T H U R S D A Y   September 2, 2010
Dan Naddor

Theme: Palindromes — Pairs of answers end in 'em.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *Dense fabrics (DOUBLE KNITS).
  • 60A: *More than just grumble (RAISE A STINK).

  • 20A: *Ready to blow? (OVER-STRESSED).
  • 54A: *"Top Chef" spin-off involving competitive baking (JUST DESSERTS).

  • 27A: *It'll keep your hat on (CHIN STRAP).
  • 44A: *Carquest stock (AUTO PARTS).

  • 36A: Three pairs of them end the answers to starred clues (PALINDROMES).
Okay, that's pretty cute. DOUBLE KNITS is a little bland but it's paired with RAISE A STINK which is awesome. Nothing jumped out at me as very flashy, or even "Naddor-ish," about this grid but it didn't give me any big problems, which I guess is about what we should expect until at least Friday in the L.A. Times.

  • 1A: Yankees' div. (A.L. EAST). In baseball, there's the American League and the National League. And each league is divided into two regions, East and West. I can never remember which team is in which league so I just get the first letter from the cross.
  • 11A: Jenny or jack (ASS). Heh.
  • 25A: Aborigines of Hokkaido (AINU). Completely unknown to me. I don't even know what Hokkaido is. Is this something I should know?
  • 32A: Cat tail motion (SWITCH). Started with "twitch." An easy fix.
  • 50A: Bingo call (B TEN). Here's the thing. Bingo only goes up to a certain number although I can't remember exactly what that number is right now. I want to say 80 or 80-something. In crosswords, we're never going to see a Bingo answers that's anywhere but the B column because in the other columns the spelled-out numbers are too long. With a four-letter answer, you know you're looking for B ONE, B TWO, or B TEN, and you just have to check the crosses.
  • 51A: Kettle pair (MA AND PA). With the ANDPA in place I entered GRANDPA before I looked at the clue and wondered how the heck a GRANDPA could be a pair and what it had to do with a kettle.
  • 65A: Ain't right? (ISN'T). If this is the first time you've seen this clue, you were probably a little confused. You'll see it again, though, so remember it for next time! (ISN'T is the right (i.e., correct) way of saying "ain't.")
  • 1D: Not easy, to a Cockney? ('ARD). Unless it's part of the theme, I think using "Cockney" words generally just indicates desperation.
  • 7D: Six-pack units (CANS). Love how this is paired with 22D: Six-pack units (ABS).
  • 9D: Czech hockey player Nedved (PETR). Not a hockey fan but I do know a couple hockey players' names from crosswords. But I've never heard of this guy.
  • 11D: Music to a captain's ears (AYE SIR). Tried AYE AYE first. Wouldn't that be a better answer?
  • 12D: Star sometimes seen opposite Venus? (SERENA). Timely clue with the U.S. Open happening right now.
  • 29D: Factory outlet tag abbr. (IRR.). An item of clothing with a flaw in it is "irregular" and might end up in the outlet store for quick sale.
  • 37D: Where the Lofoten Isl. are (NOR.). Whoa. I need to know more about NORway than just Oslo and the Kon-Tiki? Cripes.
  • 42D: Skip over water, as stones (DAP). Learned this from crosswords.
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 19A: Prior to, to Prior (ERE).
  • 48D: Hook's right hand (SMEE).
  • 58D: Grounded jets: Abbr. (SST'S).
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Everything Else — 7A: Deal (COPE); 14A: Alter, as boundaries (REDRAW); 15A: Slain shepherd (ABEL); 16A: "Fer sher" ("YEP"); 22A: Fettuccine follower (ALFREDO); 26A: Compress, in a way (BALE); 35A: Specialty (AREA); 40A: Lots (A TON); 41A: Area 51 location (NEVADA); 49A: 15-Across's dad (ADAM); 59A: www address (URL); 64A: Messenger letters? (RNA); 66A: Have suspicions about (BE ONTO); 67A: One hairpin turn after another (ESS); 68A: Cribbage markers (PEGS); 69A: Quixote's squire __ Panza (SANCHO); 2D: MGM mascot (LEO); 3D: 59-Across ending (EDU); 4D: Botanical gardens (ARBORETA); 5D: Soother (SALVE); 6D: Rough wool cloth (TWEED); 8D: Notice with a bio, often (OBIT); 10D: Threat ender (ELSE); 13D: Stepped on it (SPED UP); 18D: McDonald's founder (KROC); 21D: Gathered dust (SAT); 23D: Postgraduate study (LAW); 24D: Emma Peel's hair style (FLIP); 28D: "I wish I __ seen that" (HADN'T); 30D: Vegas gas (NEON); 31D: Identical (SAME); 33D: Show enjoyment at a show (CLAP); 34D: __ high note (HIT A); 38D: Northwestern University city (EVANSTON); 39D: Teen safety org. (SADD); 43D: Doc bloc (AMA); 44D: Officially retract (ABJURE); 45D: One-way street no-nos (U-TURNS); 46D: Magnetic measures (TESLAS); 47D: Hudson Bay prov. (ONT.); 52D: Saudis, usually (ARABS); 53D: On the Aegean (AT SEA); 55D: Water waster (DRIP); 56D: Slack off (EASE); 57D: Participate in karaoke (SING); 61D: Ltd. relative (INC.); 62D: Nonspecific extreme (NTH); 63D: "Koochie-__!" (KOO).


