Theologian Johann / THU 8-4-11 / Kitty 1940 movie romance / Musical with song Be Italian / Beyond Peace author's monogram

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: WENT / BAR-HOPPING (50A: Painted the town red, in a way ... or successfully completed this puzzle?) — 5 theme answers "hop" across "bars" (i.e. banks of black squares) [WHOOPS: I missed the part where the words that "hop" the "bar" can precede "bar" in a common phrase, e.g. SINGLES [bar], CANDY [bar] ... I'm now far more impressed with the puzzle than I was when I did the write-up; I just wonder how many solvers are going to miss that aspect of the theme ... thanks to joon for pointing out my blind spot]

Word of the Day: GALT MacDermot (37A: "Hair" composer MacDermot) —

Galt MacDermot (born December 18, 1928) is a Canadian composer, pianist and writer of musical theatre. He won a Grammy Award for the song African Waltz in 1960. His most successful musicals have been Hair (1967; its cast album also won a Grammy) and Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971). MacDermot has also written music for film soundtracks, jazz and funk albums, and classical music, and his music has been sampled in hit hip-hop songs and albums. (wikipedia)

• • •

This was a bit anti-climactic, considering we'd seen a similar bar-hopping type theme just this past Sunday. BAR-HOPPING would have been a great revealer, but the WENT part feels weird; also, that answer violates the general principle of the theme, as all the others "hop" mid-word, but that answer doesn't. I enjoyed doing the puzzle—there's some interesting fill in there, and the clues were often thoughtful and tough—but I wasn't wowed the way I might've been had the reveal been more spectacular, or had I not seen a word-breaking theme just four days ago. Also, what's with the weird names? NOELLE (25D: Girl with a festive-sounding name) isn't even ... anybody. Just a name a woman might have??? Yuck. I knew Kitty FOYLE from my collection of old paperbacks, but I think that's pretty damned hard / obscure (40A: "Kitty ___" (1940 movie romance)). Ditto GALT. ECK, I knew (38A: Theologian Johann). He has some crossword currency. Theme answers are interesting enough, but as they have nothing in common, it's hard to be too excited about them.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Some ballpark hits (INFIELD SIN / GLES)
  • 22A: Provider of some outdoor entertainment (STREET PI / ANO) — what the hell? They have pianos on streets now?
  • 44A: "Star Wars" and "Battlestar Galactica" (SPA / CE OPERAS)
  • 11D: Youthful time (SAL / AD DAYS)
  • 29D: Sugar in large crystals (ROCK CA / NDY)
Last week, Will Shortz tweeted (yes, he's on Twitter now):

An innocent NYT crossword clue I wrote for ROCK CANDY: Something hard to suck on? Test-solver Frank caught it before it ran. [Whew!]

Pretty funny. But it also acted as a very minor spoiler, since the tweet leapt immediately to mind once I'd gotten the first part of that answer.

  • 7D: KLM alternative (SAS) — every time I see "KLM," I want to say "uh huh, uh huh." Only 90s music fans / victims will understand this.

  • 48D: Musical with the song "Be Italian" ("NINE") — this reminds me of my mom, and I have No Idea Why. Maybe there was a production of this in the late 70s / early 80s and she saw it??? Just a weird association I can't account for. We lived in Fresno, CA for god's sake. "NINE" couldn't have been further from our everyday lives.
  • 53D: "Beyond Peace" author's monogram (RMN) — wow, needed all the crosses for this. It's Nixon, in case you somehow didn't pick up the monogram.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


lit.doc 12:23 AM  

Wow, really hard Wednesday puzzle. Clean fill, interesting cluing, and a now-familiar—and thus susceptible of being sussed out by moi—theme device. Thank you, Mr. Kahn, for delivering all the fun without the usual ass whupping I get on Thursday.

Fav fill was 15A “One hanging around a party?” I’d like to whine about TRIODE, which in fairness I have seen quite recently in another puzzle, but I don’t know how thin an electronics ICE CAP I’d be standing on. Techies?

Least fav theme entry was STREET PIANO. I’ve seen lots of street musicians with guitars, saxes, violins, etc., but I’m having some difficulty imagining “OK, I’m gonna set up on this corner—hand me my piano, will ya?”

RINK before POND and WALK before GAIT, no surprise.

“Who is John MacDermot?”

Oh crap, just now figured out the clue for 60A, “It might come out of a small speaker” = DADA. Had been thinking “hmmm, Toulouse Lautrec? No, can’t be…” WAAH.

Joon 12:24 AM  

Theme answers are interesting enough, but as they have nothing in common, it's hard to be too excited about them.

singles bar, piano bar, space bar, candy bar, salad bar.

Rookie 12:27 AM  

re: 53D: I've always understood that a monogram (that you would put on a shirt, sweater, sheets, stationery) is composed in the following manner:

First Name-Last Name -Middle/Maiden Name

in which case Nixon's monogram would be RNM (Richard Nixon Milhous or RNM) I think that RMN are his initials, not his monogram.

In other words, for me, a monogram is a type of arrangement of initials, not just initials. Anyone else have a comment?

I'm new at these puzzles. I found this one very hard, so I was surprised at its classification as easy. It didn't help that I was not aware that answers could cross over bars.

