1969 Cream hit / THU 5-24-12 / Hot corner Yank / Commercial district / Capital known in literature as Thang Long / Youngest golfer to shoot his age in PGA event

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Constructor: Derik Moore

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: "CROSSROADS" (62A: 1969 Cream hit ... or a hint to the seven "mathematical" clues in this puzzle) — answers are American cities; clues are written [number + number], representing the two ROADS that CROSS in each city

Word of the Day: RAMAL (9D: Of a branch) —

The Ramal, is a metro line, part of the Madrid Metro, with only two stations and a total length of 900 m. "Ramal" in Spanish means "branch". The line opened between Opera and Norte on 27 December 1925. At that time Norte was the main railway station for trains going to northern Spain and this short metro line was built to link the Norte railway station with line 2 of Madrid metro.
However in 1995 the Norte railway station was renamed Principe Pío because most long-distance trains traveling north were now terminating at the new Chamartín Station. The Norte station still has RENFE services, but it has been scaled down and only local trains stop here. Part of the former station complex was converted into a shopping centre. Also in 1995 Lines 10 and 6 were extended to Principe Pío to interchange with the Ramal. The Ramal uses 4 car trains of CAF Class 3000.


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/ramal-madrid-metro#ixzz1vkbEmx6s
• • •

Very, very easy. This is one of those puzzles where any sparkle it possesses is a result of the cluing—here, the "mathematical" bit. Otherwise, it's just random American cities. I'm guessing this started as a list of just that—American cities. Since virtually every major American city will have two major "roads" (i.e. numbered highways) running through it, all you really need to do is figure out which cities you can make symmetrical. Why this city and not that city? Who cares. Just plug in cities. That's how I solved all seven theme cities—I just substituted the clue [Major American city] for every equation and had precisely no trouble with any of them. Thankfully, the grid is a 78-worder, which means that the fill is not especially taxed by the relative density of the theme. In fact, I cringed only once, albeit hard—at RAMAL. Talk about your outliers. Maybe ALEPPO (20A: City of Syria) or FIONA Apple (22D: Apple on iTunes) is a *little* off the beaten path, but at least they are in someone's language. RAMAL!? I know a little Latin and still was like "RAM- ... IC? AL? There's an adjectival form of RAMUS now?" (RAMUS itself being pretty outré to begin with). Several online dictionaries define RAMAL as "Of or relating to a ramus." Thanks, dictionaries!



Theme answers:
  • 17A: 65 + 20 (BIRMINGHAM)
  • 4D: 55 + 40 (MEMPHIS)
  • 11D: 5 + 10 (LOS ANGELES)
  • 40A: 75 + 20 (ATLANTA)
  • 30D: 29 + 80 (OMAHA)
  • 44D: 75 + 94 (DETROIT)
  • 28D: 35 + 10 (SAN ANTONIO)
Still don't get how TONER is found on a drum (45A: It may be found on a drum). Is a "drum" a part of a printer? I'm guessing yes. Had some trouble coming up with SCALER (10D: Tackle box item) and went through a whole WCS / LAV / LOO thing at 41A: London facilities. Otherwise, straight shot.


Bullets:
  • 53A: Carpentry item in a common simile (DOORNAIL) — "simile" part is cute, but it also made getting the answer terribly easy.
  • 13D: Jungle camping supply (MESH) — I assume this is like netting? To keep out mosquitoes? I wrote in a terminal "S" and had to fix it later—one of only a small handful of write-overs. 
  • 52D: Syrian strongman (ASSAD) — Why are tyrants so damned crossworthy? OK, I'm thinking mainly of IDI AMIN, but still—I'd be happy to never to see this guy's name in the grid again.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

115 comments:

Robert Johnson 12:04 AM  

Sorry, can't agree with random cities. These were random cities, but with a reveal of CROSSROADS one cannot omit CLARKSDALE, 69+41. The CROSSROADS. Epic fail.

jackj 12:07 AM  

Perhaps Will is cleaning up his in box with the string of debut puzzles he has been giving us but, once again, we have a unique theme (clues being the main highway numbers (CROSSROADS) cluing a specific city), but a theme which makes for a less than thrilling puzzle.

I suspect not many people will know that Rtes. 65 and 20 cross each other in BIRMINGHAM but the clues are easily sorted out and the route numbers quickly become irrelevant, a situation repeated six more times in the grid.

There was some decent cluing in the non-theme fill, HONOR, for “Oscar nomination, e,g,” was particularly good, ANTHEM was cleverly, if familiarly clued, as was ORGAN and the best bit in the puzzle, the hinted at simile of “Dead as a DOORNAIL” was top flight.

Then there were the miscues like “NEHI Grape”, (better Gilbert maybe), or RAMAL which the medicos among us will tell you pertains to a nerve, vein or artery in the body, “a branch, dontcha know?” and cluing ALAS using Oscar Wilde’s dying words seems a bit overwrought.

But, OK, what about “IMA-comin’!”? Well, I’d normally leave that one to Evil but the chance to pair it up with ONAN at 8 down is too enticing, (and I’ll leave AARON with his rod and the poor unsuspecting HASID out of the double entendres, lest the Biblical-porno-feints become overwhelming).

A mixed bag from Derik Moore, which I’m liking more, the more I write about it.

Robert Johnson 12:12 AM  

Son of a B**(*&. I read the writeup twice, just to be sure there was no reference to me, or the one and only CROSSROADS of any consequence.. Didn't think to check the video embeds.

Anyone know how to get residuals sent to me down here? $1,000.00 gets you an hour of AC and man, I sure could use it.

jae 12:12 AM  

Caught the theme IN A FLASH, so very easy for me too. No erasures again.   I got reinforced for reading the daily paper as ALEPPO made the news this morning (kidnapped pilgrims from Lebanon).  ASSAD is clearly a...(fill in expletive here).

Aside from being a tad too easy I liked it.  Pretty clean fill and a novel theme.

Too bad my corner of the US at 8+5 didn't make it.

