Card game popular in Germany / TUE 10-5-10 / Van Gogh locale / Malfoy's look / Cleavage-revealing dress feature / French brainchild

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "BYE BYE MISS AMERICAN PIE" — ends of the theme answers form this lyric by DON MCLEAN (62A: Singer of the lyric formed by the ends of the answers to the four starred clues)


Word of the Day: EARLE Combs (38D: Hall-of-Famer Combs who played with Gehrig and Ruth) —

Earle Bryan Combs (May 14, 1899 – July 21, 1976) was an American professional baseball player, who played his entire career for the New York Yankees (19241935). Combs batted leadoff and played center field on the Yankees' fabled 1927 team (often referred to as Murderers' Row). He is one of six players on that team who have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame; the other five are Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Tony Lazzeri, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth. (wikipedia)



• • •

Well, that's the lyric, but with the exception of MISS, those lyric words aren't exactly buried or hidden or repurposed, as they should be, ideally, in a theme like this. LAT ran a puzzle with this exact type of theme yesterday, where *first* words of theme answers formed the phrase "PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH." But in that puzzle, the theme answers crackled a bit, where here, they just fall flat. SAY 'BYE BYE' is phenomenally weak, as BYE BYE appears as itself, inside a contrived phrase ("GO BYE BYE" at least has a baby talk angle ... "BYE BYE LOVE" would have added much-needed bounce—I wonder if there weren't much better answers available if the words had appeared at the beginning of the phrases). In the end, it's not a bad puzzle—perfectly adequate—it's just not very thoughtful or imaginative at the level of the theme answers. AFRICAN-AMERICAN just lies there (the same way CENTRAL AMERICAN would). Why not "THE UGLY AMERICAN?" "CUTEY PIE?" "HONEY PIE?" Something to give the answers some damned life...

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Bid adieu, informally (SAY 'BYE BYE')
  • 26A: *Failure by a narrow margin (NEAR MISS)
  • 40A: *Like Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan (AFRICAN-AMERICAN)
  • 51A: *It's often ordered à la mode (APPLE PIE)


NO TASTE is a pretty cruddy answer, requiring a really awkward clue (26D: Characteristic of bland food and bad dressers). "Characteristic" is a noun, but "NO TASTE" ... well, I guess it's nominal, but ugh. BAD TASTE = good phrase, NO TASTE = wobbly. This and EARLE and the strange clue on EPITOMES (42D: Abstracts) were the only sticking points, and they were pretty minor. Really like SCOOP NECK (37D: Cleavage-revealing dress feature). Otherwise, happy to move on to Wednesday (and I actually really like the song in question, still, despite my massive overexposure to it as a kid).



Bullets:
  • 57A: 'Do that one would rarely wear a hat with ('FRO) — yo, somebody forgot to tell Oscar Gamble.
  • 29A: Gorilla famously taught to use sign language (KOKO) — Acc. to wikipedia, "Koko is short for the name Hanabiko (花火子 lit. "fireworks child"?) in Japanese, a reference to her date of birth, the Fourth of July." Also, she seems to be still alive at nearly 40.
  • 45A: Where a pear's seeds are (CORE) — read this as "WHAT a pear's seeds are"; misreads are a speed-solving hazard.
  • 58A: Online portal since Windows 95 was launched (MSN) — didn't know the portal was tied to the OS.
  • 67A: French brainchild (IDÉE) — BRIE also fits. It's not a good fit, but it is a good brainchild.
  • 71A: Card game popular in Germany (SKAT) — I did not know that.
  • 2D: Never-ratified women-related measure, for short (E.R.A.) — wow, that is one long, awkwardly phrased way of cluing the most common crossword word in existence.
  • 12D: Van Gogh locale (ARLES) — it's always ARLES, which has a lot of useful letters in a very unusual (for English) combination.
  • 39D: Malfoy's look, in the Harry Potter books (SNEER) — interesting SNEER clue. Must be good, because I got it instantly.
  • 56D: No enrollees at Smith College (MALES) — this is like the NO TASTE cluing problem in reverse. Awkward incorporation of "No." "No enrollees" = "MALES." Further, I am no fan of calling human beings MALES and FEMALES — unless you are studying them scientifically, they are MEN and WOMEN. MALES has the ... benefit? ... of transcending age (i.e. includes children and adults), but it's awkward and (often) unnecessarily clinical-sounding.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