James F 12:30 AM  

Took a while to catch onto the idea. "Space operas," which I find a lot of fun to read, did the trick. Having "rink" instead of "pond" slowed up the NW for a while. I enjoyed this one.

Lois 12:36 AM  

The theme answers have a lot in common, as I guess you know already if you've read Amy Reynaldo. I didn't see the theme either. All the theme answers have a word that works with "bar." Singles bar, piano bar, space bar, salad bar, piano bar. I wanted to go back and give the puzzle five stars when I read her explanation, but it was too late. I had to stick with four stars.

As Amy also explains, there is currently a traveling exhibition of a bunch of pianos. Passersby can play. I read that it was in NYC recently, I think outside at Lincoln Center.

Ginger Rogers won an Oscar in 1941 for best actress for the film Kitty Foyle. I knew that she had received an Oscar for the role, but double-checked just now on IMDb. It turns out that the film also had some other major Oscar nominations that year, for best film, director and screenplay.

andre bar-la michaels 12:40 AM  

Thank you, Joon! TOTALLY missed the extra BAR theme!!!!!!!!!!
And I was JUST saying to Puzzle Girl
(whose lovely home I'm at!!!!!!!! Long story) that I have a minor heart infarction every time someone says, "I didn't even notice the theme till I came here"!!!!!!!!

(Now I wonder if @Rex will rewrite like on the Work in Progress theme and confuse the hell out of the late posters!)

Hand up for riNk too, and I guessed Philadelphia had the first Zip!!!

Damn, one square mistake: ARu/GuNNED! I thought GuNNED must be slang that I didn't know for being plastered!

And ARu could have been baseball gunk I didn't know, as this was all masculine with ESPY, INFIELDSINGLES ("right off the bat") and the SCORE clue tie-in, when that easily could have been clued in a non-baseball way...

But of course ARI/GINNED makes more sense in retrospect. I just thought ARu was Arizona U or some such nonsense. My bad.

And I fell for trying to put ScroogE in for SPECTRE< even tho I knew that would be the reverse.''I liked the clue for Nick name? and that STYX and STAX cross.

Tobias Duncan 12:41 AM  

I with you Rookie, this thing was tough for me, all the sports made me salty.Never heard the term SPACEOPERA. Doesnt an opera have singing ????
Never heard of or seen a STREETPIANO.

Why the hell does 4 down have a question mark???

SAC fly still fills me with rage.

foodie 12:45 AM  

Very cool puzzle! Having skipped Sunday, this was fresh to me.

Most impressive that BAR both breaks the theme words and is associated with each of those words. I agree that the revealer is so different (BAR is spelled out, not implicit, it does not break a word) that it should have been handled differently. It could have said at 53A, " with 56 A, painted the town red..."

Some parts with proper nouns just would not budge: I got stuck at -OYLE: tried bOYLE, cOYLE, dOYLE, and none would work with the cross, so I gave up and cheated. Had I just gone to the next consonant for FOYLE!

Lois 12:48 AM  

Rookie: I'm also something of a rookie, but I've been at it for over half a year. It'll probably be a long time before you see answers crossing over bars again, although there was one such puzzle a few days ago. The boxes were all numbered where you'd expect them to be numbered, though, unlike today. Thursdays usually have some kind of trap. I guess you know that already.

Tobias Duncan: Space operas seems to be a phrase modeled on soap operas or horse operas. Seems as though James F knows more about them than we do.

syndy 12:49 AM  

soap opera-space opera no singing!and I think the 4 down clue references the british spelling somehow!maybe a street piano would be one of those cool rolled up thingys.but I surely thought GINNED meant having all your cards melded!definitely interesting! now please someone walk me through 18 down.

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

I was so convinced STREETPIANO was wrong it threw me off my game for a bit.

thursdaysd 12:54 AM  

Great improvement over the last two days, although I had to guess at some of the names - STAX? GALT? I had SOto bed before SOFA, and know about diodes but not TRIODES.

Don't get the SAC fly. Is it abbrev. for Supreme Air Command?

Jonathan Papish 12:57 AM  

syndy: a caret is the symbol "^" which when editing means you want to insert a missing word. the "stick" part I guess is a play on the phrase "carrot and stick"

foodie 12:58 AM  

One of my favorite aspects of this blog is how we help each other understand the puzzle. Here's a classic from yesterday's comments (Wednesday's blog):

Anonymous 10:18 PM said...
Am confused about "tapa." Is there a tapas craze in Ohio?

Anonymous 10:43 PM said...
@Anon 10:18 - Not in Ohio, but I hear they're pretty popular in Toledo Spain.

lit.doc 1:22 AM  

@thursdaysd, "SAC fly" = "sacrifice fly", where the batter accepts an out to let the person on third base come home.

thursdaysd 1:29 AM  

@lit.doc - thanks. Have heard of sacrifice fly, the abbrev would never have occurred to me.

lit.doc 1:46 AM  

@RP/webmaster, my entire Blogger profile (and my beloved avatar!) has been tossed into the bit bucket. Any idea what's up with that? Anyone having a similar affliction?

Lois 1:48 AM  

Re "stick" in the clue caret and stick, I guess one is sticking in a word when one inserts a word.

