Smelting residue / MON 7-6-15 / Nairobi resident / Drawings that deceive / Human/ape "missing link" found in Indonesia in 1891

Monday, July 6, 2015

MOVE ASIDE, Rex Parker! There's a new crossword solver in town...nah, it's just an Annabel Monday again.

Constructor: Lynn Lempel 

Relative Difficulty: Easy

THEME: Bric A Brac— Theme answers are either a three-word phrase containing the word "A" or a common two-word phrase where the second word starts with "A," depending on how you look at 'em.


  • WALKAROUND (17A: Decline to use the golf cart?)
  • PLANAHEAD (25A: Design the lav?)
  • TAKEAPART (36A: Accept one of the acting roles?)
  • MOVEASIDE (51A: Pass the coleslaw or potato salad?)
  • KNOCKABOUT (60A: Pan the boxing match?)

Word of the Day: JAVA MAN (41D: Human/ape "missing link" found in Indonesia in 1891) —

Java Man (Homo erectus erectus) is the popular name given to early human fossils discovered on the island of Java (Indonesia) in 1891 and 1892. Led by Eugène Dubois, the excavation team uncovered a tooth, askullcap, and a thighbone at Trinil on the banks of the Solo River in East Java. Arguing that the fossils represented the "missing link" between apes and humans, Dubois gave the species the scientific name Anthropopithecus erectus, then later renamed it Pithecanthropus erectus.

The fossil aroused much controversy. Less than ten years after 1891, almost eighty books or articles had been published on Dubois's finds. Despite Dubois' argument, few accepted that Java Man was a transitional form between apes and humans.[1] Some dismissed the fossils as apes and others asmodern humans, whereas many scientists considered Java Man as a primitive side branch of evolution not related to modern humans at all. In the 1930s Dubois made the claim that Pithecanthropus was built like a "giant gibbon", a much misinterpreted attempt by Dubois to prove that it was the "missing link".

• • •

Alright, Rex, go on. You can CONFESS it. Your grumpy face muscles made the slightest twitch in the direction of a smile for the first Monday in years, and you tried to blame it on a random twitch but we know. We all know. You liiiiiiiiked this puzzle. Seriously, come on, it was great for a Monday. It had a clever enough theme, with good fill (OP ART, ERSE, RECTORY) and good clues ("Haste" was "Waste maker, proverbially"  and "Eve" was "The 'madam' in 'madam, I'm adam'"). And that TENT/SPENT on the bottom! Classic. I will say this: the bottom left corner was maybe a little bit hard. 39A (Wheedle) fit both COERCE and CAJOLE, 39D (Internet and cable giant) fit both COMCAST and VERIZON, 40D (John, James or Judas) fit both PROPHET and APOSTLE...yours truly had no IDEA what was going on. 

Theme was really clever, which is SO refreshing to see on a Monday. Who doesn't love wordplay? My personal fave was "move aside/move a side." Ooh, ooh, speaking of wordplay, I have a riddle:

If it's information you seek, come and see me.
If it's pairs of letters you need, I have consecutively three.
Who am I?

  • YAP (21A: Sound from a pound) — So we babysat a dog last week. His name is Zuko and he's about the size of a loaf of bread. Now I know teeny dogs are supposed to YAP all the time, but the only time Zuko would ever, ever bark was when he watched an animal video.  Specifically an animal video...he didn't care if there were humans on the TV, but when there were kitty or puppy antics onscreen, he'd wag his tail and jump up and down and yap at them like they could play with him. 

Then he yapped at a video of my uncle. 
  • ONION (29A: Pungent bulb) — 

  • TOAST (24A: "Here's to the happy couple!", e.g.) — Toast also means super tired, exhausted, whatever. It's 11:30 p.m. and I'm on a train back from New York City where Rex's BFF and I saw Fun Home (it was amazing and made me cry even harder than Les Mis and Rent). This train is making me veeeeery sleepy. I'm toast. Bye guys!


Bygone Chinese money / SUN 7-5-15 / Westernmost island of Aleutians / Indiana city where auto manufacturing was pioneered / Smack That singer / Art of flower arranging / Onetime Nair alternative

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Heads of State" — a Mount Rushmore puzzle. Nicknames of four presidents on Mount Rushmore appear as long Down answers, in the order (left to right) that the appear on the monument. Flanking the names are long, orienting answers: KEYSTONE, SOUTH DAKOTA / HOME OF MOUNT RUSHMORE

Theme answers:
  • AMERICAN CINCINNATUS (22D: *Nickname for George Washington)
  • THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE (4D: *Nickname for Thomas Jefferson)
  • HERO OF SAN JUAN HILL (33D: *Nickname for Theodore Roosevelt)
  • THE GREAT EMANCIPATOR (9D: *Nickname for Abraham Lincoln)
Word of the Day: TAEL (91D: Bygone Chinese money) —
noun: tael; plural noun: taels
  1. a weight used in China and East Asia, of varying amount but fixed in China at 50 grams (1 3/4 oz.).
    • a former Chinese monetary unit based on the value of a tael of standard silver. (google)
• • •

Sooo happy to see Liz Gorski's name when I opened my puzzle this evening. She told me she still had a few NYT puzzles coming out, and I guess the day after the Fourth of July is a reasonableish place to put this one. Only two of them are considered Founding Fathers, but one of them wrote the damned Declaration of Independence, so I'm gonna say this counts as a kind of bonus holiday weekend puzzle. I always think of Liz's puzzles as architectural and monumental—big ideas, artfully executed. She did the amazing Guggenheim Museum puzzle several years back. This one isn't as ambitious, and is in many ways straightforward, but I still found it mostly delightful. Also, I discovered that I am *terrible* at presidential nicknames. Just awful. I had filled in huge chunks of several nicknames and still couldn't land any of them. Look at this:

Actually, it's clear from this snapshot that Jefferson is THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE, but I must've just got that "PE-" because before that, no idea. I guessed the CINCINNATUS part of AMERICAN CINCINNATUS only because I remember looking up who CINCINNATUS was a few months ago and remembered that he was some kind of model Roman statesman. Did not know that was Washington's nickname. I couldn't even remember the name of Teddy Roosevelt's damn hill. Brain was blocked with BUNKER HILL. Also, SAM HILL, as in "What in SAM HILL is the answer to this clue?!?"

[This song reminds me of falling in love with my wife, so it is unimpeachable. Our first real date was actually on Labor Day, but that's neither here nor there.]

This grid structure results in a lot of short stuff, and that short stuff gets a little dicey at times. TAEL and ATTU reek of the crypt. A crypt that smells like pre-1993. And I nearly crashed the ship on the shoal of HOTE / AKON. And there's a lot of run-of-the-mill OREM OTOO NEET-type stuff, but it only made me EWW a little. Decent big idea, lively theme answers, some nice longer stuff like IKEBANA and KINSHASA and GROUND CREW, and I'm reasonably happy.

  • REDINK — to dink again. The clue can tell me this is RED INK all it wants (5D: Debt, symbolically), but my brain knows what it knows.
  • SPHERIC — AL had the day off (81A: Ball-like)
  • ARIL / URAL — originally ANIL / ARAL. They all sound like "kinds of sex" to me now.
  • AUDIE (61D: Cornish of NPR) — honestly, when I filled in her name, I said "Awww" out loud, like she was my daughter and she'd just won a ribbon or something.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Julie Delpy, for the win, for now, and for always. (28D: "The ___ Breathe" (2007 drama with Kevin Bacon and Julie Delpy))

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