Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: ATOMIC / NUMBER (18D: With 38-Down, property of the first part of the answer to each starred clue (appropriately positioned in the grid))— answers to starred clues all start with an element of the Periodic Table, and the number of each clue is the same as the ATOMIC / NUMBER of the element in question.

• IRON MAIDEN (26D: *Medieval device with spikes) (Iron = At. No. 26)
• CARBON COPY (6D: *Typist's duplicate of old) (Carbon = At. No. 6)
• COPPERHEAD (29D: *Anti-Civil War Northerner) (Copper = At. No. 29)
• NEON LIGHTS (10D: *They're big on Broadway) (Neon - At. No. 10)

Word of the Day: Port PHILLIP Bay (49A: Australia's Port ___ Bay) —
Port Phillip (also commonly referred to as Port Phillip Bay or (locally) just The Bay), is a large bay in southernVictoria, Australia; it is the location of Melbourne. Geographically, the bay covers 1,930 square kilometres (480,000 acres) and the shore stretches roughly 264 km (164 mi). Although it is extremely shallow for its size, most of the bay is navigable. The deepest portion is only 24 metres (79 ft), and half the region is shallower than 8 m (26 ft). The volume of the water in the bay is around 25 cubic kilometres (6.0 cu mi). (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a clever puzzle, but it left me cold. I've seen all kinds of element-themed puzzles before (I did a pretty interesting one just last week … or maybe the week before that … in the Chronicle of Higher Education), and I think they're fine, generally, but this theme doesn't really add any enjoyment to the solve. It's a grid that's designed to get you to marvel at the constructor's cleverness. But for me … there's just this moment at the end, when I'm done, where I notice that the numbers of the clues and atomic numbers correspond. And then I shrug. Now there are some good answers in here, and the fill is probably better-than-average (ignoring that NES / ESSE / STER nexus up there). So overall it's a decent effort. But I think some solvers (esp. the ones who routinely geek out about anything sciencey) will be far more impressed by this than I was. I think it's clever. Neat. OK.

Puzzle was harder than usual due almost entirely to proper nouns completely unknown to me. Never heard of COPPERHEAD that wasn't a snake; no idea that Sydney's bay was called PHILLIP Bay; and ROBB (47A: Eldest Stark child on "Game of Thrones") … let's just say I knew my complete lack of interest in all things "Game of Thrones" would eventually come back to bite me in the ass, puzzle-wise. And here we are. I also had no idea what 50D: Barbaric sorts (HUNS) was at first. Seemed like it could be a million things. And had IN A moment, instead of AHA moment at 64A: ___ moment. Cluing today felt pretty fresh, which I enjoyed, even if part of that freshness was "GOfT"-related. You got CROCs (36A: Holey plastic shoe), you got Shaquille O'NEAL's Icy Hot commercials (5D: N.B.A. great in Icy Hot commercials), you  got DJS taking REQUESTs at PROM. All in all, not a bad day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Anonymous

Long live science answers.
Down with all the baseball.

Steve J

Found this clever and pretty enjoyable. I'm not a science geek, but I can appreciate matching the elements with their ATOMIC NUMBERs (I enjoyed it with the similar Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle, too).

Tripped myself up with COPPERHEAD. Didn't notice the asterisk in the clue. Had LOOnY instead of LOOPY, and I also couldn't possibly care less about Game if Thrones. Also don't know NACRE. Thought I had discovered a rare double-Natick until I finally gave in, looked it up, and realized I should have had COPPERHEAD instead of whatever mess I did have.

jae

Easy-medium for me.   @Steve J. LOOnY before LOOPY and zilcH before OOMPH were my only major erasures, although I did find out I don't know how to spell JEOPARDY.

Very impressive/ambitious theme.  Given the constraints it must have required the grid is pretty smooth.

Did not know PHILLIP and ROBB  (I'm with @Rex on Game of Thrones) did know ARRAU (from crosswords) and RAIMI (from paying attention to movies).

Liked it.

John Child

Very cute. I saw the elements but not where the spatially belonged on a periodic table and wondered, but eventually ATOMIC and NUMBER filled in for my AHA moment. Speaking of which, we just saw the phrase on Sunday, so that was fresh in mind.

Much easier than yesterday for me.

Moly Shu

Didn't know the atomic numbers of the theme answers, but thought the concept was cool. Anything with a GofT reference is great in my book. Found this one medium. Liked COPPERHEAD and INHALER. Not sure when it stopped being called a ONEWOOD ( probably when they started making them out of metal ) but that seemed dated. Liked it more than OFL I guess.

Casco Kid

Medium here. I blew it at ARAn/NEONnIGHTS, but overall a fun solve that kept me guessing in NE and SW until the solutions shook out. I will now never forget the ARAL sea, or at least I won't forget it until next time.

I'm looking forward to @AliasZ's ARRAU selection.

