TUESDAY, Nov. 6, 2007 - John Underwood

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

Theme: "Five" - six (?) theme answers contain the word "FIVE," including two intersecting sets of "FIVE" (one in the NW, the other in the SE)

This felt very Monday-ish. I finished in a very Monday-ish sub-5 minutes. I might have been faster, but my brain wouldn't allow itself to become convinced that the only real thematic element here was "FIVE," and that "FIVE" would be repeating itself all over the grid, and that this info would prove a huge advantage in uncovering other theme answers. Had intersecting FIVE's in the NW and thought ... well, not much, but certainly not that Every Theme Answer Would Contain a Five. I wouldn't say the puzzle was very ARTFUL (54A: Like Dickens's Dodger), but I learned a few things.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Eisenhower was one (five-star general)
  • 3D: Nickel (five cents)
  • 23A: 2:30, aboard ship (five bells) - never ever heard of this; cool expression
  • 49A: Rests for a bit (takes five)
  • 32D: Request for a congratulatory slap ("gimme five!")
  • 57A: Shortly after quitting time, for many (quarter past five) - don't like this at all. It's a totally arbitrary time. :(
To this puzzle's credit, it does cover a lot of ground, with interesting sub-thematic groupings. You've got...


  • 30A: Ho Chi Minh's capital (Hanoi)
  • 46A: Chiang Kai-shek's capital (Taipei)


  • 4D: Slugging it out (toe to toe)
  • 20A: Move unsteadily (teeter)
  • 39D: Be worth (count for) - OK that one's a stretch, but a ref does COUNT FOR 10 counts when a boxer has been knocked down. This answer slowed me down more than any other, because I had the CO- and wrote in "COST ..." :(


  • 13D: Ceramists' baking chambers (kilns)
  • 64A: Pizzeria fixture (oven)


  • 6D: Feathery wrap (boa)
  • 49D: Brimless cap (toque)

Comic strips!

  • 2D: Garfield's foil (Odie)
  • 51D: "The Family Circus" cartoonist Bill (Keane)


  • 43D: "My Name is Asher _____" ("Lev")
  • 63A: Shul V.I.P. (rabbi) - experience tells me this clue will get a lot of Google searches. The simple [Shul's shepherd] sent hundreds and hundreds of people to my site. As did [Rabbi's instrument] => SHOFAR. Rabbinical matters appear to be a blind spot for many solvers (not just me).


  • 53A: "Waiting for Lefty" playwright (Odets)
  • 33D: Pierce player (Alda)
  • 21A: Delon of "Purple Noon" (Alain) - so sexy; go rent "Le Samoura├»" right now - this guy is the ultimate noir actor.
  • 67A: Try for a role (read)

That's pretty much it. I liked A FIRST (29A: Something new), but just because of the inclusion of the indefinite article, which is so unusual in puzzles. Never saw OMSK (10A: Trans-Siberian Railroad stop) or MUNI (16A: City bond, for short) in the NE because I got the whole section from Downs alone. I like clue at 9D: Fruity quencher (ade), if not the answer.

I must go get coffee and Munchkins with my dog now, and then work like crazy til noon, when I have to go pick up my wife from a rather unpleasant medical procedure (she is Totally Fine, it's just a semi-routine examination that many of you have likely had). It does not pass the breakfast test.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Unknown 9:31 AM  


There is also a "5" embedded in the negative space in the center of the grid.

Agreed on the monday-ish level.

Rex Parker 9:34 AM  

Yes, five black rectangles make a "5" (of sorts). Interesting.


Anonymous 9:45 AM  

WOW, John... Neat construction, and good pickup! I would have missed that. It makes the theme more fun, for me! (would have preferred "five after five" or something along those lines, for the arbitrary quarter past answer, but of course that wouldn't fit).

A sail-thru puzzle for me, more Monday-easy but enjoyable.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Can't get Brubeck's "Take Five" out of my mind after this puzzle. Not a bad thing.


Thanks to above for pointing out the 5 in the center.


Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Could have use a Hawaii 5-0 clue and a memory jogger for how to spell Taipei.

Thank you for the Ali picture.

Unknown 10:17 AM  

Too bad this ran on the sixth, not yesterday on the fifth of the month. I did not see the hidden five either, I like it!

Thank you, Rex, for the picture of Alain Delon. I think I'll head over to Netflix right now.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

I liked the fact that the theme answers in the top half of the grid had FIVE at the beginning of the answer, and the theme answers in the bottom half of the grid had FIVE at the end of the answer.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

NORAD, which sits on top of Five-star General, was formed during Eisenhower's presidency. A nice juxtaposition.

So far as bells are concerned, aboard ship 12, 4, and 8 o'clock are eight bells. The half-hourly cycle starts over again with one bell at 12:30, 4:30 and 8:30. Those on watch tell the time by counting the bells.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

I agree that this one was very easy. I couldn't get it to download last night (kept getting Monday's), so I solved it online against the clock, and finished in 10-plus minutes.

Wow! There were some very fast times today. I'm OK with that....I'm not sitting around dreaming up bumper stickers about "Intermediate Solvers Do It Longer" or anything like that.

Good photos in the blog Rex. Thanks. All black and white except the noir actor, ironically.

I would have enjoyed an appearance by the Five Satins.

