SUNDAY, Aug. 26, 2007 - Andrew M Greene and Craig Kasper (and Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Getting Ahead" - circled squares represent (and spell out) parts of A HEAD

[updated 12:40 pm]

A very ambitious puzzle, executed fairly well. Got the theme very early and figured I'd be able to fill in all the circled squares right away. I was wrong. I put LIPS and LIPS where LIPS and CHIN were supposed to go; took me a while to get BROWS (whose BROWS are in the middle of their forehead, between their eyes?); and SCALP still seems quite wrong - unless you are balding (like me), you can't see the SCALP. If you stared at a face and described it all day long, you would never talk about the SCALP. But that's the only gaffe; other than that, the puzzle was fun.


I am told that there were actually four authors of today's puzzle, though the Times can credit a maximum of just two - that's why I credited Todd McClary and Jeffrey Harris in parentheses in today's title, in case you were wondering.

Here are the answers that contained HEAD parts (from top to bottom, left to right)

  • 21A: Toddler's mealtime accessory (booster cHAIR)
  • 29A: Quarters for a business, e.g. (fiSCAL Periods)
  • 54A: Safari, e.g. (web BROWSer)
  • 53D: Be weighed down (bEAR the burden)
  • 64A: Persuaded with flattery (blarnEYEd)
  • 66A: Noted explorer of Polynesia (HEYErdahl)
  • 76A: Time in which light travels one foot, approximately (naNOSEcond)
  • 100A: Astronomical events that occur twice or more a year (lunar ecLIPSes)
  • 113A: Nested set of containers (CHINese boxes)
[Whoops - looks like I Van Gogh'd this puzzle: here's the missing ear: 15D: Empathetic one, derisively (bleeding hEARt)]

Going for walk in the woods before it gets too hot. More later.

...

And I'm back, following a late breakfast of fried eggs, potatoes, and coffee, as well as two crossword puzzles out of The Listener (NZ) with my wife.

Hardest part of the puzzle for me was the NW. That stupid IMAC / APPLE clue at 1A: See 7-Across really should have been SYMBOL. In my grid, it was SYMBOL for a while - until forced to become the far worse EMBLEM (it's not emblazoned on a coat-of-arms, for god's sake). The soap BORAXO (18A: Heavy-duty hand soap) is only barely known to me. And all those Downs were exceedingly mischievous. You'd think I'd be on solid ground with D&D, but it took me a while to get BROAD AX (3D: Dungeons & Dragons weapon). ROXANNE and ALL OF ME both fit where L.A. STORY was supposed to go (4D: Steve Martin romantic comedy). EXTANT was tough, but it's clued beautifully (5D: Like seven of Sophocles' 123 plays). The answer that got me my first bit of traction up in the NW was 24A: Battle report? (rat-a-tat), which in retrospect is a really odd answer to get so easily. Shouldn't have been a gimme, but was. I could watch "Casablanca" 1000 more times (current number of viewings: 1) and not remember UGARTE (35A: Lorre's "Casablanca" role).

SANTA returns to the puzzle today disguised as the Grinch - actually, it's the other way around (42A: Grinch disguise). ESSENES (36D: Dead Sea Scrolls sect) has gone from being totally unknown to me to being a virtual gimme. So many "Wheel of Fortune" letters ... and yet esoteric enough to fly in a late-week puzzle. Ditto 34D: Dutch painter Jan (Steen). I was just in Boston last month, but only barely remember ever hearing about the part of town called the BACK BAY (11A: Posh part of Boston).

My schoolkid's knowledge of Latin helped with 81A: Creatio ex _____ (Christian tenet) (nihilo) and 86A: Prayer opener ("Ave") - less helpful with getting 22D: Org. with the motto "Per Ardua ad Astra" (RAF) - though, if pressed, I could translate that motto for you.

My favorite clues and/or answers in the puzzle include:

  • 14D: Skiffle instrument (kazoo) intersecting 23A: Ceramists, at times (glazers)
  • 70A: 1940s-'50s Dodger who was a 10-time All-Star (Reese) - would have liked to see his fun full name, PEE WEE REESE, in the puzzle, but this'll do.
  • 71A: Particle created by a cosmic ray (muon) - fun to say; stretch that "U"
  • 96A: Knight time? (yore) - I was trained as a yore-ologist
  • 98A: Teahouse floor covering (tatami) - teahouse I was thinking of was not Japanese, so this took me a while
  • 68D: "There's No Place Like _____" (old TV slogan) (HBO) - "old TV slogan??!" Man, there's nothing that'll make you feel older than seeing something 15 years younger than you described as "old"
  • 111D: They were worth $5 each on "What's My Line?" ("NO"s) - some old person will explain this. I guess the idea was to fool some panel about your identity for as long a time as possible. Was Bennet Cerf on this show? Kitty Carlisle?
  • 101D: Kittens' "handles" (napes) - this clue makes me laugh. Something about the quotation marks around "handles"; like the clue can barely take itself seriously. The clue makes me imagine people carrying around kittens like briefcases. Also makes me think of cats driving big rigs and working the CB - "10-4, good buddy, This is Mr. Whiskers, etc."
New semester starts tomorrow. Commentaries will be shorter, but hopefully no less awesome.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