Jisvan

Guess I'm one of them: "But I think some solvers (esp. the ones who routinely geek out about anything sciencey) will be far more impressed by this than I was." --@Rex.
Well I loved it! And I finished a Wednesday with only 1 Google, (though it was a three-fer, the periodic table! Lots of info there!) Didn't notice NEON as an element until I came here. And while I'm confessing, I got ARRAU from my husband. Okay, confessional complete. Happy hump day everyone.

chefwen

Liked it more after I was done and I was perusing the answers. I parsed SOP UP as SO PUP, underneath was CLYDE and I now have the name for Skippy's new wingman. All we have to do is to go to the Humane Society and find the little guy. I'm excited, Skippy needs a little "pick me up". So do we.

Good puzzle Alex.

Anoa Bob

Thought this one had some OOMPH (amazing how often that odd sequence of letters turns up in puzzles). Speaking of UP, what's UP with recent double-UPs of UP in the grid? Today it's SOP UP and HOLED UP. On Fri. it was SIZES UP and CAST UP. (And Sat. had UPPED. Meta?)

IRON MAIDEN and COPPERHEAD were my favorite themers, with CARBON COPY and NEON LIGHT being more pedestrian for me. Oh wait, NEON LIGHT is one letter short for that slot. ?

Not all retired academics with PHDS are awarded the EMERITI epithet. Gotta jump through a lot of hoops and be a team player to get that moniker, otherwise you can wind UP in the Professors Disgustubi category. I would know.

Never thought of ROCKY as a sports movie.

RnRGhost57

Seemed pretty thoughtful to match atomic numbers with clue numbers. Maybe that sort of thing is easier than it seems, though the few times I've tried to construct a puzzle I've always given up with new-found respect for the pros.

CLODS, CROC, ROC, ROCKY . . . the start of some kind of internal wordplay.

JTHurst

I must be making some headway in my puzzle solving when my blockages are similar to Rex's.

What a great puzzle for you "inner meaning" solvers. First, three of the theme clues are major rock and roll bands. I checked, Carbon Copy and it is only a cover band. John Cipollina, one of the greatest guitarists of all times, founding member of Copperhead was originally with Quicksilver - atomic number 47 (original name Quicksilver Messenger Service) one of SF's premier psychedelic bands. Wouldn't that have been great to have 47a answer be John instead of Robb? Add to that Phil Ochs, 4a and 4d 'roc' and 'roll', 7a DJs and 21a 'spinners' you don't have a science theme but a rocknrolla theme. And for posters like Evil Doug you take the last word of 26d and 29d and form maiden head. Coupled with 54d - 'ta' and 55d - 'ta' and and the first four letters of 52a, you could have a sexual theme. Also noting that all the down clue numbers for the themes are the atomic numbers of the elements being used. Also 58a is a driving iron 'one wood' but it also shows who is the number one golfer in the world - Tiger Woods. Then you can take the first two letter of 38d coupled with first three letters of 41a and the third letter of 44a and it is what I am becoming 'nuts nuts'.

Did anyone have problems spelling lollypop besides me?

JTHurst

OH, right I forgot, add James Mason looking at Sue Lyon in Lolita, where she has her heart sunglasses on and is sucking on a lollipop, to the mix.

Carola

IRON MAIDEN=JEOPARDY, and how. I liked this puzzle a lot - very neat construction, creative theme answers, and the fun of LOLLIPOP, a SCALLOP paired with NIBLETS, and a DIVA being a P.I.T.A. I didn't know about the COPPERHEADs, and as a member of the LOOnY crowd, it took me a long time to see it. NEON LIGHTS had me humming "On Broadway" while I was solving.

@JTHurst - Thanks for pointing out ROC x ROLL and the inner meanings, and also for your recommendations from last night.

Ellen S

A triumph.no googles, no cheats at all. Got the theme early (didn't help with the answers since I don't know any atomic numbers, not even selenium, even though "Evolution" is one of my favorite movies).

@Rex, as it says in your Wikipedia quote, Port Phillip Bay is where Melbourne is located, not Sydney. I needed a lot of crosses for that. Also for the GofT answer; I have never watched a single episode. Not bragging, just saying.

John Child

Game of Thrones will not light everyone's fire, but it is so very well done - acting and production values - that I would encourage everyone to watch the first hour before deciding against it.

Jack Lee

Liked it, except SLICKSTER. Come on!

loren muse smith

I saw the revealer, saw NEON, and went in and immediately filled in IRON, CARBON, and COPPER as my toe-holds, since I know all the ATOMIC NUMBERS by heart. I went too far, though, and put in the others that fit: "Boron" at 5d, "Rubidium" at 37d, and "Niobium" for 41d. Right. If you believe this, call me; I have some ARAL-front property in UTAH for you...

Rex – I had "a la" for AHA, mistakenly thinking à la minute.

@Steve J, @jae - Me, too, for "loony" and I just wouldn't LOSE it. That, with "pat" for APT dealt me a big old dnf. ("Pat" answer – makes sense, no?)

@chefwen – I always tell people who're going to get a dog, especially those who have never had a dog, to consider getting two dogs – they keep each other company – "Hey! You speaka my language!" I just think they're happier. Good luck with CLYDE! Pictures, please!

