Orioles hurler 1966 champs / THU 3-31-11 / Solo crooner Oh My Pa-Pa #1 1954 / 140 pounds in Britain / 1970s sitcom ended with title character Congress

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Constructors: Jeremy Horwitz and Tyler Hinman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PERFECT PITCH (19D: Something the eight people at 3-, 9-, 28- and 30-Down have all strived for?) — theme answers are all names shared by World-Series-winning Major League baseball pitchers and #1-charting singers / musicians

Word of the Day: TAI CHI CHUAN (62A: Dojo discipline) —

Tai chi chuan (simplified Chinese: 太极拳; traditional Chinese: 太極拳; pinyin: tàijíquán; Wade–Giles: t'ai4 chi2 ch'üan2) (literal translation "Supreme Ultimate Fist") is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. It is also typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, and longevity. As a consequence, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of tai chi chuan's training forms are especially known for being practiced at what most people categorize as slow movement. // Today, tai chi has spread worldwide. Most modern styles of tai chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. (wikipedia)

• • •

As much as yesterday's puzzle was outside my wheelhouse, this one is in it. Right in it. I just clobbered this one. Minute and a half faster than yesterday, and a good minute faster than last Thursday. Seven of the eight men involved in the theme answers are well known to me—the only one I'd never heard of was the pitcher EDDIE FISHER, but I was able to get singer EDDIE FISHER off just the EDD-, so no sweat. Even TAI CHI CHUAN was in my back pocket—I'm guessing most folks know the TAI CHI part, but not the CHUAN. Annoyed to see that the same damn stupid clue for TAI CHI (CHUAN) is still being used — "Dojo" is from a different language and refers to different martial arts from a different country. Come on. Have some respect—China and Japan are different. Their martial arts are different. Terminology is different. Practiced TAI CHI for years and never saw or heard the word "Dojo" (for good reason). I see that there are a few places out there using the word "dojo" to describe their TAI CHI studios, but that's probably for commercial purposes, i.e. people are familiar with the term from pop culture. Please keep "dojo" away from TAI CHI clues. I'm sure "Dojo" is, in some rigmarolish way, defensible, but I don't care. It's not right. Thank you. End rant.

Only places I struggled were in a couple of corners—a little bit in the NE (where PEDICAB took its sweet time showing up (7A: Way around Shanghai), and where I had DORA for CORA (11D: Mrs. Dithers of the comics)), and a lot in the SE, where SIC for SUE (65A: Go after) and NAB for NET (71A: Capture) made a hash of things down there until MAUDE (55D: 1970s sitcom that ended with the title character in Congress)! And then there's MAUDE! She saved the day (god bless you, Bea Arthur). The only weird thing about the theme is that DAVE STEWART of the Eurythmics is *not* a singer, which makes PERFECT PITCH slightly odd, since that's a phrase I've only ever heard in relation to the voice. But instruments have pitches too, obviously, so ... it'll stretch. I especially like that all the pitchers won World Series and all the music folk hit #1. That's oddly serendipitous, theme coherence-wise. KENNY ROGERS actually once pitched a PERFECT game. DAVE STEWART didn't, but he did throw a no-hitter.

Theme answers:
  • 3D: Yankees hurler (1996 champs) / Solo singer of "Lady" (#1 in 1980) (KENNY ROGERS)
  • 28D: Orioles hurler (1966 champs) / Solo crooner of "Oh! My Pa-Pa" (#1 in 1954) (EDDIE FISHER) — father of Princess LEIA
  • 9D: A's hurler (1989 champs) / Eurythmics musician on "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" (#1 in 1983) (DAVE STEWART)
  • 30D: Giants hurler (2010 champs) / Beach Boys vocalist on "Help Me, Rhonda" (#1 in 1965) (BRIAN WILSON)
  • 20A: 140 pounds, in Britain (TEN STONE) — had ...-TON- part and really wanted something-TONS, despite the fact that 140 pounds isn't anywhere near a ton.
  • 24A: Distant sign of affection? (AIR KISS) — nice clue, nice answer.
  • 47A: 1994 Costner title role (EARP) — Wow, there was a movie called "EARP?" That one got by me.

  • 57DA: "Less Than Zero" (ELLIS) — more wheelhouseness. "Less Than Zero" was a Big movie when I was younger. ELLIS's "American Psycho" was big (controversial) news when I was in college.
  • 67A: Car co-created and named by John DeLorean (GTO) — well that's some odd trivia that I am sure to forget right ... now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:18 AM  

The puzzle gods decided that one day was enough for me. So, we're back to lots of proper names. Yet, I agree with Rex's rating of Easy for a Thursday. The puzzle gave the pop-culture challenged folks two chances to get the theme answers right, and for me the music side came through. I also figured that for the name to be shared, it had to be pretty common- e.g DAVE or KEN, STEWART OR WILSON... So that helped.