I was long-winded in my explanation of the theme before, but I might as well go further, because I didn't state it correctly. In each example, the word that works with "bar" is the word divided by the bar, so that in each case that word could be describing the bar in the puzzle, as in salad bar and so on.

acme 2:05 AM  

by the way, just flew to DC on American
(sorry @dk, opposite direction!) and there was a NY Times puzzle in the American Airlines magazine WITHOUT A BYLINE :(
Bad enough no reprint rights, but no byline! Will someone other than me, pls write to the editor and complain???

And I forgot SAC, with my ESPY, SCORE, INFIELDSINGLES ARI baseball overload in this puzzle.

CoffeeLvr 2:14 AM  

@Joon, of course, once you tell me! Thanks for the insight.

I loved it - after I was hatin' on it. I got really frustrated and could not remember this gimmick or figure out what was going on. So I printed out what I had, highlighted all the "-" clues (that's how AcrossLite handled it) and kept looking at it every few minutes.

@Rookie, 12:27am, I seem to remember that monogram rule also. However, when I got some luggage monogrammed by Lands End in the '80's, I think they explained that the initial of the last name only has to go in the middle when the central letter is enlarged. Also, crossword cluing is often a little "flexible", particularly from Thursday through Sunday.

I still have a set of very fine quality glasses dating back to 1949 with the etched monogram LBJ, for my parents. Couldn't quite let them go during the last move, but maybe it is time to try eBay. The whole monogram fits into a diamond shape, and the B is much bigger.

CoolPapaD 2:16 AM  

I thought this was fantastic even before I read Joon's contribution, which takes it to a whole new level. That is terrific construction!

GALT made my day - I remember listening to the Hair soundtrack on LP as a ten year-old (~1974), loving every number, and not understanding most of the words to one particularly "interesting" song! The picture of Rado, Ragni, and MadDermot on the back of the album is burned in my memory.

@lit.doc - priceless comment - "Who is John MacDermot?"

Had I not just moved to Phoenix before the 2001 series, I'd have never known any World Series winner off the top of my head.

jae 2:31 AM  

I had easy in the margin for this one. I've seen the "_" clue convention used often enough so that the theme was pretty much a gimmie. That said, I never saw the BAR connection Joon (et. al.) pointed out. So, pretty clever/cool puzzle!

syndy 2:39 AM  

@Jonathan Papish thanks I was thinking Diamond and maybe a stickpin? not up on my editing.just stet and dele from crosswordese.

Campesite 4:13 AM  

I 50A'd before solving this, and I think it helped me pass the bar.
Does anyone actually say neato anymore?

glen 7:33 AM  

Not Easy for me, BARely finished. Mr. Kahn set the BAR high for a Thursday. NeBAR heard of pianos in the street.

No BS 8:01 AM  

There's a street musician I've often seen in Boston who has an amplified keyboard, and these are often described as electric pianos. He has to shlepp a car battery among his other gear. He's not bad, BTW.

shrub5 8:12 AM  

I noticed my puzzle has different clue-numbering than the one posted in this blog. The second parts of the split answers have the first square numbered on my printout but they are not numbered on Rex's copy. The last across clue I have is 65A.

Thought the theme was very clever and i did notice the types of bars (salad, piano, etc.) Didn't know FOYLE but had enough of FOAM PAD that I got the F. Nice puzzle, DJK.

mmorgan 8:18 AM  

I was completely baffled by theme and the bars until I had about 90% of it filled in. Then the first light bulb went off; the second was coming here and learning that the answers also precede "bar" (singles bar, etc.; oops, sorry about your heart, Andrea!!!). Very, very clever!

GALT was a gimme for me. Also TRIODE, thanks to the fact that I cover Lee Deforest in my courses. It seems he's holding his Audion tube (made possible by the Triode) in every picture of him I've ever seen -- e.g.,

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

How is 11D SAL a 'youthful time'?

judge 8:29 AM  

totally baffled. Left the puzzle and worked out, came back and finally got it.Did not get the dual theme until I read Rex's comments.

jackj 8:31 AM  

When UPS wasn't clued as "FedEx competitor", it was a pleasant change and when STASIS made a second appearance, it delivered a nice touch of crossword feng shui to David (the J is back) Kahn's puzzle.

The gimmick was easy enough to sort out and the theme answers filled out nicely but the coup de grace, pairing the "hopped" words with "bar", was sheer magic. (Thanks, Joon, for cluing us in.)

Kudos, David Kahn; (oops,sorry," David J. Kahn").

joho 8:42 AM  

@Anon. 8:24 ... keep reading down: SAL(BAR)ADDAYS.

I absolutely loved this puzzle and even more with @Joon's addition to the theme which I hadn't seen.

I had warY before EDGY and wanted SAlt before SANDPITS which didn't help. I also misspelled SPECTor for too long which made seeing AIRERS and SCORE slow in coming.

John ECK? Ick!

But, as I said, I thought this was extremely creative and fun. Thank you, David J. Kahn!

M07S 8:48 AM  

When you are well past your SALADDAYS your intellectual engine begins to jump TIMING. I use these puzzles to ASSESS my mental acuity for the day. Today's indications are "Go home, maybe?". Get GINNED up and stay on the SOFA. A major DNF. No EGOTRIP for me. Sigh.

jesser 9:03 AM  

I got the trick at ROCKCA\NDY, and then the puzzle fell quickly enough, although I'm with others about STREETPI\ANO as flat-out bizarre. My writeovers were at 25D, where I had yArnS before TALES and 41D, where I had BAnKS before BACKS.