77 comments:

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Liked the puzzle. Flowerlady9

Sam. 7:35 AM  

American Pie - a classic, always, and a throwback to my youth, when Oscar Gamble got traded by the Tribe to the Yankees, who, I believe, made him cut his 'FRO, a cut he shared with youthful Michael Jackson. Tab was the only DIETSODA, and NEHRU jackets weren't my thing: they showed NOTASTE. I was a little young for ROYROGERS but knew who he was, and Mom's APPLEPIE was, quite simply, the best. And if I don't stop reminiscing I will miss work and my colleagues will get TESTY. Thanks for this morning!

glimmerglass 7:53 AM  

When I finished the puzzle, 42D turned out to be "epitomes," and I went and looked it up. Sure enough, the first meaning is "abstract." I've spent 70 years as an English teacher and editor without knowing that meaning of a very familiar word ("prime example"). Xwords are educational.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

I thought the Oprah Winfrey/Michael Jordan clue was terrible - showed NO TASTE!

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

I believe male undergraduates from other institutions are allowed to spend their junior year at Smith and as Wikipedia notes: Graduate degrees and study options

Smith offers men and women graduate work leading to the degrees of master of arts in teaching (elementary, middle or high school), master of fine arts, master of education of the deaf, master of science in biological sciences, master of science in exercise and sport studies and master and Ph.D. in social work. In special one-year programs, international students may qualify for a certificate of graduate studies or a diploma in American studies. Each year approximately 100 men and women pursue advanced graduate work at Smith.

So the clue may have failings beyond those that Rex pointed out

Doug 8:06 AM  

Anybody into the theme song of this puzzle has absolutely no musical taste.

r.alphbunker 8:15 AM  

Never heard of villa d'este. Why is it okay to leave out the apostrophe in crossword puzzles?

Sfingi 8:26 AM  

Easy though original puzzle. Everyone loves American Pie.

@Anon754 - We are post racialist now. Did no one tell you?

@Mr. Bunker - because you'd have to use it in the cross, too. And then you'd have to make it a rebus theme, and on and on.

I suppose Koko is reading Keats and Yeats by now.

mmorgan 8:40 AM  
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mmorgan 8:43 AM  

Either we're all getting too good or easiness is the new October (even for a Tuesday).

This one fell effortlessly into place. I briefly thought that Ms. Skye (15A) was IONa, but the GEESE quickly took care of that and fixed the final E. Otherwise, no glitches.

AFRICANAMERICAN (40A) seemed too easy (and perhaps a bit bizarre) -- as Rex said, it just lies there...

Getting DON MCLEAN at the right time was pleasant but also no big deal. I'm not a big fan of the song but I always enjoy the first verse and chorus. After that, it just lies there...

Overall, a smooth and enjoyable and nicely designed (and VERY quick) Tuesday.

I'd be willing to bet that ROY ROGERS and SCOOPNECK have never before appeared in the same puzzle!

And I like the fact that it leaves us pondering our ideal PERU CROP and thinking about what it might mean to UNCAP NEHRU or what one might do to an ARM TRIM.

Very nice, Paula!!!

joho 8:45 AM  

Smooth and nostalgic Tuesday, thank you, Paula!

KooKooKaChoo 8:45 AM  

Easy as pie. (sorry, couldn't resist.)

Always loved the song, so couldn't resist loving the CW shout-out.

When I played the N Sync video, I got a Youtube ad for "hooked on phonics." Hee hee.

Tinbeni 8:57 AM  

@Sfingi
Apparently @Doug doesn't like
AMERICAN PIE. Personally I always enjoyed his anthology.

