Talkative bird / WED-23-JUL /Tater tots maker / Mekong Valley native

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: pretty easy for a Wednesday



THEME: "___ check" — Each of the six words used in the theme entries precedes "check" in a phrase

Word of the Day: TOCCATA (38A: Bach work) —  (from Italian toccare, "to touch") is a virtuoso piece of music typically for a keyboard or plucked string instrument featuring fast-moving, lightly fingered or otherwise virtuosic passages or sections, with or without imitative or fugal interludes, generally emphasizing the dexterity of the performer's fingers. Less frequently, the name is applied to works for multiple instruments (the opening of Claudio Monteverdi's opera L'Orfeo being a notable example). -- Wikipedia


• • •
This is one of those "both words can precede (or follow) word X" themes, which we've seen a lot of in recent years. They're not terribly exciting since the reveal is always a slight letdown; you'd hoped there was something mysterious and intriguing going on with those starred clues, but then not really.

OK, so accepting the limitations of the theme type, let's see if super-solver (three-time finalist at the ACPT) and super-nice guy Howard Barkin can jazz things up a little for us. The three theme entries themselves are a good start, with nice phrases BODY DOUBLE, BACKGROUND SOUND ("background noise" Googles rather better, but this phrase is also legit and has the cool -ound/-ound echo) and the excellent PERSONAL BAGGAGE. How Howard must've delighted at seeing both PERSONAL and BAGGAGE on his list of check-preceding words, and then hitting a 15-letter phrase with them to boot. Euphoric boost for a constructor when you score a nice 15.

The revealer is a cut above as well: BLANK CHECK is the answer, and the clue is (Complete freedom ... and a hint to each half of the answer to each starred clue). So you fill in that blank with the six theme words.

The solve was just under five minutes for me and the grid was a mixed bag. Liked seeing those wide-open NW and SE corners, though my Scowl-o-Meter went off some with ARTE, REOS and the contrived RESEEKS right off the bat in that NW. But BARTAB/OREIDA/ATOMIC was a nice stack up there, with good crossers like TIME-OUT and ADIEU. OUGHT TO/TOCCATA/RUN COLD/SWAGGER are elegantly connected sevens in the middle, and ASKANCE, AGA KHAN and EQUATOR are good sevens elsewhere. It gets ragged/crosswordy in the tight parts (ANS - ATRA - MYNA - AKEY - DCIV - ASAN - AMB - STE), but maybe those sevens are worth it.

Americans are everywhere!



Bullets:
  • (19A: Got away from one's roots?) = DYED — That's a good one.  
  • (52A: Love letters letters) = SWAK — sealed with a kiss. And hopefully some other kind of adhesive. 
  • (35A: Palindromic girl's name) = AVA — lots of girls named Ava these days. How long before one of them becomes famous so we can give Ms. Gardner a well-earned break?
  • Speaking of OUGHT TO: I dig this entry in part because of its trippy (and solver-vexing) vowel/consonant pattern of VVCCCCV. Wordplay trivia: can you think of a common, 7-letter word that uses the same pattern? I can only think of one. Put it in comments if you've got it (or a different one).
A grade of "B" is the natural limit for this kind of theme in my book; something really crazy would have to happen to lift it any higher. And with its slightly above average revealer, above average phrases, and lots of nice longish fill, I think we can say that this one comes close to maximizing the concept, so: B it is. B for Barkin! Crossword-powered Howard.

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for two more days of CrossWorld

64 comments:

r.alphbunker 12:11 AM  

I liked the theme entries. It was a fast counterclockwise loop around the track for me just like in a NASCAR race.

Google revealed this about NASCAR races
Every NASCAR oval track has only left turns, because the drivers sit on that side of the car. The drivers generally try to keep to the inside of the track (because it is a shorter distance around the track) So by making all left turns, the drivers can better see what is going on around them.

wreck 12:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
wreck 12:13 AM  

Yesterday was medium(+) for me and this took the same time for a Wednesday, so I guess I have it rate as easy. Not bad, but not inspiring.

VVCCCCV 12:15 AM  

Earthly?

Matt Gaffney 12:17 AM  

Earthly it is. If there's another one I can't think of it.

Evan 12:17 AM  

EARTHLY and the YANGTZE River are the only somewhat common words of the VVCCCCV type I could find, if you count the Y as a vowel.