Anonymous 12:12 AM  

Not just any routes -- Interstates.

pk 12:47 AM  

Agree with Rex, had no idea what the math clues were about, but figured out quickly (with easy crosses) that the answers were American cities. Finally got it at 28D San Antonio, since I know those Highway numbers.

Seemed timely (for me,) as I am reading a newly published novel by Fred Afflerbach called "Roll On," subtitled "A Trucker's Life on the Road." I'm only a quarter of the way in, but am loving it so far.

eerrnulif ttonori? give me highway numbers any time

Rube 12:55 AM  

Had fun with this one as I figured out the theme fairly early and, like most of you I'm sure, knowing the I/S numbering system got me close enough to make guesses with only a few crosses.

Had a slowdown in the SE as I didn't kknow the Cream song or the Kotter role. Crosses came to the rescue. It's always fun to finish a Thursday without Googles.

FYI: Have not been blogging recently because I had a hip replacement a week ago Monday. If you're thinking of this, do it. 50 hrs from the cutting table to the lunch counter at home. One day of the walker and last Monday was cleared by the PT to drive, (although not by the doctor). Have done the crosswords since, but just didn't feel like blogging on my netbook.

Gill I. P. 12:59 AM  

Well, I agree this was fairly easy but only after I got the theme. I had to work pretty hard to get it but I enjoyed every mile it took.
For some reason, I now want to sing "Daddy took her TBird Away."
I've traversed these CROSSROADS with the exception of BIRMINGHAM. Wanted Sacramento where LOS ANGELES resides. I learned about the SAMOAN language and I now know that ALEPPO doesn't have two L's and HASID only has one s.
Rex's WOTD "RAMAL" was fun to see since I spent a huge portion of my Madrid life at Principe Pio. You don't need a car in Madrid (or Spain for that matter) since the rail system in Spain is an engineering marvel.
Thank you Derik Moore; I hope to meet you again soon.

retired_chemist 1:01 AM  

I really enjoyed this one.

I have to confess that when I saw the clue 65 +20 I tried EIGHTY-FIVE and it fit. Crosses and the failure of that trivial algorithm for other "mathematical" clues soon scotched that.

Exactly as @ Anon 12:12 says. All these are Interstate Highways, which have a more or less organized numbering system. The tip for me was SAN ANTONIO, which I have been to recently and was AT the intersection of I-35 and I-10. I've driven through all of the cities mentioned at least a couple of times, so once I saw the algorithm the rest was easy.

@Rex - yes, Xerox machines and similar photocopiers pick up TONER electrostatically on a drum. You can read about it here.

I thought the fill was bang on for Thursday. Just enough bite. SNEAD and HASID went down without a fight. SCALER was SCARAB (a putative lure) and SCALAR [sic] before the right answer emerged. LOO was WCS since I considered "facilities" a plural.

Thank you, Mr. Moore.

Greg Charles 1:51 AM  

I think that might have been more fun if I could have figured out the theme before finishing the puzzle, so an easier, or at least more current clue for the reveal would have helped.

I liked the Thang Long (soaring dragon) clue. The legend is the Dragon took off from Thang Long (now Ha Noi) and landed at Ha Long (Bay). More fun trivia: no one I asked in Ha Noi has ever heard of the Tower of Hanoi puzzle.

Anoa Bob 2:18 AM  

I liked this one because I've driven through every city here several times (except OMAHA, ALEPPO, and HANOI), and it was a pleasant little DEJA vu trip down memory lane.

There was a missed cluing opportunity with 27D ALAMO lying abeam of 28D SAN ANTONIO.

chefwen 2:20 AM  

@Rube - Welcome home, I was wondering where you had gone. I was hoping you were doing your spring Bass fishing trip. Happy all went well.

I have spent many an hour on I5 and I10 (esp. in the rain) so the theme fell pretty quickly for me.
With only a few letters in the other cities they all pretty much spelled themselves.

48D could have been clued "capchas, as of late".

Arena Core Memphis 3:01 AM  

Weird , no writeovers because i absolutely didn't get the theme, just filled in the nontheme ones till i could see they were a city and stuck in the city.
Zero joy in Muddville (Seven + Eightythree)

And 67 across: " Hot Corner Yank" is the epitome of a kind of clue I hate. For Boys Only , F.U.-Type clue. Like the whole puzzle, filled in the answer with out an iota of understanding.

My first instinct for "Something that's best often broken" with H---T, was HearT. Hmmm, paging Dr. Freud?

syndy 3:01 AM  

was something of a blur it went so fast.I knew the LA ones so that gave me the revealer.I had originally put NAILS for 50D but obviously...

Cathelou 4:08 AM  

I have to love a puzzle with my home city, Atlanta, right smack dab in the middle, especially since navigating the 75/20 crossroad occupies approximately a quarter of my waking life. Our traffic gives us purpose. Yesterday at work my colleagues and I spent a full 15 minutes discussing the best route to get her child to school next year. Good times!

orangeblossomspecial 6:18 AM  

As Anonymous said at 12:12, the intersections are all interstates, and interstate fits the theme clue 62A. Unless you know the Cream hit, interstate works just as well.

Here is Cream in a live version of CROSSROADS.

Chuck Berry had the famous song about 4D MEMPHIS.

Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys recorded 28D SANANTONIO Rose.

Z 7:13 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle fine, playing along with the cluing. Got that the cluing was interstates when LOS ANGELES filled in. That made DETROIT very easy for this metro Detroiter and the entire east filled pretty quickly. I'm not familiar with the routes in the south, so I-10 and I-20 weren't much help to me and I had to piece together the cities out west.

I did not know that OAT Chex were a thing. The O was my last letter and I had to run the alphabet to get it. I seriously considered hAT Chex.

@Arena Core Memphis - I have to quibble with you. AROD is so crossfriendly and so oft written about that it barely matters that he is a baseball player. He's like ENYA - you don't have to anything about either of them to plop them into the grid usually. Now, if 40D had been clued "Former Milwaukee Brave" (or worse - former Brewer) I would have to agree with you.

