: Abbr.}; 20d got one! {Fisherman's jubilant cry}; 24d jokes {Routine material}; 25d inner {Central}; 26d budge {Move slightly}; 27d phone {Ring}; 28d raved {Carried on}; 29d title {Sir or madam}; 30d stems {Florist's waste}; 32d slits {Squinter's eyes}; 36d faulty {Imperfect}; 37d alleyway {Shortcut in a chase scene, maybe}; 38d tertiary {Period of the Cenozoic Era}; 43d sailed {Breezed (through)}; 45d uncut {Whole}; 47d lisps {Talks like Daffy}; 49d cone {Traffic marker}; 50d ulna {Arm part}; 51d poll {Survey}; 55d asks {Probes}.