Nice, fair review from Matt on Howard's puzzle. I think the theme entries held up well and the puzzle had a good revealer, though the shorter fill was a bit shaky. I also wanted BACKGROUND NOISE, as well as EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE (too long) instead of PERSONAL BAGGAGE. All the same, I say well done on getting a debut NYT puzzle.

r.alphbunker 12:24 AM  

@Evan
You must have the same word list that I do. :-)

^[aeiouy][aeiouy][^aeiouy][^aeiouy][^aeiouy][^aeiouy][aeiouy]$

Billy 12:27 AM  

Very nice enthusiastic review!

(Enthusiasm > Snark)

Steve J 12:30 AM  

Agreed with Matt's mixed bag assessment. Some nice fill in the longer downs - I especially liked EQUATOR, ASKANCE and AGA KHAN - but some unattractive fill as well, particularly RESEEKS and SWAK.

Tough to get terribly excited about this kind of theme, but it's reasonably well-executed, with a couple really good entries (BODY DOUBLE and PERSONAL BAGGAGE). Balanced out by BACKGROUND SOUND. Yes, real phrase, so give it credit for that, but everyone is going to think of "background noise" first (6.6 million Google results vs. 482,000 bears that out).

Quite easy overall, with the only slowdown I had being entering tuRn red instead of DARKENS at 57A. Crosses made no sense for a moment or two, but I was able to clean it up quickly.

(*sigh*, yet another Photo Sphere ad posing as a capcha. I already resented Google using me to teach its robots how to read; now it's just subjecting me to advertising in a place it shouldn't be.)

jae 12:46 AM  

Easy Wed for me too and what MATT said...not a bad grid, some nice long downs (ignoring RESEEKS)...  Liked it. 

After going through a couple of printers that were POCs (that's pieces of crap) I finally got an EPSON.  I'm extremely happy with it. 

Recently saw ADIEU clued as  Literally,  "to God".  D'oh, I should have realized that a long time ago.  Same with ADIOS.  

Solid debut Howard! 

Fugu 12:59 AM  

Downs only report: thank goodness for cross-referenced clues! 13D gave me STE and HALO for a nice 2-for-1. Still, NE fell last. Didn't have enough to complete that NE theme answer, but I eventually guessed from PERSONALBAGGAGE, BACKGROUND SOUND, and BLANKCHECK that this was a "halves of the starred clues" theme. That and BOD-D---LE was enough to reveal BODYDOUBLE, but I was still stuck because of an incorrect guess of WHITE at 34A. When I realized how improbable it was that 10D ended in OH, I saw WRITE and found EQUATOR, then finished. Actually slightly quicker then yesterday's downs-only solve. A normal Friday time.

Howard B 1:17 AM  

Thanks. I liked RESEEKS about as much as anyone else here. Regrettable, but I couldn't remove it. Oh well, I will offer a sacrifice to OOXTEPLERNON, the god of bad fill, to repent.

Really thought of this as a Tuesday puzzle, but the theme type (which was a bit less commonly used when I submitted this) lends itself more to a Wednesday it seems.

Matt G. - if EIGHTHLY is a word, that's one consonant too long, but nice...close but no cigar. Was the best I could do out of my head without database querying :).

Benko 1:44 AM  

According to the scrabble lists, EIGHTVO is also acceptable. I did not know this word previously.

DLand 1:57 AM  

Perhaps this doesn't pass the breakfast test, but: AUNT FLO

Gill I. P. 5:11 AM  

This is the kind of puzzle I want my kids to try. It's fun. it isn't cutesy-gimmicky AND, OPIE wasn't clued as a Mayberry, lisping little red-headed child that aunt TEA adores.
I agree though, that this might have been a Tuesday...?
Had RIND at first for the ZESTy corner and wanted my BACK GROUND to have some music....Oh, In my day, it was never TIME-OUT. More like "Go to your room and don't you dare slam the door." Of course I slammed it and loved the thought that I had the room I shared with my sister all to myself. Then... you become a parent yourself!
@Leapy: From yesterday - Merci mon amie...and to think I was called whiny!
Thanks for this puzzle Mr. Barkin..can we expect more?

Lewis 6:48 AM  

@matt -- Informative, unjudgemental and fun review. Thank you.