ELK is on the Michigan Flag? Where have I been? I thought it might be a wolverine and we'd have a rebus. But what kind of rebus would be embedded in wolverine? So, worked around it and learned something...

Informative rant about Dojo, Rex! And very cool WOD.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Really liked this one. If you go to Wordplay Deb Amlen gives a link to the article in Thursday's Times about how this puzzle came together. It's worth reading.

My apologies to Rex for the Wordplay commercial.

DJG 12:23 AM  

What Rex said. Probably my fastest Thursday ever.

Not only did I know all the pitchers, but I used a very similar theme (with two of the same entries -- Kenny Rogers and Brain Wilson) in a puzzle I sold to a sort-lived crossword puzzle video game app thing.

My personal favorite musician/ball player is Jim Morrison. He led the Pirates in homeruns in 1986. Not a pitcher though, so he wouldn't have worked in this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

It seems unfair to give Kenny Rogers credit for being a World Series champion. What with him sucking his whole time as a Yankee, and going a total of less than three innings with an ERA of over 15 in his one start in the series.

Captcha: shilty. adj: really, really bad. Use in a sentence - Kenny Rogers slider was shlity in the World Series

lit.doc 12:34 AM  

Holy crap, way fastest Thursday ever. The Magic Eight Ball sez Rex sez “Easy”. Nice, hard Wednesday puzzle, nicely put together. No complaints. I do hope, though, that someone comes up with a good reason for the theme answers having been Downs. Odd, that.

Only hang-ups were kinda funny. But then I’m easily amused. 9D ANNIE LENNOX was as much a gimme as the resulting crosses were baffling. And 3D had me thinking “Really? I can’t think of the name of the lead singer for Styx?” for way too long (the post-‘70s date didn’t display in Across Lite as I was too sure of the answer to expand the clue).

After catching up on yesterday’s conversation, I’m left wanting someone to explicate the well-read shift that seemed such a problem. ;)

Sartre 12:40 AM  

This puzzle poses a question: If the well know axiom: 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that any man who can look like Kenny Rogers will look like Kenny Rogers', is true, does it matter which Kenny Rogers, or does it not?

PurpleGuy 12:41 AM  

Sorry, but I agree with @Anonymous 12:37. Didn't enjoy this at all.
Knew all the songs, but some of the musicians eluded me.

Still have the crankypants from yesterday.
This puzzle just sucked. Big Time !!!

Shanti -

PurpleGuy 12:43 AM  

And yes, I did finish it !!

Happy Thursday.


Clark 12:56 AM  

Dora? Cora?

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

"I do hope, though, that someone comes up with a good reason for the theme answers having been Downs. Odd, that."

Unusual, yes, which I consider a plus. Why shouldn't they be?

Tobias Duncan 1:37 AM  

Hated it.
Have I ever mentioned here that I am not much of a sports fan?
I cant believe I was able to finish in a non horrible time.I guess I did know Kenny Rogers and Brian Wilson.
Oh and almost forgot! If anyone ever travels to 42 down, please let me take you out for a cocktail at my favorite bar.
I think I may have the distinction here of living in the place that appears most in the grid. Any challengers to that claim?

arena cora michaels 1:40 AM  

I think this is one of the best puzzles EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That there are FOUR #1 hit singers who are also baseball players who also are pitchers who also were world series participants who ALL have exactly 11 letters???????!!!!!!!
AND they got PERFECTPITCH running down the middle AND it's a perfect pun tying in singers and baseball pitchers?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My Nab led to ---DA and I guessed RHODA! But suddenly I could "hear" Tyler saying "Sweeet" so damage undone.

I'm also old enough that I had TapeS before TivoS.

LOVED the tough clue "For --- a..."

OK, back to best puzzle theme EVER!
BRAVO Jeremy and Tyler!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DJG 2:16 AM  

Damn this great puzzle. Now, I'm going though a baseball encyclopedia looking for other "perfect pitch" guys when I should be working.

Add Phil Collins (Phillies 30s) and Michael Jackson (Mariners 90s) to the list. Although, the latter went more by "Mike" so it's a stretch.

acme 2:47 AM  

WOW!!! PHILCOLLINS is also 11 as is MIKEJACKSON! What is going on here???!!!! SO much synchronicity!