Welcome back @Rube. @LMS - I haven't seen your dad post in awhile.

Theysati artsnat - robot review of our music discussion.

Rex Parker 7:21 AM  

@Andrea,

The idea that baseball clues are "for boys" is complete and utter bullshit. Grade A. 100%. What you mean is "I know nothing about baseball," so say that.

It's like saying science clues are "for boys." Or chess clues. (... see what I did there?)

Some of the biggest sports whiners here are men.

rp

Glimmerglass 7:24 AM  

Like Rex, I solved the puzzle without figuring out the Interstate numbers. I didn't know the Cream title, but got that the same way as I got the cities, by crosses. It surprises me in how many major cities I have never driven a car. I know lots of I95 crosses, but . . . . I can't rate this as easy for me.

Rob C 7:32 AM  

I'm sort of a geography buff, so I liked it. Too bad HANOI and ALEPPO werern't clued with their crossroads also. Maybe Korea too.

Sending this from close to 80+81

JenCT 7:59 AM  

Liked this a lot, but didn't figure out the theme until I was almost finished! Damn, I keep looking for a rebus on Thursdays...

Love that Cream song; it's a classic.

Liked First place/EDEN, Key work?/ANTHEM, and TONER.

Didn't know the term NONETS.

EFFLUVIUM sounds like a snooty way to say Odor; I think I've only heard it in reference to volcanoes.

Sir Hillary 8:05 AM  

No complaints here. Good stuff. Love love love that ALAMO runs next to SAN ANTONIO.

EmilyPostInstitute 8:05 AM  

Sent the Rex Parker @7:21 through are rudeness filter and got:

I think it would be more accurate to say that baseball clues are for people who follow baseball.

Hope you feel better soon.

joho 8:13 AM  

This left me as flat as a tire with a DOORNAIL in it.

I got the theme at LOSANGELES and then just filled in the rest of the cities as I got a few letters to give me the answers.

To me this really isn't a theme at all but a list.

I'm glad many did enjoy it and I congratulate Derik Moore on his debut.

@jae, 8+5 makes me think "merge!"

evil doug 8:15 AM  

"" Hot Corner Yank" is the epitome of a kind of clue I hate. For Boys Only , F.U.-Type clue."

Michael beat me to it, but that doesn't mean I can't pile on....

Was 'Hasid' a "for Jews only, F.U.-Type clue"? Was 'atom' a "for scientists only, F.U.-Type clue"? Was 'besos' a "for Spanish only, F.U.-Type clue"? Was 'doornail' a "for carpenters only, F.U.-Type clue"?

The beauty of the *best* crosswords is that they test the breadth of the solvers' knowledge. Generalists do well. People who read newspapers do well. People who are curious and fearlessly delve into unfamiliar areas do well. People who are super-focused and well-versed on just one corner of life? Not so much. And in turn the crossword helps educate us in those less common knowledge nooks.

So I'll struggle when Ghostface Killah pops up, or deep mathematical theories, or Jewish alphabets. But I'll hope my more friendly areas of interest will be involved in the crosses---or I'll take my best W.A.G. (technical military term---'wild ass guess').

You don't do much for the equality of the sexes when you make specious comments like that, ACME. And I'll bet when you were on all those game shows you didn't whine when a question from a different arena popped up: "No fair, Alex! That's a for boys only, F.U.-type clue!"

Evil

evil doug 8:19 AM  

Agree with appreciation for the nice San Antonio-Alamo combo. In fact, it would have made the puzzle a lot more engaging if we had 'steaks' next to Omaha, and 'blues' next to Memphis---so forth.

Evil

Jp 8:19 AM  

Very easy but very clever. Same concept as the Zip Code theme. Only hiccup was putting Daytona instead of Detroit. But with one google fixed that up. Got the theme pretty early

John V 8:21 AM  

I thought this was a lot of fun. Got the theme at OMAHA/ATLANTA crossing, which "revealed" the revealer for me. Annoyed at myself that CROSSROADS took a while to reveal, as I grew up with that music.

Re: AROD, really liked the clue. Maybe we need: Hot Rod? == ALEX some day. Had AROD quickly but SW was last to fall, which happened with SAN ANTONIO.

Wanted PEA/SOUP form 63D/51A, as an homage to the Charlotte weather. Sure hope US Air can fly this afternoon.

So, quirky enough for a Thusday, easy once you got the theme, for sure.

Liked the Robert Johnson post, @Rex; thanks for that.

Sue McC 8:32 AM  

Enjoyed, but usually hope for a bigger challenge on Thursdays. Popped the cities in without knowing the routes until I got to Atlanta, which I am sadly experienced in driving through too many times.

Nhart1954 8:38 AM  

I really liked the theme, but then I love maps and knew the numbering system. Pretty easy, though.

As for the "flap du jour", Evil said it best. This girl has her own subscription to MLB.TV. A-Rod has always been a thorn in this Red Sox fan's hide.

quilter1 8:39 AM  

I figured out the theme when BIRMINGHAM appeared and it was pretty smooth sailing after that. We travel by car a lot so envisioning the interstate crossings was fun. We'll be going to LA in about a month and navigating those roads.

@evil: I like your idea of pairing cities with their specialties.

jberg 9:07 AM  

This was one of those themes that goes from "Huh?" to "Aha!" and then is a big help in solving, given that the numbers of the CROSSROADS tell you what region the city is in. But the puzzle had some nice things - crossing Slamming Sammy SNEAD with the wood/IRON choice, crossing LOO with "quiet reading spots," and putting A-ROD, the "Hot Yank corner" in the corner - though I don't know if that corner is hotter than any other.

Lots of writeovers for me: paIr before JOIN, nAilS before TACKS, hOld before LOGE for "ticket option," uSed before ASIS, and STa fefore STN (that one was a tad arbitrary - I think 'sta' is the most common usage in crossworld).

I'm not happy with 3D, though - Jack finds a giant, not an OGRE, at the top of that beanstalk.

