Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Title: Double Down
Author: Joe DiPietro
Theme: Four long down fills include a homophonic number substitution, where the numbers progressively double: 1, 2, 4, 8. As follows:

  • Won by a landslide => ONE BY A LANDSLIDE (3d: Mountain climber in peril?).

  • Fell to pieces => FELL TWO PIECES (18d: Knock down the king and queen?). How many answers simultaneously evoke chess and Patsy Cline? Very nice.

  • Just for kicks => JUST FOUR KICKS (9d: What the fans saw with only a single punt in each quarter?). My only quibble here is that it's probably not true. If there's only one punt per quarter, it's pretty darn likely that there have been some field goals and/or touchdowns (with extra points), both of which involve kicks.

  • Ate like a horse => EIGHT LIKE A HORSE (11d: Rowing team enjoys Mister Ed?). I like it.

This is a nice theme, and an example of the significance of a good title. Most of the time, theme answers run horizontal. When I noticed the long fills ran vertical, my first thought was that it must be a 15x16 (fairly common in the Sun). But no, a quick count showed that the grid was standard. Then I looked at the title (I should probably look at the title first thing, but I don't always think of it), and realized "downness" was part of the theme. Turns out, it's not really an integral part of the theme itself; the theme answers would work just as well horizontally. But it's an integral part of the theme's title, and it's worth rotating the grid to be able to use the very nice "double down" (a blackjack betting reference) to describe the theme.

Sunny Spots:

  • 17a: Witches' brew ingredient (EYE OF NEWT). So soon after the plastic surgery theme, it's hard not to think of Newt Gingrich here. Which is probably significantly grosser than the original thought.

  • 21a: What show-offs do with their stuff? (STRUT). Great use of the "struts one's stuff" idiom.

  • 40a: Victory away from home (ROAD WIN). The Celtics could use another one of these.

  • 42a: "Here's what's happening in your neck of the woods" speaker (AL ROKER). Weatherman for the "Today" show. He still is, right? I haven't watched morning television in years.

  • 51a: Do a job for a summer? (ADD). "Summer", as in "one who sums". Very nasty! Very nice.

  • 6d: Some "Babe" babes? (EWES). I really like this clue. "Babe" was a great movie. We took the kids to it, then went home and had pork for dinner. No lie.

  • 39d: Brown finisher, e.g. (GRAD). As in Brown University. Nice twist.

  • 43d: Top 10 song of October 1970 (LOLA). My first guess, from LO__ was the CCR song "Lodi". But the Kinks' "Lola" makes more sense. And a song about cross-dressing was pretty cutting edge back then.

  • 65d: Ship for a couples' cruise? (ARK). Almost too cute. But not quite.

  • We also find several verbal expressions, which are always colorful:
  • 1d: "Not bloody likely!" (I BET).

  • 5d: "Holy cow!" (MAN).

  • 7d: "Moving right along ..." (NOW, THEN).

  • 46d: Cry of success (I MADE IT).

  • 67d: "Got it, cap'n" (AYE).


  • 1a: Short stack spot, for short (IHOP). Nothing quite like a roadside IHOP when you're traveling. Eggs over easy, corned beef hash, and a stack of pancakes... Mmmmmm.

  • 5a: Carte (MENU). C'est français;.

  • 9a: Some e-mail attachments (JPEGS). Common image format (along with GIF).

  • 14a: Bandmate of Adam Clayton (BONO). From U2. If you watch "South Park", you'll know that Bono was absolutely skewered in an episode involving the World Record for Largest Crap. Talk about cutting satire.

  • 15a: Missing, maybe (AWOL). Absent Without Leave.

  • 19a: Star of stars? (Carl SAGAN).

  • 30a: Cerebellum section (LOBE).

  • 32a: Turbulence (MOIL). Moil is a cool word. Everyone should go out and try to use moil in a sentence sometime today. Bonus points for the best recounting of their moil usage.

  • 34a: ISP with keywords (AOL).

  • 35a: Drift (TREND). These words are similar, and you can find a definition of each that matches the other, but I'm not crazy about it.

  • 37a: On drugs (USING).

  • 44a: Chorionic villus sampling alternative, for short (AMNIO). I had BOON for BOOM at 29d: Thriving time, which gave me ANNIO here. I'm guessing this was a Peter Gordon clue.

  • 45a: Fared all right (DID OK).

  • 47a: Fab alternative (ERA). Detergent brands.

  • 48a: Portrayer of Crane and Sparrow on film (Johnny DEPP). Easy.

  • 50a: Timbuktu's nation (MALI).

  • 52a: They can be ripped or burned (CDS). Nice clue.

