WEDNESDAY, Apr. 22, 2009 - D Finan (Chekhov play or its antihero / Stethoscope users at times / "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" duettist, 1976)
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: Shipbuilding - as the "Note" to the puzzle says, circled letters contain letters A through I, which, which connected in alphabetical order, form a picture of the puzzle's theme - in this case, a sailboat. Letters A through I are used in clues to indicate parts of the ship they describe. Additional boat-related content in the long answers ... and LOGS (28D: Old shipbuilding needs)
Word of the Day: YEGGS (63A: Stethoscope users, at times) - n. Slang. A thief, especially a burglar or safecracker.
How many times will I be asked to draw boats on my puzzles ... ?
Much kerfuffle at the NYT puzzle site last night. Apparently something in the formatting of this puzzle caused a big snafu and on-line subscribers couldn't get their puzzles until well after midnight (normal time: 10pm). Someone emailed me a bootleg copy of this puzzle in pdf format (from last week's Marbles Amateur Crossword Tournament in Chicago, which used this week's NYT puzzles), and so I printed it out and solved on paper. Came in at just under 6. I think that's pretty normal, especially factoring in the paper-solving (which almost always takes longer than keyboard-solving). It is news to no one that I am a big non-fan of this kind of puzzle. I hate taking the time to read a note (don't do it if I don't have to) and when I saw that the first theme clue was essentially gibberish, i.e. "With this other answer, these letters in some illustration you can't see yet," all I felt was annoyance. I do not like being asked to draw on my puzzle. In fact, I refuse. So I ignored the theme answers completely - solved around them - and in the process of doing so, the I intuited the nautical theme and I just made ship-related words out of any clue that was just giving me letters, e.g. [F-G], [C-D]. Didn't bother even looking at the (non-) illustration. This seems like the kind of puzzle that took some time to conceive and execute, and it probably deserves our admiration. But I didn't enjoy solving it. Except YEGGS. That clue was @!#$#ing awesome.
I started the puzzle off horribly, almost despairingly. Theme was inscrutable, or at least annoying, and the NW wouldn't come together. Never heard of the Chekhov antihero IVANOV (2D: Chekhov play or its antihero), and for some reason thought DOTS would be a good answer to the Morse Code clue (1A: A Morse "I" consists of two => DITS). I knew the lyric at 14A: "Climb _____ Mountain" but the answer I had in mind didn't seem to fit. Had no idea it was a contraction: EV'RY. So, some initial floundering, but once I got out of there, and then shortly thereafter picked up the theme, it really wasn't hard at all.
- 17A: With 59-Across, A-B-C-A in the illustration (main / sail)
- 25A: F-G (keel)
- 30A: C-D (mast)
- 43A: A-B (boom)
- 49A: E-F-G-H-E (hull)
- 18A: Ship in "Pirates of the Caribbean" (Black Pearl)
- 55A: Ship to the New World (Santa Maria)
ANNABEL Lee (23D: Poe's "_____ Lee) and KIKI DEE (25D: "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" duettist, 1976) make a beautiful rhyming pair of puzzle pillars. DOTS for DITS and DIABLE for DIABLO (40A: Counterpart of un ángel) were my only hiccups. I look forward to Thursday. The end. Almost.
- 21A: Half of a mountaineering expedition (descent) - if you're lucky.
- 36A: "Top Hat" dancer (Astaire) - you know, I've never seen even a little bit of an ASTAIRE/Rogers movie. Let's change that.
- 52A: People in fierce snowball fights (pelters) - odd job, but I like the vivid action it implies.
- 61A: Makeup of some little balls (lint) - wrote it in with no crosses. Felt bold, but ended up right.
- 5D: Incorporate, as a YouTube video into a Web site (embed) - watch as I EMBED this ODE (10D: Tribute with feet):
- 12D: 1921 play that introduced the word "robot" (R.U.R.) - a piece of crosswordese that I have great affection for.
- 48D: Magnetic induction units (Teslas) - I don't remember much of anything important about my physics courses ... but his name really sticks.
- 59D: Number on a bottle at the beach (SPF) - I was using lots of SPF 50 in Costa Rica. That stuff works - assuming you apply it completely ... my red patches are almost gone now.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
P.S. My write-up of the LAT crossword is here.
P.P.S. If you are in the Southern California area, just a reminder that this Saturday is the CROSSWORDS LA TOURNAMENT. It's the real deal - good puzzles, great talent (Hinman! But he's not competing, don't worry), corporate sponsorship, the works. All for a wonderful charity. You should go. Here's the press release.
For immediate release
CROSSWORDS LA TOURNAMENT LAUNCHES
April 25 event to raise money for local non-profit
LOS ANGELES, CA – April 20, 2009 – Crosswords West today announced the launch of the first annual Crosswords LA Tournament. The event will bring together crossword enthusiasts from the Los Angeles area and elsewhere – all for the purpose of having fun and raising money to benefit a local non-profit organization (Reading to Kids). The puzzles will be provided by Will Shortz, Editor of The New York Times Puzzles and Games section.
Crossword puzzle tournaments have been around for more than 30 years, but have until recently taken place primarily on the East Coast. The largest tournament in the nation – the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament – is held annually in New York and has, since distribution of the 1996 documentary “WordPlay,” grown in popularity to involve roughly 700 competitors.
“Los Angeles is overdue for a similar crossword tradition,” said Elissa Grossman, tournament organizer and professor of management at Loyola Marymount University. “These events offer people a chance to get together and share something they enjoy, while at the same time, in this instance, helping Reading to Kids continue its wonderful work.”
The tournament will be held at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, April 25 (Hilton Center, Room 100). Online registration is available through April 23 at www.crosswordswest.com. On-site registration will be available on tournament day, through 10:50 AM (doors open at 10:00 AM). Prices vary from $10 - 30, depending on the time at which a person registers and the division in which the person participates. In an effort to make the tournament appropriate for a range of skill levels, there will be Regular, Expert, Student, and Spectator divisions. (Spectators can do the puzzles along with everyone else, but will not have those puzzles scored.) Competitors and spectators will be eligible for various tournament and raffle prizes. The prizes have been donated by St. Martin’s Press, Electronic Arts, Dell PennyPress, Pentel, Watson Adventures, Kustom Imprints, and Houdini, Inc.
The tournament will culminate in a playoff that pits the top three finishers overall – head to head to head – in a puzzle completed in front of an audience. Accompanying this race to complete the final puzzle will be live play-by-play and color commentary (as in a televised sporting event) by Tyler Hinman and Michael Colton. Tyler is a crossword constructor and the five-time American Crossword Puzzle Tournament champion. Michael is a panelist on VH1’s “Best Week Ever” and “I Love the 80s” and writes for the new comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up” (on Fox).
All event profits will be donated to Reading to Kids (www.readingtokids.org) – a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for success in the future. On the second Saturday of every month, Reading to Kids gathers together an average of 1,130 children and 460 volunteers for elementary school reading clubs.
For more information, please contact the tournament organizer: