Journalist/writer Herbert / SUN 6-16-13 / Channel starting in 2003 / Tennis great Tommy / Joint czar with Peter I / Tammany Hall problem
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Constructor: Mel Rosen
Relative difficulty: Medium (times at the NYT site are astronomical—not sure what's happening there. Maybe people aren't reading the note....?)
THEME: "Question Box" — theme answers form a riddle, the answer to which ... oh, I'll just let the (prodigious) note explain: "When this puzzle is done, take the answers to the 10 starred clues and arrange them across and down in crossword fashion in the central 5x5 box. Due to software limitations, Across Lite and our other apps can only accept one solution, but two possibilities exist. The resulting five-letter word spelled out diagonally by the circles will answer the question asked at 23-, 34-, 91- and 107-Across."
The Riddle: IF A GIRAFFE HAS FOURTEEN / MORE THAN A WALRUS AND / A SQUIRREL HAS HALF AS / MANY AS A PIG WHAT ARE THEY?
The Answer: TEETH
Word of the Day: MALABAR Coast (67A: India's ___ Coast) —
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain slopes. The term "Malabar Coast" is also sometimes used in reference to the entire Indian coast from the western coast of Konkanto the tip of the subcontinent at Kanyakumari. (wikipedia)
• • •
ELOPERS and GIBERS and ASSYRO-, yuck. I find riddles (generally) corny and old-fashioned and not interesting/funny. I knew the answer to this one with just some of the first part of the riddle filled in. An animal has this many ... I mean, what the hell else is it going to be? I just wrote TEETH straight into the circles. Is it even a riddle? No, it's a fact. Or ... hell, I don't know. Anyway, it was easy—that part, anyway. Grid itself had some toughish moments. I wonder why the posted solving times at the NYT website are so high. Maybe people had trouble figuring out how to fill in that middle section (esp. since it can be done two ways but the applet accepts only one (!?!?!)). Whatever way I picked worked (TTOPS across instead of TTOPS down). I came in in the 13s, which would've made me #1 on the applet by several minutes, which makes noooo sense. Oh, looks like someone has posted a time in the 8s now. That's more like it.
TRINARY. I had TRINITY for a bit (33A: Three-part). Scarier still was the SE, where I came to a dead stop at the junction of 104A: J.F.K.'s historic ___ Flight Center (TWA) and 104D: Old satellite-launching rocket (THOR) / 105D: Gave out (WENT). No idea on the JFK thing. USA? NSA? TSA? As you can see, I really wanted "S" in that second spot, as SENT was the answer that I came up with for [Gave out]. I eventually took it out and replaced it with what I was sure was a better answer: LENT. Only after I realized -HOR really, really couldn't be anything but THOR did I put it together. SW was the last of the tricky spots. Somebody's *name* is AGAR? (111A: Journalist/writer Herbert). I inferred the "R" because even though I've never seen "ASSYRO-" anything, I know that "Assyria" is a place name, so ... done. No, wait. I also had HOP ON / TOY and then HOP ON / POM (!) in the NW before I figured out it was HOP UP / PUG (18A: "Climb onto Papa's lap!" / 4D: Lap dog breed).
- 39A: Joint czar with Peter I (IVAN V) — no idea. Russian name + Roman numeral.
- 85A: Tammany Hall problem (GRAFT) — I got this easily enough, but the two Downs coming off of it—ARGUING (86D: At it) and FRINGES (87D: Features of some cowboy shirts) took many crosses to see. I'd just call it FRINGE, no matter how many individual FRINGES hung off the damned shirt.
- 102A: Company whose logo has a diagonal red arrow (SUNOCO) — great, more "shapes in a corporate logo" cluing. No idea.
- 5D: Channel starting in 2003 (SPIKE TV) — clue should've added "and ending in 2006" (it's just "Spike" now).
- 6D: Tennis great Tommy (HAAS) — To my credit, I remembered him this time. To my discredit, I remembered him as HAHN.
- 102D: "Pursuit of the Graf ___" (1956 war film)) (SPEE) — My brain was having trouble deciding which S-EE this was, SNEE or SMEE ... turns out: neither! Forgot about SPEE! (as I wish constructors would—not the best fill).
P.S. Aargh, forgot to replug Peter Gordon's "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" project. He's an amazing constructor (and editor), and this project is less than $200 from being totally funded (but the deadline is 6pm *today*). All the info you need here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1900602681/fireball-newsweekly-crosswords