Here is the link to the NY Times article: (I've forgotten how to embed)

Shocked to be quoted in an article in the SPORTS section of the NYT!!!! (And I'm pretty sure I've never uttered the words "Chat room" in my life...)
But we had organized a little get- together (last summer?) when Will Shortz was out here in Berkeley...
and I was lurking about when Tyler and Jeremy first showed their amazing puzzle to Will. We then all played Boggle with the journalist, super good sport...pun intended! :)

jae 3:15 AM  

Easy here also. No missteps which is rare. Plus I liked it a lot. I knew 3 of the musicans and none of the sports guys but it didn't matter, still easy! It obviously took a lot of work to put this together. Bravo Jeremy and Tyler!

I skip M-W 3:21 AM  

Not a sports fan or a pop music fan very much, and never watched TV in the entire 70's, but did live in SF in 89 and therefore the World Series quake, so perhaps that's why the answers came amazingly fast. OTOH met Eno once, in Berlin, 2000. Have been in Taos lots of times (never to ski) and in Arles
Loved the clue for air kiss,as did @Rex. Also appreciate sermon on dojo.

captcha metele almost like air kiss (BTW did anyone read Tiems article on re-captchas and how they are used to correct OCRs of old books. funny Blogspot (out of google) doesn't use them.

chefwen 4:20 AM  

@Arena Cora Michaels - You have officially used up all the exclamation points in the world. There are none left for the rest of us.

Mr. Baseball husband helped me with this one and we had a great time passing it to and fro. My biggest question mark was, as Rex mentioned, TAI CHI CHUAN, had the TAI CHI, the CHUAN was new to me, had to get it with the downs.

All in all, it was a good Thursday puzzle for me and Mr. Baseball. Thank you Jeremy and Tyler.

Greene 4:55 AM  

Loved this. I tried my hand at it last night after having been up for about 20 hours and made absolutely no progress. Tried again this morning after a few hours of sleep and just tore through it.

I would have never finished if it were just a sports themed puzzle, but pitchers and musicians with the same names? Crazy clever and fun.

I'm impressed that the best constructors just seem to pick up these bits of information that are hiding in plain sight, link them together, and create these masterful puzzles. After I finish I always think "Well, of course. I could have thought of that." But somehow, I never do. Jeremy and Tyler: you guys make it look effortless and easy (which I think is pretty high praise, indeed).

Puzzle provides another opportunity for me to plug The Book of Mormon which remains the most hilarious Broadway musical I have ever seen in 40-some-odd years of theatergoing. So, if you're in town...

todd 6:25 AM  


The story of this puzzle.

Gil.I.Pollas 7:32 AM  

This puzzle was SWEET. What's not to love about an AIR KISS?
Perhaps I loved it even more since non-puzzle spouse and I were outside (finally) enjoying our weather and I tossed out all the musical references to him. He gave me all the answers and then beamed like a kid in a chocolate factory. I may yet get him to do the NYT puzzles.
Thank you Jeremy and Tyler.

JaxInL.A. 7:36 AM  

Gotta get back to my grant proposal but took a break from my all-nighter (why do we leave things to the last minute?) to try the puzzle and had to express my amazement both at blazing through it and at the constructors' feat, which @ArenaCora has already pointed out. I'm also wild at having finished a Thursday(!!) in well under half an hour. That's a first for me. (@chefwen, I found a couple of extra exclamation points hiding in those parentheses.)

Will have to read here at the end of the day, but it looks like a fun story, both origin and reaction to this puzzle.

Not that I'll have time today, but I'm still pining for the CrosSynergy .puz file. Cruciverb still broken.

Wish me luck with the funder.

joho 7:55 AM  

When I saw the baseball part of the clue I thought I would strike out so was pleasantly surprised when I easily knew the singer part of the clue. I had a big aha moment when I realized these names were shared by famous sports figures/muscians. Beautifully done, Jeremy and Tyler! I might even say PERFECT!

Jon88 8:12 AM  

Little-known fact: "S.N.L." starts at 11:29 p.m. ET.

Chris Hensel 8:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Hensel 8:21 AM  

RE: 30 down. While Brian Wilson was obviously involved in the background vocals of Help Me Rhonda, the "vocalist" (lead) was Alan Jardine.

mitchs 8:26 AM  

Unbelievable construction and a pleasure to solve. Great, great.

David L 8:38 AM  

I did this is no time at all! Oh wait, I guess that was because the little timer didn't turn on for some reason... But this was an easy one, for sure

It's cute that these names are shared in this way, although not surprisingly they're kind of ordinary names. It would be great if there were a baseball pitcher by the name of Billy Idol, or a singer named Goose Gossage....

fikink 8:40 AM  

Like @joho, I saw baseball and approached with great trepidation, but like @Greene, I picked it up again this morning and hit a homer.

This puzzle was ultimately fair to those of us who know few baseball stats and its consistency/coherence, as both @Rex and @Andrea pointed out, knocked my SOX off!

