SUNDAY, June 14, 2009—Will Nediger

Theme: "Watch the Birdie"—You can find the letters ONE literally under the letters PAR at ten different places in the grid. [Note: The circles were not printed on the grid. I put them in so you can see the theme answers more clearly.]

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Fortified (RAMPARTED). Ouch.
  • 23A: Cather novel set in Nebraska (O PIONEERS!). I remember from the last time a Willa Cather clue came up that O Pioneers! and My Ántonia have the same number of letters. Do you think she planned that?

  • 21A: Convey (IMPART).
  • 24A: __ Tunes (LOONEY).

  • 36A: Not up to snuff (SUBPAR).
  • 43A: Nary a soul (NOONE).

  • 44A: Peeled strip (PARING).
  • 50A: Year in Augustus' reign (ONE B.C.).

  • 61A: Cowpoke's pal (PARD).
  • 69A: Birdie that's hidden literally in 10 pairs of puzzle answers (ONE UNDER PAR).
  • 76A: Skye of "Say Anything ..." (IONE). CrossWorld's favorite 80s actress.

  • 88A: Like some stock (NO PAR).
  • 93A: Philosopher __ de Beauvoir (SIMONE).

  • 94A: Arctic garb (PARKA).
  • 99A: Tip of Massachusetts (O'NEILL). Tricky, tricky clue.

  • 115A: Ancient Athens rival (SPARTA).
  • 120A: Complexion aids (TONERS).

  • 117A: Californian shrubland (CHAPARRAL).
  • 121A: Time long past (BYGONE ERA).
Fabulous, fabulous theme today. Truly inspired. In golf, the score "one under par" is known as a "birdie." In this puzzle, we literally see ONE under PAR ten times in the grid. Ten times! And just in case you didn't notice—SYMMETRICAL! Amazing! Let's get our lesson out of the way and then maybe I'll use some more exclamation points.

Crosswordese 101: ARES is the Greek god of war. Not to be confused with EROS, the Greek god of love. Two totally different things. Obviously. In early-week puzzles, you'll typically get a straightforward clue like [Greek war god] or something equally as clever. Today the clue is [14D: Bellicose god]. Bellicose, of course, meaning ... um ... hold on. "Favoring or inclined to start quarrels or wars." So, yeah. ARES. From Wednesday on out, chances are you're going to get a lesson on ARES's family tree. Here are a few of his relatives:
  • Parents: Hera, Zeus
  • Children: Deimos, Phobos, Harmonia, Hippolyta
  • Half-siblings: Hercules, Athena, Hermes
  • Uncle: Demeter
  • Grandmother: Rhea
  • Lover: Aphrodite
Also remember that the Roman god of war is Mars. Sometimes ARES is clued as "Mars' Greek counterpart."

Back to this awesome theme! It's awesome! Okay, I'll stop now with the exclamation points. But really, I'm blown away. This is the kind of theme I might on my very best day think of but then decide after about ten minutes that it would be impossible to execute. Luckily, Will Nediger isn't as lazy as I am. Or maybe he's just smarter. Whatever. He hit on a great theme and executed it very impressively. Of course the theme places some heavy restrictions on the grid, so you're bound to see some clunkers. Let's just get them out of the way.

  • 103A: Dig discoveries: Var. (SHERDS). I really hate to see "Var." in my puzzle. To me, it means that the answer is going to be a made-up word that's very similar to a real word. And in this puzzle, we've got two of them. [81D: Like pumice: Var.] is POROSE.
  • 105A: Ill. metropolis (CHI.). That's an ugly, ugly abbreviation for Chicago. I mean, I can't think of any other abbreviation for Chicago, but why do you need one? Speaking of abbreviations, 9D: MS. fixers (EDS.) hurts a little. MS = manuscripts and EDS. = editors. And that pain is compounded by the inclusion of 57A: Further shorten, maybe (RE-EDIT). Owie!
  • 124A: Didn't worry a bit (SLEPT EASY). Rest easy. That's the phrase. Rest easy. Then there's 7D: Far from frenzied (AT EASE), which is a completely legitimate phrase, but I don't like seeing both easy and ease in the same puzzle.
  • 38D: Attorney's specialty (LIBEL LAW). Well, this would be the specialty of a certain type of lawyer. A libel lawyer maybe? They probably have those in L.A.
  • 47D: Cassandra, for one (SEERESS). Seer is bad enough, but tacking on the "feminine" ending? Let's just say I'm not a fan of the "feminine" ending. The other big Wheel of Fortune Letter pile-up is at 87D: Doctor, at times (REFERRER).
  • 48D: Private pupil (TUTEE). I think this word is legitimate, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
  • 63D: Three letters forming a single sound (TRIGRAPH). Any linguists out there? I bet this one was easy for you.
  • 65D: Obnoxious sort, in slang (CREEPO). Your mission is to use this word today in a normal conversation.
Okay, now that that's out of the way. Did I mention that I love this theme?! What else can we talk about?