Speaking of adopting a pet – here is where my mother-in-law adopted Rat Poison Tucker in Raleigh:

Take a Chance

@JTHurst – LOLLIPOP was no trouble (though they're all suckers to me). I always have problems with PHILLIP. Two L's or two P's? If you squint there in the southwest, you can see PHILLIP ROPH. Hey, I just read an interview with Harlan Coben, and he said Philip Roth is his favorite novelist of all time.

COPPERHEAD – When I was working at the club, a couple of cooks went up to the ballroom to check a lunch buffet for a meeting going on at the other end of the huge room. There was a small COPPERHEAD on the ballroom floor that they quietly dealt with, and to this day, the Meeting People have no idea.

Because of choose, I always want to spell LOSE loose.

Aw, c'mon, @Anoa Bob. The plural NEON LIGHTS is more in the language than NEON LIGHT, right? But I was holding my breath Monday on GREASY SPOONS. You were quiet.

YUM or "mmm?" I never know.

Rudy is too short and didn't win an Oscar. Shook the man's hand at the COPPERHEAD Club, though.

Before NACRE I had "lucre." I think I always do that.

Off to sub in Calhoun County, WV. Yeah – it's early. I kept not sleeping because it could snow or sleet so I just got UP. Now to SOP UP some egg yolks. Morning, @Susan McConnell!

Cool puzzle, Alex!

Phil

Lost on cross of spiderman director don't know don't care and claudio pianist
Hmm everyone knows sphinx's cane and author cane.
Wow .... Not me

Anonymous

Is this the same Rex Parker from 4 years ago? I don't feel like I'm reading the same guy for at least the last year. Your Sunday (Mar. 23) remarks were more about you than the puzzle. Then there's that whole appeal at the end which is now more than half your post. I'm losing interest.

Anonymous

I guess I'm wired differently, but I found this one relatively easy. I guess it was the absence of baseball clues...

Elle54

AHA! Didn't see that the Atnos corresponded with the clue numbers.
I also did the conperhead/loony " mistake.

Bob Kerfuffle

Why precisely are PHDS "Nth degrees?" (51 D)? Simply because they are the highest degrees (are they?), or am I missing something?

I brace myself for a self-administered forehead slap, but I just don't get it.

Glimmerglass

"Holey plastic shoe!" is something Robin might say to Batman.

Bookdeb

Natick for me on RoIMI oRRAU, so I'm with @Phil.

Our faculty committee just considered emeritus status for this year's retirees and did not grant the honor. One is pretty upset, but as @Anoa Bob notes, there are hoops. Just showing up for classes and assigned duties doesn't get it.

@Bob Kerfuffle. I figured its because the PhD is considered a "terminal" degree.

John V

Liked it. Nice AHA moment on finding the theme, which made it go real fast from that point. I'd say more easy than not.

Proper names, pop culture were all cleanly crossed, so good construction kudos there, Alex.

I actually recalled the atomic numbers. Good thing they haven't changed since 1963, when I took chemistry. There were only 40 elements discovered by then, as I recall.

Bookdeb

it's

ArtO

The differences in everyone's scope of knowledge is apparent in our leader's troublesome areas which were a no brainier for me...and I'm not usually up to solving the end of week puzzles.

Loony for LOOPY kept COPPERHEAD at bay for a moment.

Found it Medium.

Mohair Sam

Enjoyed this one a little more than Rex, but had similar solving experience and the same problems with nouns as he - plus one or two of our own (Correct guess of "a" saved us from a natick at RAIMI/ARRAU).

ECO again (no pun) - I'll have to reread his wonderful "The Name of the Rose"

We fear further "Games of Thrones" clues as does Rex, we also fear "Walking Dead" clues - tried a few episodes of both shows and couldn't get into them. I read two "Harry Potter" books for the sake of NYT puzzles, I've suffered enough.

NCA President

I'm in my fifties and I've made it thus far without knowing the periodic table or whatever it's called. I have no idea how I managed getting through HS without taking chemistry, but I did. And I'm always amazed how many people know this still. Is this a thing I should know? In much of my life I've never been called on to use or care about the atomic number of anything. Or whether some gas is heavy or inert or whether it comes before some other gas in the periodic table.

So while I appreciate the effort, it was completely lost on me. It could be completely wrong for all I know. So kudos to Alex for working in some arbitrary elements that correspond to the numbered clues of a crossword grid. I don't even know how hard that must be since I have no clue what material there is to work with.

As for all of the answers Rex had trouble with: COPPERHEAD, ROBB, and PHILLIP...they were all pretty much inferable for me.

And FWIW, this is the very first time I missed my guess with Rex's difficulty level. I thought sure this would be regarded as easy. I breezed through with little trouble, no googling, and only one rewrite (PHDS) due to a typo.

Ironically, I knew the themed answers had to do with elements and was able to fill in a lot of the answers easily because of that.

Long live physics!

jberg

@Loren, you've just ruined my day -- I won't be able to do anything but try to think of a possible entry beginning with RUBIDIUM.

I really liked this one -- first of all, very nice fill, especially in the NW, where I started - TEST LAB is a little off (where you do tests, not experiments), but nothing hackneyed up there at all.