  • 54a: Its state quarter says "Foundation in education" (IOWA). I had the IO__ when I got to this clue; not much mystery there.

  • 58a: Response to an IM'ed joke (LOL).

  • 59a: Skip over (ELIDE).

  • 61a: Dehydrated soup brand (KNORR). I've never used this, but I've seen it in the store.

  • 64a: Pioneering computer (ENIAC). A gimme for me. And a cool-looking word to boot (no pun intended).

  • 66a: Took the wrong way? (LED ASTRAY). This clue works, but you have to be the one doing the leading; otherwise it would be "taken the wrong way". The fact that "led astray" is usually used from the victim's perspective ("I was led astray") as opposed to the instigator's ("I led [someone] astray"), makes it feel just a touch awkward. But I still like it.

  • 69a: Fairly large (TIDY). As in "a tidy sum".

  • 72a: Ocular woe (STYE). Stye shows up a little more often than I would prefer to see it.

  • 2d: Big East player from D.C. (HOYA). Georgetown has been in enough NCAA tournaments that this one was a total gimme.

  • 8d: Michelob product (ULTRA). Give me a microbrew anyday. How about a bottle of Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout? Mmmmmm...

  • 10d: P.S. org. (PTA). Around where I live, we never abbreviate "public school" as P.S.; but in New York City, where there are literally hundreds of schools, they refer to them by number. In fact, if you Google "PSnnn", where nnn is any 3-digit number, more times than not you'll probably find a New York public school.

  • 12d: Outfielder's problem, at times (GLARE). Especially during day games.

  • 22d: Birthplace of Albert Einstein (ULM). This is one of those pieces of trivia that just sticks, for some reason. I'm pretty sure I knew this well before I started doing puzzles. It's like knowing that Mark Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri.

  • 28d: Plantation in a 1936 novel (TARA). Ditto here, though I probably got this one from playing Trivial Pursuit.

  • 31d: Relent (BEND).

  • 33d: Metric prefix? (ISO). Cryptic clue -- it's a prefix for "metric", not a prefix from the Metric system.

  • 36d: Arthur Cravan's genre (DADA). I don't recall ever hearing the name Arthur Cravan, but what other 4-letter genre starts with D? Apparently, he was quite the interesting chap, and his life was the basis for a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics.

  • 38d: Bully's target, perhaps (NERD). Or geek, or wimp.

  • 49d: Hill biggie (POL). Capital Hill, that is.

  • 53d: "Holy Sonnets" poet (DONNE). I didn't know this, but it wasn't hard either. Most poet clues I just go by the letter patterns. There aren't that many poets that I know by poem name. You've probably heard his Holy Sonnet X, if not by that name:

    Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
    For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
    Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low
    And soonest our best men with thee do go,
    Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
    Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men
    And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell,
    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
    And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then ?
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

  • 55d: Droops (WILTS).

  • 57d: Input (ENTER). The verb, as in to input data.

  • 60d: Go around and around, in a way (EDDY). Another word that more often used as a noun.

  • 62d: Skateboard park fixture (RAMP). HALFPIPE didn't fit; what else could it be?

  • 63d: Bar selections (RYES). Not for me. I'm not a rye fan at all. Give me single-malt scotch any day. Preferably Islay.

Suns of Bitches:

  • 56a: Banda ___ (Indonesian tsunami site of 2004) (ACEH). Huh?

  • 68a: 1989 Heisman Trophy winner Ware (ANDRE). I'm not a football fanatic, but I watch the NFL enough that I know most of the big names. Usually a Heisman Trophy winner makes a big enough splash in the NFL that you can't help but know who they are. Not so here. In fact, Andre is #1 on "Page 2"'s Biggest Heisman flops. He eventually went to the Canadian Football League and flopped there as well. Let's pick a different Andre next time, shall we?

  • 70a: ___ Squalor (Lemony Snicket character) (ESMÉ). Oh, no! New life for the dreaded ESMÉ. Guess we'll be seeing more of her. This character name is almost certainly derived from the J.D. Salinger novel.

  • 4d: Port town on the English Channel (POOLE). Hunh.

  • 25d: Singer on the big screen (LORI). I suppose I'm supposed to know her. After all, she was in "Footloose" 25 years ago. So was Kevin Bacon, but he's done one or two things since then.

This was an enjoyable puzzle for me. Not too difficult, but enough tricky clues and smiles to keep me happy. Nice job.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Pete M said...

Bonus points for anyone who can figure out why my entry for 55d seems to be stuck with the "blockquote" of Donne, without a bullet; I even start a new list, but still cannot get it to behave as I expect it should.