At 38A, I really wanted doles, but METES fell in with crosses. I always think of 'doles' as allocation of goods; I associate METES with allocation of punishment. The clue is ambiguous enough that I guess it can go either way, but still...

By far the trickiest sector of the puzzle was the Carolinas. DOR? GALT? FOYLE? NOELLE? That's some obscure stuff right there.

Last weekend I WENT\BAR HOPPING, but I got bourboned, not GINNED.

Happy Thursday, one and all!

AnnieD 9:05 AM  

Re 18D I think of caret and stick as usually there is a line drawn underneath the word(s) to be inserted that is attached to the caret.

I too don't understand the "?" in 4D.

Pete 9:09 AM  

Re: 4D - I would guess that the ? indicates the British spelling.

treedweller 9:11 AM  

there is a specific art projectthat uses STREET PIANOs, though I'm still not sure the phrase is actually in the language.

This seemed on the hard side to me. I quickly saw the jumps, but took some time realizing splits would come mid-word. ROCK CANDY was the revealer for me.

I had seen the WS quote (probably here or on FB) but forgot it until Rex mentioned it in the writeup.

Play it, Sam 9:24 AM  


When I lived in NYC (70's) there was a musician who, daily, would push his upright piano through Columbus Circle to the entrance of Central Park and start playing for tips. The sax player set up on the other side of Circle.

They were there several summers, and I always wondered where they spent their winter.

Also, the @treedweller street piano exhibit is now an annual event throughout NYC too, believe it was 18 pianos/locations this year.

So STREET PIANO is ok by me, but not sure it plays well in Peoria ;)


jberg 9:30 AM  

Me, too, for not seeing the SINGLES BAR, etc., part of the theme. I still liked it, and that made it even better. Also for wanting RINK at 2D - oddly, when I wrote it in I thought "could be POND, too," but it still took me too long to change it - finally forced by ZOO.

Some parts of the barhoppers are kind of nice by themselves, like INFIELD SIN or AD DAYS. It would have been too much to make them all like that, though.

SPACE OPERAS are science fiction works with melodramatic plots; that, rather than singing, is what they have in common with actual operas. That definition certainly fits Star Wars; I never watched Battlestar Galactica, so not sure about that.

evil doug 9:50 AM  


I presume when you sell your puzzles to the Times, you surrender all rights (you're not permitted to sell it to others, so forth). So your buddy Will can do whatever he wants, and if I were you I'd gripe at him, or his boss.

I sold an article to the Air Line Pilots Association magazine which I later saw in Frontier Airlines' inflight mag. I was grateful that they ran it in full, including pictures, and gave me the byline---but they didn't have to.


Neville 10:14 AM  

With ??YLE, I tried STYLE first for "Kitty ___", thinking it was similar to Doggy ___, but no luck

Martin 10:22 AM  

The British spelling of SPECTRE is signaled by "Jacob Marley," since that is the way he would have spelled "specter." (He would have also spelled "spelled" "spelt.")

The question mark signifies wordplay, in this case that the title of a literary character is to be taken literally. The clue doesn't refer to the Ghost of Jacob Marley, but a word for "ghost" that Jacob Marley might have used, would he were alive.

If the "?" feels odd here, it's because clue wordplay normally goes the other way -- a fanciful interpretation of a phrase we think of literally. This is wordplay nonetheless.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:27 AM  

As I recall the story of the STREET PIANOs in New York, they made the TV news a week or three ago because some of them were (what else?) stolen!

Lois 10:32 AM  

Martin, the Concise Oxford Dictionary now uses "spelled" for the past tense of "spell". I don't know about Cambridge!

600 10:42 AM  

I don't tweet, but I had seen Shortz's remark about rock candy on the blog or facebook or somewhere, and it jumped to mind as soon as I saw the clue. Putting it in led me to understand the word breaks, and from there it was a fairly straightforward puzzle. I'm really sorry I saw that tweet.

Actually knew Galt MacDermot. That also helped a lot, and, since some four decades later I still love "Hair," I liked seeing him in the puzzle. (I wish I could italicize or underline here; I know "Hair" should not be in quotes!)

Hands up for WARY before EDGY.

Had to come here to figure why SAC was the correct answer; still don't get why DEA is a traffic cops' organization or why SAS is an alternative for KLM. RP's nineties music reference doesn't help. Can someone else?

Martin 10:43 AM  


I'm sure Jacob Marley would be very up-to-date today, but he was a 19th-century character.

600 10:44 AM  

OH! DEA!! DRUG traffic! All of a sudden I get it. Yay.

KLM/SAS anyone? Please?

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

@600 - Airlines. KLM is Dutch, SAS is Scandinavian Airline System

Mel Ott 11:01 AM  

I liked the puzzle even before I got to @Joon's explanation of the theme-within-the-theme. Very nice indeed.

I was looking for a rebus until I saw that 29D had to be ROCK CANDY and 44A had to be SPACE-something. The only way it worked was to BAR HOP.

The conversation about STREET PIANO reminded me of the even odder episode of the piano on the sand bar in Biscayne Bay earlier this year:

Perhaps someone can turn that into a workeable link.

Howard B 11:01 AM  

"RP's nineties music reference doesn't help. Can someone else?"