The puzzle is rife with homophone words, at least ten. I don't know if that's common, but I'm going to keep my eye open for it.

I love TEA dropping down into BAG, and dropping a right angle from the o in BOAR to make "Oreos". And I loved the clue for ADIEU. I also love the reveal which plays on the word BLANK. Speaking of which...

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): Find a double word answer from words that go with BLANK.

If you wish to post an answer (there may be more than the one I found), just write the second letter of your answer so as not to give it away.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

PPP update: the double word answer is one you come up with; it's not in the puzzle.

Glimmerglass 6:57 AM  

The slivers of orange (or other citrus) peel in marmelaide are not zest. Zest is fine powder scraped off the outside layer of the peel, just the part that is colored, not including the white.

loren muse smith 7:44 AM  

So Howard's debut, *and* our own @Howard B! Congrats. I liked it and always say I appreciate tricks like this. I thought the revealer was spot-on perfect! (And RESEEKS is better than "reseekers," so there's that.)

@Gil I.P. – me, too, for "rinds" before ZESTS. ZEST feels kind of collective for me (Hi, @Glimmerglass), so the plural, unless it's referring to, say, both orange and lemon, is unexpected. And, hey, @Gil I.P. - notice TALL right over ALTA?

I misspelled DYED as "died." Wow. Oups.

Ok, so my roman numerals are wobbly and my astronomy is non-existent. I had a ridiculous "careens" before DARKENS for the moon's eclipse action.

ASKANCE is another one of those words that just seems less suspicious if it's written down.

@r.alph – I plan my day, my errands, on avoiding left turns (at least onto busy roads). I go to unbelievable extremes to avoid them and sit, seething, incredulous, behind people who're trying them, waiting to make my much safer right turn. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, huh? Hi, Dad.

Again – nice job, @Howard B! Now to close the blinds and hide from this beastly heat. :-(

John V 8:02 AM  

Fun theme, well done, but VERY easy for a Wednesday, save for the occasional CAP.

Congratulation, Howard Barkin, on your debut!

Charles Flaster 8:13 AM  

Very easy. Not too informative but did have toRcata for Bach work in 38A so I learned a fact. Thought Equator and Dyed were well- clued.Thanks HB-liked the theme.

AliasZ 8:17 AM  

Entertaining debut, Howard. I am glad when you sent this in to Will you didn't think you were Barkin up the wrong tree. [Sorry, couldn't help it.]

The _____ CHECK theme was pretty cute, however some of the entries should have been DOUBLE CHECKed. RESEEKS made my blood RUN COLD. DCIV should have been clued as "Badly needed hook-up to infuse some common sense in Washington". How often do you say at fast break, "Gosh golly, my marmalade is full of ZESTS today"? Me too. SITAT, ASAN, TO SEA or not TO SEA - oh, my AKEY breaky heart...

Some missed opportunities also occur to me: TIME check (Newsweek spying on the competition), OUTcheck (counter), GUN check (activity at the door of a fund-raising dinner in Texas), LAW check (constitutional scrutiny for silly regulations).

This puzzle reminded me of a lady friend from a long time ago, who thought that BODY CHECK was a hockey-specific move named after the famous Czech player Václav Badiček.

Let's hear it for TOCCATA.

I QUIT now. I could WRITE more but duty calls.

For now, ADIEU mes amis.

RAD2626 8:20 AM  

Not sure why everyone - including Howard - thought RESEEKS was so bad. I thought it was clued great. If it had been merely "Looks again for something" I would join the moaners, but politicians seek office, and often fesses it when unsuccessful. Harold Stassen is probably the best known reseeker of the Presidency although Ralph Nader comes close.

Fun puzzle. Enjoyed the theme. Congrats on debut.

NCA President 8:42 AM  

I wanted ANYHOo. Disappointed that it was boring old ANYHOW.

Also had BACKGROUNDnOise. Also known as ambient noise in the film world.

TOCCATA or TOCatA? Danged Italians...anyhoo, the definition states that it involves "light fingering." This is only partly true...if you need to play something really fast, you most certainly are going to need to lighten up. Although, on a piece like Bach's Toccata, when played on a contemporary organ like a Tracker, (an organ that physically couples stops to the keys so that the more stops are coupled, the heavier the keys get...and in that opening section, given the sound, those keys are probably 10x as heavy), "light" fingering is relative. Turns out, playing the organ is pretty decent exercise.