As for 67A, I can't object to that after defending classical music the other day, but it is a little obscure. Neither "Hot corner" nor "Yank" is unambiguously a baseball term. Anyway, we all need to vent from time to time.

Ulrich 9:24 AM  

The fun part, for me, was watching the cities appear, from crosses, like out of a mist.

But it's almost perverse to see LA occupy the prominent spot in the east, and Birmingham in the NW, among all places! And why this bias for the south and mid-west? Why no city from the NE? Ah yes, people there are no true Americans--how could I forget?

I agree with ED, a little extra would have made this puzzle truly memorable, if not local specialties, then at least placing the cities in geographically more appropriate locations--and not forgetting the NE in the process, of course.

Z 9:37 AM  

@Jp - I had Daytona instead of ATLANTA. I fixed without Uncle Google so I guess I have bragging rights.

joho 9:39 AM  

@jberg ... I agree we all need to vent now and again, but today that venting turned to vitriol! Ugh.

chefbea 9:46 AM  

Easy puzzle even though I never heard of Cream or Crossroads. Just kept seeing all the cities appear.
Guess you could say I live in 40+17

lawprof 9:50 AM  

My first pass through the grid was a total blank. I thought HONOR, SLUM, LOGE, ARENA and CORE were too obvious for a Thursday, so I left them blank; then got to the first theme clue at 17A and considered "eightyfive" but that also seemed too obvious. Two-thirds through the accrosses and still nothing, so I started on the downs and finally got a toehold at ALBA. Then the whole grid fell as fast as I could scribble the answers -- with nary a writeover.

The most satisfying solves (at least for me) are those that at first seem hopeless, and then -- suddenly -- everything comes clear. This was one.

quilter1 9:52 AM  

I also had SinkeR before SCALER from the S and R. I don't recall my dad or brothers scaling the fish, just cutting them into boneless (or the most part), skinless filets. Mom dredged them in egg wash and pancake mix before frying. Yum.

I live at 80+35.

Wood 10:17 AM  

OK, so @ACM was guilty of a bit of male chauvinism. Give her a break. This sports-agnostic boy has never heard of the phrase "hot corner" but I figured Yank meant baseball and the shortening of the team name meant a shortening of the answer. Even I have heard of that most famous of short-named Yanks, A-ROD.

I liked the interstate theme. At first it just looked like random cities but I was dying to figure out how the "math" clues could actually point to them. When I figured it out it allowed me to fill in DETROIT and LOS ANGELES with nary a cross, so that was rewarding. Fun puzzle!

John V 10:30 AM  

@lawprof re: solving satisfaction: exactly. My experience this morning tracked yours to a T. This is the consummate end of week experience and satisfaction for me.

Matthew G. 10:36 AM  

I guess I'm in today's minority, having liked this quite a lot. I don't really care what went through the constructor's head while he was making this or whether he came up with the grid first or the theme first. I care about what went through my head while I was solving, and trying to remember what cities were at which CROSSROADS was fun.

RAMAL should go back in Will's vault for at least a decade, but other than that, this was very fun.

Tita 10:37 AM  

Avoided reading the revealer, determined to figure it out, which I never did. Didn't need it to finish, though.

This puzzle would have been awesome had the cities been laid out geographically, as per Ulrich, and with ED's local specialties.
Great ideas, boys!

Wonder - does the constructor or the editor own stock in Apple? 2 Apple adverts, but shunning poor NOOK?...
(18D, 22D, 34D)
(No, I don't own either...)

Here's my clip of SANANTONIO Stroll , a crossover hit written by my next-door neighbor.

@Acme, @Rex - if there were a scorecard for frivolous beating up of clues and clue genres, who would win?

retired_chemist 10:39 AM  

Hot corner is third base, which AROD plays instead of his original position of shortstop because the Yanks have another pretty good option [:-)] at ss. Saw an old Jeopardy yesterday in which the contestant incorrectly named AROD as the Yankees shortstop. Is there an analogy to malapop in which the answer is wrong on Jeopardy! but pops up in the NYT crossword?

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

Like Andrea, I completely filled the grid with no idea what the numbers meant. The reveal brought it together but none of the highways meant anything to me.
It takes more than a tack to flatten the tires on my car. A door nail maybe.
@ Rube, Welcome back and I agree about the hip replacement. Life-changing experience for me.
@ chefwen, Yes, my captchas appear to need more toner.
Jeopardy spoiler alert:

Too bad but the douchebag (Andrea's date from hell) won again. He is kinda cute though.

loren muse smith 10:59 AM  

I agree with @ Gill I.P. – a bit difficult until I saw the theme. The numbers meant nothing to me – even 75 and 20 for ATLANTA, and lived in Gwinnett County (just north of ATLANTA) from 5th grade to college.

@lawprof and @John V – you’re right – the best ones are the ones that at first glance seem impossible and then, boom, before you know it, you’ve finished. Today’s fare on the money.

@retired_chemist – my feelings exactly on “wcs” vs LOO.

@Rube and @Ulrich – good to hear from you again!!

@Z ( and a couple others) – thanks for asking after Dad. He and Mom are spending a few weeks at a farm we own near Parkersburg, WV. No Across Lite, no printers, just a lot of bass and bluegills waiting to be caught!

For what it’s worth, I had “alou” forever before AROD.

When my son was still in a carseat, we bought a new car with a cd player. I was strapping him in and asking, “Do you want to listen to Aladdin? Lion King?” He answered, and I’m not making this up, “Eric Clapton. Crossroads.” Who’s Cream?

wyonative 11:16 AM  

Thanks to @retired_chemist for the explanation of hot corner. I have watched a lot of baseball in my life, but neither the lingo nor the names seem to soak in. I did get AROD on my own but didn't have a clue what hot corner meant.

evil doug 11:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 11:19 AM  

Perhaps you jest, Loren. But in case you're serious....

Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker. One of the first super groups. "Sunshine of your Love", "White Room", "Badge"---1993 inductees into the R&R HOF. Clapton and Baker joined Steve Winwood and Ric Grech in the short-lived but brilliant Blind Faith. Clapton sat in with many artists after that---Delaney & Bonnie and Friends is a fun group. Then his Derek and the Dominoes run, before his long solo career began.

Evil

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

People, do you all go around with an entire national map of the interstate highway system in your head? I do not. and I expect I'm not alone. This was not easy. I've taken many road trips in my day, but not in the random cities in question. Complain all you want, but don't say it's too easy for a Thursday.

evil doug 11:26 AM  

It's too easy for a Thursday.

Evil
Don't usually respond to Anonymouses, but in your case I'll make an exception.

JenCT 11:28 AM  

@retired chemist: how about Jealopop?

& thanks too for the definition of hot corner.

@lawprof: I too like your definition of a satisfying solve.

Matthew G. 12:14 PM  

@anonymous 11:22 a.m.: I do. I can tell you what Interstate highway is where more easily than I can tell you who starred in [random 1960s movie]. Geography is awesome. So this puzzle was right up my alley.

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Like @Rob C, I was alarmed to learn that ALEPPO and HANOI ain't got no roads goin' thru 'em.

Brother-in-law Cletus played "Crossroads" record by Cream for me, just a couple months back. Didn't know it, til then. So that listening session really saved my bacon with this puz. That and having been on I-29 and I-80 thru Omaha lots of times.

Cannot believe @31 didn't have a "Crossroads" music video waiting for us. Thanx, @orangeblossomspecial, for picking up the slack.

Fave fill: DOORNAIL. Is there a town in Utah called that? Also, BLUR. Gotta be some little fly-by burg called that, somewhere. But I digress.

Fave clue: "Figure in Jack and the Beanstalk". Better answer: COUNTBEANS.

Request for Relative Difficulty adjustment: This puz put up a friendly fight at my house. I'd go with Mesium. Speaking of Mesium, check out BEQ's puz today. He almost had an @31 in it! Read all about it.

600 12:22 PM  

All you complaining-about-acme guys: Okay. Fair points. But what the heck (I cleaned that up for you, EmilyPost) does the phrase "hot corner Yank" mean? I filled it in, as @Z said, like I'd fill in Enya. But WHAT DOES IT MEAN? (Okay. @retired-chemist, I see you've answered me, so I probably ought to remove the question. But it seems somehow relevant, so I'm leaving it. But I join the others in saying thanks for the answer.)

@joho: Amen. Ugh.

Easy puzzle. Got the theme at BIRMINGHAM and never looked back. But it's a good thing the crosses at RAMAL were fair, because that was one rough clue. What Rex said. Exactly.

Robert Johnson 12:31 PM  

@M&A - Rex did. The original. Half of what Clapton did in his career was to play my work, CROSSROADS specifically. Saved me from the dustbin of history.

600 12:31 PM  

@anonymous, 11:22--Agreeing with Matthew G. here. The interstate system is easy to carry in one's head: Left to right, (5 to 95), Bottom to top (4 to 94) odd for N-S, even for E-W.

This puzzle was too easy for a Thursday. Except for RAMAL Can't forget RAMAL.

jazzmanchgo 12:33 PM  

Hey, Robert J. --

No way to get residuals to you, unfortunately . . . but I'm sending Stagger Lee down to fight with Ol' Scratch again (he won last time, remember?) -- after he frees you, you can come back up here and claim your money. I'm sure Eric and the boys will be delighted to see you coming!

jazzmanchgo 12:42 PM  

p.s.

By the way, some of the most avid and knowledgeable baseball [and other sports] fans I know are women, so I think that "F.U." comment about A-Rod was a tad misguided. After all, if that's the case, then anything having to do with IPods or other technology is "Geek-o-centric F.U." cluing, which I wouldn't agree with at all.
That being said, I'm really tired of A-Rod showing up in crossword puzzles.

Masked and Anonymo2Us 12:47 PM  

@Robert Johnson-- Har. Wrong again, M&A breath. Thanx for setting me straight, dude. Wow, Cream went with a major pep-up, on their cover version. If Vanilla Fudge ever covered the Cream version, it mighta come around full circle.

P.S. Nice debut, Mr. Moore.

John V 12:57 PM  

My third and then out. This recording was my first exposure to Crossroads, cicca 1967. Imagine, "Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse" with The Lovin' Spoonful! Great album. Look who all else was there: Paul Butterfield, Al Kooper (he was with the Blues Project at that time, Tom Rush. Today's puzzle brings back memories of buying this album at Cavage's, Main and Baily, across from SUNY Buffalo, where I was and undergrad at the time. Thanks, Derik, for triggering this recollection!

Off to CLT.

John V 12:58 PM  

That would be Main and Bailey, for fellow Buffalo natives.

Matthew G. 1:32 PM  

"Hot corner" is a long-time name for third base. It is so named because so many balls are hit up the line near third base, and the third baseman must be able to quickly snag them lest they result in doubles. A-ROD is the most nationally famous current Yank(ee)--I said most famous, not best or most admired by fans, before anyone protests--so the clue was pretty straightforward.

It doesn't bother me that some people dislike baseball. I'm not interested in every topic in the world myself. But respectfully--and I do mean respectfully because I like Andrea, her puzzles and almost all of her other comments--I'm weary of Andrea's repeated complaints of gender bias. That's both because: (1) many of the most intense baseball fans I know are women (including the two most intense ones I know); and (2) there are just as many common crossword entries that one could call female-biased, such as fashion designers, all of whom are fungible to me.

Perhaps it's a regional thing. Here in the Northeast, most people, male or female, have a favorite baseball team. The idea of it as a primarily male interest does not conform to any of my life observations!

Three and out.

Masked and Ananotnomoretoday 1:40 PM  

Can't believe I couldn't get the drift of @31's Robert Johnson video at first. Am always amazed by what I don't know. But try to learn.