46 comments:

Linda G 9:52 AM  

I knew someone who had one brow, although it did extend to the outside corners of his eyes...unlike this one. It wasn't particularly attractive...a case of a man needing a good (or even a bad) wax job.

I loved this puzzle. Lots of interesting fill, including stuff I didn't know but hope to remember.

pinky 10:28 AM  

Missed only Ugarte. A personal best!

I'm joining Rex for a woods walk. Only thank heavens it's a cool 55 here this morning.

Good puzzle weekend in all.

C zar 10:47 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle. Neither my wife or I were aware that the state tree of Minnesota was REDPINE, despite living here for over 20 years.

Loved crosses BORAXO and BROADAX, both evocative of childhood. Had to dig deep for BORAXO, I remember how you could tell a lot about another kid's Dad if he had Boraxo or Lava in the bathroom, it meant he dug in the yard or worked on the car. As for a geeky teen like myself, I remember playing the occasional game of D and D.

Oddly enough, took a while to get WEBBROWSER, despite the fact that I do the puzzle on-line. Maybe it's because I use Firefox.

And Rex, as for excess of scalp (or lack of hair), remember, grass doesn't grow on a busy street.

Isabella di Pesto 11:02 AM  

I was stubborn in not wanting to give up "gunshot" as answer to 24A clue "Battle report." I was hung up on nw corner because of that until I remembered LA Story.

Now for that 60A clue "Lacking a partner"--How come the "Lone" Ranger was always described as having a "faithful Indian companion?" Doesn't sound so "lone" to me.

But I did enjoy the way the puzzle made a head. Cute.

ayoung 11:07 AM  

I just looked at the first clue and I'm already mad--hate it when the clue directs me to another clue. Sorry, had to get in my whinge for the day.

barrywep 11:22 AM  

Are any of your students aware of your secret identity as King of Crossworld?

jordanthejust 11:42 AM  

Well, I live in Boston, and I think of Beacon Hill as the posh area of town... I guess all the shopping in on Newbury Street (in the Back Bay), hence its poshness.

Wendy 11:58 AM  

IMOO, the APPLE is a LOGO, which is part of its 'brand.' That was quite a troubling start to the puzzle, although I had APPLE and IMAC immediately.

The HBO cluing was, as you rightly point out, just weird. I kept thinking of the line from The Wizard of Oz (there's no place like home ... there's no place like home) but I can't remember any earlier HBO slogan besides It's Not TV; it's HBO.

Believing the Steve Martin movie was Roxanne got me all bollixed up.

Lots of nice words today. I never saw the theme, though. I was too focused on trying to fill as much in as possible without resorting to google. Thus I forgot to EYEball the circles.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Re: Boraxo

Am truly dating myself (anonymously, so what the heck):

http://www.deathvalleydays.com/

I, too, thought of Lava first, but then this floated up to the surface. Both soaps sponsored great old radio shows. In the case of Lava it was "The FBI in Peace and War," which brought Prokofiev's march from "The Love for Three Oranges" to the attention of a public which, no doubt, had no idea of what it was hearing. It may have contributed to my eventual operaphilia.

shelby/ montclair, nj 12:43 PM  

Pinky,

Ugarte left me stumped too. It was what I cam here to find out. This Sunday puzzle was the first I haven't finished in many weeks, but it took me way less time than usual. A trade-off, I guess.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

You missed the other ear! 15D:
Empathetic one, derisively - bleedinghEARt. (bad clue but at least the head has two EARS!)

Rex Parker 12:51 PM  

Anon.

I fixed the EAR thing before you ever wrote your comment. Not sure how you missed it. Maybe our writings crossed paths.

rp

Ulrich 12:54 PM  

What I liked most about this puzzle was that it managed to superimpose an (almost) bilaterally symmetrical pattern over the grid with typical rotational symmetry (as opposed to last Sunday's puzzle). I liked less that it was so easy to figure out--I got it after I had just the hair and one eye, and the rest of the head more or less solved itself--with scalp perhaps the only stumbling block (cf. Rex on this).