WOD is EARLE Combs. How appropriate with the Bad Ass, Murders Row, Bronx Bombers, aka New York Yankees in the Playoffs.

AFRICAN AMERICAN was clued OK by me. Then again, you have to realize that was said by a EUROPEAN AMERICAN.

IONE Skye, also in the LAT. We do see her often ... but I'll forget her first name by noon.

All-in-all, a FUN Tuesday!

Cheers !!!

chefbea 9:04 AM  

I guess someone is happy today. Lots of U's!!!

Easy puzzle but I did have a natick... square #31

John V 9:10 AM  

I'd have 42D, epitomes, as my word of the day. Never knew it could mean "abstracts".

fmcgmccllc 9:12 AM  

No, did not like it and am not happy.

Howard B 9:15 AM  

Agree with Rex on this puzzle, except for the inclusion of NO TASTE; I do like this phrase and hear it used often enough to accept it as "in-the-language". ("S/he has no taste in [x] whatsoever." "This sauce has no taste."). The clue seemed to fit the answer well, and I had no trouble parsing it.

Of course, usage is subjective, and varies widely based on region, local area, family, etc. And considering my own sense of taste, that probably skews things a bit more from the norm.

jesser 9:21 AM  

Fast Tuesday. No writeovers. One of my roommates in college was a DJ, and he said they played 'American Pie' when they needed an extended restroom break. This was in the days when they actually had to spin records, of course. Those days are long gone.

Of Don McLean's ouvre, I much prefer 'Starry Starry Night' over 'American Pie,' but there's no denying the latter's place in Americana.

That DESTE sure was unfamiliar.

This evening I believe I'll UNCAP a bottle of the Good Bourbon and toast what would have been Mom's 83rd birthday. She and Dad are up there dancing and playing bridge. Not at the same time.

Tordards! (Anything I could come up with would fail the breakfast test badly, so I'll leave it alone.) -- jesser

hazel 9:27 AM  

I kind of liked the theme - takes me back to the 70s, but Don McLean sadly gets completely ambushed by a bunch of fill that has flat worn out its welcome (ELEV, SSE, IONE, REL, ASIP, IDEE, ADES, SKAT).

Although MISS AMERICAN PIE was a hit, a SAC fly is not (bad clue, I think).

Interesting, though, to note that the other DonMclean “hit”( Vincent - more popularly known as Starry Starry Night) gets a nod in the NE. And that the KORAN is able to peacefully coexist with MISS AMERICAN PIE in the grid. ;-0

fikink 9:29 AM  

Such a rich, textured puzzle we always seem to get from Paula, imo. Is there any crap fill? Even FRO is clued in a clever way with the apostrophe. I s'pose AHA is tired fill, but the clue for it is fresh to me. (I only do the NYT puzzles, for lack of time.)
And the puzzle is balanced in so many disciplines: art, music, literature, religion, geography, golf, baseball, food. @glimmerglass is right on!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:32 AM  

Rex et al. have said it al. (That's a joke, son.)

Bob Kerfuffle 9:36 AM  

Except: @mmorgan - You are absolutely correct, since at least in the Xword Info database, this is the first recorded appearance of SCOOPNECK.

Van55 9:48 AM  

Random direction from one city to another... There has GOT to be a better way!

Gotta share RP's cranky pants today. No sparkle to the there or to the puzzle as a whole, plus there's a ton of crap fill.

Lindsay 9:48 AM  

I really liked this puzzle.

The 40A clue did seem slightly naughty though. My first thought was "black" followed immediately by "no, no, no, you didn't think that, bad, bad, bad." So imagine the conspiratorial tingle when the answer turned out to be "African American."

Also, ""bye bye" doesn't remind me of baby talk; it reminds me of my father impersonating Vanna White ;~)

Louisa 9:54 AM  

Anonymous is correct about the presence of male grad students at Smith. The college also has a sizable transgender community, which has been covered previously by the Times. This clue is a bummer all around.

chaos1 9:55 AM  

Easy puzzle. No nits to pick. Interesting fact regarding EPITOME.