I also had rindS before ZESTS.

I wonder if kids (or even young adults) know what SWAK is any more. Snail mail is all but obsolete to the younger generation.

dk 8:50 AM  

OO (2 moons)

Two word fill was a bit strained for a Wednesday. My expectations for Wednesday are higher.

Rhutabega, peas and carrots where the words spoken for crowd noise. Modulation was used to indicate the mood. Not sue if this still happens. The use of a nonsense phrase meant one could pay the actors less. This is what I learned in grad school working as an extra.

Greetings from the back deck in Austin. Off to Wemberlley on Friday.

Casco Kid 9:01 AM  

OUTCHECK. Ja. Wie, du musst sie OUTCHECK. In English, "You must her OUTCHECK," or if you insist, the more prosaic, " You must check her out." Yes, the BLANKCHECK theme really works! Naturlich!

joho 9:02 AM  

My only margin notes were RESEEKS? And WAXY? Howard, did you consider the X? Of course then you would have lost the great clue,"Like odor-indicating lines, in comics." Loved that one!

I parsed BACKGROUNDSOUND wrong and wondered what BACK CHECK and GROUND CHECK were. DUH!!!!

I really enjoyed this puzzle, Howard, great job and congratulations on your debut!

Another great write-up, too, thanks, Matt!

RooMonster 9:21 AM  

Hey All!
Another debut puzzle! Wow! There seems to be a whole bunch of them lately. It gives me hope that one of mine might actually make it into the NYT! (Hi Will Shortz! )

I thought the puzzle was fairly easy for Wednesday, I actually did it in a noisy room! Had some good fill, got SWAK from crosses, didn't know what it meant, though. Now I do! ASKANCE was cool, EQUATOR is neat to see.

i WAVY ADIEU AS AN ATOMIC LANCE DARKENS the VIEW of my BLANKCHECK. MYNA SWAK hurts. It's. INTO RUIN. IQUIT. :-)

Roomonster
DarrinV

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Easy puzzle for a Wednesday. Don't know Anthony and Opie...Opie of Mayberry , yes.

I had peels before Zests. I use zest a lot in cooking but never in marmalade.

Leapfinger 9:31 AM  

@Gilly, if it's any consolotion, that little red-headed kid grew up bald big-time.

TOCATTA, TOCCATA to buy a fat pig,
I've maples a-plenty and truffles to dig.
Sow, tell me why it has to be a BOAR???

Small grouse at DARKENS: according to Lunar Lit, I'm thinking the Moon doesn't actually shine, just reflects. On second thought, shouldn't that clue for 'hides'...or call for a different clue?

You know how ALOT of people use the expression "Why is it always the last place I look?"...So, okay, that's probably ALOT of women, more than men. Always struck me as curious, that did. If you found the mislaid item, why on Earth would you then keep looking in other places??? That would be a case of RESEEKing.

In the past, a BAGGAGE referred to a young female of pert demeanour. So, if you see a Sugar Daddy enter the room with a young lovely on his arm, you might consider she's his PERSONAL BAGGAGE.

Nice theme, nice debut, HowardB!!
Thanks for Barkin up the wrong tree, @Alias, and saving me the trouble.

WAVY byebye, now. Have to goto work now, so they don't check off absent for my paycheck. Will back-Chekov and on.

Fred Smith 9:40 AM  


@r.alph, @LMS --

I guess UPS (or FedEx?) drivers would have a tough time on a NASCAR track. I think I once read that their routes are computer-generated to minimize the number of left turns, thereby minimizing route tine and fuel consumption.

RooMonster 9:53 AM  

Oh, forgot to add that I made it into this puzzle! 30D, that's me!

i OUGHTTO have a TIMOUT!

RooMonster
DarrinV

r.alphbunker 10:31 AM  

@Leapfinger

I agree. The expression should be:

Assume that "it" could be in N possible places. If I order the places from 1 to N and search them in that order, why is it always in the Nth place

I would like to underscore that I am drawing a blank on the PPP.

Z 10:42 AM  

I think I read recently that either Anthony or OPIE just got canned, without a chance to say I QUIT.