Eric 12:12 PM  

Rex, in your list of Asia-related answers, you forgot to mention ASIA (54D: Home to most Turks)!

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

I'm loving the music on here. Dave Brubeck and Take five... that link was heaven!!

And now I'm singing along with the Five Satins "doo wop, doo wah... In the still of the night..."... which by the way is sometimes credited for the origination of the term "doo wop" for the genre of music, from the background.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Surprised to see "My name is Asher Lev" in the puzzle. It's a novel by Chaim Potok about an artist from a Chasidic background who enters the artistic world and struggles with the tension between Chasidic Judasim and the modern world and the tension between Christianity and Judaism. I read it decades ago in high school and liked it very much. Although his earlier books "The Chosen" and "The Promise" are probably better. As a crossword incentive, Reading them will increase one's Jewish/Rabbinic vocabulary too.

fergus 3:18 PM  

Full fathom FIVE my father lies ...

I'm guessing Tennyson, but maybe the English professors or majors can correct me?

Robert Indiana painted a great picture of the number FIVE -- it would make a great addition to the Blog today. Very colorful, I recall.

Unusually fast today since a lot of the fill hardly required reading the clues. Even still, I'll never be able to write it all in in under five minutes. Or even six.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

Fastest Tuesday ever for me, but on going back over it I found I'd mispelled TAIPEI (AI). Rats! Maybe next week. Enjoyed the puzzle, there was, as Rex pointed out, a nice variety of non-crosswordy stuff.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Ooh! Ooh! Mr. Kotter Mr. Kotter!

"Full fathom five" etc. is from The Tempest of Shakespeare, perhaps my favorite of S's plays.

English PhD 1999, U of Mich.

fergus 4:10 PM  

Thanks for the Tempest correction; and while Indiana did paint a number of fives, the one I was thinking about was by Charles Demuth. Glitches in the recall mechanism today, I reckon.

Also, could have had some nice clues for Joe DiMaggio, Beethoven's Symphony No.__, and how about the Jackson__?

Eric Selje 4:26 PM  

It's a 5 o' clock world when the whistle blows...

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

Don't suppose there are enough BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER fans to warrant "five by five" as an answer, right? Pity.

Completely missed the five in the black squares in the center. THIS is one of the reasons I visit this blog!

We Five was a San Francsico-based group that had a hit with "You Were on My Mind," a terrific song.

I agree with others that this could have been a Monday, but that's just quibbling.

I missed the presence of a Marvel or DC clue, so I'll have to make do with GARFIELD and THE FAMILY CIRCUS.

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

Full Fathom Five thy Father lies
(Ariels's song from The Tempest)

Full fathom five thy Father lies,
Of his bones are Corrall made:
Those are pearles that were his eies,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a Sea-change
Into something rich & strange
Sea-Nymphs hourly ring his knell.
Harke now I heare them, ding-dong, bell.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  


Just went back and reread your blog and noticed your sign-off today.

I have been wracking my brain trying to remember the book that led me to the NYT's daily puzzles:

"Crossworld" was it.


Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Oh, and thanks to Marc Romano the author

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

Wouldn't say quarter after five is "totally arbitrary." Five is a typical quitting time as in "nine to five."

PuzzleGirl 9:08 PM  

Anyone remember The Five Keys? That's going waaaay back. Before my time, actually. Only knew them from an ex's parents' record (and I mean record) collection. "Who do ya know in heaven / that made you the angel you are?"

Also would have liked to see the phrase "it's 5:00 somewhere" included. Heh.

An easy, fun puzzle today.

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

anonymous 7:13

I don't think anybody questions the 5 part of the answer, since once you have the theme you know it will be 5 something. To me, the "quarter past" is the totally arbitrary part of the answer to the given clue. Any time after 5 would be correct, thus arbitrary, until you get the downs.

wendy 9:52 PM  

Anon 9:47, I agree that it was arbitrary and furthermore, weird, in that I don't think people really talk like that. I would never say a "quarter past" anything when telling time.

Michael Chibnik 9:56 PM  


I say "quarter past X" when telling time. I also say "quarter to X." I haven't paid attention, but don't think I'm alone. At least people don't seem to have problems understanding me.

wendy 10:56 PM  

Interesting. I stand corrected. I do say "quarter to," come to think of it, but not "quarter past." I'll say "whatever-15" instead. I just don't hear the former very often, or I don't think I do. What's even odder - I work in a firm where we bill our time to clients by the "quarter hour."

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

I hear "a quarter after" much more frequently than "a quarter past."

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

Whats a steeple jack?

-- multiple-degree-holding-intellectual

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

Whats a steeple jack?

-- multiple-degree-holding-intellectual

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

Whats a steeple jack?

-- multiple-degree-holding-intellectual

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

At first I thought "harrumph" when I saw all the "Fives" in the puzzle, as Will often rejects any theme I propose with a repeated word in it (which is always my first instinct and continues to be!)
but when you couple it with there being SIX clues in a Mon/Tues puzzle and the black squares making a five and the first being at the beginning of the word and the bottom ones being at the end,
I thought, "right on!"
Today's (Wed) has another arbitrary time (43A Early time to rise SIXAM) to go with the much-discussed QUARTERPASTFIVE)
but, again, kudos for those phrases then having an X and a Q in them!

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