I think when I was in grade school and going to the movies whenever they changed (we just had one theater, with two movies a week) there was some Civil War movie featuring COPPERHEADs in KAN -- so I got that one right away. RAIMI not so much; I knew ARRAU right off, but I needed all the crosses to see ROCKY - I wanted DAMN YANKEES, but that didn't win the Oscar.

I didn't notice the atomic number matchups, despite the pretty obvious tip-off in the clue, until I came here. That really shot up my admiration for this puzzle, since not only did he have to make the theme answers symmetrical, he had to make the right numbers appear in the right places by designing the grid to do so. I'll accept an NHRA here and there to get that.

AliasZ

I wonder how many solvers in the world would have noticed without staring at the periodic table if the elements were entered at the wrong ATNO/clue numbers. I know hydrogen and helium are 1 & 2 and that's it. Well, maybe under torture I would've also remembered oxygen as 8. Will we remember next month that CARBON's is 6 and IRON's is 26, or NEON's is 10 and COPPER's is 29? Maybe CARBON and NEON since they are low enough numbers. So the theme struck me as more esoteric than clever.

I would have loved to see PLATINUM BLOND Jayne Mansfield with SILICON IMPLANTS in a TIN-PAN ALLEY version of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE costarring JAY SILVERHEELS, the NHRA driver with a LEAD FOOT cruising around in his MERCURY COUGAR, and his horse he called HI-YO SILVER, during the GOLDEN AGE of cinema when the NICKELODEON was commonplace.

Chilean pianist Claudio ARRAU (1903-1991) was one of a handful of contemporary pianists with a Franz Liszt pedigree. He was a student of famous piano teacher Martin Krause (1853-1918), himself a pupil of Franz Liszt. About ARRAU Krause said: "This child is meant to become my masterpiece." Here he is at the age of 80 performing this gem: Reflets dans l'eau from Images, Book 1, by CLYDE Debussy. That is Claude, of course.

At 80, if I live that long, being continent will be my greatest achievement.

Susan McConnell

Just ok for me...was not wowed. I would really like to be wowed.

Casco Kid

@Bob Kerfuffle, NTH seems to be a euphemism for high, or lots. In math, of course, it means ARBITRARY. But, well, crosswords are less about precise meaning than they are about common usage/misunderstanding.

I'd like to see a puzzle based on common misunderstanding of IRONY. The clue would be "Not actually irony" and the solutions would be SARCASM, COINCIDENCE, TRAGEDY, etc.

Dawn

Im a crossword newbie and didnt associate the atomic number words. Before reading your blog, I thought words were random. THANK YOU, REX PARKER!!

Got 98% of puzzle. COPPERHEADS was a joy. All the Civil War reading paid off! Have an uncross word day!

Sir Hillary

No struggles today. Not the zippiest puzzle, but fun enough. I like the JEOPARDY/SQUIRES and SCALLOP/LOLLIPOP pairs knifing into the grid -- that can't be easy.

Highlight of the morning so far is @AliasZ's second paragraph at 8:23AM. Elementary, my dear Alias...

Lewis

I liked YOULOSE, HOLEDUP, IRONMAIDEN, LOOPY, IMSAD, ROLLSIN, CARBONCOPY, SOPUP, and NIBLETS. The theme was clever -- if it's never been done before, I'm surprised, and thank you Alex for putting it out there.

Not spotless, but pretty darn clean for a theme that takes up 52 squares.

Rex, you implied that this puzzle was constructed "to get [one] to marvel at the constructor's cleverness". I think that's presumptuous to say. Maybe Alex had what he thought was a fun idea and went with it -- and that's all!

Evan

@Anonymous 5:30:

"Your Sunday (Mar. 23) remarks were more about you than the puzzle. Then there's that whole appeal at the end which is now more than half your post. I'm losing interest."

You mean where Rex appealed to his readers to solve other independent constructors' puzzles, i.e. crosswords made by people not named Rex Parker? Yeah, totally all about himself.

Love how you're supposedly losing interest when you thought to post the same comment on Sunday's blog entry three minutes after you did this one.

OISK

Talk about being in one's wheelhouse - this played like an easy Monday for me. It helped that I am a chemist, and know the atomic numbers of copper, carbon, iron and neon by heart. Knew copperhead anyway from U.S. history. Happy to see a classical reference "Arrau" instead of the usual rap. Like others, with so many possible "ster" choices, "slickster" seems an unfortunate and contrived selection. ( mob, prank, pun, gang…so many!) I don't like the clue for "Robb," but I am resigned to references to TV shows I have never seen.

All of that said, loved this puzzle for its cleverness, mostly very good cluing, science theme, and I got a gal, in Kalamazoo…Don't want to boast but I know she's the toast of Kalamazoo zoo zoo… Thanks, Alex!

chefbea

Too tough for me DNF. What does DHS mean for 63 across??
Love scallops and niblets

oldbizmark

Rex - You are completely off your rocker today. This was completely, utterly, and dissapointingly Monday level easy. How the heck does this rise to any level above Easy is beyond me. A throw away (garbage) puzzle. Next!

Tiger Woods

DHS = Designated Hitters

joho

@chefbea, designated hitters, I believe.