To ayoung: the clue you hated was my favorite one--I like "thinking around a corner".

profphil 12:56 PM  

Rex,

Brow = forehead here as in "man will earn bread by the sweat of his brow." It therefore can be placed in the middle as opposed to eye-brows. Re scalp not being a part of the face the puzzle is about " A Head" and a scalp is definitely part of A Head.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Emblem! I flew through this puzzle, except for the NW corner, which I just couldn't get. But had great fun dredging up the name "Heyerdal" from the recesses of my brain where it had been stored too many years ago after reading Kon-Tiki in 6th grade.

Good luck with the start of the semester. At your alma mater, we don't start for another week.

Jerome 1:15 PM  

Rex, good blog, as usual (even with the hiatus for the walk).

Had some fun with this but thought some clues/solutions iffy.

1A - EMBLEM (as discussed, above).

44A - PROAM tournaments aren't limted to Pebble Beach.

64A - Since when is BLARNEY a verb?

95A - GIB as an abbreiationfor Gibraltar.

78D - North abbreviated as NOT.

Gus91039 1:33 PM  

Arlene Dahl, Bennett Cerf, and many others wre all parts of What's My Line. John ? was host for about 20 years.

mdapson 1:35 PM  

78D NA is Not Applicable NOT North America...I think

Janet 1:36 PM  

Could someone explain "tecs" as the answer for "shadows"? I'm sure I'll slap myself upside the HEAD when you tell me.

Luigi 1:39 PM  

Was glad to have your blog to refer to as I gave up on the NW and SE corners Rex and did not wish to wait until next Sunday for the answers! (I also had symbol which threw me off and ratatat which still didn't help and hog instead of pig in the SE corner). Got the theme fairly quickly though and was happy about that. I started reading your book Amy/Orange on the way back from Yosemite and I think it's helping (and boy do I need that!). Ready to go back to Yosemite as the weather has been so hot and humid all day and all night(all week) here unlike Yosemite which is dry heat and cool at night. Finally broke today though and had a nice hike at Clifton Gorge/John Bryan State Park. Sunday mornings are great for puzzles and hikes. Good luck with the school year Rex.

I think tecs are spies Janet.

luigi 1:46 PM  

Tec is short for detective.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Gus01039 - It was Arlene Francis, not Arlene Dahl, on What's MY Line. The other regular was Dorothy Kilgallen. Incidentally, a true story about Arlene Francis led to her being an icon for having bad luck that was really bad for someone else, to wit: She lived in an old highrise apartment that had opening windows. One hot day she used a dumbell to pro open her window. The dumbell accidentally fell around 8 stories and hit some passerby squarely on the noggin, as I say bad luck for her, much worse luck for the passerby.

Jerome - I never heard of blarney as a verb either, BUT it's in my dictionary as such.

Overall, I thought the puzzle was easy. Getting LIPS early gave me all the circled parts before my grid was filled enough to obscure the pattern. That turned out to be a lot of free letters.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Please forgive the previous typo - meant to say "prop" open the window.

Rex Parker 2:32 PM  

Arlene Dahl was also on "WML?" though for only three episodes. We've had this very confusion in our puzzle discussions before. Francis? Dahl? Francis? Dahl? Answer: Both, though Francis was the Marquee Arlene (205 episodes).

rp

Orange 2:48 PM  

Profphil, the circled word is BROWS, not BROW, so it does look like a monobrow here.

Jerome, the PROAM clue doesn't say that Pebble Beach is the only pro-am tournament. [Thanksgiving fare] is YAMS here, but (a) people eat yams on other days and (b) other food is also Thanksgiving fare. Clues needn't have exclusivity.

Luigi, hope you're enjoying the book!

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Could someone clarify for me 51A crawl space? (pub). Also, is there a book that helps beginners learn crosswordpuzzlese (what Luigi was referring to?)
Peri

profphil 3:05 PM  

Peri,

When one goes from pub to pub one is doing a pub crawl sort of like a bar hop.

Mac 3:11 PM  

Loved the crawl clue, also because I did not know the outlawed polutant. 51 was my last letter!
What's the title of your book, orange?

mmpo 3:20 PM  

Come to think of it, RATATAT sounds like a series of reports to me (not just one).
Grass doesn't grow on a busy street. Cute...in other words, bald men are smarter, or at least they use their heads more than...men with lots of hair? (Yes, I think this is true and demonstrable). ...women? (Obviously a dubious proposition.)

Orange 3:24 PM  

Mac (and Peri), my book's called How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

For Pat Merrell's enumeration of crossword clue rules/types, go here. Read it, study it, remember it, absorb this information. Every crossword you do is basically a quiz on whether you know how to interpret clues the right way, and any good crossword will follow these rules.

jae 4:10 PM  

I also had problems with NW. The MOET clue finally broke if for me. I got the theme early and the rest went pretty smoothly. A fun puzzle with lots of clever clueing.

