THURSDAY, Nov. 15, 2007 - Joe Krozel

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Palindromes - three long theme answers are all palindromic

Woo hoo! Palindromes! I graduated college in 1991, and the "name" of our graduating class, whatever that means, was "Palindrome!" (OK, maybe it didn't have the exclamation mark) - because of course a palindromic year would not come around for another ... well, technically, just eleven years, but after that, it would certainly be a while. Palindromes always make puzzles easy. I found myself just instinctively filling in corresponding letters whenever I'd fill in a new letter in a theme answer. The central, two-part theme answer went down first, and fast. The other two took slightly longer to untangle, but all in all, the puzzle was a piece of cake.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Palindromic thought about preparing to pay down massive debt (must save vast sum)
  • 24A: With 47-Across, palindromic Senate worker looks with amazement upon job payment inconsistency (page gawks at / task wage gap)
  • 61A: Palindromic plan for freshening part of a lab (aerate pipet area) - I learned the term PIPET only last week (I think), so it was almost nice to see it again here - I don't care for it, as a word, but it certainly was handy to know today

I started this puzzle in unusual fashion - by getting the answer at the dead center of the puzzle first: 38A: It has M.S.G. in it (NYC). M.S.G. has been in the news a lot of late, what with a very public sexual harassment suit against M.S.G and the Knicks, and now (in the past couple days) more insane Knicks controversy. Can't any NY sports team just play ball without becoming a [bleep]-ing sideshow? (See also recent A-Rod developments - that [bleep] has come crawling back to the Yankees, sans agent - I guess it will be easier than I thought to retain my antipathy for that particular organization next year).

ANYway, I made a cross in the puzzle's center with KAYAK (28D: Vessel in icy waters) and was on my way. Thought TAMMI Terrell (36A: 1960s singer Terrell) was spelled TAMI, then TAMMY - she is best known for singing duets with Marvin Gaye. I went through a Huge Motown phase in high school, so I have a weird, vast reservoir of radio hits from the 60s and 70s. I also went to Michigan for grad school, so 56A: Michigan is part of it (Big Ten) was a gimme as well.

Some junk I didn't know (or forgot, or reforgot):

  • 9A: Prince Valiant's wife (Aleta) - while I will never, ever forget Valiant's son's name (ARN), I am doomed forever to forget this lady's name (which sounds like a new line of car from Hyundai)
  • 14A: Unlucky board game square (lose a turn) - GO TO JAIL was the only phrase that wanted to go here, even though it didn't fit
  • 19A: It might set off a light (sensor) - spent many seconds pondering the physics involved in such a proposition. "Set off ... sounds explosive ... or maybe it's decorative ... maybe the answer is 'a nice set of DRAPES'..."
  • 45A: Line starter in "Hot Cross Buns" (one A) - ????? Go here to torture your eardrums / soul with a version of the song
  • 65A: Role played in films by Chief Thundercloud (Tonto) - no idea, but really ... how many answers could this have been? Name three recurring Native American roles in film. Right now. I Dare You.
  • 1D: Landmark Newport mansion, with "the" ("Elms") - Nope, no clue. Got it from crosses.
  • 15D: "_____ to Remember," biopic on Frederic Chopin ("A song") - Nope, no clue. Got it from ... thinking about the only phrase that seemed apt to go there
  • 24D: Minor, at law (petit) - took me Way longer than it should have. I never think of the word for "small" in French as having any kind of legal meaning, though of course it does
  • 27D: One-named supermodel (Emme) - I always want this clue in four letter to be IMAN. And I always think this EMME person's name is really ESME, for some reason.
  • 30D: Whence the line "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea) - that "E" was one of the last letters I filled in. Not on my personal Top Ten Books of the Bible list.

Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


QP 9:06 AM  

btw, I'm a lab geek, and 61A (pipet) should be spelled pipette

Rex Parker 9:08 AM  

We've been over this. There's more than one correct spelling. The end.


wendy 9:22 AM  

That image of Marvin and TAMMI reminds me of one of the most joyful recorded vocal performances I've ever seen. The two of them singing Ain't No Mountain High Enough - I think I saw it on one of those Motown anniversary shows. They were absolutely radiant. He loved her so much and when she died of a brain tumor, he was never the same again.

Great puzzle. 20 place was one of my most favorite diabolical clues. Always happy when the ERNE flies in for a guest spot.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

To be honest - I still don't get the clue / answer for 20 places?

I mean -- I have the answer (from fills) .. but I don't get it..

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Think of it this way--where you go to get $20 bills. ATM Machines.

I thought this was a fun one.