Joon said...

like pete, i was trying to figure out why the theme entries were downs, and my first thought was also 15x16. but i actually think that despite the title, the puzzle doesn't work as well vertically. if the theme entries had been acrosses, they would have proceeded in order: ONE, TWO, FOUR, EIGHT. as downs, they go ONE, FOUR, EIGHT, TWO. that's not a death knell, but it is slightly less elegant. what about "da bulls" for a title? that's got a bit of everything--idiomatic chicagospeak, doubling, and homophony.

ANDRE ware was a gimme for me, by the way. heisman busts are fun! although i actually think he was better than gino torretta or eric crouch, but maybe more of a bust because he was such a high draft pick. anyway, i remember him because he put up absolutely ridiculous statistics in college playing in the run & shoot offense at houston. interestingly, ware was drafted by the lions, where he backed up rodney PEETE of today's NYT puzzle.

i wanted DOVER for POOLE. i mean, DOVER is actually famous, and it's there on the channel. (though i dunno if it's a port town... after all, it has those big cliffs, which doesn't sound all harbory.)

Ted said...

It has much less to do with your HTML code and much more to do with how your browser renders the code. Firefox has a problem where it won't wrap text around an image as it should. Since the text won't wrap, the left edge of your paragraph stays to the right of the image. The lines of your quote will not break, so they go off the end of your fixed-width column. Internet Explorer does a better job displaying this.

My favorite use of "moil" is in the first verse of
The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert Service.


Pete M said...

@joon: Regarding the order, I disagree. While they are not in ascending order numerically, they do ascend spatially from left to right, which I think is the more important consideration, aesthetically. It took me a minute to figure out what "Da Bulls!" had to do with the clues; I prefer it the way it is.

@ted: I use Internet Explorer, not Firefox. This is the first time I've had this issue and I'm just not understanding why it's behaving so. And the use of "moil" in that poem is definitely more common than the noun usage in the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the clue/answer pair for 51A? What does ADD have to do with "Do a job for a summer?"??

Anonymous said...

Frances: "Adding" is synonymous with "summing."

How can one puzzle have both 44a, about "chorionic villus sampling," and 23a, "There are a doz. between midnight and noon"? The first is a good, hard clue, solvable as soon as you have a couple of letters. The other is like "Duh ... you 'ver bin to skool?"

mellocat said...

Call me dim, but I did not understand the title until I read your blog entry. (Admittedly, I did the puzzle late at night.) I also grew up in Yonkers, where they, like NYC, call schools by their numbers (I went to P.S. 5 kindergarten) but didn't catch on to that clue until I had the answer by crosses. Yeah, blame it on night solving.

On your blockquote thing, I originally thought you were asking about the text getting chopped off on the right (as it does in Firefox , where 55d doesn't get attached to the blockquote). But after looking at it in IE I see what you mean. I'd call it an IE bug but a workaround seems to be to remove one of the two break tags you've got at the end of the block-quoted text. (No, really.)

ehicks77 said...

a very cool and for me challenging puzzle and your blog was clever, clever. I always love it when my great, great, great, grandfather slips into a puzzle( noahs' ark pix you used) ......just to think he painted that almost 200 years ago and its relevant in a situation he could not have possibly imagined. keep up the good work!

janie said...

moil -- this word appeared in the 9/6/07 nyt puzzle and was clued in relation to its other meaning of toil, or drudge work. this was the first time i'd encountered it.

but it's pronounced the same as mohel, the man who performs circumcisions on jewish newborns. bonus points to leo rosten for these groaners... [fair warning!!]:

--the rabbi gets the fees, but it's the mohel who gets all the tips.


--a man passed a store window with nothing in it but a clock, stepped inside, and asked,"how long would it take to fix my watch?"
"how should i know?" shrugged the baleboss [owner]. "i don't fix watches. i'm a mohel."
"but -- in your window -- you have a clock!"
"so what would you put in the window?"

well -- don't say i didn't warn ya!



Pete M said...

@mellocat: Holy crap! How'd you figure out that that would work? That's totally bizarre. 50 pts!!

@ehicks77: How cool that that's your g-g-g-gdad's painting! It really is a small world sometimes.

@jls: I'm tempted to "dock" a few points for those groaners... :)

mellocat said...

Well, I'll admit it wasn't the first thing I tried :-). The W3C validator seemed to want something like a para tag outside the emphasis tag within the blockquote, so I tried adding that, which seemed to work but in doing that I had added some linebreaks in the source to make things easier to see, which messed up the line spacing. When I removed them the problem returned. Hmmm...linebreaks are affecting the behavior, what about break tags? Right at the end here there are two, which seems redundant. What if I get rid of one? And so I stumbled on the answer. I didn't quite believe it when I saw it either.