Caps off to Jeremy and Tyler!

PanamaRed 8:46 AM  

Great opening day puzzle. I'm with @arenacoramichaels (1:40am) on this.

Another Thursday without help, so I must agree with Rexrate as easy. Thanks also for the Dojo rant.

Great job Jeremy and Tyler.

mmorgan 8:48 AM  

I got PERFECT PITCH and figured out the theme before I was 1/3 done... but I knew none of the pitchers; and while I'd heard of three of the singers, I knew just one of the songs. So this was no speedfest for me. For the theme answers I was nearly as clueless as I was for that red-whatever yesterday. But I really admire the construction and I can feel the love it set off in folks here.

(I only hope that @arena's exclamation points are enough to push that Nor'easter that's coming a bit more to the northeast. I do NOT want 6-12 inches of heavy wet snow tomorrow.)

Doug 9:10 AM  

I think Shortz would have run this earlier in the week but was forced into Opening Day to coincide with the profile of Brian Wilson, a consummate puzzler, apparently, in today's Sports Section. There was a spoil alert at the beginning of the piece.

quilter1 9:15 AM  

Ditto the praise for the clever clues and construction. Although I now have an ear worm of Oh My Papa.

I once baptized a scion of the Earp family (yes they are still around), father and sons all named for the famous brothers. And Tombstone is a hoot.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

I don't understand PERFECT PITCH. No musician "strives" for this. It's not something you acquire in time (people are either born with it or not), and it's certainly not something that any rock and roll star would care about.

I understand how it's intended to relate. But I don't think it does.

Jon88 9:32 AM  

Dear Anonymous 9:16 a.m.: It's only a crossword puzzle. (But you're right.)

chefbea 9:38 AM  

Easy Thursday for me though I did have to google a bit. Of course I knew Oh my papa by eddie Fisher and will probably be singing it all day.
Have no idea who the baseball players are but do know the singers/music people.A great puzzle! (there was one exclamation point left.)

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

@Anon 9:16 - So, those million plus Google hits for ear training for perfect pitch are targetting no one? They may be scams, but certainly people aspire to have perfect pitch.

Glitch 9:45 AM  

Since PERFECT PITCH is actually the ability to identify the pitch of a tone, it's not limited to singers, or even musicians for that matter.

Another definition is "•Throwing a banjo in the dumpster without hitting the sides."


Lindsay 9:46 AM  

The puzzle, if not my entire day, was COMPLETELY, TOTALLY and UTTERLY ruined (using CAPS because acme has taken all the exclamation points) by the reveal on page one of the NYT:

Sportsthursday (caps, all one word) Reliever Really Is the Answer (boldface) Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson fulfills a longstanding dream to make the Times crossword puzzle. (caps) Page B12

WHAT THE HELL!!!! The part that's ruining my day is the in-your-face reminder that there are unadulterated idiots afoot on the planet. And some of them work for the New York Times!

Writeovers at 71A Nab > NET, 48A plaNED > IRONED, and 37A duGIn > RIGID.


BigSteve46 9:48 AM  

You could give Kenny Rogers some credit for his 8 shutout/2 hit gem in Game 2 of the 2006 World Series: the only game the Tigers won in that Series, by the way. But, admittedly, he was not with the "Champs" in that one.

JenCT 9:54 AM  

@Glitch: LOL for the banjo.

I had confidently put LIONELRICHIE for 3D, and that threw me for a looong time.

Liked this very much; liked the fact that you could know music OR baseball & still finish.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Annie Lennox was not a good pitcher. Though she did beat Kenny Rogers in the Yankees/Eurythmics exhibition game of 1999.

Elaline2 10:04 AM  

I also LOVED this puzzle -- since music and baseball are two of my favorite things!

btw @glitch -- loved your extra def. of perfect pitch -- only the way I heard it, it was an accordion....

Happy Thursday!

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Baseball season starts today. L.A.Times is baseball themed also.

nanpilla 10:10 AM  

The first thing I noticed was that this is a 15x16. I guess the 12 letter PERFECT PITCH required that, since there was nothing to pair it with theme-wise.

like @JenCT said, this was great for either sports or music fans, making it easy to love.

I Was Spoiled 10:11 AM  

Boo on the NY Times. Yes, there was a warning in the sports article that it would contain a spoiler for the crossword puzzle, but (at least in the paper version) by the time you read the notice you already were informed that Brian Wilson would be one of the answers.

A quick word on whether perfect pitch can be learned (see Anonymous's comment above). There are two types. Absolute perfect pitch is what people like Mozart are born with. But by listening to a piece of music a lot, it is possible to memorize the sound of the piece in your head. For example, you can memorize the exact sound of the beginning of Beethovan's Fifth Symphony. Then you can identify the pitch of a note by comparing it to the G and E-Flat that opens the symphony. This is relative perfect pitch. Why would a rock star like that? Easier to tune your instrument if you don't have a pitch pipe.