Van55 said...

AINU has appeard in the NYTimes xword 13 times since 1993. http://www.xwordinfo.com/Finder I know it ONLY from crosswords and it was a gimme for me.

Agree that 'ARD is lazy. So is SSTS. Not keen on EDU, URL, ESS, RNA, BTEN and ATON. Otherwise the grid seems pretty clean and crisp. The theme works okay as well.

hazel said...

The Twins and The Reds will be very disappointed to learn that their (Central) Divisions are no longer part of Major League baseball - as it looks like they may be both headed for the post season!!

@PG, and you were sounding so authoritative about baseball's league structure....

The puzzle was pleasant enough, although it didn't wow me. Liked MAANDPA and DAP. I love to DAP.

Go Braves!

Anonymous said...

ma and pa kettle were movie characters in old movies ma kettle I believe was marjorie Main can't recall pa's name

Zeke said...

Except that they're not palindromes. Palindromes read the same backwards and forwards (madam I'm adam). STINK is not a palindrome for KNITS. They are two different words.

Eric said...

EDU is the end of a domain. "End of a URL" would be a good clue for, say, HTM or HTML. Just sayin'.

@PG: Hokkaido is the large island in the north of Japan. (The main island, containing Tokyo et al., is called Honshu). I guess Japan's aboriginals were pushed to the periphery (the Ainu, to Hokkaido) the same way as were Britain's (the Celts, to Scotland, Wales, and Cornwall).

@JNH: Yay, 4D!

Disliked ARD, same as everyone else.

Liked "Star sometimes seen opposite Venus?" for SERENA ... but loved "Cat tail motion" as a clue for SWITCH!

SADD and DAP: New ones on me!

Anonymous said...

I'm new to crosswords. Can someone explain "NTH"? (Nonspecific extreme)

Always here said...

@Anon 8:41 - Taking something to the NTH degree means taking it to the extreme, without specifying what that extreme is.

Sfingi said...

I Loved this one! Palindromes, of which I have several books. In bocce, the little ball is the palin/palina, from the same root, starts the game. And a certain politician can keep her jenny-ass hands off it.

@Zeke - I disagree. You can have word palindromes and sentence palindromes, even number palindromes like 1991 or 2002 (when is the next?). There are tons of all.

@Eric - SADD = Students against Drunk Driving, like MADD, Mothers against Drunk Driving.
I never heard of DAP. I say skip.

@Anon841 - as in "to the NTH degree," say when used in math, with the summation symbol, the n on the top is the upper limit of the index.Nth

The Ainu are said to have recent Caucasian blood via Russia. In any case, the are hairier, have full beards, etc. Their language, almost gone, is a mystery. They have issues with prejudice in Japan.

BALage, silage and haylage - what CW opportunities!