Talked with Mrs. Ida Burndette yesterday, downtown. Was just sayin' to her how sorry I was she couldn't go to the local library anymore. (On account of I read in the paper about how they had "banned offensive kooks from the library", at her request.) She got real huffy and said something about "books, you idiot!" and stormed off.

quilter1 2:02 PM  

One more thing, I always thought the figure in Jack and the Beanstalk was a giant not an OGRE. The giant and his wife lived at the top with the goose that laid the golden egg. Back me up, anyone?

Bird 2:05 PM  

This one became very easy once I figured out the theme. I had no idea what roads cross at any major city, but that didn’t matter as the cities were all easily gettable with a few crosses.

CROSSROADS is such a great song. No offense to Mr. Robert Johnson, but I saw Eric Clapton during his Journeyman tour and he played a fantastic rendition of that classic. I was in awe watching his fingers make his guitar sing.

I always thought Radar drank Grape NEHI, not NEHI Grape.

Too bad the cities didn’t in the grid didn’t match their location on a map. That would have been a feat.

Only corrections were SINKER before SCALER and OCTETS before NONETS.

Needed a NE city: 495 + 80 = New York City

Cheers!

Bird 2:09 PM  

@quilter1 - I agree with you. My memory says a giant lived in the castle in the clouds.

Tita 2:18 PM  

@M&A - ThUmbsUp for your Emily Latella doUble-homage...

Dictionary 2:19 PM  

Seems to fit the Giant in J&B
o·gre
   [oh-ger] Show IPA

noun
1.
a monster in fairy tales and popular legend, usually represented as a hideous giant who feeds on human flesh.

2.
a monstrously ugly, cruel, or barbarous person.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Great blog today. Acme whines. Rex snarls at Acme. ED piles on and even goes after an anon. Mild mannered Matthew jumps into the fray. Reminds me of that scene in Patton after the battle and George C. Scott as Patton says, "I love it. God help me I do love it so. I love it more than my life."

Once I figured out the theme clues were Interstate numbers, that only told me the answers were cities and my approach was probably like Rex (except i'm a tri-motor airplane and he's a SST). So I must conclude that the aha moment was in realizing what the numbers meant. Not much of an organism. No doubt one of life's benefits with old age. The F U doesn't mean as much....

JFC

acme 2:36 PM  

@Rex
Yes, I see what you did there!
Once again, my intent was slightly ms-interpreted, and was not aimed at anyone personally...was talking about the type of clue, not baseball itself!
And to those who only seem to respond to my entitled-to-have comments when they want to publicly put me down, to you I say, "(Bronx cheer)"!

Gerrythek 2:40 PM  

Apple On iTunes = FIONA is a great fill and will stay with me for a long time. Many thanks to Derik (or Will) for this one.

A Sociologist 2:43 PM  

So, for the sake of science, why don't we all to an experiment?

This weekend, after we've paid homage to our fallen, as we're standing around the grill, let's keep track of the time men talk about baseball vs the time the women talk about baseball. I'm not counting when a woman hits a man by pretending to like baseball, I'm counting about when women talk about baseball among themselves.

Bird 2:56 PM  

Re Jack and his nemesis - There are versions that say it was an ogre and versions that say it was a giant. The story is also associated with Jack and the Giant Killer. More reading can be found Link here

Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!

syndy 3:02 PM  

ACME-remember one "OH SHI*" wipes out any number of "ATTA GIRLS" dont break your heart over it!

R. McGeddon 3:08 PM  

Eric Clapton started out with The Yardbirds. I saw the group perform in London in 1964; Clapton was 19 years old. It was part of Another Beatles Christmas Show.

I couldn't hear him over the screaming, though.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

I, too, just filled in the cities without understanding the clues. And, like Rex, I wondered if printers have drums. I think old mimeograph machines had drums and used toner. But printers?

Lewis 3:23 PM  

As someone said here, the aha for me was not figuring out the cities from the highways, but figuring out what the numbers in the clues meant. I spent quite a while trying to figure out a connection between the numbers and the cities they represented, and didn't get anywhere until the reveal.

It was a very good aha, made the puzzle worth it for me!

chefbea 3:44 PM  

Was doing the syndicated puzzle in our paper today. Went to go see the answer and it's a wednesday puzzle, not the one I did today. Are they always a day late?

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

My fastest Thursday ever with no mistakes! How exciting! Plus I love maps and roads!! Right up my alley (no pun intended")

Tobias Duncan 3:56 PM  

Show me an intense female baseball fan and I will show you a victim of Stockholm syndrome.

hazel 4:08 PM  

Kind of a cool gimmick, although when i think of crossroads, i think of stop signs and general stores - not major freeways doing an over-under with cars hurtling by in every direction. Still, i liked it.

@Acme - pretty clever with the baseball/boys complaint combined with the "no joy in mudville" line - from THE iconic baseball poem!!

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Thu 13:54, 18:58, 0.73, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 7:50, 9:21, 0.84, 24%, Easy-Medium

hazel 4:14 PM  

@tobias - ok i'll bite - i am an intense female baseball fan - since the age of about six. Now show me how i am a victim....

Octavian 4:49 PM  

Surprised to see people liked this -- thought it was a total snooze. Definitely in the lower fifth of all Thursdays in terms of amusement factor or difficulty.

Only interesting answer is SAMOAN.

Too many super-easy clues/answers like EDNA, AROD, ATM, NEHI, ALBA, URIS, IPAD, SSTS. zzzzzzzzzz.

Hard to believe a Thursday puzzle would clue IPAD as an Apple tablet. That is a Monday clue. Weird.

Cheerio 4:55 PM  

Heh, Heh, Heh. I know all about baseball stars provided they date starlets, which ARod does. As long as they make the Daily Mail online, I'll likely learn their names.

I really enjoyed this one. Usually, when there is tricky cluing (misdirects?), it ramps up the difficulty for me, but today's just didn't. I guess some misdirects are harder than others. The only one I didn't see through immediately was pipe supporter.

I have spent several chunks of my life living "just off 29," albeit in different cities. Anyway, I enjoyed seeing it in the grid.