@Jesser: Agree on "Starry,Starry Night", but PIE will always be an AMERICAN classic.

@Hazel: Nice catch regarding VINCENT hiding in the NE.

In countries where they read the KORAN, they listen to AMERICAN PIE as well, but it's called INFIDEL BAKLAVA !

Glitch 10:02 AM  

Because somebody had to post it:

Bye Bye American Pie annotated video.

... and The Levy in the chorus was a bar in Rye (NY) which closed (went dry).

.../Glitch

foodie 10:29 AM  

I really liked the puzzle, in part for sentimental reasons--the song brings back many memories. When I was a starving grad student in the 70’s and could not afford to buy any audio equipment, I found some old vacuum tubes, and rigged myself a system. I had access to the shops at UCLA (where I was studying) and built a smoky purple Plexiglas box to go around it, so when the tubes were glowing the effect was sort of trippy… And I listened to American Pie for hours on end. I guess I was a hippie geek (It’s a concept : )

But I also thought the puzzle solve was smooth and had lovely Paula Gamache touches. Filled with ECHOes of the theme answers- 'FRO and AFRICAN; MUSIC, UPBOW, A FLAT to go with the musical theme; the Mac clue and APPLE, and a Van Gogh clue to remind us of Vincent (as noted by @Hazel) . Along with an international flair- PERU, INDIA, NEHRU, ARLES, Villa D’ESTE, CHERI, IDEE, EMIR, and a card game favored by Germans. And finally, it was nicely gender balanced—DRAG racing and a SCOOP NECK! Though their styles are different, Paula and Andrea share a magical ability to create an atmosphere in a puzzle.

CoffeeLvr 10:29 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle, anything that gets me singing before breakfast is great by me. Truly easy, with a couple of exceptions which I got from the crosses.

In college freshman English we were asked to find and interpret a contemporary poem. I chose "American Pie," and spent more time listening to get the lyrics down exactly than I did writing the essay. The album did not come with liner notes. Since I grew up 3 or 4 miles from the Missouri river, I assumed the gang drove to the levee to drink (and?) out of sight of adults. Levy as a bar does make more sense. I no longer think the song is profound, but it does stir up nostalgia.

Liked the clue for ARM at 46D a lot. NOTASTE is a nice reversal of yesterday's SAPOR.

I'm off to brew a cup . . .

edith b 10:31 AM  

Even tho, per@doug, I have no musical taste, this song is an anthem of a generation and I spent countless hours as a young girl trying to decipher the references Mr McLean set up in the song.

This song has worth beyond its musicallity - if that is a word.

I agree with @rex today and this puzzle lacked snap, crackle and pop - it just laid there in the bowl.

Nonetheless I enjoyed it.

Two Ponies 10:35 AM  

A little fun on a Tuesday is always a good thing.
'Fro was kinda clever.
Would have prefered an anotomy clue for sac.
Say Bye Bye made me think of the stereotypical stewardess as you leave the plane.
@ jesser, funny that you thought of Starry Starry Night with Van Gogh and Arles in the puzzle.
No taste made me smirk.
I adore Koko.

r'alphbunker 10:38 AM  

@Sfingi Thanks. What I meant to say was this. If I were to submit an article to the NYT magazine and spelled villa d'este without the apostrophe it would not be allowed by the editor. It also appears that a word like "didnt" is not allowed in Scrabble.

So there are precedents for disallowing the use of a word without its apostrophe. Just because the apostrophe causes problems in the grid is that reason enough to allow its omission?

CoffeeLvr 10:47 AM  

@Glitch, thank you very much for the video link. I know I didn't get all those associations at a pretentious and naive 18 years.