If only I'd been LOOpY instead of LOONY! Quite franky, I may very well be both!

Well done, Alex, you obviously took a great amount of care working the theme answers into the clue numbers ... it added a whole other level to the puzzle.

tensace

As a near life long resident of Kalamazoo, AGAL in Kalamazoo was a gimme. Yes, Kalamazoo does exist. For years anywhere I went people would have that huh? look when I said the name. Now that its the home of Bell's Beer, I rarely get that look. Here's to beer!

Derek Jeter

I am from Kalamazoo, and will be one of the Yankees DHS this year when not playing shortstop.

quilter1

Easy for me. I know COPPERHEAD from high school history. Almost Naticked at the pianist/director cross but guessed the A and finished.

George Barany

As a chemist, I love puzzles like this (full disclosure: Alex Vratsanos and I have collaborated on numerous projects, although we have never met in person). IRON_MAIDEN got a medieval clue, but as the graphic from @Rex implies, it's also a "heavy metal" group. Get it? A joke that chemists and rockers can both understand, although for orthogonal reasons.

Allow me to share this 3-minute youtube video as well as "It's Element-ary," an unpublished puzzle by my good friend Charles Deber. Hope you like them both (and extra credit for whoever posts the Tom Lehrer song)!

Anonymous

Designated Hitters. A position held only in the American League in baseball. Usually given to big hitters that no longer run so fast nor throw very hard.

In the Front Row, With My Hamd Up Always

Tom Lehrer Elements Song

Mohair Sam

@tensace: My wife's sister and her husband and kids moved to Kalamazoo about 10 years ago. A few years later we visited. At a cookout with them and many Kalzmazooians(?) I began singing "A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I got a gal" and waited for the crowd to join in. Everybody looked at me like I was nuts, and I spent the next few minutes explaining Glenn Miller, etc., etc. This would never happen in New York or San Francisco.

Anonymous

Rex,

Geek out. Really? Wanting accuracy in science clues isnt geeking out. You demand the same for the humanities, why the ad hominem for those of us who studied other things?
Absoluttely gratuitous. Just lousy.

Some scientist

Z

I learned two things this morning. The atomic number of NIBLETS is 41 and ARRAU was in the puzzle.

@tensace - K grad here married to a K grad with a recent K grad for a son and a soon to be K freshman for another son. I also have some Two-Hearted Ale in the fridge. Here's to beer.

@Evan - The "I lost so much interest I had to post about it twice" anonymouse made me chuckle.

A fine Wednesday and I don't really have a complaint, but for consistency's sake: ECO, ROC, DJS, NES, MAC, ON A, APT, VAT, MSN, PPS, DHS, AHA is "better than average?"

Cheerio

@John Child. I recently did just what you recommend. I watched the first hour of the first Game of Throne movie which is now appearing on my Cable. I liked Jennifer Lawrence so much in American Hustle, I figured I should give it a shot. The ethos was so dumb I could not believe it! We start off with a brave young woman who is admired by all others, described as above her peers. The movie producers apparantly felt barely any obligation to illustrate why or bring the viewer along to that conviction. "Frozen" did a better job of laying out characters. Just too dumb to tolerate, in my view.

Anonymous

What means slickster? Auto-correct suggests slick steer.

Benko

@Cheerio:
"Too dumb to tolerate."
You just spent an hour watching the first Hunger Games movie, not the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Great job!

Two Ponies

Nicely executed theme today. I do not have the periodic table memorized except a few well known ones. I remember a Goldwater bumper sticker AuH2O and feeling so smug as a grade-schooler who got it.
@ Anoa Bob, I felt the same way about Rocky being a sports movie?
With Game of Thrones now in the mix (much to my dismay) can Hunger Games be far behind?

OISK

I know it would have made the clue perhaps too easy, but instead of "They're big on Broadway," I'd have preferred "They're bright on Broadway,", or even better (for me) "They say they're bright on Broadway."

Then the puzzle would have had TWO references to songs I actually know. A rarity!

Two Ponies

The Jeopardy theme song has a name?
Who knew?

Anonymous

Winter is coming! April 6!

Bob Kerfuffle

@Two Ponies - As I recall, the counter bumper sticker to the one you cite was, "AuH20 in 'LXIV."

Anonymous

One Wood? Sure golfers step up to the tee all the time and say give me my one wood. (driver for non golfers)

Moly Shu

@Cheerio, you might be confusing Game of Thrones with Hunger Games. Yes, Hunger Games was terrible, GofT quite the opposite. IMHO

Milford

It's a chemistry puzzle *and* it mentions Kalamazoo? Loved it! Count me in as one of the sciency-geeky folks.

@tensace - yay, another Kalamazoo connection here! I was A GAL born and raised there (near Milham Park), and like @Z went to K. Bells was just a warehouse with cardboard tables when I was there. You are probably correct that Bells has put it on the map for many. We had a "Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo" sticker on our camper for many years.

@Mohair Sam - hey, I would have sang along with you. The marching band at WMU used to play it grandly at football half-time.

The theme actually helped with the solve, as I also had LOOnY at first, but I knew there wasn't an element starting with COn. No clue what a COPPERHEAD was.