Fergus 4:13 PM  

Kind of an autopilot puzzle today; only problem was YORE. Well crafted puzzle, but seemed a bit more obvious and straightforward than usual for Sunday. Last Sunday I didn't like the way the 'trick' was clumsily spelled out, and the facial aspect didn't seem very well integrated today. In fact, the face was irrelevant to me in solving the puzzle, so for that reason found it a little deficient.

Anyone been to the town (crossroads) of Borax, in the Mojave Desert? You can picture the mules delivering BORAXO, or maybe it was some competing cleansing agent? 20 Mule Team, perhaps. Might have even been Ronald Reagan endorsing the product.

Chip Ahoy 5:46 PM  

Never played D&D, but it's a broad sword not a broad ax.

Also, *hangs head in shame* I've never seen Casablanca all the way through, although I was able to answer CLEP questions regarding the film, aced them in fact. Same with GWTW.

Rex Parker 6:04 PM  

Just because there's such a thing as a broad sword doesn't mean there is no such thing as a broad ax. Google can easily confirm the existence of the BROAD AX. If you're going to make a definitive declaration that something doesn't exist, why not take a second or two just to check in with Google?

rp

snobbish and humiliated 7:11 PM  

"What's My Line" host was John Daly.

Had no trouble with the NW, but the SE got me. Just cannot remember TATAMI. Kept thinking about Tsunamis. And being sure of "trip" in the SLIP slot didn't help.

I thought the entrance (from the West) to the Medit. was the Strait of Gibralter, and that Gibralter was a rock and a city and some sort of British colony...not a body of water. Could have been better clued.

The LIPS et al remind me of a fun exercise: name ten parts of the human body with three-letters. no slang, no tit, no ass. You could start with EAR,
EYE and LIP.

snobbish and humiliated 7:24 PM  

Fergus --

I think the town is Boron. The TV show was "Death Valley Days". Reagan was the host sometime in the mid-60s.

Michael 8:19 PM  

Gib is a common naval abbreviation for the Rock, and for the bodies of water around it (incl. the Strait).
Vide any of Patr. O'Brian's books, esp. Master & Commander.

Fergus 8:31 PM  

Dear phrase adopter,

I think you're right on all counts. Plus one of the images I had cam from a dog food commercial. Another happening place is Mecca, California -- been there?

karmasartre 8:45 PM  

michael - thanx re GIB clarification.

fergus - the only Mecca I know at all well is the Gene Pitney song. Never heard of one in CA, and I spent many moons there. My sister recently relocated to Angels Camp, CA, and I'm still dealing with the lack of apostrophe. I will googlemap Mecca. The phrase adoption takes too many keystrokes...

Fergus 9:20 PM  

It's a little hell-hole just north the Salton Sea. I have a peculiar fondness for godforsaken (ha ha) places, and the defunct resorts of that region fit the bill precisely.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

On WML the panelists needed to identify the person's occupation or 'line'. There was one mystery guest ( a celeb of sorts) for whom the panelists donned eye masks. For every 'no' answer a card was flipped and I think the most one could win was $50 -- I believe 10 no answers. Each guest signed in on a black board. And the panelists were clever. If the audience started applauding before the celeb signed in then he/she was a recongnizable face. Celebs also tried to disguise their voices.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

As I recall, the four panalists on What's My Line had to guess the occupations of the constestants. Each panalist in sequence was allowed to ask the contestant a series of "yes/no" questions. If the answer to the question was "yes" the panalist would be allowed to continue questioning the contestant. If the answer to the question was "no" then the panalist was credited with $5 and the nest panalist would start asking the panalist questions. If the panalist correctly guessed the contestant's occupation, the contestant would be given the amount of money previously credited. (An incorrect guess at the occupation would result in a "no" answer.) After ten "no" answers, the contestant was given $100 (I don't remember if there was a bonus) and the occupation was revealed.

For your information, I am not old. Anyway, reruns of this show have been shown on the game network channel (which I don't get) in recent years.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Correction. My math was bad. $5 x 10 questions is of course $50, not $100.

WWPierre 8:13 PM  

This was pretty much a romp for me. I missed the significance of the placement of the circled letters, even as I wondered why EAR and EYE were repeated. DOH!!!!

Funny, I seem to enjoy these more when they sit around for a number of sessions before solution.

I agree that BROW should not have been pluralized. I wonder whether that (trivial) error was from the constructors, or Mr. Shortz

Carl 3:08 PM  

As for the pluralizing of "brow." I prefer to think of it as a unibrow.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Perhaps it's just BROW...as in furrowed brow...not 'eyebrow'?

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