I want to find my McLean CD for my road trip next week.

paheadd - sounds like the 60's to me.

obviousman 11:11 AM  

@r'alphbunker
Why are you bothered by the missing apostrophe in d'este, but not the missing space (or hyphen) in AFRICANAMERICAN and several other answers? Or the missing tilde in some puzzles when año or other Spanish words are used? Crosswords routinely omit punctuation. In the easier (often crappier) venues, missing punctuation may be mentioned in the clue, but this is standard stuff.

Ulrich 11:13 AM  

@r'alphbunker: the point is, xword puzzles have their own rules for handling diacritical and other types of marks. You may not like it--I have been railing against omitting the umlaut mark in German words or the tilde in Spanish ones (which the NYT editors would never accept in an article) b/c it may significantly change the meaning ("ano" being the most notorious example), but had to accept, however grudgingly, that them's the rules...and the reason seems to be exactly that: If it is used in one direction, it also has to be used in the other, and that is extremely difficult to accomplish, but not impossible, theoretically. I'm still waiting for a puzzle that actually does this

fikink 11:14 AM  

@foodie, your memories took me through the beaded doorway into the lava-lamp-lit confines of a studio apartment where I flounced onto a floor mattress, lovingly wrapped in Indian-dyed bedspreads from Pier One. This is on S Street in DC and a guy is pulling his girlfriend down the sidewalk by her hair. It was the best of times and the worst of times.

Ulrich 11:17 AM  
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Ulrich 11:44 AM  

I worked too hard on my comment to delete it after discovering that Mr. Obvious had beaten me to the punch...take it as confirmation!

@Glitch: You are pulling our leg, right? I always thought "drinking whiskey in Rye" was a mondragon (actually used it as an example)--that it was "whiskey'n rye" as in "whiskey and rye", drunk on a levee, as CoffeLvr thought. But what do I know...

JaxInL.A. 11:48 AM  

This puzzle just tickled me. Smiled repeatedly at NO TASTE, clue for 'FRO, ARLES/CHERI combo, then grinned real big when I realized the theme. I loved that song!

I would echo assessments by @foodie, @fikink and @glimmerglass.

And I think that ROYROGERS is part of the musical theme. There used to be a Roy Rogers Museum where my brother lives in the high desert between L.A. and Las Vegas, and Dale Evans Parkway is the main drag through Apple Valley. His Double R Bar Ranch is still a working horse farm.

Speaking of music (ok, it's a stretch), I want to take a moment to mark the passing of Buddy Collette, jazz sax extraordinaire. There will be a tribute concert tonight in Santa Monica tonight.

Donald Trump 11:50 AM  

Rex, you have outdone yourself today. Did anyone bring a fire extinguisher?

r.alphbunker 11:52 AM  

@obviousman, @Ulrich

Thanks.

Perhaps the reason that omitted apostrophes bother me more than other omissions is that I am a computer programmer and the compiler does not tolerate the omission of apostrophes. But since I am human, I can learn to deal with it. :-)

Lady Mondregreen 12:01 PM  

@Ulrich - Love ya, guy, and Mondragon is a really interesting place (Wikipedia says, "Arrasate or Mondragón (Basque and Spanish official names, Mondragoe is an unofficial Basque name) - is a town and municipality in Gipuzkoa province, Basque Country, Spain. Its population on 31 December 2007 was 22,112.

It is known mainly as the place of origin of the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC), the world's largest worker cooperative."), but MY name is "Mondregreen."

Lady Mondegreen 12:04 PM  

All these Sixties flash-backs!!! I meant "Mondegreen" of course.

shrub5 12:08 PM  

@Glitch: Thanks for the link to the video - a huge wave of nostalgia has just washed over me...that was my time.

Reluctantly entered AFRICANAMERICAN when 'obscenely wealthy' wouldn't fit.

Favorite clue today: Joint for a beggar? KNEE.
Mini hair theme: ROOTS, FRO, TRIM
Coke Zero - my DIETSODA of choice.