MSG was actually a small stumper for me, since I was trying to think of a three-letter word for a food containing monosodium glutamate.

Pretty smooth sailing otherwise, along with some other fun clue misdirects.

Alex S. 9:39 AM  

ATMs dispense 20 dollar bills.

Though I would never write "you can get a 20 from an ATM" it would either be "you can get a $20 from an ATM" or "you can get a twenty from an ATM" to using the number form of "twenty" without a dollar sign feels like a bit of cheating misdirection. Though I wasn't misdirected my first fill was TILL. Which was an obvious (in hindsight) error since it isn't plural.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Do people think KAYAK (28D) qualifies as a theme answer? Or is it just random? The clue includes nothing about a palindrome, but the central placement makes it themey. Not an important question, but enough to distract me from more important (i.e., work-related) tasks this morning.

QP 10:14 AM  

btw, when I was growing up in Europe, we used to KAYAK in the summer... like a month long trip on connecting rivers and lakes... definitevly no cold water

Rob 10:30 AM  

Korova, I think KAYAK was meant to play into the theme a little at least, as were TET (46A) and EMME (27D).

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

I'm a relative newbie to your site (six weeks). You've motivated me to go to the online version of the puzzle (rather than just the newspaper version).

I've found that the online version is somewhat unstable (for me). I'm a Mac User (OS 10.5) and a NYT subscriber. The puzzle is generally slow to load. Sometimes the puzzle will just seize up. Sometimes it crashes Firefox. And most of the time, it won't allow me to open other windows within the current browser.

Am I alone in this regard? Am I overlooking some things? Any tips from the community would appreciated. Thanks!

P.S. I should note that I'm not paying for the Premium Online Version. Is that the difference?

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Note to self: get Aleta tattoo

grouchonyy 11:02 AM  

I'm using Leopard with no problem. Get Across Lite for Mac. Download the puzzle and open it in Across Lite.
BTW, as a NY Times subscriber, you get the premium version if you register your account online.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Amazing how I was able to totally derail myself with so many answers that had to be right. I had RAKE not ROUE, thought 20 places had to be some sort of in thing not known by folks like me, had GAPES and Lemon TAB and BOATS of some sort, a VAST wage gap and a Lab in a PET area. As you can imagine, the palindromes weren't working but my efforts only led to more craziness. It was really all about the M.S.G. Originally I had SOY and then decided it must be KFC.

Some days my brain is a sworn enemy. Today was one of those days.

Great puzzle though.

frances 11:13 AM  

Did anyone ever read the Prince Valiant comic strip, in the days that some newspapers carried it? The good prince (or, rather, his wife and son) seems to have achieved a form of immortality.

BTW, it was refreshing to have the "Latin I verb" be something other than amo-amas-amat.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I want to like this puzzle, but too many things irk me. I'm in agreement that Kayaks, while they might be used in icy water, certainly aren't necessarily so - indeed Kayaking is an Olympic SUMMER sport.

Also, why is Pipet a lab AREA. Isn't it a piece of equipment? Is there a special area of the lab designated the "pipet area"?

Although the palindromes were fun, I found most of them to be really convoluted. Page gawks at wake gap? Really stretching.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

If you want a NY sports team that isn't a bleeping sideshow, try the NY Rangers. Of course, they're a puck team, not a ball team. No matter.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

As an amateur fashionista, Parsons grad, and someone who's read Michael Gross's history of the modelling industry 3 times, I truly can't recall a ONE_NAMED MODEL called "Emme". I suppose she must exist but ugh. I wanted "Iman", and thought for an intriguing moment it might be "Edie", as in Sedgwick. More famous as a Warhol starlet, and drug casualty. being a model was the only "real job" she ever had.

For the Mac user, download Across Lite, the standalone app. Works great. I didn't even know you could do the xword in a browser..

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

I had a great time with this. Enough difficulty to make it interesting and enough easier to make it do-able.

My favorite clue was the msg/nyc (of course west-coaster here thinking chinese food... I almost had to ask here for clarification of the connection).

I really liked the theme and how it helped getting some of the crosses.

There was our new friend the mis-spelled (to me) pipet in the middle of the last theme answer. It still doesn't look right, but having seen this spelling in the last week or so helped me get the answer. I was lucky that some of my first fill instincts were actually right for a change (unlike yesterday where art/oil held me up, among others), though at my first thought roue I filled in rake instead, just because...

Thanks for bringing up the kayak palindrome... I missed that! Just a thought... although kayaks are certainly used in all temperature waters these days, they did originate with the Ainu, Aleut and Eskimos, in icy waters.