Also had mOP UP for the gravy clue, but seriously doubted there was seafood beginning with MC (maybe McFish? Ew.)

CROCs are, without doubt, the ugliest shoes ever made, but I still have a pair for the beach - you put wet, sand-covered feet in them, and by the time you walk home your feet are clean and dry.

@Evan - haha! Love the catch on the double proclamation.

Matthew A. Harmer

I must've been on my game today because I flew through it. The only one I recall being stymied on was 45a: "...___ in Kalamazoo". I had SEAFOOD instead of SCALLOP at 40d until I got CLYDE at 43a, then everything fell into place.

mac

Clever medium Wednesday for me. Somehow I got "atomic" very early and figured out the theme. Well done.

Good timing to have "Rocky" in the puzzle, the play has just opened on Broadway. Indeed, who knew the title of the Jeopardy music!

At "yum" I hesitated. I've been seeing "num" a lot lately. Also had to fix lollipop, probably because it is lolly without the pop in Dutch.

@chefwen: how exciting! And a great name, but I think you have to take a look at the animal to see if it fits.

MikeM

@Z I LOLed at your NIBBLET /atomic number comment. I fully expected Rex to rate this one EASY. I had the LOOnY/LOOPY problem and at first misspelled EMERITI, but other than that very smooth sailing. I am not a scientific guy, but my 6th grade daughter is presently studying the Periodic Table. She will get a kick out of this. Great puzzle, thanks Alex

Malsdemare

I thought it was a great puzzle, hard enough to put up a fight, but smart-hard, not pop-culture smart. Missed that the answers were their atomic numbers, but then I always finish and race here to see what everyone is thinking, rather than examining the puzzle for more insight.

@chefwen Every time I name a dog before I actually have it, it renames itself once in my home. This winter my wolf-in-malamute clothing almost got renamed Sneakers because of her uncanny hunting ability. Four squirrels, two birds, two rabbits and a possum (well, you don't have to sneak up on a possum, but the others?)

@aliasz I'm a country mouse and we've never had Internet access that was any better than two cans attached with string. Last week, we finally got high-speed access and now I can watch those transcendent videos you link to; Awesome.

Ludyjynn

Like @NCAPres., I managed to graduate from high school w/o taking chemistry. I BSed my guidance counselor somehow that my other creds. would suffice for college admission and I "wouldn't need it." Also managed to easily solve this puzzle as a themeless, so my theory still stands, I guess. Please don't hate me, Science peeps. (After all, I love "The Big Bang Theory").

Thanks, AV for some beautiful fill, esp. NACRE, JEOPARDY and EMERITI and LOLLIPOP.

@ChefWen, good luck w/ the pet adoption and don't forget Bob Barker's advice to spay or neuter the newbie.

I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a tough solve after 3 walks in the park. Hmmm..

wreck

I agree with @Anony 10:41am

If you call it a one wood -- it may be your first time to play golf!

AliasZ

To stay within the realm of H₂O, here is Sr. ARRAU playing Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este from Années de pèlerinage, Troisième année (1877), by Franz Liszt. The composer placed the following inscription above the music: "Sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis in vitam aeternam" ("But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life"), from the Gospel of John.

Fred Romagnolo

I started with carbon paper, but it wouldn't fit, so - copy. I am astounded by the number of people who didn't know Arrau, he's in a lot of NYT crosswords (besides which he was one of the 20th century's really great pianists). He was a Chilean. I couldn't figure DHS 'til I read these comments, thanks, guys.

LOOPY little puz. Loopy is always commendable.
Got a special kick out of the NE corner, like @4063 did (sorta): Left side has lots of JQY stuff, right side has yer ESSESTER stuff. har. Scrabble dude drives into Desperation Ditch. Gotta luv it. The crossword gods will get yah, every day-um time.

Atomic clue numbers! Brilliant. Only thing cooler would be if them little grid numbers glowed in the dark. Convenient, when solving in the closet.

Trouble brewers: ECO the author. ARRAU on keyboards. All anti-war metal-headed dudes. NHRA (which I'm guessin stands for National Hot Rods Anonymous).
Overcame these minor hiccups, to finish in Dan F.-style time. Give or take an order of magnitude.

Agent 007-U will return, in
"Dr. NHRA-O".
M&A

p.s. How about a snak-sized puz with no reason for being?...
www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=84&id2=291

foxaroni

Drat! Thought the sea was the ARAN sea, like the documentary, "Man of Aran" (sp?) That made the answer NEONNIGHTS, which seemed a stretch, but still okay. Oh, well...:-( I'm sad, lol.

Boxing is not a "sport." ROCKY is not a "sports" movie. Just my opinion.

Lewis

@Z -- I'd remove MAT, APT, VAT, and AHA from your list. I think they are perfectly acceptable crosswords; in the language and not crosswordese...

Your NIBLETS comment was very funny!

chefbea

And speaking of Crocs...Does everyone know what notorious chef is known for wearing orange crocs????

Bob Kerfuffle

@M&A - 4 min 4 sec, no help. But then, it's all real words!