Ulrich 12:14 PM  

@Lady Mondegreen: Of course! I have been reading, in parallel, about the problems of the goalie of the soccer team I'm rooting for, and his name is Mondragon (from Columbia, I think). My subconscious played a trick on me.

Howard B 12:16 PM  

@Ulrich: I believe there is at least one, if not more puzzles in the NY Sun collections that used diacriticals as the theme for a puzzle. One used a tilde-n (ñ) character consistently in the answer grid, and another may have similarly used various accented characters, although my memory is hazy here. Slightly off-topic, still another used various punctuation marks in names and titles as appropriate.

I cannot recite specific collections or constructors from memory, sadly, although I do remember solving them. There may be another member of this community that can point you in the right direction.

deerfencer 12:23 PM  

Very mediocre Gamache effort IMO, lacking her usual pizzazz. Agree with almost all of Rex's critique, especially re the heavy dead weight in the middle of the puzzle, AFRICANAMERICAN--ugh.

Sparky 12:23 PM  

@Glitch: thanks for the video. Had pop for the fly ball but that didn't work. Did not know CPU...I can't seem to memorize computer initials. Enjoyed the puzzle all around. I like easy now and then. The Smith College answer gave me pause too. So thanks @Anon 759 for the longer explanation. I was well out of college when that song was so big so no particular nostalgia though I knew of it. Another rainy day, I'm off to market.

Clark 12:30 PM  

Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa D'ESTE.

Glitch 3:38 PM  

@Ulrich

[Analysis from wilstar.com, one of many attempts to explain the song. It's the anaysis I find most credible.]

Also, I had an error in the cities, sorry.

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry


[The Levee is the bar where McLean and his friends hung out in his hometown of New Rochelle, NY. It closed down.]

Them good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey 'n' rye

[This line is a play on words. Rye is a city in New York near where McLean grew up. When the Levee closed, the "good ol' boys," McLean and his friends, fled to drink in Rye where together they mourned the deaths of the trio.]

Singin this will be the day that I die.

Click here for the full analysis.

.../Glitch

PS: McClean, AFAIK, still refuses to provide his own explanation, falling back on "It means what YOU think it means".
.../g

sanfranman59 4:07 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Tue 8:36, 8:55, 0.97, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:41, 4:36, 1.02, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

McLean hasn't provided his own explanation, but he has provided the lyrics. It's "whiskey and rye".

When the plane crashed he was a 13-year old paperboy. If he drove his Chevy to a bar with his friends, it wasn't until years later. It's not like they went to grab a drink when they heard the news.

George NYC 5:06 PM  

A sacrifice fly is not a hit. You have to get to at least first (without an error, walk or hit-by-pitch) to get a hit. Surprised Rex didn't jump on this travesty!

But I enjoyed the puzzle anyway.

Sfingi 5:37 PM  

@Rex - forgot to thank you for disapproving of the common use of MALE/female. Leave it for "sexing" hamsters.

SAC fly would have worked yesterday as a flip-flop. Fly Sac, yummy.

@Ulrich - I'm still waiting for the Umlaut puzzle in which the Umlauts really work. No Haagen-Dazs or Husker Du (no point in putting them in here).

Just Curious . . 6:08 PM  

@Ulrich or anyone else who knows: I know they have German crossword puzzles, because I have glimpsed them, but never tried to solve because I don't know German. So, how do they handle umlauts?

For that matter, is anyone familiar with crosswords in any of the many languages that have more diacritical marks than English? How do any of them deal with them?

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Spanish crosswords are just a bunch of Os, As and Ss.

Ulrich 6:31 PM  

@Howard B: Thx

@Glitch: Thx, too. It seems I have to give up a favorite mondegreen...

@Just curious: Truthfully, I don't remember. I don't do typical German xword puzzles b/c they extend over an entire page in a newspaper so that the clues fit into the adjacent black squares, which eliminates one of the charms of American puzzles: creative cluing, for which the space provided is too small. And the cryptic puzzles in the more cerebral periodicals are just too hard for me.

