Napoleonic marshal / TUE 6-26-12 / Film about 1919 Black Sox scandal / Island group east of Philippines / Colored like boat in Edward Lear's Owl Pussycat
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Constructor: Mike Torch
Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: THE DEAD MAN'S HAND (38A: What 17-, 26-, 46- and 57-Across's beginnings represent) — ACEs over EIGHTs
Word of the Day: DEAD MAN'S HAND —
The dead man's hand is a two-pair poker hand, namely "aces and eights". This card combination gets its name from a legend that it was the five-card-draw hand held by Wild Bill Hickok, when he was murdered on August 2, 1876, in Saloon No. 10 at Deadwood, South Dakota. (wikipedia)
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No complaints is Not what the NYT will be facing in the coming weeks now that they have decided to deny home delivery subscribers access to the puzzle online (at their Premium Crosswords page). I started getting (uniformly miffed) email in the middle of the day yesterday informing me of the change. Here is a quote from the email sent to home delivery subscribers, which I posted on my Facebook page yesterday: "Starting July 9, Home Delivery Subscribers will no longer have free access to NYTimes.com Premium Crosswords. You can, however, continue to access Premium Crosswords by subscribing at a special low rate being offered only to Times subscribers." So if you get the paper delivered to your home, you can enjoy all the same content online ... except the crossword. That, we're gonna make you pay (again?) for. They should've added: "And even though we realize how phenomenally valuable the puzzle is to us, monetarily (after all, why would we gouge you if this were not the one part of the paper that was raking it in?), we have absolutely no intention of paying constructors any more than the measly $200 they currently earn for a daily puzzle. Suck it, everyone."
I can't say I'm surprised by this development, but I hope it drives two things home to people. 1. The puzzle is worth far more to the NYT than anyone would believe or than the NYT would likely be willing to admit, and 2. (related) $200 isn't even in the ballpark of a small percentage of what an individual puzzle is actually worth to the NYT (it is my understanding that constructors only get *that* much because Will really pushed for the pay to be increased from whatever paltrier amount it had been previously). There are many reasons why constructor pay won't change; mostly they have to do with the kinds of people who create them, not with the NYT, which is only doing what corporations do—paying as little as possible for the type of product they want to deliver. Annnnyway, clearly I'm coming at this from a constructor pay angle, while many of you will be coming at it from a home subscriber angle (or no angle at all). The economics of crosswords are highly obscured and sometimes deliberately obfuscated, largely because the very phrase "the economics of crosswords" seems, on the face of it, laughable. The NYT is content to have you laugh.
- ACE VENTURA (17A: Jim Carrey title role)
- ACE HARDWARE (26A: Company for which John Madden was once pitchman)
- EIGHT MEN OUT (46A: Film about the 1919 Black Sox scandal)
- EIGHT TRACK (57A: Old tape format)
- 14A: Hill in Hollywood (JONAH) — My go-to five-letter Hill is still ANITA. She's not right for this clue.
- 43A: Shinto temple gateway (TORII) — kind of arcane, but you pick it up eventually if you do enough crosswords. A nice follow-up to yesterday's doughnut-shaped TORI.
- 12D: 1984 best-selling Ed Koch memoir ("MAYOR") — Did not know that. Of course by the time I saw the clue, I had MAY-R in place and was only checking to make sure the clue didn't have something to do with musician John MAYER.
- 9D: Colored like the boat in Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" (PEA GREEN) — a long (and interesting) way to go for a simple color. Hurray for giving some life to clues, even (especially) in easy puzzles.
- 52A: Napoleonic marshal (NEY) — Do I like this answer? "Nay!" It's pretty crosswordesey. But I never ever saw the clue (filled it in entirely via crosses), so I never had a chance to get consternated.
PS Here's an interesting take on the NYT online-puzzle-grab debacle; brings up an issue I hadn't thought of:
Letter from a reader: "It was great that you brought up the change the NYTimes is planning to make regarding the online premium crossword. In addition to it being outrageous to charge those of us who are subscribing to the home deliver edition of the paper, I consider it age discrimination.
It is much easier for me to do the crossword puzzle online that it is in the physical paper. I am 66; I am sure many older people like me will feel it's harder to fill out the tiny squares in the physical paper than it is online; the correlation of the clue and the blank in the puzzle is easier, and the issue of ink versus pencil just doesn't come up.
I have called the NYTimes to let them know I will be cancelling my home delivery, plus the two papers I have delivered to my main office, if they go forward with this plan."
I'm getting many "I'm canceling" emails this morning. Not sure the trend will be big enough to cause any change, but I'm certainly seeing more outrage than I expected.