One (well, me) wonders what REO Speedwagon doing a Bach TOCCATA would sound like.

Good Company? 10:43 AM  

@Fred Smith & @lms
"No Left Turns" for UPS is true, and it's also the title of a J Edgar Hoover bio for the same reason

P>G>

Evan 10:56 AM  

@r.alphbunker:

Probably, except mine looks like @@####@ when I punch it into OneLook.com.

@Lewis:

I found a not-so-great solution with a second letter of P, but instead of asking for one letter, why not just have solvers use a ROT13 cipher?

Arlene 10:57 AM  

Quick solve for a Wednesday - until I realized I made an error. Had DIED (plants that get away from their roots die) - and figured MINA was a variable spelling.

I didn't catch on to the theme until putting in the reveal - so it was a nice post-solve activity to savor the creation.

Andrew Heinegg 12:12 PM  

Considering the limitations inherent in this type of puzzle, this was a decent effort.

Fiberglass is spot on in his peels vs zests observation. If it were zests as the constructor has it, the marmalade would not have the bitter flavor imparted by the white part of the orange peel. Which is the reason some people like me do not care for marmalade; I do find it interesting that a constructor who puts a number of food/cooking references in his puzzle would have an incorrect clue such as this one.

Redanman 12:31 PM  

Very easy

Howard B 12:35 PM  

Lewis: In ROT13, assuming that BLANK is the second word, I have:
RAGEL CBVAG.

joho: Actually, yes. Very simply, I just liked the sound and cluing options better for WAVY. I wasn't shooting for the pangram. Nice observation.

Re: ZESTS - From a culinary viewpoint, I think you're correct. From a standard languge perspective and technically from the dictionary, ZEST is also defined as "small pieces of the skin of a lemon, orange, or lime that are used to flavor food". Good enough for crossword work.

Thanks all! :)

r.alphbunker 12:37 PM  

@Evan

Good idea. Using decode.org here is what I came up with for the PPP

CBVAG BHG, TB TB, PURPX BHG, PURPXCBVAG

Z 12:59 PM  

Alton Brown has ZEST in his marmalade recipe. Of course, he is well-known for his inattention to detail. Har.

Mohair Sam 1:25 PM  

Debut puzzle? Liked it a lot.
Agreed with @Matt's comments but would grade it higher than he. Probably because I'm fine with this kind of theme, and it was executed cleverly - right down to the BLANK.

All the sevens were great with the notable exception of the much-maligned RESEEKS. Loved that TOCCATA returned to mind only after it filled. Clue for DYED was terrific - we put in DiED first, which would have made sense for your average plant.

Excellent NYT debut Mr. Barkin.

Howard B 1:57 PM  

r.alphbunker:
What makes these themes a little tricky is keeping the consistency of the (word)THEMEWORD order; so all before the word, or all after.
So for CBVAG BHG and PURPXCBVAG, you have CBVAG(blank) and (blank)BHG which doesn't quite work. The reverse issue for PURPX CBVAG.
Believe me, I threw out quite a few candidates like that when trying to create this one.
Once you find a valid pair, now find others of symmetrically valid lengths, using the same (THEMEWORD). Then start crafting your puzzle :).

Keep at it!

jdv 2:37 PM  

Easy. As others mentioned, Tuesday and Wednesday should've been swapped. I enjoyed the solve and figured out the theme afterwards. Liked the clue for EQUATOR, but did not like the longer-than-War-and-Peace clue for AKEY. Looking forward to more puzzles from Barkin, perhaps a Saturday?

Lewis 2:56 PM  

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP) SOLUTION:


I came up with POINTOUT.

@ralph added GOGO, CHECKOUT, and CHECKPOINT.

@howardb (the puzzle's constructor, and thanks for chiming in!) had ENTRYPOINT.

If anyone out there came up with something different, please feel free to share!

And thanks to @evan for suggesting rot13.com as a way to post an entire answer without giving it away. It takes your answer and moves each letter 13 spots ahead in the alphabet, making it look like gibberish, and then you post that gibberish. To translate it, you enter the gibberish into rot13 and it translates it into English. Terrific suggestion, Evan! A couple of people already used it today. I'll suggest it in the future.

r.alphbunker 2:57 PM  

@Howard B

I agree.