Just about right for a Thursday for me.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

I'm not sure if it's the same EMME, but there was such a person on one of the cable channels for awhile (forget which one, probably TLC) who was a large sized model who was very very striking (one of those people who'd be beautiful at any size) and the show was aimed at fashion for the larger women. Don't ask me how I know this, chalk it up to a misspent youth.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

jim in chicago... that's the Emme (Melissa Aronson) the first plus-sized supermodel.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Wendy... is this the Tammi/Marvin video you mentioned?

(sorry, I'm link-challenged).

Tammi passed before Motown started doing Anniversary shows, but they may have shown this video on Motown 25 or later ones.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Frances, our newspaper still does carry Prince Valiant. Right now there's a complicated adventure in the African interior.

QP 11:55 AM  

roger von eoch

although Across Lite works better for PC than Mac, I've used it for a past year, and it it is just fine... even if u only have TIGER (or even panther)

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I agree with the "Easy" assessment. Had a temporary hiccup in the SW where I immediately filled in Aden in ORAN's spot. Just one continent and thousands of miles off!

62d "Tire meas." for PSI seems off. Tire measures are aspect ratio, width, diameter, and rim size. PSI is a measurement of the air in the tire (or the tube!).

The 29a clue, " 'Is that someone I should know' ", seems a bit of a stretch for WHO.

I enjoyed the puzzle and appreciate the effort that went into creating the palindromes.

Wendy, that's a nice reollection (Tammi and Marvin). I can't get the image, must have missed the show, but I sure remember their version of the song -- just beautiful. For me, it's the definitive version, but it has been overrun in pop culture by the anthemic version from the Supreme being.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

I don't know about this puzzle - palindromes make is easy and no real posers for clues but still something just doesn't settle. A real nit I'll pick - seal seems a lot more than SHUT. I shut drawers everyday and they certainly aren't sealed. Just fill I know but still. Jim in Chicago - it's PAGEGAWKSAT/TASKWAGEGAP not WAKEGAP - not a palindrome and would be quite a stretch. A good solid meh for a Thursday.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I thought the theme was clever and well done but there was a bit too much crosswordese for a Thursday for me. Definitely easy, PETIT was the only thing I didn't know but, I was looking for a chinese connection for MSG.

I recently had a chance to discuss palindromes with my 8 year old granddaughter. She was telling me how she told her friend Hanah that Hanah was spelled the same forward and backwards, and I told her there was a name for that...

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

I'm another Aleta-amnesiac. I filled in AMA- without even thinking about other Latin verbs, but AAA helped me out thanks to the palindromes (no --A- possible there).

Impressive puzzle I thought. Must save vast sum is great, and I love that Mr. Krozel was able to get 'gawks' in a palindrome. Good word. The pipet area is a bit of a stretch, but hey, 15-letter palindromes don't grow on trees. I GUESS. Loved the clueing for NYC and ATMS.

Unknown 1:05 PM  

Lovely puzzle I think. And one other little palindrome not yet mentioned: TET, even though it is crosswordese.

Jeff 1:15 PM  

re: hot cross buns. i spent the better part of early elementary school singing that crazy song in rounds with the rest of my class. the lyrics will be forever emblazoned in my mind.

for some reason i always want the one-named model to be ELLE, presumably because of the corner in my mind that somehow combines Elle McPherson and that magazine Elle.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Petit pipet,

Max PSI is also a tire rating (or a sci-fi detective).

anon 11:27,

You must be glad of the return of "Project Runway"

fergus 1:56 PM  

Would have had 195 points docked from my score, for leaving the 36 blank. Oops, but I didn't hurl my headphones.

So I finally saw "Wordplay" last night, and recognized some of the references to which I've become familiar by reading this and the Orange blogs. I was first stuck by how many left-handers there were among those shown doing the solving, though I'm pretty sure the finalists were righties. Significance of this observation? Don't know. Progressively, I was realizing (and facing up to) how compelling is the urge to solve the puzzle every day. Why must it be done? What is the addictive pathology -- no that's too strong a term -- but I would like to have seen some more analysis of the roots of the compulsion in addition to the anecdotes and indications. And more specifically, the taxonomy -- or deconstruction or whatever it is -- of the gratification so derived. It's curious how few psycholigists or English professors (Ahem) seem to be afflicted, though I could easily understand the incidence among musicians and mathematicians.

As for today's puzzle, I would concur that a PIPET AREA is pretty bogus, though I thought the PAGE WAGE GAP was good. And LUXURY TAX could have been a good Unlucky board game square, if you were stuck on Monopoly.

