TUESDAY, Dec. 18, 2007 - Alan Arbesfeld

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: The Five W's - Who, What, Where, When, Why appear in theme successive theme answers

No real problems today, though it took me somewhat longer than normal (with an extra 90 seconds tacked on to my "official" time at the NYT site because my version of Firefox likes to seize up now and then, and then when I try to reload the puzzle, and am successful, I find that the timer has been running the whole time ... nice). WHAT MATTERS felt like a stretch as a self-standing phrase, and WHO CAN IT BE really wants a NOW tacked on to the end, but other than that, the theme felt lively and fresh.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Response to a knock (who can it be?)
  • 26A: The important thing (what matters)
  • 38A: Doctor's query (where does it hurt?)
  • 44A: "Never!" ("When pigs fly!") - all "Simpsons" fans will have the same image here... as-yet-unbarbecued pig, expelled from hole in dam, flying through sky over nuclear power plant...
  • 59A: Discounter's pitch (why pay more?)
Nothing tough here. I had one major mistake, which was writing in ERWIN for EDWIN (39D: Dickens's Drood), which gave me SOWER instead of SOWED in the cross (41A: Scattered about), and while SOWED is the obvious answer there ... well, let's just say it's not obvious if you never read the clue.

I got nothing to say about this puzzle today. I like that REESE (66A: Teammate of Snider and Hodges) was clued via baseball and not Witherspoon, for once. And I will just point out that OTB (8D: Pony players' locale, in brief) is a nice abbrev. to learn, if you don't already know it. Off Track Betting. Ditto IPOS (54D: N.Y.S.E. debuts) - Initial Public Offerings. OONA (31A: A Chaplin) took some time out of her retirement to let us know she's still alive. And I can't get "Pinball Wizard" out of my head this morning (48D: Rock opera with the song "Pinball Wizard" - TOMMY).

That is all.

Best wishes,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Got WHO, WHAT, WHERE right off from crosses so filled in so filled in WHEN and WHY after reading the clues. It went pretty quickly until I got to the SE.

TORENT, URBAN and AMBI stumped me for a while, kept trying to fit TOLET or FORRENT in there some how.

Good Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Why a "now"?

Rex Parker 9:48 AM  

Who a "now?" Where a "now?"

Here a "now."


Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Oona, acne and dyne to name a few. Welcome home for the holidays old friends.

This coulda been my fastest time ever... but I forgot to start the timer.


Anonymous 9:50 AM  

I don't believe I've ever seen or will see a sign that says TO RENT. Foxy Pig is correct: the proper usage is FOR RENT or TO LET. Other than that I thought this was kind of a "meh" puzzle, even for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Anonymous 9:45
Professors at the end of the semester are continuously being pestered by student banging on the door, hence the preference for WHOCANITBENOW.
By the end of the break, a knock at the door will be a simple WHOCANITBE

It's all in life context

flyingpig 9:52 AM  

I got tangled up in the SW corner as well. "To Rent" seems less common to my ear than "For Rent" or "To Let". Of course my favorite answer today: when pigs fly! Also though I don't know why, just like the prefix ambi.

Unknown 10:03 AM  

JACOB Marley is among my favorite characters in all of fiction. Seeing him here produced a slight frisson of Christmas spirit.

And I like the expression FESS UP.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Like Rex, I thought I had nothing to say about this puzzle. It just left me completely flat, I finished it, put it down, and said to myself "well, that's seven minutes of my life I'll never get back". Just a bunch of boring fill.

But, I do have to agree with others about the TORENT issue. Google has 125,000,000 hits on "to let", 84,000,000 on "for rent", and only 38,100,000 on "to rent", with most of those being used in the middle of sentence like "I am looking for an apartment to rent....." so they really don't count.

QP 10:08 AM  

I hate your fast solving times... although while i do the puzzle, i also get the kids up, get them b/fast, get them ready for school, so I think 40 mins is probably OK

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Figured the theme out quickly, but created a problem by guessing PINON for 30D...a few overwrites later it worked. Also, wasn't sure about Mr. Marley..Bob came to mind, but this guy was not in to reggae I think.