Glitch 6:32 PM  

@Anon 4:49

Never said they weren't the "lyrics".

Not sure what your point is about a 13 year old and drinking and driving, tho.

The song (and chorus) are set in 1970, looking back at the previous 10 years.

.../Glitch (3/3)

Mickey 7:46 PM  

You have to HIT the ball in order to make a sac fly. Just sayin.

George NYC 8:20 PM  

@mickey,
Yes, and you have to HIT the ball to produce a foul ball. But no one calls that a "hit." Baseball has its lingo, and if you go there you should follow it. Without context, a "hit" refers to the getting on base kind, as opposed the "hit into a double-play" kind. No runs, no hits, no errors doesn't mean no one "hit" the ball.

mmorgan 8:37 PM  

Oh yes, @Ulrich, you nailed it about año and ano. I cringe (and laugh a little -- but mostly cringe) every time I have to type in the latter.

It's almost as bad as the fact that every time you see the Spanish word "mate" (the yerba) in English they have to spell it "maté" -- which would make it mah-TAY.

Those anos!

Crosswords involve Wordplay 8:55 PM  

22d. ___ fly (certain baseball hit, for short)

HIT
Transitive verb1a : to reach with or as if with a blow b : to come in contact with c :: to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat, club, or racket) so as to impart or redirect motion

hit
noun 1 : an act or instance of hitting or being hit 2a : a stroke of luck b : a great success 3 : a telling or critical remark 4 : base hit

Sfingi 10:10 PM  

Back when I did the Kreuzwortratsel in Brigitte - a very easy one, like TV Guide, it was totally different. This must have been 20 years ago, before any internet. It was not symmetric to an x=y line, as is the American signature. The Umlauts were orphaned, or unchecked. The crosses were not crossed at many places. Note: as easy as they seemed then, I probably couldn't do them now.
I've seen the Italian Cruciverbi which are almost solid words both ways, with diagonals of black squares running through. They're blessed with vowels, and few diacriticals, but don't go for the "American" symmetricality.
Basically, I'd say Europeans have there own types of puzzles.
For instance, they like Soduko which works in any language.

George NYC 10:13 PM  

You just proved my point!
By definition, a sacrifice fly is NOT a "base hit." A "single" or a "double" etc. is a base hit. A sacrifice fly not only is not counted as a base hit, it is not even counted as an at bat, which is the whole point. It's like a sacrifice bunt, which is also not a base hit, and therefore not a hit.
As per your citation, a base hit is a hit, but the reverse is not the same thing.

Tinbeni 10:46 PM  

George NYC
(Damn, I'm in baseball withdrawal until the Yankees play tomorrow).

I think the clue was OK.
22d. ___ fly (certain baseball hit, for short)

Like the definition said:
b : to come in contact with
c : to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat).

The ball was "hit" by the bat and deep enough to move the runner over.

Official scorer ruled it a SAC fly.
'nough said!!!

Stan 10:55 PM  

Yikes, I am on a completely different page today. The clues that Rex found "awkward," "strange," "awkwardly phrased," and "awkward," I thought were kind of elegant and subtly misdirective.

But the theme reveal filled me with horror (I really do not like that song). I'll spare everyone the analysis, but let's just start with "whiskey and rye" -- isn't that like saying "wine and chianti" or "mammals and elephants"?

I do agree that a "sac fly" is not any sort of baseball hit. No big deal, but the fact-checkers made an error on this one.

deerfencer 11:09 PM  

Have to side with GeorgeNYC and Stan re the faux pas of a sacrifice being called a hit--it aint! That's why it's called a sacrifice for gawd's sake.

Error Shortz!

andrea central michaels 1:43 AM  

The thing about a sac fly...
(Kidding!) Actually I was happy to see the song, thought that really clever, yet agree with Rex esp about the middle entry.
If it had indeed been CENTRAL instead of AFRICAN, same amount of letters AND it would have been CENTRAL to the puzzle :) But much harder to define, but prob without that weird cringe feeling of feeling is this somehow nonPC on some level.