Z

@Lewis - I'd take out ECO as clued, too. But that is 12 three letter words framing the puzzle. None of them ruined the puzzle, making it hard to assess when short fill is excessive.

@wreck - I would NEVER call it a ONE WOOD, but I learned early on that a driver really is a ONE WOOD and that not even God can use it anywhere but the tee.

I received Game of Thrones for Christmas from my son. He loves the books and thought I would, too. I got through a half dozen chapters before the tedium made me put it down. If I want to read fantasy I'll pick up Tolkien or Shakespeare (or maybe some medieval lit). If I want to read about people treating each other badly to gain power, I'll read the paper. Just not my cuppa. Although, now that I think about it, the "leaders" in Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia could all be characters from the book.

Oh - one other random thought - I was very upset that Shortz didn't include an Obama clue today.

Lewis

M&A -- lots of fun!

dk

🌕🌕 (2 Moons) Too easy for Wednesday

Recent Faulkner immersion rendered COPPERHEAD a gimmie. Couple that with years of periodic table flash cards, place mats and tee shirt and ATNO = no problemo.

Two gripes: In the Drifter's On Broadway NEONLIGHTS are bright not big… and back in the day we called it a driver not a ONEWOOD

Anoa Bob

LMS@4:33, I didn't say anything about GREASY SPOONS Mon. because I wanted to see if anyone else noticed. I'm delighted to see someone did!!

Rex unconsciously dropped the lettercount-boosting ess when he listed the themers as FILTHY RICH, GREASY SPOON [sic], & STAINED GLASS.

I second and third your suggestion to @chefwen to consider getting two dogs. That way there's always at least one other pack member around and, for dogs, being in the pack is a POH (plural of happiness).

Getting a little UPpity with your avatar, no?

Arlene

I knew this theme would appeal to a "certain group" of puzzlers. I got through the elements with style - it was the RAIMI/ARRAU cross that had me flummoxed! Sometimes it's just better to peek at the answer than resort to Googling!

Notsofast

Agree SLICKSTER is just a ridiculous made-up word, but I liked the puzzle.

Notsofast

Oh yeah. LOLLYPOP.

Bird

Enjoyed it, but got Naticked at 24A/25D and guessed E. DNF.

ROC and CROC?

Definitely a mini-theme around music: ROC & ROLL, DJS, REQUESTS, SPINNER . . .

My mom was cleaning out her attic and found my NES console in the original box and a few game cartridges to go with it (Mario Bors., TECMO Bowl, Zelda, Duck Hunt to name a few). I hope it still works because I plan on showing it to my kids this weekend. They have the X-Box One.

Kim Scudera

It's late, but maybe some of you are still around...

@SteveJ: yes to LOOnY before LOOPY
@JTHurst: yes to LOLLyPOP before LOLLIPOP
@Carola and @OISK: yes to the clue should have been "They say they're bright, on Broadway"
@Glimmerglass: yes to "holey plastic shoe, Batman!"
@AliasZ: read your post and wondered what the Venn diagram of your list and Alex's list would look like
@CascoKid: thanks for your post (and puzzle idea) on IRONIC! I love Alanis Morrisette and her song "Ironic" but nearly all of it isn't!

And last but not least:

@LMS: I found out the hard way (through embarrassment and ridicule, the hardest way, IMHO) that a young rat snake looks just like a young COPPERHEAD, after calling Animal Control to report a COPPERHEAD in my basement, positively identified by yours truly, the Virginia Master Naturalist. Animal Control rounded up the little guy, treating him with all the respect due a COPPERHEAD of any size, showed me the tiny round eyes of a non-venomous snake, and was extremely kind about the whole mix-up. My MN buddies LTFAO for quite some time about my mistake. In defense, I argue that I had no intention of getting close enough to see his eyes!

My education in herps continues...

Carola

@Aliaz Z - You are GOLDen when it comes to tales from the grid. Also, thanks for your second ARRAU post - I'd been hoping for Liszt!

LaneB

Fairly easy with some google help to confirm answers (ROC, CROC, PHILLIP, ROBB). SLowed down by using ONE iron for ONEWOOD. Otherwise a pretty fast (for me) solve

jae

@Cheerio - Try Winter's Bone for an excellent performance by Jennifer Lawrence.

Misc trivia:
Jeopardy's creator Merv Griffin wrote the theme song originally as a lullabye for his son and made a fortune from it.

Evan

@Kim Scudera:

Long ago, the comedian Ed Byrne gave the best assessment anyone has ever given of Alanis's "Ironic."

Alex Vratsanos

Thank you all for solving my puzzle, and for your many interesting comments. Despite the constraints of the construction, I am very happy with how it turned out... go to http://www.xwordinfo.com/Crossword?date=3/26/2014 for some backstory on it.

sanfranman59

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

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

Wed 9:40, 10:13, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:13, 6:14, 1.00, 49%, Medium

M and Also

@BobK: Lovely time. Hopefully this gived U yer nerve back, after bein mistreated by the dreaded Opposites Puz.
@Lewis: Thanx U for playin.

