Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Title: Ooh, Oui!
Author: Louie (Lee) Glickstein

Before we start, I'd like to draw your attention to the poll question over there on the right. I've received one comment, indirectly, that seems concerned that I'm posting this the evening before the puzzle comes out. Peter Gordon asked me to wait until at least 10pm (Eastern time) the night before, which I have been doing. I may continue to do this regardless of the results of the poll (as it's frankly easier for me -- my mornings tend to be pretty hectic), but I figured I'd at least give people a chance to voice their opinions. Thanks. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog...

I like this puzzle, though it seemed hard when I was doing it due to some false starts, which we will get into a bit later, and the fact that it took a while to glom onto the theme. Once I nailed one theme answer and figured out what was going on, the rest of the theme answers fell swiftly.

Theme: Taking words with an "ee" sound and adding an "oo" sound to get an "oo-ee" sound. Got that? Well, it's easier to look at the examples, so let's do that:

  • 17a: Hong Kong farmer's call? South China Sea becomes SOUTH CHINA SOOEY.

  • 33a: Pauses made while saying nonsense? Hee-hawing becomes HOOEY HAWING.

  • 41a: Ones who hoard nautical markers? Beekeepers becomes BUOY KEEPERS.

  • 57a: What might be heard after an objection is overruled? Attorney's fee becomes ATTORNEY'S PHOOEY.

  • BONUS: Author Lee Glickstein is listed as Louie Glickstein. Cute.

Do you like this theme? I'm kind of torn myself. It's kind of clever, I guess. Are you bothered by the fact that three of the answers are -OOEY and one is _UOY? Are you one of the people who pronounce BUOY as "boy" rather than "boo-ey"? All in all, I'll give the theme a "B" for effort and move on...

Sunny Spots:

  • 29a: Launch of October 4, 1957 (SPUTNIK). Love the name Sputnik. Always have.

  • 39a: Fighting ___ (unofficial mascot of Mississippi's Delta State). (OKRA). Are you kidding me? The Fighting Okra? How f-ing cool is that! Wonderful trivia and amusing to boot!

  • 45a: Writing on the crawl? (CREDIT). This clue absolutely killed me. I just couldn't figure out what it was looking for until I got it from the crossings. Then it hit... the "crawl" is the scrolling credits after a movie or TV show. Now, I might quibble that the answer should be CREDITS, not CREDIT, but a single credit is certainly a (small) bit of writing, so it's technically correct. Kudos for producing a wonderful "Aha!" moment.

  • 53a: Flavor of the month (CRAZE). Nice, colorful phrase.

  • 10d: Square, e.g. (ISOGON). Pandering to my math background here. An isogon is a polygon with all angles equal.

  • 28d: "Built for boyhood!" sloganeer. I don't recall hearing this slogan, and in today's world it would no doubt be labelled "sexist", but somewhere deep down I knew the answer was going to be TONKA. And it was.

  • 39d: Car ad setting. (OPEN ROAD). There's just something relaxing about the term... no traffic, no speed traps, no hassles, just cruising along with the iPod playing...

  • 47d: "Thong Song" singer. (SISQO). No, it's not music I listen to, but I have heard of the guy, and it's a cool-looking crossword fill. And besides, it gives me an excuse to post a picture of some thongs...

Oh, wait... you thought I was going to post... ?

C'mon people, this is a family show!


  • 25a: Calif. airport. You know it's going to be either LAX or SFO. In this case, it's the latter. San Diego's code, btw, is SAN, but it's rarely clued as such.

  • 65a: Toes up, so to speak. (DEAD). In Britain, they say "tits up" to mean the same thing. We were working with a British company once, and during a meeting they referred to a project that was tits up. I had no clue what they were talking about and whether it was good or bad. I had to ask.

  • 8d: Founder of the Stoic school of philosophy. (ZENO). I don't know how I knew this, but once I saw that it started with Z, it just popped into my head and I was sure it was correct. I only took one philosophy class in college and I'm pretty sure Zeno wasn't part of it.

  • 9d: Number of Fingers? (ERA). It took me way too long to figure this clue out. Rollie Fingers was a baseball pitcher who had one of the coolest mustaches in all of sports.

  • 18d: Timeworn. (HOARY). I had WEARY at first, which really slowed me down.

  • 19d: Introduction to geometry? (SOFT G). You're not still falling for these types of clues, are you? Anything with "introduction", "leader of", "first of", etc..., especially if it's a question-mark clue, it likely to be one of these "it's-the-letter-itself" clues.

  • 59d: Spare part? (PIN). I so wanted this to be RIM and, while there is a pin on the inflaction valve of a spare tire, I'm pretty sure this a bowling reference.

  • 30d: Rare color? (PINK). No, no, no. Medium is pink. Medium-rare is pink with a reddish center. Rare is red.

  • 32d: Gymnast Strug. (KERRI). I knew this one right away, then questioned it when it wasn't fitting in with my erroneous IRATE (see below).

  • 48d: Quick punches. (JABS). Echoes of Monday's boxing theme. Also a great lead-in to:

  • 52d: Baseball's all-time leader in walks allowed. (RYAN). Nolan Ryan is also the all-time leader in strike-outs and seasons played. Plus, he was one tough dude. This is what happened when Robin Ventura decided to charge the mound, after getting hit by a Ryan fastball. It was no contest.