I liked that it had an atmosphere, the thing @foodie alluded to that I'm forever bitching about...but this one had a female vibe...what with E.R.A., SCOOPNECK, refs to defining things MALE by their counterparts (ie Indira, Pocahontas, and Smith)
I find the MALE in this context reasonable bec you usually say "All-male college", so re: colleges, MALE seems appropriate, tho it's interesting to learn there are indeed men there as well as a big transsexual population.

I think BYEBYELOVE, altho couldn't be bec it starts the clue and is wrong amount of letters to match DONMCLEAN also would tip too much that this was about another song.

But totally agree about the whole CENTRAL vs AFRICAN thing and CUTIEPIE really would have made this more snappy.
Loved the idea tho. Total theme envy here :)

And I loved shout out to KOKO, the name of my cat of 16 yrs who isn't doing too well at the moment.

And hand up here for EPITOMES as abstracts being news to me! It's such a weird word to begin with to say and spell...

sanfranman59 1:55 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:46, 6:57, 0.83, 1%, Easy
Tue 8:41, 8:55, 0.97, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:43, 0.88, 3%, Easy
Tue 4:37, 4:36, 1.00, 57%, Medium

Evgeny 4:19 AM  

@ Just Curious: German puzzles write out the umlauts the way they would be fount in Latin: 'ae' for 'ä', 'ue' for 'ü' and 'oe' for 'ö'. On that note 'ß' is always a double-s in crossword.

@Ulrich: i solve the "Die Zeit" weekly cryptic, which is, together with SZ's, the hardest to be found in mainstream press. You really should give it a try! It's a bit like an nyt fri or sat, not solvable at first, but once one gets into their scheme of thinking it becomes a fun challenge. Plus, it's free - to solve online or download as pdf.

http://spiele.zeit.de/ecke/

p.s. 1. FC Köln - really? Seems, nobody's without fault

Evgeny 4:20 AM  

Oops, 'found', of course

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I'm 90, could hardly write the answers in rapidly enough on this one! I long for the puzzles of Eugene Maleska, classical Latin, Operas, Literature!!! Gone forever unless someone can tell me where to find that variety?
Modern sports heroes, so-called music?, leave me in the dust fairly often. That's where I belong? Not yet... Fit and active at 90!

tim 2:03 PM  

Just a quick thanks for the photo of Oscar with hat on FRO. Laugh out loud funny. Definitely **not** a good look.

Waxy in Montreal 2:07 PM  

In my syndipaper, 62A refers to four italicized, rather than starred, clues then doesn't bother to print any clues in italics! (No *'s either.) So the challenge of the day morphed to became one of identifying the clues referencing 62A once DONMCLEAN hove into view. Not hard but different.

Also, kudos to George NYC for sticking to his guns 5 weeks ago concerning baseball LINGO and the definition of a hit. Anyone detect a minor baseball theme linking SAC, EARLE Combs and the PRIDE of the Yankees (Lou Gehrig)?

Dirigonzo 4:59 PM  

Would have finished much quicker if I had only remembered that oxen wear YOkes but eggs have YOKEs. Also that Malfoy's look was not a Stare but a SNEAR. Both were easily fixed, but am I the only one who confidently filled in bible for 59a and had to wait for the crosses to produce KORAN? Really, was I the only one? Anyway, glad to see KORAN in the grid and even more glad (gladder?) to see it didn't produce any outrage here.

Last couple of posts have "gone missing" so trying this one with fingers crossed.

Nullifidian 2:15 AM  

I liked the puzzle. "American Pie" is probably my father's favorite rock song, so I thought of him as soon as I twigged to the theme.

My only write-over was ROY ROGERS, because I blanked on the spelling and added a superfluous "D" to his last name. The error became obvious when I ran out of squares before I ran out of letters, though I checked the crosses to make sure it wasn't rebused.

Dirigonzo 7:08 AM  

Eggs have YOLKs, of course.

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