Matthew G. 10:14 AM  

I agree with Rex and especially with Andrea. The levels of coherence in the theme are astonishing, and this is the perfect Opening Day puzzle. Two thumbs way up.

I didn't know two of the singers -- Stewart or Fisher -- but the other six men I knew well. Like most others, I flew through this one, shattering my personal Thursday record and setting one that I doubt I'll break any time soon.

It's not often that I love a puzzle that's so easy for its day of the week, but this one was fantastic.

And three hours from now ... play ball!

retired_chemist 10:25 AM  

This felt like a Tuesday. Very easy. Like others, I did it late at night when I was tired and was slower than I think I should have been.

What @Foodie said to kick today's blog off. The names HAD to be common ones so a few crosses mostly got you there even if you didn't know baseball or pop.

Hand up for looking for a rebus with wolverine based on the clue for 1A (also like @Foodie). Non-puzzle Michiganian wife assures me that, not only is the ELK on the Michigan flag, but also there are NO wolverines in Michigan. maybe there once were....

Confidently plunked down RICKSHA @ 7A. Nope.... Liked the misdirection in the 19A clue. Knew TAI CHI CHUAN, but don't know how.

Thanks, Messrs. Horwitz and Hinman.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

Talk about being outside my wheelhouse - I Knew For Sure zero of the baseball players and only three of the singers (Eurythmics not in my ball park.)

Nonetheless, even though I did not Hit it out of the park, I finished with only one Run-over (13 D, Ordered, had TIDY before BADE!), and no Errors.

Some wonderful fill as others have noted -- good puzzle.

OISK 10:37 AM  

I do the puzzle before I read the paper, so was not affected by the "tell" on Brian Wilson. Found it much harder than yesterday's and actually got one square wrong ( guessed "chuan" but not "Enos") Pop music references always give me trouble- Enya, Brian Wilson, Dave Stewart, Eno... Still, a very clever and enjoyable Thursday.

Two Ponies 10:38 AM  

Easy puzzle but there are no words to describe how little I cared.

GTO Gran Turismo Omologato

Stephen 11:01 AM  

The "dojo" rant was a little off base, methinks. "Dojo" may reflect the Japanese pronunciation, but the word itself is of Chinese origin: 道場. The same word is also used in Korean (pronounced "dojang" in that language) for a martial arts studio.

Noam D. Elkies 11:02 AM  

Yeah, I guess this puzzle and its quartet of theme entries is an accomplishment that the folks who care for b*seball and p*p music would appreciate. I have so little interest in, and patience for, either topic that this puzzle made me want to, well, hurl. Basically four of the longest entries amount to "fill in some plausible name that may or may not be vaguely familiar". And yes, the "dojo" clue didn't help matters either. (Kwoon discipline = aikido?...) Meh-minus/Boo-plus.


John V 11:13 AM  

Best part: @Anonymous re: Yankees/Eurythmics game. LMAO! Almost as funny as Kenny Rogers punching the wall in the clubhouse, breaking his hand. Not a happy camper; didn't know when to fold 'em.

Fun puzzle, great for opening day. I too do the puzzle before reading the paper, so no spoil for me.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I'm a Michigander (or Michiganian -- don't get me started on the 2 schools of thought on that) and I always thought it was just a plain old deer on the flag. So tried DOE first. Also never watched all the Maude episodes so was pleasantly surprised to learn she became a congressperson!

Arundel 11:25 AM  

Oh, yeayy (note lack of exclamation points) After yesterday, this one truly sparkles. Easy for a Thursday, but too good to not have saved for Opening Day. Good words, great cluing, and a fine intersection of baseball and pop music.

One of my fondest baseball memories as an Oakland A's fan was watching Dave Stewart pitching his no-hitter, fixing that basilisk gaze on the Toronto batters and just mowing them down.

Baseball season is *so* needed now, considering the winter we're still having to put up with... Oh, yeah. Up with which we're still having to put. Go Red Sox!! (Andrea left a few)

Ulrich 11:54 AM  

I actually liked yesterday's puzzle better than today's, but that's my taste.

Here are two famous musicians who did not have perfect pitch: Louis Armstrong, among jazz musicians, and Wilhelm Furtwängler, among classical conductors. Goes to show that, yes, there are qualities that make a great musician that are much more important than perfect pitch.

On the other hand, it helps in certain occasions, as someone has mentioned. I read about an opera singer (I think it was Montserrat Caballé) whose head was so stuffed up with a cold she couldn't hear the orchestra during a performance, but came in, on the conductor's clue, right on time for a great aria and sang through w.o. a misstep--I guess the orchestra must've been perfectly tuned...