Makin wee puzs is soothin to one's soul. Y'all each need to make one, and set free yer inner weird self. Ain't hard; even old M&A-grid breath can do it. And . . . There's tons of themer possibilities, and themeless fill opportunities, cuz the big puz makers have not dared to think small.

Peace on Earth, good will to Copperheads & Ratsnakes. But not squirrels.
M&A

p.s. Speakin of which, ...
Check out the old 1940 cliffhanger serial, "Mysterious Doctor Satan". The good guy in it is a Masked dude, callin himself The Copperhead. Primo. Has the Republic Pictures robot, too.

C'mon Man

I remain perpetually in awe of people who have the cojones to make fun of Alanis Morrisette. 'Cause, you never know, she might sing at your or something in retaliation.

Kim Scudera

Thanks, @Evan! That was great,

Anonymous

Rex, point of correction: your comments say Port Phillip Bay is Sydney's bay...but it's Melbourne's (per your entry above). In Australia, this is like saying "I didn't realise Cape Cod was where New Yorkers go on vacation."

Z

BTW - Finally did puzzle 5 from ACPT last night. I got a grand total of 11 words before time ran out. E-l-e-v-e-n fricking words. Still NFI what was going on. I'm hovering around 110th out of 140 online solvers right now with a few more to go.

chefwen

Thanks for all your doggy adopting advise. Discussed it with Jon when he checked in from (wherever the Hell he is now) he thinks that Skippy and Paddy the cat are too old to break in a new wing man so I'll have to put that idea on hold for now, but I will definitely take your advise and get two when the time comes. Maybe Bonny & CLYDE, but I'll wait to see if the shoe fits.

sanfranman59

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:18, 6:13, 0.85, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)
Tue 9:07, 8:32, 1.07, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:40, 10:13, 0.95, 38%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:58, 0.89, 4%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)
Tue 5:35, 5:11, 1.08, 67%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:46, 6:14, 0.93, 30%, Easy-Medium

Tita

Way late today...all I can add is, did anyone see Shirley temple singing "On the Good Ship LOLLIPOP" on TCM this weekend?

Thanks for the puzzle, Mr. V.

Cheerio

@Moly Shu and Benko. You are right. I was confusing the two. No foul on Game of Thrones. I have seen bits of that and was not grabbed. But I don't think I ever watched for an entire hour. @jae, OK, I'll look for that. Thanks!

spacecraft

Syndication synchronicity; just last night there was a "OO" category on JEOPARDY! in which one of the responses was OOMPH.

I liked this, and am puzzled by OFL's rating. Though there were things I didn't know (ARRAU, NHRA), I could GET them easily on crosses. The whole thing seemed pretty easy to me.

Theme, idea, execution: all top drawer. So too the fill, with a few understandable shorter exceptions. I too noticed DJS/REQUEST/SPINNER; what a seamless Q-crossing!

In short, I'll take the periodic table for \$200, Alex.

Back to 2 pair. *sigh*

rain forest

If I get to say "checkmate" when I play chess (a rarity, sadly), I'm thinking "I win", not YOULOSE.

Didn't know the Sphinx used a cane.

LOOnY at first, but 29d had to be COPPERHEAD, even though I have no idea what that refers to. Were anti-civil war Northerners pro-slavery?

Nice puzzle, in all respects. Let's see if I'm allowed to play poker.

Nope. two pair, too. Out

DMG

Someone recently commented that doing crosswords can give you the impression you know a lot more than you actually do. This one did that for me. ARRAU, RAIMI, NES, MSN, DHS...and more. Total unknowns, but I got them all. I even resisted writing Poe for 1A, because I have finally remembered someone else wrote Focault's Pendelum. But I did have to wait for the crosses to remind me who that someone was.

I always thought the Jeopardy song sounded like some version of "I'm a little tea cup..."

Small house 4's and 5's.

Solving in Seattle

Wikipedia: The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats located in the Northern United States of the Union who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling antiwar Democrats "Copperheads", likening them to the venomous snake. The Peace Democrats accepted the label, reinterpreting the copper "head" as the likeness of Liberty, which they cut from copper pennies and proudly wore as badges.
Didn't know that. But then, don't know much about the Civil War except what I learned as a high schooler reading GWTW.
SCALLOPS are just about my favorite thing to eat, especially wrapped in bacon.
I dated an IRONMAIDEN once. She was a DIVA.
My ONEWOOD is called a "driver."
Fun puz Alex V.

Mr. Sterling, YOULOSE

Full house 88844.

Dirigonzo

I practically "flew" through the grid (keeping in mind that my aircraft is a glider, not a jet), albeit slowed down somewhat by my inability to spell JEOPARDY correctly. That was short-lived though as oRAL Sea seem unlikely. The only thing missing was an AHA-worthy moment - although maybe figuring out that the emoticon meant IMSAD qualifies since I don't use emoticons.

Just before I did the puzzle I saw a meme on fb the showed a crocodile with a CROC in it's mouth - it was labled an "ironic" photo.

Only one pair, even if I count the short hand - how pathetic is that?!

strayling

That was fun and clever. A bit heavy on the commercial brand names for my taste, but that's one of the characteristics of US crosswords which I've learned to expect and accept.

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