My complaint as a returning solver is 4D...I never read Hammet call his guy a "tec"... in Philly we might call the investigating police officer a "dick" but that is another story. (sort of like 20A, but saying it as initials)

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

deTECtive...Yuck squared...This is Chisholm reaching to the bottom of the barrel and coming up empty!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Oops! Sorry Richard. I meant Arbesfeld...

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

First of all, I thought it was timely to have JAWS in here, since today is Steven Spielberg's 60th birthday.

Not only did we get Jacob Marley, but we got two-thirds of Santa's favorite saying (HOHO). Nice!

Didn't anyone else think the juxtaposition of STUDIOS and TO RENT was clever?

If you're not too busy humming "Pinball Wizard," perhaps you'll have room for Men at Work's "Who Can It Be Now."

Now I know what the premise for MYST is. Who knew?

If I ever construct a puzzle, you can lay money that one of the clues will be "Grammy-winning producer Burnett" for TBONE. For now, I'll have to go with the steak reference.

Back in tne 1960s and 1970s (when comic books had letters pages), DECTECTIVE COMICS was often abbreviated as 'TEC. Plus, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe that the word "tec" appears in the book for MY FAIR LADY in the first scene, when Higgins is outside the theater. identifying everyone by his or her accent. ("He's a blooming 'tec" sticks in my mind.)

All in all, I liked this one! I thought there were some fun variations on on the old Who/What/Where/When/Why theme.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

I'd say that TEC is just one of those crossword things that you have to add to your memory banks and leave it at that.

Another pantheonic word today- OREL.

Got WHERE DOES IT HURT right away- imagine that. Still seemed too obvious to write in, though.

IMAC- another Apple clue. Their products' names are just so crossword-friendly!

Took me a minute to realize that DEICE was actually DE-ICE.

IS IT SAFE? Will think of that scene from "Marathon Man" all day now!

FitDitz 11:49 AM  

Ditto on "Tommy." Isn't it time to bring that one back to Broadway?

Jeff 12:33 PM  

funny story about WHENPIGSFLY.

when i was in my late singles (8 or 9), i used to joke with my aunt that she would get married when pigs fly.

when she finally did take the plunge, she managed to find a miniature pig with wings and gave it to me as a sort of reverse wedding present. i still have that tiny porcine flier to this day.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

I saw your little flying pig, flying at Kennedy airport in a souvenir shop!
Thanks for introducing "Who can it be now", Rex, I would rather have that spinning in my head than "Pin Ball Wizzard".
SW was the only trouble spot, though not too much; I prefer my Tuesday puzzle a little more difficult.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Thanks philly...I had Bob Marley's name stuck in my mind too, and didn't stop to figure out why.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Now I know.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Not a lot of juicy fill today, but I echo the enjoyment of STUDIOS on top of TO RENT in the SW. That was a nice touch.

I also liked the appearance of MYST in the puzzle. That brought back memories of happy hours solving the mysteries of that game. Quite a ground-breaking game in its day and one that has really aged well.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Rex - I just noticed that when I continued past today's blog the next-listed postings were the previous Tuesdays'. Did you mean for this to happen or is this some computer artifact?

Rob G. 1:30 PM  

I would venture to call today's puzzle easier than yesterday's surprisingly difficult (for a Monday) offering, but I think the fill of the SW puts this one just a bit above it. (STAID, DEICE, and the rather unfortunate TORENT.)

That said, everything else was rather easy, and all of the theme clues were attainable for me without any fill (Got WHOCANITBE, then just plugged the rest in.)

Also, two days in a row for IRES! Tsk tsk!

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

anonymous 1:12, I'm guessing you inadvertently clicked on the Tuesday label and that's why you're seeing all the Tuesdays.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Also not much to say. I too got bogged down a bit in SW with AMBI, URBAN, and DEICE. I had TORENT at first but kept wanting to change it when URBAN wasn't coming. I just didn't look right. Not a bad puzzle but not a great one either.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

that should be "It just ...

Unknown 3:12 PM  

Rex, Just wanted to say thanks. This site has always been entertaining and a learning experience. It is amazing how many of us spend our time on these puzzles. No matter where we are in the country we all need our fix.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

"I Keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest."