All of this is wishful thinking on my part, though.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

felt like a tues. to me. solved it with no baseball knowledge altho knew 3 singers. the names were simple and common so could be inferred easily with just a few letters. wish i could solve a medium-challenging thurs. well maybe next week. i feel like goldilocks: today too easy, yesterday too hard.

Mel Ott 12:14 PM  

The NY Times article in question was in the sports pages. Any day in which Andrea Carla Michaels is quoted in the sports pages is a special day indeed! (She left me one exclamation point.)

Mets fans also hate Kenny Rogers because he once walked in the run that eliminated the Mets from the playoffs.

MAUDE was in Congress?! Who knew?

Stan 12:15 PM  

Yikes what a great day [exclamation point] I'm still grinning. Dust off the trophies for this one.

More confluence: Brian Wilson (the musician) is famed for having perfect pitch. And Kennedy drove a Lincoln.

william e emba 12:27 PM  

Not only was this puzzle spoiled by the NYT front page reveal, I managed to find it unaccountably difficult as a slog. No real reason either: ignoring the fact I only recognized three of the eight names--certainly not from the clues--I just managed to not see where the clues were going most of the time. And even when I did, I still blanked out. All that, and I was avoiding the SE until last because of the spoiler.

As for Bret Easton ELLIS, I remember when Less Than Zero came out. Somehow I ended up with a copy--I certainly didn't buy it, and I doubt I will ever read it.

PuzzleNut 12:31 PM  

I checked out BEQ's site before doing the NYT on paper, and he had a link to this puzzle (but it was not identified as today's NYT puzzle). Did it on-line in a jiffy, thinking it was a Tuesday level puzzle. Lot of fun and VERY impressive.
Greatly disappointed, however, when I opened the paper an hour later and found I had already done the puzzle. Thought I was getting a freebie, thanks to BEQ, but no.

Sparky 12:33 PM  

Thanks for the Annie Lennox @Rex, love her. Wanted her as answer but the STEWART filled in and Dave popped into my head. (@imsDave, Hi.)

I liked this very much because I finished it in 21 minutes. You all may chuckle but that's great for me and not a DNF. There's a dance in the old girl yet.

Know bupkus about bBall but picked up EDDIEFISHER right away and it went easily from there. SLIPCOVERED a surprise as I was going for something like skooching over.

Terrifiied when I saw Horowitz and Hinman. Thanks for the gift guys.

lit.doc 12:35 PM  

@Annon 10:00, LMFAO re the Yankees/Eurythmics exhibition game (imagine the possibility that alcohol was involved in my solving experience).

@Glitch, much laughter as well from your well-aimed banjo.

Tobias Duncan 1:01 PM  

@ACME:I knew you guise had secret chatrooms :(

syndy 1:19 PM  

Boy, did I ever over think this one ! refused to believe in shared names and kept looking for the trick! little by little circle around until it was undeniable! WHo know (okay most of you)was a fun surprize for me!@Jaxinla GOOD LUCK

airkiss carla michaels 1:44 PM  

Hey!!!! There are enough exclamation points for everyone! It's not a zero sum equation!!!

@Wm e emba
Read "less than Zero", it will take only a couple of hours, has one of the best opening lines of a book and perfectly captures a time and place.

Did anyone mention CHAW at 38 ACROSS (Brian Wilson wanted to be 38 Down, which is why the theme answers are Downs... 30 Down is pretty damn close, especially if you can't find your glasses) and there IS no 38 Down in this grid, but CHAW has got to be a tie-in bonus answer, no???

Three and out (Maybe! I ain't no baseball metaphor chick)

Kendall 1:59 PM  

Another consecutive Thursday of awesome puzzling for me! I don't have much to add that hasn't already been stated.

Cheers to Jeremy and Tyler to this!

jberg 2:00 PM  

Is this really Opening Day for baseball? I don't pay much attention, but it seems a week early. But if it is, this is a great theme - I don't know much about either baseball or pop music, but I'd heard of Eddie Fisher and Kenny Rogers, and that was all it took.

I really don't understand reading the news before you do the puzzle, though!

I don't watch TV, either, had dips for dims, and so ended up with the sitcom "Paude." My one mistake.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Too easy for Thursday. Tuesday was more difficult. And Rex was dead on about dojo. Will, you gotta do better. It is embarassing.

OldCarFudd 2:15 PM  

Fascinating! I knew none of the ballplayers, none of the singers and only one of the songs. And I didn't know it was opening day. Still thought it was a moderately easy puzzle, being able to solve it from the crosses and because , somewhere is the cobwebby corners of my mind, I'd heard the names. I just didn't know in what context. But what a neat them, and what a neat construction!

fikink 2:28 PM  

@Airkiss Carla, yes, I had the same wow when I came across CHAW.

@Stan, "And Kennedy drove a Lincoln." - LOL!

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

30D: Giants hurler (2010 champs) / Beach Boys vocalist on "Help Me, Rhonda" (#1 in 1965).

I hate to be a spoil sport, but the lead singer on Help Me Rhonda was not Brian Wilson (though he is doubtless in the backing vocals), it was Al Jardine. To a Beach Boys fan, this is not a very satisfactory clue. More research, please.

mac 2:49 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! The funniest thing about it to me is the Chaw in the middle!

Did the puzzle, then husband warned me to finish before reading the sports section (which I never read). Great article, which even he, non-cwp, completely read.

I knew none of the pitchers, and three of the musicians, but I got the whole thing. Of course I expected a baseball theme, it's opening day!


jackj 2:49 PM  

What a brilliant effort by Jeremy, Tyler and Will!

Hall of Fame admission granted with no waiting period.

As noted in today’s NY Times article, the idea for a puzzle to include the name of SF Giants pitcher Brian Wilson originated when Wilson, (a solver), hoped, in an interview, that he would one day be a clue in a NY Times crossword puzzle.

Today’s crossword fulfilled Wilson’s dream and per the article, in return, Wilson responded with “bravado”, (more like “in your face” nonsense), and didn’t ever bother to give even a simple “thank you”.

Wilson has been a fan favorite owing to his engaging quirkiness so it is sad to learn that he is, apparently, just another obscenely compensated, ungrateful celebrity athlete who used his fame to satisfy his ego. Shame Brian, shame.

Nothing can diminish the genius of the puzzle makers and if it wouldn’t have happened without Wilson’s campaign to be included in a Times puzzle then I guess a slight tip of the cap is due him for his inadvertent inspiration.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Great Opening Day puzzle. The irony with baseball EDDIE FISHER was although he was a member of the Orioles from 1966 - 1967, he wasn't needed during the 1966 WS as the Orioles only needed 1 relief pitcher and had 3 complete game shutouts.

I forgot that Kenny Rogers played for the Yankees.

deerfencer 3:26 PM  

Great great puzzle--had a lot of fun with it. Big high-five to Jeremy and Tyler for a job well done!

sanfranman59 3:45 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)

Thu 13:58, 19:06, 0.73, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:12, 9:13, 0.78, 20%, Easy-Medium

harvey 4:03 PM  

Very bad form today in the NYT. The Sports section contained not only a portion of the grid filled in, the accompanying article contained all the theme words and a few fill.

I'd suspect Shortz isn't happy

Ahem 4:37 PM  


The article had a spoiler alert at the beginning and Will was interviewed as part of the story.

Only bad form was the blurb on page 1.


Anonymous 4:47 PM  

Seriously! I don't know who won the last World Series and you expect me to remember these obscure trivia personalities? So what if the same names are shared by baseball players and obscure musicians?
I just hated this theme. No chance in hell to solve this puzzle without google unless you are a baseball aficionado.
I suspect I am in the minority on this site but does everyone think this was an enjoyable puzzle?

retired_chemist 5:12 PM  

@ Anon 4:47 - I don't know jack about popular music IMO but I have heard of all four musicians. "Obscure" is inappropriate.

The logic that shared names are likely to be quite common (as all four are, both first name and surname) would have helped you since I am sure you got several crosses for each. We aren't going to have two NOMAR GARCIAPARRAS, for example, and by the time you get *ENN*R**ERS, e.g., there aren't a lot of choices. OK, BENNY, but I don't think MI has an ELB on its flag. And FENNY isn't a name AFAIK, though it is amusing to think of MI's flag with an ELF.

DJG 5:47 PM  


The 16x15 grid is also why all the theme answers are downs. There is no middle row for the revealer.

Enjoyed the NYT background story.

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

However, it could have been 15x16 and worked just as well with all the theme answers across. The only reason is Brian Wilson's unexplained request to appear as a down. We may never know why.

Skua 6:26 PM  

“I’d like to be a crossword clue one day,” he told The New York Times last October, just days before striking out Texas slugger Nelson Cruz in game five for the World Series win. “I want my clue to be down, not across. The down ones are usually harder.”