The musical link is not meant to help with the clue. It is meant for some of us to reminisce on the, um, eclectic style of 1990's pop music. And that although 'KLF' is close to 'KLM', not quite so Times xword-worthy.

Uh-huh, uh-huh.
(cue electronic keyboards)

David 11:23 AM  

OK, I finished in a decent time, but it was a toughie, and I missed the BAR theme and misdirected myself on the theme itself -

SPA CEOPERAS was the first themed clue to fall, and the word SPACE seemed to fit an idea of "spacing between the letters, so I though the other clues would be "gap-related". I also mistakenly only looked for theme clues going across. STREETPI ANO slowed me up big time, since I've never heard of that term. I knew the SINGLES part of INFIELDSIN GLES immediately, but my reluctance to put in SAL for Youthful time slowed me further. Once I did, though, BAM! SAL ADDAYS came to me, and then ROCKCA NDY.

Like Rex and others, I like the theme a lot more after Joon's explanation, but it does feel a little unsatisfying to solve the puzzle without fully getting what the constructor intended.

Karen 11:31 AM  

I am in the minority, I think. I'm still hating on this puzzle. Difficult to get the theme and not rewarding when I did figure it out. Too many out-there answers ("ginned" , "triode") for it to be fun.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Just chiming in on the whole "street piano" discussion: I live in Seattle and there are a large number of street performers who busk at Pike Place Market. Among them is a guy who rolls out a small upright piano every day. So there is *at least* one street piano player active in the world today... Don't know if that'll make anybody feel any better...

efrex 11:46 AM  

Enjoyed the theme, loved the longer fill, especially the misdirections for EGOTRIP and PINATA (which I should've caught earlier). Musical theater references are always welcome in my book, so GALT and NINE were shoo-ins. SALADDAYS actually got me my first theme entry (am I the only person who thinks of that as another musical theater entry? Probably...), after which I was off to the races. Not so happy with a lot of the short fill, as others have pointed out. Hand up for RINK before POND.

Cluing "up" as a verb reminds me of the late brilliant Nipsey Russell on the Dean Martin roast of Don Rickles - "Dean Martin upped his prestige with charm and grace. He upped his prestige, Don - up yours!"

Cheerio 12:18 PM  

Fun,hard puzzle.

NOELLE had a puzzly clue because of the connection to Noel and Xmas time.

Sparky 12:31 PM  

Had stoNED and never caught it. Thanks @Justin Papish; simply didn't see caret not carrot. But I did see something was up when no number in the square next to 25. First ah Hah with INFIELD SIN-GLES and the reveal was helpful in tacking together the other missing numeral places. So it went, caught on to both aspects of theme. Nice job David J. Kahn.

Looking forward to Friday.

#Acme: what a nice present for the happy couple. All the best to them.

Pete 12:33 PM  

As much as I abhor all things Randian, I would have gone with "Who is John ____" for 47A to clear up that unholy obscure/fake name fest going on in the Carolinas. And don't try to tell me that NOELLE isn't a fake name, the most famous NOELLE is Jeb Bush's daughter, and who else but a Bush named Jeb would call their kid NOELLE?

JaxInL.A. 12:40 PM  

Ginger Rogers may be the most under-rated actress of the last century. She deserved that Oscar for Best Actress for Kitty FOYLE, and did other excellent dramatic roles, in addition to having amazing comic timing. Oh, and she could dance, too. Nice to see her recognized in a puzzle. 

@tree dweller, thems some some fun pix of public music.  Thanks! 

I liked this puzzle enormously, though like most here didn't see the added value of the broken words going with "bar."  Nice how most of the combinations of "bar" with the theme answers do NOT refer to the place you go for drinks (CANDY bar, SALAD bar, SPACE bar) (SINGLES bar and PIANO bar do, of course.)

In case anyone missed it yesterday, a beloved constructor is getting married and our own beloved @acme made a wedding puzzle" to celebrate.  It's fun and sweet and a really lovely gift. 

@Mel Ott, here's your link.

Mel Ott 1:00 PM  

Thx, @Jax.

How cool would it have been to work SAND BAR PIANO into the grid somehow, someplace?

Ellen L. 1:02 PM  

This was not in my wheelhouse, so I get a big DNF. Ambitious theme!

Noam D. Elkies 1:09 PM  

@Joon (and Rex) — thanks for the theme explanation... yes, makes it a much better puzzle.

@Anon 11:46 — I live on the East Coast, and the only example of a 22A:STREET_PI|ANO that I could remember was that one on Pike Place in Seattle which I saw last year...


Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Street pianos (they're on wheels) are popular in San Francisco and Seattle.

rjbrunner 1:17 PM  

No matter how you cut "street piano" it sounds like a very dumb answer by a very dumb group of people who may share some DNA on Family Feud. For me, it made a very entertaining puzzle subbar. Oops! Subpar.

retired_chemist 1:18 PM  

Took me a while to see the theme. First tried to interpret the dash in the continuation clue as a minus sign and looked at synonyms for minus. Didn't work after 19A LESS. Once I caught on, it was a rather easy puzzle.

Knew the name Kitty FOYLE (after several letters via crosses) but could not tell you where from.

Thank you, Mr. Kahn.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I think NINE debuted on Broadway in the early 80's and won some Tonys--if your mom was into current theater maybe she bought the Broadway cast album?

mac 1:23 PM  

Good puzzle, fun to solve. Got the theme quickly, the lack of a number at -gles gave it away.