Tobias Duncan 4:56 PM  

@Hazel first there would have to be years of deprogramming.

acme 5:47 PM  

@Cheerio,
Ha! My point exactly! I'd love to see AROD occasionally clued as Madonna's and Cameron's ex-, which is how I too know of him, rahter than super-inside sports talk!
Of course there are many women who love baseball!
'Sides, I'm used to @Rex showing up to take swipes at me, it's his blog and I seem to have touched a nerve (And I'm going to assume, best case scenario, that he was being in part ironic bec of his appreciation only last month for my doing a small part to help encourage his daughter in her love of science, etc.)

What I find unconscionable tho, is his inadvertent (I hope!) opening a floodgate for that other a*hole to chime in with any excuse to unleash his thinly veiled personal hatred.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

The interstate angle makes the puzzle more enjoyable, since thses hwys are numbered by a simple system. N-S roads are odd, E-W are even. N-S roads are numbered from west to east, E-W from south to north. So I-5 and I-10 must meet in S. California, etc. Surprised more people don't know the system.
edlor

mac 6:14 PM  

Easy one, and even though I got the theme right away, it didn't help a bit. Thank you little crosswordesies!

I thought seeing A-Rod and Aaron with the rod in the same puzzle was really clever, as was the Snead/iron and Alamo/San Antonio proximity. A lot of thought went into this puzzle, I like that.

Too bad about Aleppo and Hanoi...

Why did I think "snot" at effluvium? Must have been Martin's post about a puzzle he is working on.

Agree with Ulrich, it would have been nice if the cities had been geographically correct in their position. Now it was just filling in after a couple of crosses.

Tita 6:18 PM  

@Anon @ 5:56 - except for the exceptions...

Now - who can tell me which interstate has no exits in half of the states through which it passes?

(Hint - it doesn't conform with Anon's (or Ike's)"system.")

evil doug 6:52 PM  

Andrea,

When you run out of ideas---or defense for their weakness---I guess the time must necessarily come when you have no choice but to go the ad hominem route.

There’s no question that I’m not reluctant about taking a shot at your posts---or those of many others on the blog, of course---when I disagree with your opinions, or find your insistence to self-promote distasteful and tiresome. You, and lots of others, have fun doing the same to me. People with opinions hang 'em out there, and we understand that dissenters will make no bones about responding 'with extreme prejudice'---especially in the infinite ether of an impersonal site like this. "Hatred"? Believe me, I don't waste time hating anonymous, imaginary ghosts on a blog.

I’m also not reluctant to demonstrate my appreciation when you, as I called it here, “do what you do best”: Help new constructors like Joho and Loren get their puzzles accepted for publication. I also enjoy your command of the language, your clever way with words, and your ability to find interesting qualities in a puzzle.

So today I find it particularly amusing that you give Michael a free ride on his post, when he clearly just beat me to the punch on my own disagreement with your statement. But because you have clearly resented my participation in the blog since I first appeared here, you choose to offer a weak and cliched personal attack against me for what was nothing more than an extended agreement with what he said. Besides, if anybody ‘opened a floodgate’, it wasn't Michael; it was you, Andrea.

People here who know us both have often said I’d like you if I ever had the opportunity to meet you. Perhaps they’ve told you the same thing about me. I almost believed it. But after today, I won’t fall for that again.

Doug

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

Apparently we've hit more CROSSROADS than the ones in the puzzle. Even I'm starting to get a little uncomfortable with these posts. Bit I intend to copy and past them for future posterity.

I give up, Tita, what is it? Sounds like that bridge to nowhere.

JFC

Noam D. Elkies 9:24 PM  

Knew 9D:RAM__ was correct because of a mathematical concept that's called both "ramification" and "branching". The -AL ending, well it's somewhat plausible but if I've seen RAMAL before I've mercifully forgotten it...

Tobias Duncan 9:37 PM  

Hey Tita, does it go over water much of the time?

chefbea 9:45 PM  

OK children...lets stop all this fighting and learn to get along!!!

sanfranman59 10:08 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:32, 6:50, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:35, 8:53, 1.19, 91%, Challenging
Wed 8:58, 11:48, 0.76, 5%, Easy (7th lowest median solve time of 150 Wednesdays)
Thu 14:05, 18:58, 0.74, 11%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:27, 4:36, 1.19, 93%, Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:53, 0.85, 15%, Easy
Thu 7:25, 9:21, 0.79, 21%, Easy-Medium

Rob C 10:17 PM  

@Tita

I think it's I-684 which runs through NYS but clips a little bit of Conn. without an exit.

Rob C 10:20 PM  

Also runs N-S and doesn't conform to the system b/c it's an even #

Tita 10:43 PM  

1st Prize goes to Rob C! Right on both accounts.

2nd Prize to @Tobias - for most creative guess...I wonder if there is such a road?

3rd Prize to JFC - since he's the only other entry!

I suppose my meager attempt at misdirection (half the states) was easy for this crowd to see through...

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

the NSEW odd-even rule doesnt apply to connectors and bypasses. they usually take the last 2 numbers of what they connect or bypass. 684 is just a connector from white plains / 287/ hutchinson pkwy to 84.

sorry to all y'all who live in bedford or katonah, but 684 is a road to nowhere - except to 84.

pk 12:27 AM  

Okay, y'all kids, knock it off. Andrea is the most knowledgeable, creative, kind, and jubilant person to comment here on a regular basis. So if she feels a certain way about a clue or an answer, then that's how she feels. I don't see anyone calling out Rex when he calls WTF on a clue or answer. So just knock it off.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

Hey,

Copy machines have drums that require a toner.

JS

Sarah Palin 1:16 AM  

@Anon @12:17
I know bridges to nowhere, and you - I684 are no bridge to nowhere.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

You don't see anyone calling out Rex when he calls WTF on a clue or answer? Uh, okay.