Joon said...

the nomenclature is a little bit tricky. i wouldn't call STRESSED and DESSERTS palindromes; i'd call them semordnilaps. but "stressed desserts" is a palindrome, so i think the grid is okay with PALINDROMES as the "reveal" entry, but the clue shouldn't say "pairs" of palindromes, because there are three (implicit) palindromes, not three pairs of them.

speaking of the grid, i found it to be extremely naddoresque! who else ever puts seven long theme answers into a 15x15, including two stacked pairs? nobody, that's who. sure, there are some small compromises in the fill. ARD, for one (usually clued as something like {Dull finish?}, which is only slightly better than today's clue). BE ONTO is another answer i really dislike; i generally frown on BE+adjective as a "crossworthy" phrase. but in the big picture, this is a great grid. it's almost the platonic ideal of a naddor puzzle. it may not jump out at you until you think about it, but it's absolutely amazing how much theme he consistently manages to squeeze into a grid. (and *sigh*, i'm going to have to stop using the present tense.) this theme idea would have been a lot less interesting with only two pairs.

AINU are indeed aboriginal people of japan. i guess many people think of this as crosswordese (3 vowels and an N, so yes, it'll come up again), but i certainly learned about them before i ever started doing crosswords. if you want to get all depressed, read about the ugly history of the relationships between the wajin (ethnic japanese) and the ainu here. believe it or not, the japanese government officially recognized the ainu people as an indigenous culture and discouraged the continuation of centuries of discrimination against them. when did this recognition come? in 2008. i kid you not. civil rights is not history; it's current events.

you'll hopefully never seen B-ONE clued as a bingo call instead of just BONE. or for that matter B-TWO, since the B-2 bomber and vitamin B2 are actual things that people know about, instead of just an arbitrary letter+number. so {Bingo call} in four letters is pretty much always B-TEN.

Tinbeni said...

Thursday and it's a Dan Naddor.
What more could I ask for?

Nice impressive theme. FUN to solve.

TESLA'S, our new best buddy. How did constructor's make these puzzles before, without him?

A few write-overs:
Had YUP at 16A,"Fer sher" and was running a star-chart through my brain before I finally hit the noggin with that V-8 can.
Its YEP and SERENA, duh!

To DAP is to have a great time.
The North American Stone Skipping Association recognizes 38 skips by Jerdone McGhee as the record.
The current claim for the Guinness World Records says it's 40 skips.
But the NASSA says it can't verify that tape.
NONE of the footage NASSA has seen verifies the number of skips claimed. (This will probably be tied up in the courts ... for years).
All I know is when skipping stones I will do nothing to get the NASSA on my ASS.


Well if it weren't that this was a Naddor puzzle and that the PALINDROME theme wasn't so darn clever, I probably would RAISE A STINK over all the crappy fill: SSTS, NTH, ERE, etc. But, we give constructors a certain dispensation whenever they give us something really cool. Today was just such a day. I can't say that it was all that 'ARD, but there were a few new words for me just to cause some snags: PETR Nedved, SANCHO Panza, and AINU.
Of course there were two outstanding words: EVANSTON and ARBORETA. In 1957, I was an undergrad student at Northwestern University, which is in EVANSTON, Illinois (Go Wildcats!!!) and I currently work at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois (the finest of all ARBORETA). Not only that, but Dan put these words on diagonal symmetry within in the grid.

Now for my own pun-of-the-day:
I think a PALIN DROME should be clued as "a stadium where Sarah orates".

Slithering out, I ABJURE!


I can't ask Dan this question, but maybe Joon can speak to this---
Solvers like to keep track of their solving times as a measure of how difficult a puzzle is. Do constructors also keep track of the times it takes to construct a grid and compose the clues?

I'm sure Dan spent quite a lot of time to create this most ingenious puzzle.

This one will surely go into my personal compendium of the BEST-PUZZLES-OF-THE-DECADE.

Eric said...

@JNH: Yeah, and the audience are PALIN DRONES :-)

Joon said...

never heard of anybody doing that. i certainly don't, and i don't see a reason to. with solving, once you get to a certain level, you're pretty much always finishing the puzzle perfectly, and then the only other thing that you can measure your improvement by is how fast you can do it. with constructing, the goal over time is to make better puzzles, not to make them faster.