Still, quite a number of write-overs: rink/pond, so to bed/sofa bed, sowers/airers, and I briefly considered sci-fi opera.

@Neville: LOL!

Two Ponies 1:52 PM  

@ mac, You beat me to it by commenting on @ Neville!
Kitty style indeed!!
As for the puzzle, too easy.
I am not buying street piano no matter how many examples are given.

Lois 2:43 PM  

Thank you, Martin, for explaining.

Lewis 3:03 PM  

I remember a street musician a couple of decades ago in Manhattan who wheeled his piano right under the arch at Washington Square Park.

I like the bar-crossing (though not part of the theme) DADA ARMADA. It's oxymoronic, as the Dada movement was anti war. I'm also picturing a group of daddies on pedal boats...

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

What about the 'bar hopping' answer of SAL/ADDAYS? How does it fit with the second theme?

Brian 3:20 PM  

Dug it, dug it, dug it. Theme is really clever. I didn't get the "bar" bit until SALADDAYS and I paused to think, "Why did he use that? How weird." Then it hit me and I was bowled over. Very cool.

I do agree with Rex, however, that WENT BARHOPPING doesn't quite work. It isn't consistent and is clearly forced.

Enjoyed the clues for DEA, PINATA and EGOTRIP.

Producing a frown were NOELLE and FOYLE.

But it was a smart one, Mr. Kahn. Well done!

CoffeeLvr 3:29 PM  

Here's a street piano example from Paris. This clip is from Monday, but it also opened the Wednesday Craig Ferguson show which I watched last night (this morning?) after solving the puzzle.


Anonymous 3:54 PM  

@anonymous 3:17....salad bar

william e emba 4:38 PM  

I got the word splitting right away. Missing numbers usually mean that. But I did not get the double meaning of "bar" hopping until I got here--I had thought the theme answers were pointless, and wondered how DJK could have bothered.

My only writeover was wALT->GALT (bravo for it not being John!), and STyX->STAX when the real STYX showed up.

I had absolutely no problem with STREET PIANO, and feel a little bit sorry for those of you who were puzzled by the concept. They were fairly common in Berkeley when I was there in the 80s. I suppose Sproul Plaza on the UCB campus doesn't count as a "street", but still, somebody had to wheel the thing out from somewhere.

STREET music was a big thing in Berkeley overall. I recall someone with a STREET glass harmonica, who played "Ode to Joy", "Amazing Grace", and "Chariots of Fire"! And there was someone with a medium-size STREET cimbalon (that's a Hungarian zither). His music was all folk tunes.

For what it's worth, STREET PIANOs have become something of a British craze in the last couple of years. YouTube will give you lots of hits.

chefwen 4:55 PM  

@JaxInL.A. Thanks for the link, I tried to find it yesterday but was not successful.

Thought this puzzle was great, every thing a Thursday should be.

Chip Hilton 5:22 PM  

Ginger Rogers did some of her best acting while listening to Fred Astaire sing to her. For example, check out her expressiveness during "They Can't Take That Away from Me".

Today's puzzle? Clever, yes, but I wasn't thrilled by several clues/answers, especially STREETPI ANO.

dk 5:39 PM  

**** (4 Stars) Best in a while bar none. A solid theme and a very cool trick.

Rex I bet BEQ would have left your ROCKCANDY clue in.

Andrea, wave to my office. It is in the District. I will send you a "wish you were here" postcard from the far left coast.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

@acme 2:05 am
I was also irked when I saw a New York Times crossword in the American Airlines magazine without a constructor’s byline. Your comment prompted me to send an email to the editor of American Way. When I went to the American Way website to find an editor’s email address, I noticed that the byline for the crossword read “by Will Shortz.” I pointed out this error to the editor and expressed my disappointment over the lack of credit to constructors. This is the response that I received from an associate editor:

“The credit given in the magazine is correct per our contract with the New York Times. I checked the web version, which is incorrect. It should read "edited by Will Shortz" because (and as you said) he is the editor not the constructor. I will contact the web team and have this issue corrected.”

I'm glad that they plan to fix the error on the website, but if you object to lack of bylines, @evil doug 9:50 am appears to be correct when he says that griping at Will Shortz or his boss may be more appropriate than griping to the editor of American Way.

Tom 5:44 PM  

Nine was the Tony-winning musical of 1982. I know this because 1) unlike Rex, I do follow the theatre; and 2) the woman who introduced the song "Be Italian" referenced in the clue wakes up beside every morning.

michael 5:53 PM  

I really didn't like the theme until I saw the explanation here. Then I just felt foolish (or at least not-so-bright), but I see that I am in good company. Now I think it's a great theme.

Z 6:21 PM  

Apparently WS wants us to sit back and savor the completed grids a little longer. Three days this week there has been subtlety that was not readily apparent to a goodly number of solvers, but once the (often post-blog) aha! moment happened, our collective esteem for the grid has gone up.

Fun week so far.

foodie 6:25 PM  

@Andrea, evil doug, anonymous 5:43
First, @anonymous, you seem to be a great person, I hope we can "meet" you sometime!