Ron Diego 12:47 PM  

O.K., that's it! Tomorrow, before reading this blog, I'm gonna put on my hard hat, safety glasses and jock strap........just in case.....

rain forest 1:26 PM  

Children, please. It's getting to be a soap opera on this blog, and the doppelgangers ED and ACME are at it again...

As a Canadian, I had NO CLUE what was going on with the "theme", but I soldiered on and only when I hit "crossroads" did I realize what the numbers all meant, but I couldn't tell you what city lies at the intersection of any US highways, except for Seattle (I5 and I90). Anyway, overall, because of the head-scratching, the puzzle was interesting. Quite a few things to like here, and a couple of ecchs.

Brought to you from the crossing of Hwy 1 and Hwy 99 in Vancouver.

Solving in Seattle 3:07 PM  

Reporting in from 5 + 90. Or as the Californians say, "THE 5."

All I can say as a Syndilander is WOW, the parents are arguing! Now I know what @Dirigonzo has been alluding to.

See what trouble you caused, AROD!

It's like watching a trainwreck - it makes you very uncomfortable, but you can't stop watching.

Since I came to Rexville 5 months ago, I have very much enjoyed reading Rex's, often brilliant, and often humorous, comments. I also look forward to seeing Andrea's unique spin on puzzles and clues, and I forgive her her occasional profanities. Likewise, Evil Doug's posts almost always crack me up, and I find it amazing and humbling at how quickly he can be so damn clever.

Please, let's shake hands and be friends.

Now for the puzzle. I caught on to the theme after really struggling through the Northwest. Finally saw BIRMINGHAM and MEMPHIS emerge from crosses and sussed out that the numbers were interstates. The rest was easy. Nice to learn RANAL, now go away. I thought of the musical, HAIR, crossing HANOI.

Did Derik Moore mean anything crossing SLUM and LOSANGELES (the city of my birth)?

41A was misclued. Should have said "London facility."

Capcha: lygura. An untruth from a distaff expert?

Idahoconnie 3:17 PM  

I love evil doug. I do crosswords to expand my knowledge. If there were no challenges then they would be a waste of time. I don't follow baseball but I knew Arod from pop culture. The last time I read a tabloid he was dating Cameron Diaz. I really enjoyed learning about the song Crossroads and listening to several versions of it on YouTube and learning about the life of the author, Robert Johnson, who was poisoned and died at the age of 27 in the 1930's. This brings up a question: I've read the posts here by a Robert Johnson (from the grave I guess). What's that all about? Do people who share the name of one of the puzzle answers directly or indirectly pretend to be that person and supposedly no one is fooled by it?

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

From Syndication Land

I loved this puzzle! Did anyone else have fun drawing a little map below their puzzle and inserting all the interstates? I tried to guess the theme answers before looking at all the crosses. Twice the enjoyment for me.

DMGrandma 7:41 PM  

Thought at first this puzzle was going to stump me, then got enough crosses to see that cities were involved. Was paused at 11D when I realized that I-10 is just north of here.(like @jae and @ joho, the 5-805 merge is a real part of my life). That helped with 28D where I was stuck with too few crosses and had misguessed it would be someplace in Ohio When I saw I-10 was involved, I drew a mental,line east from LA until I came to something ending in "io".
Oddly two words I dropped in were RAMAL and AROD, both learned from puzzles. Though I must admit the first time a b'ball clue yielded AROD I asked a som-in-law what kind of equipment that was!
Agree with @SIS that a lot of the comments have become uncomfortably personal, but when I see that happening, I just scroll down to Syndiland where people are kinder.

Spacecraft 7:48 PM  

Why haven't we heard from Mr. Touch Down yet today? @acme could have used the support. I think, though, that this time she just typed before she thought--very much an anomaly for her. With a nine-figure contract, maybe anyone in any "field" ought to be famous.

I did not find this puzzle as "easy" as many of you did. I did it, with no mistakes, but it took some work. And in my paper there was an apparent misprint in the clues: 7d was given as "____ grape." Obviously, it should have read "Grape ____," the favorite libation of one Radar O'Reilly.

How come the anti-sporties are all over AROD--but ignore his next-door neighbor, Slammin' Sammy SNEAD? And I for one will include the all-time home run king AARON, even if the clue meant some other guy.

@acme: you thought of h___t=HEART; I had __BIT and thought of ORBIT. Eventually, everything breaks ORBIT, right?

Waxy in Montreal 8:00 PM  

Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses - for me, sport-related answers like AROD (& RED DOG yesterday) are generally gimmes for example but toss out a clue involving, say, opera or classical music and I'm desperate for crosses to help out. So, I think as others have mentioned that it tends to balance out over time. But I must agree with @DMGrandma, that folks who hang out here in Syndiland get way less worked up over such trivial matters. Life's just too short!

Dirigonzo 10:05 PM  

The comments today (and 5 weeks ago) demonstrate exactly why I love syndiland so much. As @DMGrandma said, "people are kinder".

Like @Spacecraft, I was faced with the clue for 7d as "___Grape" and I immediately wrote in "moby" (from the old joke -surely you remember) so that took a while to sort out.

53d ____vu, reminded me of my last sailboat "DEJA Blue", a Pearson Commander that provided many adventures and fond memories.

@SiS and any others interested in big birds - Explore.org has 2 new live cams on a Maine island that hosts a nesting colony of puffins; it's definitely worth checking out! And the osprey chicks are getting big - today one of them stood on the edge of the nest and spread his/her wings.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

Loved the puzzle. I did not get the theme until the very end. When I got the top left corner, Birmingham and Memphis seemed to fit. I was trying to figure out a connection with other cities of the same name, eg Birmingham England and Memphis, near Greece, I think. Loved the puzzle, and found some of the clues interesting. Ramal, not so much.
I though 41 across Loo should have been a plural, but Loo it is. IMA comin' was a bit odd, but there has to be some license, I suppose. Loved the puzzle and the theme. Brilliant! Just Brilliant!!
John Mayo

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

I've been to Birmingham, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Memphis, Detroit, Omaha, Atlanta...I've been everywhere, man.

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