DJG 7:00 PM  

@Anon 6:00pm

Very true. I should have said "the 16x15 grid goes hand-in-hand with all the theme answers being downs" it's not really why they are downs.


foodie 7:59 PM  

@anon4:47, I don't know how long you've been solving. But a year or two ago I would have felt exactly as you did. What @Retired Chemist described is what I learned to do...use every trick of logic, common sense, vague impressions and repressed memories to overcome huge gaps in knowledge. Can't be as fast as many of our friends, but I figure it's part of puzzling out a puzzle. So, finding ways around problems is what I find enjoyable. And afterwards, success or epic fail, I try to step back and admire the way the constructors' minds work...

Still, some puzzles make my heart sing and others don't :)

lit.doc 9:17 PM  

@ACM, DJG, and especially Skua, thanks much for collectively answering my 12:34 a.m. query. I was unaware of the Brian Wilson comment about being in a crossword. It's nice when puzzling things actually make sense.

william e emba 11:29 PM  

Well, a rave from ACME counts for something. I'll consider reading <0 after all.

I don't do baseball. I don't do music. I was perfectly happy with today's puzzle, despite struggling the entire way while most everyone else seems to have breezed through, partly by picking up the names from one or both of their pop culture strong points.

Good for them. Good for me.

Now, if only someone would do the same trick with Dilbert and Yeats, why the write up from Rex would be too awesome to behold!

sanfranman59 1:05 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 6:58, 6:55, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Tue 9:36, 8:56, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:47, 11:45, 1.00, 57%, Medium
Thu 14:05, 19:06, 0.74, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:42, 3:41, 1.00, 53%, Medium
Tue 5:13, 4:35, 1.14, 88%, Challenging
Wed 5:17, 5:47, 0.91, 31%, Easy-Medium
Thu 6:47, 9:12, 0.73, 7%, Easy

cody.riggs 10:54 PM  

This is a late comment, but oh well. I have perfect pitch, and may have been born with it, but I don't believe its innateness is a given.

I was a Suzuki piano student from age 4-8, and EVERY student in my class had perfect pitch. We were taught it, and tested on it. It was part of the method (which frankly, I think sucks for keyboardists. It really hinders transposition skill. Violinists...ok.) If perfect pitch is inborn, how come "coincidentally" every piano student in my class had it? QED.

I've often considered perfect pitch a curse rather than a blessing. I can't turn it off. I hear an A, it's like seeing the color red. You can't NOT see it.

I had a music professor in college who proclaimed he didn't BELIEVE in perfect pitch, which made me believe he was insane, (I mean, you can test me on it and I'll be 100% right every time!) yet he'd maliciously transpose every sight-singing exercise just to stymie those in the class who had perfect pitch (c'mon, you can't not believe in something, and yet try to prevent cheating using this supposedly nonexistent skill!)

Maybe all those courses to teach it are a scam...I don't know. Maybe mine is so solid, I must have been born with it. But it's hard for me to believe it can't be learned...maybe ear training at a very young age creates the neural pathways necessary for it. If so, those same neural pathways might be created later with more intention and effort.

Portland, Ore.

NotalwaysrightBill 7:56 PM  

Syndi-late solver, so no Brian Wilson quote.

AIRKISS to the constructor, since, while I found this puzzle hard, the coherence, as noted, awestrikes. Don't know how constructors do this. If I tried it, I'd be trying to make a case for how Daffy Duck was really named Gaylord Perry because they're both spitters. And then it still wouldn't work. It's a puzzlement.

On the other hand, with the inclusion of Eddie Fisher, the puzzle felt like a continuation of the tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. Carrie Fisher said, during an interview given on the day Taylor died, that she and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were both happy that Liz got Fisher out of the house. How do you sing "Oh My Pa-Pa" when Darth Vader is your dad?

EVITE sounds like a brand name for bottled water. Thought "partying sure has changed: how can ya pass out from too much water?" Now I know: gargle GOOGLE glug glug glug.

captcha: "kinti":
My name's NOT Tabby.

Dirigonzo 8:23 PM  

Happy Cinco de Mayo from syndicationland.

Presumably if a baseballer had a PERFECTPITCH he would occasionally pitch a perfect game, or at least a shut out - but that was spoiled by the RBI at 36a.

Now I'm going to listen to Eddie Fisher sing "Oh! My Pa-Pa" which I have on CD - seriously. (I wrote that before I read @NarB's post - spooky.)

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

It is interesting to note a recent article that discussed Cantonese speakers. Cantonese has nine distinct tones. Speakers were tested for perfect pitch and there was a much higher percentage who had perfect pitch compared to Americans. This suggests that perhaps perfect pitch is not inborn but learned!

Joshua 1:28 AM  

Since I do the puzzle in syndication, I wasn't aware of the controversy over the article revealing Brian Wilson as one of the answers, until reading the comments here. Actually, I would have expected the Public Editor to have weighed in on this subject by now, and that Will Shortz would have laid down the law -- no articles about one day's crossword puzzle until the next day.

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