CrazyCatLady said...

I thought this was a very ambitious grid. I also wondered about the PALINDROME theme since I thought a palindrome was a mirror word such as mom, bob, Abba, etc. But what the heck, I thought it was a lot of fun. Had a little problem with SERENA crossing AINU - both new words for me. SERENA/Venus - How could I have missed that? Also had a problem at ABJURE and BTEN. I think that's the first bingo clue I've encountered in my short CW career. My cat likes to SWITCH his tail across my keyboard. He's such a helper. Loved ABORETA, NEVADA, EVANSTON and Emma Peel's FLIP. BE ON TO and ESS were not so great. This was another Dan Naddor hit IMHO.
@Joon: thanks for the palindrome info - very interesting.
@Tinbeni:DAP/ NASSA - hilarious! Who knew?

choirwriter said...

ACK! As fond as I am of Nador puzzles, this one was a huge clunker, because the "palindrome" theme answers were NOT palindromes. Plain and simple, a palindrome reads the same forwards as backwards. It bugged me enough that it took the joy out of solving this puzzle. I do a word-play unit with my language arts students, and they would be quite perplexed by this. After spending time with "Go hang a salami; I'm a lasagna hog," and "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama," this puzzle would be a big let-down. (You know how, when a famous singer passes away, their producers find songs they recorded but hadn't released yet? And those songs get released in memory of said artist, and you realize WHY they didn't release them previously? Perhaps the same is true of beloved CW constructors who left us far too soon. Some things should remain unpublished.)

@Tinbeni - there is actually a stone skipping association? Wow.

Sfingi said...

@Joon - the Japanese seem to have a problem with xenophobia. Americans who go there to teach are never quite accepted. The Japanese also have had a problem mentioning that they started the war with us, even in textbooks.

@Tinbeni - I've noticed TESLA popping up everywhere. Perhaps his ideas are being re-examined.

To defend Naddor (may he rest in peace), 36A said the palindromes only end the three answers and do not include the entire answers.

Tinbeni said...

There is an Association for probably anything an American can think of.

For instance, I was going to comment that there probably is a Tiddlywinks group. A few clicks and YEP:
North American Tiddlywinks Association (NATA) appeared.
(Please note, I'm NOT messin' with THEM either).

KNITS backwards of STINK
PARTS backwards of STRAP
They look OK to me.

Wanda Woman said...

Decloaking briefly to add:

Messenger letters? = RNA

were total Homer DOH! moments for me.

Thanks for your write-ups, PG and to all of you who comment. I've been reading all y'all for several months now and enjoyed your viewpoints.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Tinbeni - That makes sense. I think the clue 3 pairs of them (palindromes) is what thew some of us off. Actually there are only 3 palindromes KNITSSTINK, PARTSSTRAP and STRESSEDDESSERTS. But, none of those are really words. However there are 3 pairs of anagrams, right ? Maybe my brain is on hiatus today.

@Wanda - me too about SERENA/Venus. I actually had SERIUS in there first and was fixated on stars and planets. I was totally tricked and to think the U.S. Open is starting up! Total D'oh! American Stone Skipping Association here I come.

Captcha: epill - I think I need to take one.

choirwriter said...

@tinbeni - the strangest one I've seen in a while is the "Association of Free Range Eggplants and Dodecahedrons." Mmm hmm.

Zeke said...

Actually, there are six palindromes. As each pair of matched words is the other spelled backwards, either can be the lead word in the phrase, e.g. KNITS STINK or STINK KNITS. The problem is, none of these are anything like phrases, just pairs of words spelled backwards, with the resulting palindrome inevitable. That is, unless the National Association of Sweater Haters (NASH) has as its motto KNITS STINK!.
For this to work well, the resultant palindrome really should be something, a phrase actually uttered by someone in the course of human existance, which I don't think was the case here. The NYTimes today had 36 such "palindromes" built in, none of them any less interesting that STINK KNITS

SethG said...

AMA and ERE are palindromes. The others? What Joon said.

HUTCH said...

Eric: regarding the Celts, you have omitted the Picts!