Re the constructor acknowledgement issue-- I do understand this is about what the New York Times imposes, and I am sure that they are legally extremely well protected. And I also know that intellectual property issues can be hard to enforce. But my argument is not legal, it's about values. If the editor is important enough to acknowledge, why is the constructor not important? Are we so tied up in legalese that we can't stop and acknowledge people's creative, intellectual contributions? How does that reflect on Will and the New York times?

In my own experience in science, we always acknowledge people's contributions- creative, conceptual or technical, and not doing so is unethical, plain and simple-- a form of stealing. I recognize that these standards may differ across subcultures, but really, how could it hurt to simply indicate who created a puzzle?

I remember the first time I visited Finland, back in the 1970s. I noticed that beside many normal every day objects (vases, wine glasses, etc..) they had the name and sometimes a photo of the designer, even if it was under some large brand. I thought it was wonderful and probably contributed to the excellence of Scandinavian design. I hope we can espouse some of that appreciation of talent.

Anyhow, I plan to write to Will, but wanted to share my take on this. Thanks for listening :)

Martin 7:00 PM  

I hope people realize that Will Shortz instituted constructors' bylines for daily puzzles. Prior to his becoming puzzle editor, only Sunday crosswords had names listed. So when you write, go easy on the indignation. It's likely that the airline magazines want the simplicity of a single name -- like any monthly column -- and are the originators of the byline terms. I assure you that WS feels very strongly that constructors should not "labor anonymously."

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Hope it's not too late for some explanatory help. "Comic's forte" = timing??? Don't get it. "Stock picker's forte", maybe. But a comic?

foodie 8:03 PM  

@Martin, thanks for the input. I'm glad to hear that Will does not like the constructors to labor anonymously. I will frame my note with his statement in mind. May be we can help him make his case, then, so that the contracts with various magazines can be modified to incorporate that view.

I want to mention that I've long felt this way about attribution, before I started reading this blog. I happen to travel quite a bit and had noticed the variation in acknowledgments. But meeting constructors, either in the flesh or virtually, has really brought it home to me.

@Anonymous 7:42 would it help if you thought of it as TIMING in the delivery?

@Rex, apologies for the extra post. I try to do that no more than once a year.

lit.doc 8:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Hilton 8:43 PM  

@Tom: Kathi Moss? Brilliant!

sanfranman59 8:54 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 18:55, 19:10, 0.99, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:03, 9:19, 1.08, 69%, Medium-Challenging

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. 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 6:50, 6:51, 1.00, 51%, Medium
Tue 8:37, 8:55, 0.97, 45%, Medium
Wed 9:51, 11:52, 0.83, 16%, Easy
Thu 19:29, 19:10, 1.02, 59%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:40, 0.96, 34%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:31, 4:35, 0.99, 50%, Medium
Wed 5:09, 5:51, 0.88, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:43, 9:19, 1.04, 66%, Medium-Challenging

That's odd. I wonder why my midday report didn't post until about an hour ago? I submitted it at around my usual time before I eat my lunch.

andrea carla michaels nee eisenberg, daughter of m. michael eisenberg 12:52 AM  

@foodie, @evil doug, @anon 5:43
I did take this up with Will, I don't blame him and I am WELL aware that he was the first to give bylines in the NYT.

However, one phone call from him could do what might take 800 calls/letters from me and others...
He assured me that it goes out with a byline and the syndicated folks can do as they see fit...
but my question is WHY would they see fit to take off the byline???? And simplicity of one name is bullshit.
And when it is one name, it's always, Will's, not the constructor. i don't deny Will his due, but as the constructors already don't get reprint fees, which I already think is borderline criminal, it is too much of an insult not to get the byline as well.
I'm just trying to enlist some extra help from solvers an constructors alike thru this blog, bec otherwise, I'm at this alone and come off too much as a nag and a thorn in the side and there is strength in numbers.

It is exhausting to have to go after each individual editor...and when I do reach one, they are usually sympathetic, apologize and correct it for future issues (like at the SF Chronicle and at the Examiner)

But the Times keeps its list of syndicated folks secret and so I have to stumble upon these one paper/magazine at a time.
This past month's American Airline magazine had a Saturday puzzle by Robert Wolfe, whose name deserved to be seen by the thousands of passengers, for all the reasons Foodie mentioned and more.

And, as I said, I need help, otherwise I'm the girl who cried Wolfe!

When I find out who is in charge (Will suggested I seek out the editor's name on my own and I can't keep bugging him, (plus I don't want to be punished for pushing for these issues) I will post it and see if some of you will help flood him with strongly worded, articulate suggestions on how to revise their policies.
@Martin, it was never my intention to harass Will and I did go to him first to find out what the Times policy was exactly and whom I should complain to.
He responded immediately. it just disheartens me that this battle has to continue to be fought one editor at a time and they keep us distracted from the bigger issue of reprint rights, etc. just fighting to even get the byline which should be the minimum!!!

Anyway, I should be getting ready for my dad's interment tomorrow, but I hope he would be proud that he taught me always to speak up and defend injustices big and small. And as he taught me how to do the puzzle at his knee, I am going to count this as one of the small battles to honor his legacy!
Ironically, when I changed my last name from his, many years ago, he said his one fear was when I was published in the Times, that no one would know it was his kid! And in the end, he said my having puzzles in the NYT was the thing he was most proud of me for.
(Of course, I would have liked him to be proud had I nary a one, but that's a different story for another time!) ;)

(thanks, Rex, for giving me a forum to post this...I will now go back to being less personal...maybe!) :)

Lois 9:05 AM  

Someone here says they make a point to post only once a day, and here I've posted four times.