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

marcie, no, the one I saw was in a studio/auditorium setting, not "on location" [I use quotations with great trepidation here] like that one was, but it's still great. I just saw another one on youtube that was closer to the one I'm referring to, and yes it was probably Motown 25 or 40. Both Marvin and Tammi were gone at the time it was broadcast; it made me so sad. I grew up in Washington D.C. where soul music permeated my existence and all of these artists - Motown, Stax/Volt, Atlantic, Sun - the whole GAMUT make up the soundtrack of my youth.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Thanks for pointing out the one word palindromes.
Kayak salad - Alaska yak.

Unknown 3:08 PM  

Had to Google Hosea.otherwise easy puzzle.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Don't forget Emme and esse - that makes kayak, Emme, esse, and Tet along with the official "theme" answers.

PuzzleGirl 4:19 PM  

jae: My kids love finding palindromes too. They especially like POOP. :-) They have a really hard time getting their little minds around RACECAR though.

EMME was in the puzzle this year back in March also (clued as "Noted plus-size model").

And HOSEA appeared in February ("Book after Daniel"), July ("Book before Joel"), and August ("God commanded him to marry a harlot").

Count me among Mac users having no problems with Across Lite.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Just noticed that EMME is also a palindrome.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

I always like Thursday puzzles that I can do without googling. I liked this puzzle.

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

I also thought this puzzle was easy and have no trouble with Across Lite on the Mac. I set a personal Thursday record with this, just over 16:00. And I only knew ROUE (which blogspot's spellchecker doesn't, by the way) because I missed it on yesterday's _NY_Sun_ puzzle! Thanks for the Video, Marcie!

Anonymous 10:36 PM  

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns
If you have no daughters
Give them to your sons
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns

[listening to my daughters' kids songs tapes too much...]

Re: Wordplay and lefties...I think it was said that many of the great solvers are mathematicians and musicians. These are right-brained activities, so many of them would be left-handed people.

Unknown 12:33 AM  

This was alright. We have to give some leeway for palindromes. They're hard to make!
I wish it hadn't been clued that way, though. This was incredibly easy - the first puzzle this week that I haven't screwed up on, in fact (I generally use pen). If it had been up to us to figure out that they were palindromes, there would have been marginally more of a challenge. Also, then KAYAK would definitely be a little "bonus" theme answer!

Anonymous 1:26 AM  

I agree that knowing these were palindromes made it a lot easier to get the theme answers and then the rest just fell into place. I had a little trouble in New England, not remembering Aleta, but otherwise a pleasant time.

The idea of lateralization of brain functions of puzzlers is interesting. The left side of the brain is the language center and is logical and analytical. The right side is more gestalt or holistic and intuitive. And nobody is one or the other, but you can be inclined one way or the other. The best puzzlers are probably strong on both sides. And you have to have a good memory and know everything in the universe. To me, it's like yoga or mediation, a practice. Aleta, aleta, aleta.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

Rick of the tatoo... are you the Rick of Benny Lava? I'm still laughing.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

"It is I" as they say in crosswordese. I watch that video about once a week. Not only is it funny but the music is very appealing.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Rick... if you get this... I video-called my son in London to have him watch this...he's a really funny kid and is always playing with words. He and his roommate (both 20) were sitting on the couch and watched it together while I watched their reactions. They snickered... then laughed... then rolled on the couch laughing, then couldn't stop laughing when it was over and had to watch it again. Seeing their utter hysteria was almost as fun as the video itself. Thanks again.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

For those that don't mind confusing PIPET with PIPETTE and also need help learning to dance:

(Courtesy of "I Rock Cleveland")

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

65 A Role played in films by Chief Thundercloud.

Tonto my mind went to Jay Silverheels.

Waxy in Montreal 3:59 PM  

From syndication, Dec. 27th:

I'm with you Anon 9:24 AM, Jay Silverheels - Canadian by birth - was certainly the definitive Tonto, at least during my formative years, the 1950's. It seems from Wikipedia that Chief Thundercloud played him a few times in the early Lone Ranger movies.

Also, until today, I thought Tammi Terrell was related (sister or wife) to onetime Heavyweight boxing champ, Ernie Terrell but apparently that was an unfounded rumo(u)r. A classy singer, Tammi Terrell died of a brain tumo(u)r at the tragically-early age of 24.

Kudos to Joe Krozel for the inventive palindromes. Using the palindromic KAYAK to link the two K's in in the PAGE/WAGE entry was particularly pleasing. Also, avoiding A MAN, A PLAN, A CANAL, PANAMA was a major plus.

An easy Thursday puzzle methinks other than the mid-Atlantic area, where for some reason for the longest time I had EPOST, WRONG and a neologism for Soother, APOE (maybe like Maypo??).

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