- Rudyard Kipling -

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

Billnut -- I think that Higgins is recognizing the 'tec' to be a detective, not a private eye.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Mary - regarding Jacob Marley, recall that Scooge never bothered to paint out his name and above the warehouse the sign still read "Scrooge and Marley". Visitors sometimes called Scrooge Scrooge and sometimes Marley. He answered to both.

OTB -- I wonder if non-New Yorkers know of these big screen betting parlors. Do other states have OTB or the equivalent?

janie 3:50 PM  

good call, billnutt! from pygmalion:
THE GENTLEMAN. Charge! I make no charge. [To the note taker] Really, sir, if you are a detective, you need not begin protecting me against molestation by young women until I ask you. Anybody could see that the girl meant no harm. 65
THE BYSTANDERS GENERALLY [demonstrating against police espionage] Course they could. What business is it of yours? You mind your own affairs. He wants promotion, he does. Taking down people's words! Girl never said a word to him. What harm if she did? Nice thing a girl cant shelter from the rain without being insulted, etc., etc., etc. [She is conducted by the more sympathetic demonstrators back to her plinth, where she resumes her seat and struggles with her emotion.
THE BYSTANDER. He aint a tec. Hes a blooming busybody: thats what he is. I tell you, look at his boots.

and while a "tec" may not be a private eye, certainly a private eye is a detective, no?



Anonymous 3:57 PM  

'Tec' in My Fair Lady -- the bystander says about Higgins, the notetaker - "He ain't a tec, he's a blooming busybody..." It seems to be cockney slang for 'detective' as Eliza is afraid the man will arrest her.
Maybe 'tec in hard boiled crime fiction is used facetiously or sarcastically to denote a private eye.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

If you're having trouble getting "Pinball Wizard" out of your head today, you may want to make it more relevant:
Crossword Wizard

Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve solved the New York Times
From Mondays’ through Sundays’
My skill I’d rate just fine
But I ain’t seen nothin’ like him
He breathes, the grid starts to fall
That one called Tyler Hinman
He solves it fastest of 'em all

He stands like a statue
His eyes scan over the grid
Feeling omnipotent
Of hesitation he is rid
He plays by intuition
Each corner quickly falls
The one they call Tyler Hinman
He’s the fastest solver of all

He’s a crossword wizard
Got such a supple mind
A crossword wizard
He leaves the rest behind

How do you thnk he does it?
(I don’t know)
What makes him so good?

He ain’t got no distractions
Can’t hear the slower throngs
Never has to erase
Never gets an answer wrong
Always first to finish
Never goofs at all
His name is Tyler Hinman
He’s the fastest of them all

I thought I was
A Times’ puzzle King
But compared to Hinman
The Daily Commuter’s more my thing

Even on an easy Monday
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest
His speed is so uncanny
I’ve never seen him fall
That one called Tyler Hinman
Sure solves it fastest of all.


Anonymous 7:04 PM  

SW also had me bogged down as I had OMNI rather than AMBI, giving me STOIC rather than STAID, and then a problem once I had to fill in 49-down. Otherwise a fairly easy puzzle.

Orange 7:16 PM  

Karma, I like your song! I e-mailed it to Tyler, whom I may or may not see for pub trivia tonight.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

Tough song to follow, but this one started playing at 17Across:

(Josef Marais and Albert Diggenhof)

We've been invited to Henrietta's wedding,
Though she can't tell us when it will be.
We hear, the tears that her mother is shedding,
Are because of the old lady's glee.
When will it be?

When will it be, when will it be? (2x)
We've been invited to Henrietta's wedding
Though she can't tell when it will be.

We've been invited to Henrietta's wedding,
No one knows who her husband will be.
They say she's started to buy all of the bedding,
But the husband's a deep mystery.
Who can it be?

Who can it be, who can it be? (2x)
Though we're invited to Henrietta's wedding
No one knows who her husband will be.

We've been invited to Henrietta's wedding,
And we want to know where it will be.
We wonder which way to go to the wedding
And, between you and me, so does she.
Where will it be?

Where will it be? Where will it be? (2x)
We wonder which wway to go to the wedding,
And between you and me, so does she.

From sheet music in Marais & Miranda, 1960, "Folk Song Jamboree, pp. 15-19,
Ballantine Books.
Copyright 1940, Marais and Diggenhof

Michael 8:07 PM  

--Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino, from Welcome Back Kotter

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