Suns of Bitches:

I got off to a horrendous start in the NW, thanks to going with EROS instead of AMOR for 2d: Valentine's Day deity. I was pretty sure 3d: Not drooping was going to be TAUT (which it was), but that gave me _RA_ for 14a: Neighbor of Yemen, which I figured had to be IRAN or IRAQ (I know, they're not that close, but they are in the general vicinity). Took a while to backtrack to the more reasonable OMAN. Add to the mix 1a: Exam for the college-bound, for which I would have entered SAT immediately if it had been a 3-letter answer. But... 4-letters? ACT doesn't fit. PSATs are a little early. SATS fits, but it's a singular exam. Well, the answer is SAT I, which is the standard math/verbal (and now essay) exam, as opposed to the SAT IIs, which are subject exams. Then we top this whole mess of a section (for me) with the absolutely horrendous 4d: Like some films (IN THREE-D). There aren't words enough to describe how much I hate this fill. It's either THREE-DIMENSIONAL, or it's 3-D. It's not THREE-D. This shows up a lot in puzzles, especially of late it seems, and I truly hate it. From now on, puzzles with THREE-D in them get the "threed" tag. Wear it in shame. :)

Other false starts/rough spots:

  • 15a: Powerful person. (MOVER). I had the M and started with MOGUL here; then tried MAVEN before I finally got to the correct answer.

  • 21a: Tzimmes. (ADO). Wow. Great word that seems like the answer ought to be plural, but on a Wednesday? Nasty!

  • 38a: Charlie Chan portrayer Warner. (OLAND). Warner Oland was born in 1879 and has been dead for 70 years. That's all I have to say about that.

  • 24d: Done by its own staffers. (IN HOUSE). I have a tendency to read in words that aren't there (as might be obvious to you already, since there are probably occurences of missing words in this very blog that I didn't catch), and I kept reading this "Done in by its own staffers". So, I was looking for some kind of treasonal (treasonish?) behavior.

  • 26d: Sigher's phrase. (AH ME). I had ALAS to start.

  • 31d: Peeved. (IRKED). I had IRATE to start.

  • 55d: Riemann ___ function. (ZETA). Full disclosure -- I was an f-ing Math major (albeit some years ago now), and I had absolutely no clue what this answer was. Want to know what it is? Ok, sure. From MathWorld:
    The Riemann zeta function is an extremely important special function of mathematics and physics that arises in definite integration and is intimately related with very deep results surrounding the prime number theorem. While many of the properties of this function have been investigated, there remain important fundamental conjectures (most notably the Riemann hypothesis) that remain unproved to this day. The Riemann zeta function is defined over the complex plane for one complex variable, which is conventionally denoted (instead of the usual ) in deference to the notation used by Riemann in his 1859 paper that founded the study of this function (Riemann 1859). It is implemented in Mathematica as Zeta[s]....

    Got that? Good.
Alright, on that note, let's call this one a wrap. Nothing more to see here...

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Dan said...

Excellent blog, and way to pander to the straight male readership! Though I don't think that's actually a thong.

As for timing, if you're posting at 10pm, we readers will get used to it and remember not to visit if we haven't solved the next day's puzzle. But can't you "back-date" posts so they automatically go up at midnight? I think that's what JimH does.

Pete M said...

I don't know how to post automatically at a specific time, and I'm not sure I'd want to do that. I'll look into the possibility though. Thanks.

Joon said...

the riemann ZETA is pretty famous (in its own way). the riemann hypothesis is probably the #1 unsolved problem in math. i had a semester of complex analysis in college, and can vaguely understand how the zeta function is defined. one of the amusing results of analytic continuation is that you can use the zeta function to say that 1+2+3+4+... "equals" negative 1/2. okay, maybe "amusing" is an overstatement.

the puzzle overall kind of baffled me. took me a while to get the theme, and even then a lot of fill mystified me. the clue for ADO looked so bizarre i was almost convinced it was a typo (a typo for what? i have no idea). i had serious problems there and in the NW. SATI was definitely an unwelcome twist.

[Introduction to geometry] got me, i'm ashamed to say. probably my latent math geekiness is showing here, but i was thinking HYPER or ALGEBRAIC (or even RIEMANNIAN) until the _OFT_ showed up. at least my latent math geekiness was good for a ZETA later on.

cluing SAN using san diego has the same problem as putting in WEARY for [Timeworn]; you're not supposed to use (forms of) the same word in the clue and the answer.

i definitely don't share your aversion to THREED. that's how you would put "3D" into a crossword, since the convention is that numbers get spelled out to go in the grid. same thing with AONE (or ONEA). even on tricky rebus puzzles where there actually is a digit in a square instead of a letter, the digit is generally interpreted as the string of letters which spells out the name of the digit (e.g. 1DGE for "on edge").

Orange said...

I voted for midnight in your poll. Why? Because I often solve the Sun after I do the NYT and write that part of my blog post, and sometimes I get distracted by new blog posts in my RSS feed. I keep almost clicking on your writeup before I've done the puzzle but so far have managed not to walk directly into spoilers.

I'm usually all right with THREED, but the INTHREED string of letters chafed for some reason and made me think I'd rather not see TWOD and THREED in future puzzles. I reserve the right to change my mind if a great clue makes it worthwhile, of course.

Pete M said...

Just be aware that "after midnight" probably means "after 6am", as I'm not often up that late during the week. :)