I just want to say that I don't know why the revealer has to be in the same form as the theme. I think it often isn't.

Anyway, Andrea, thanks for your passionate remarks. I'm so sorry about the loss of your father.

evil doug 9:16 AM  

Sorry to hear about your Dad, Andrea. God bless you and yours.

Not Evil, just sincerely Doug

Gene 9:56 AM  

Shrub5 mentioned that "my puzzle has different clue-numbering than the one posted in this blog". That's because the online version has the "-" as a clue for the continuations, but the printed version has no numbers for them. I think I would have caught on faster to the printed version.

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

Putting numbers and "-" clues in the after-bar spaces pretty much ruined it all for me. I consider that underhanded on the part of whoever decided to do it... I'd give it half a star if possible.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

Hello bro, it was outstanding, i was excited to read this one, thanks a lot for share this with us.

Upright Pianos

Doug 11:15 AM  

I liked this puzzle, a chacun son gout, one supposes. Had trouble for some reason with DRY and RITE. I thought the bar-hopping theme with each split answer also a bar of sorts (piano bar, sand bar) very clever.

John Wayne's walk / gait made me laugh. Watch him walk in any of his movies--it's the funniest, dustiest sashay in the movies. Only one close is Johnny Depp as a pirate, but Wayne did it without eyeshadow. Eck and Galt were unknown to me and "infield singles" is not really a term used anywhere in baseball. Infield flies (as in "rule") of course, is.

"Ginned up" I suppose is used for getting drunk, but that has been superceded, I think, by its sense as "dreamed up" or "thought up."

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I did not appreciate the numbering system used in this puzzle and was completely baffled by the continuing of words below the bars. I did not recognize this until I got the completed puzzle answers. The puzzles get harder as the week wears on and this deceptive method was not needed.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

With _____PPING already in place at 50a I figured out the theme at INFIELD SINGLES. Quickly found SALAD, CANDY and SPACE. 22a was tougher, until I recalled that my parents never taught me piano as a child; I had to pick it up on the streets.

@acme 2:05 AM - also note that ECK (as he is known) hit exactly one SAC fly in his career.

@Anonymous 1:16 PM
San Francisco seems like a risky place to put a wheeled piano in the street.

Deb 1:50 PM  

I was surprised to read so many gripes about STREET PIANO. When I solved that part of the puzzle my thought was that it was very au courant. I don't know when or where I first read of an event similar to the one posted by @treedweller, but I know Denver hosted such an event sometime in the past year or so as well. I did love your visual though, @lit.doc: '“OK, I’m gonna set up on this corner—hand me my piano, will ya?”'

I tried jumping the bar through the rest of the puzzle and found an answer that could be clued "Santa's milk and cookies" at 12D (with allowances for the spelling of "Noel").

Making a note to myself to contact The Denver Post regarding constructor bylines.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

"Here are words that no one has ever said before: 'Please saw my legs off.'...'Hand me that piano'..."
- George Carlin, "Some Werds" (Toledo Windowbox)

Dirigonzo 6:03 PM  

From syndiland, with UPS in place I thought a nice 4 letter skating venue might be Park - of course it turnout out to be wrong but no one (noone, @Deb?) else has mentioned that particular mis-step so I thought I would. All of my other mistakes, including missing the extra level of the theme answers, were shared with others.

@Two Ponies wrote: "I am not buying street piano no matter how many examples are given" - that line of reasoning seems to be in vogue in certain political circles these days - I call it the Inconvenient Truth Syndrome and it's useful for maintaining your position when pesky facts to the contrary get in the way. (I don't mean to imply that @TP denies facts with regard to anything except piano bars - I just liked the way his comment summed up the syndrome.)

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

17a Many a Manny Trillo play

22a Slang for a mathematical constant?

24 1/2 d Commercial times?

29d What quakes often do

44 1/2 a Metallic stage prods.?

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Thanks to martin for explaining the ? in the 4d clue. To me, SPECTRE/ER has a perfectly interchangeable spelling; I've seen it both ways, most memorably in the title of a STTOS episode: "Spectre [sic] of the Gun."
A couple of slowdowns: wanted EGOTISM for EGOTRIP and GASSED for GINNED, but corrected those quickly enough. I guess STREETPIANO didn't bother me as much as some because I recall that haunting STTNG episode in which Picard's doomed love interest rolls out her portable piano in--of all places--a Jeffries tube!
Yeah, OK, you got me: I'm a hopeless Trekkie.
@anon 7:42: if you do not understand the critical importance of TIMING in comedy, I should certainly advise you never to try it. I cannot imagine succeeding in the genre without having mastered timing.
Nice Thursday entry, David. Like many others, I came upon the "bar" phrases late in the game. That adds a rich extra layer to the whole grid. Thumbs UPS.

v-word today is ronoutd: Now who did that? Ron wanted to do it himself!

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

All around annoying puzzle.

tingod 9:00 PM  

I get these puzzles at least a month late and try to finish before checking this site. I have to agree with anonymous - annoying puzzle. "Salad days"? Never heard the term.

Came up with "gait" right away, but definitely had RINK before POND.

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