However, I took a combinatorics approach. Each word can be before or after BLANK and there are two words so that is 2 x 2 combinations. My solution has one of each combination.

Lewis 2:58 PM  

@howardb -- because I didn't specify before or after, either way is okay

Benko 3:16 PM  

How about RAINCOAT? Rain check, coat check.

Benko 3:26 PM  

Ok, that goes with Howard's theme but not Lewis' PPP.
SPACE OUT works for BLANK (blank) as well.

sanfranman59 3:36 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Wed 7:59, 9:31, 0.84, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:33, 5:58, 0.93, 32%, Easy-Medium

Casual Observer 6:58 PM  

@Lewis - That's really what we need more of here - Gibberish posts about something other than the point of the blog.

Leapfinger 9:41 PM  

@r.alph, I eagerly await the day I hear someone say that.

Of course, if you don't find "it', it will have been in the (n plus 1)th place.

Howard B 9:44 PM  

ah, cool Lewis, thanks. That does make for a more open, fun set of possibilities :)

sanfranman59 1:44 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:42, 6:01, 0.95, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:38, 8:14, 1.05, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:00, 9:31, 0.84, 14%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:57, 3:55, 1.01, 52%, Medium
Tue 5:41, 5:21, 1.06, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:21, 5:58, 0.90, 22%, Easy-Medium

John Oswalt 10:32 AM  

45 Across: Wedding feature, in two different senses. I had "BA--" and I really wanted to fill in "LL". I thought "would that get past Will?"

JenCT 9:08 PM  

Very late getting to this puzzle (by, like, 4 days!)- but seeing that @Howard B was the constructor, I had to chime in.

Really enjoyed it!(and I'm not just saying that because @Howard B is one of my favorite crossword people!)

Hope to see more from Howard B.

Nice writeup by @Rex, too.

Bob Kerfuffle 5:54 AM  

Congratulations, Howard!

[And, um, Jen, we're friends, right, so I'll gently point out that the writeup was by Matt Gaffney, constructor extraordinaire. :>) ]

JenCT 2:07 PM  

@Bob K: You are so right! I was really too tired when I posted.

(Using HowardB's name 3 times in a row...)

Thanks for the heads-up. :-)

spacecraft 11:02 AM  

I wasn't all that thrilled. Starting out: don't they use dogs now? Porcine truffle hunters are so last-century. And for this we have to put up with RESEEKS? I was amazed to find this horrid word actually LISTED in the RE- section of my dictionary. Maybe our recampaigner can RESITAT his official desk. Ugh.

I agree that noise goes much better than SOUND behind BACKGROUND. 'Course then, there's no "noise check," so that's out. One gets the feeling that the constructor was obliged to make sure "noise" appeared in the clue, so as to obviate that word for the answer.

I liked some things. The clue for EQUATOR was fabulous; that is indeed where it's always zero degrees. (When I got to that corner I thought: oh no, another Scrabble-stuffer! But thankfully it was just a local phenomenon.)

I noted with amusement that if we encounter our attitude walker post-BARTAB, SWAGGER becomes STAGGER. And TRITE also works across.

Theme OK, execotion flawed as noted, fill uneven. Plenty of good stuff as listed by OGL, but clunky partials and the RRN distract. C+. Solve: easyish.

Today, a clearly legible...loser, 129.

DMG 2:19 PM  

Fun enough Wednesday once I realized that the 0° place wanted was not EcUAdOR which sits on the EQUATOR. Not familiar with anything on satellite radio, but the riddle answer, also unfamiliar, was easy enough to guess. Now comes the dreaded Thursday...

Low man again! 802! Is that 1 or 0?

Dirigonzo 3:11 PM  

I thought it was a fun puzzle - I would point out that TIMEOUT almost works as a theme answer, too - except for the word order consideration of course. The clue for ATRA taught me that it was the first razor with a pivoting head - I did not know that.

249 (I think) may be good enough today?

Greg 8:00 PM  

3D, Super-precise, as some clocks = ATOMIC.

An atomic clock is precise, but "atomic" does not mean "precise," and I can't think of another usage of atomic to imply precision.

Is this clue precise?

Dirigonzo 9:08 PM  

@Greg, I had exactly the same thought and even started to compose an objection but I couldn't quite phrase it correctly, so thanks for raising the question and articulating it so well.

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