  • 26A: Mind the store (VEND). I had tend at first which really caused some problems up there in the NW corner.
  • 31A: Bev Bevan's band, briefly (ELO). I feel like I let you down by not telling you all the band members when I covered ELO in a recent Crosswordese 101 lesson. I apologize.
  • 38A: Pickup trick (LINE). Could not figure out what this clue was going for. A trick that a pickup truck does? Like a wheelie or something? No, that's a bike.
  • 47A: Chilling order? (SEDATIVE). I don't really get this one. Does this mean chill as in calm down? Okay, that makes sense. I guess when I think sedative my mind goes more toward the anesthesia end of the spectrum, which is on a whole different plain than "chilling."
  • 51A: Three-part European union (BENELUX). Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg. I looked that one up for you. It's just one of the services I offer.
  • 55A: HI and OK (STS.). Sorry to any Canadians out there. We do love our postal abbreviations here in the United States! These two are Hawaii and Oklahoma.
  • 60A: "Hud" Oscar winner (NEAL). Patricia Neal won the Best Actress Oscar for this 1963 movie. Whenever I see "Hud" I always think of "The Hudsucker Proxy," another Paul Newman movie. But "Hud" is the story of a self-centered, modern-day cowboy and "The Hudsucker Proxy" is a 1994 screwball comedy fantasy film written, produced and directed by, hey! The COEN Brothers! 113A: Either director of "No Country for Old Men" (COEN).
  • 86A: Boo Boo, in Barcelona? (OSO). Yogi Bear's sidekick, Boo Boo? That's how I read it anyway. Oso is Spanish for bear.
  • 89A: Net grazers (LETS). This is a tennis reference. A served ball that grazes the net on its way to the other side is called a let. Or a do-over. Depends on how old you are and how seriously you take the game.
  • 96A: Small wrapper? (ELF). Not a small piece of paper that a candy is wrapped in, but a small person who wraps.
  • 98A: Hit the sauce (TOPE). Oh man. I can't believe I missed this one for Crosswordese 101. Some other time for sure.
  • 122A: Clunkhead (JERK). If you're not able to use creepo today, maybe you'll have better luck with clunkhead.
  • 13D: One of two Crayola colors with the shortest name (TAN). The other is ... red? Just a guess.
  • 35D: LeBron James, e.g., briefly (CAV). Love him. His nickname is "The King," you know.
  • 37D: Cabs on the table (REDS). Ooh, I just got this now. It's wine.
  • 61D: Pope's work (POEMS). Not the Pope, but Alexander Pope.
  • 66D: Jazzman Woody (HERMAN). A gimme for me. He was one of the two big jazz guys that came and performed at our high school. The other was Maynard Ferguson. This was like a hundred years ago. Hey! This song kinda goes along with the theme:

  • 83D: Classic Chunky brand (ALPO). I was thinking peanut butter and I have to say, I had a very strong physical reaction when I realized the clue was talking about dog food instead.
  • 111D: Doo-wop group anchor (BASS). Let's see if I can find some cool doo-wop. This should work:

Everything Else — 1A: Hardly a knockout (PLAIN JANE); 10A: Imported roadsters (MIATAS); 16A: Schools of thought (ISMS); 22A: Via, to Burns (THRO'); 25A: Con victims (SAPS); 27A: Large currency unit? (WAD); 28A: Ancient France (GAUL); 29A: Bagel flavoring (SESAME); 32A: "The Life Aquatic with Steve __": Bill Murray film (ZISSOU); 34A: Dr. Mom's remedy (TLC); 39A: "Great Expectations" hero (PIP); 41A: Iowa's state tree (OAK); 49A: "__ better not" (YOU'D); 52A: Houston-to-Dallas dir. (NNW); 56A: "Come Back, Little Sheba" playwright (INGE). 58A: Cybercommerce (E-TAIL); 62A: Brings home (NETS); 64A: Brno-born people (CZECHS); 68A: Starbucks order (TALL); 72A: Priceless? (FREE); 73A: Scandalous stuff (SLEAZE); 75A: Plant reproduction prefix (SPOR-); 77A: Stretch (TERM); 78A: Development sites (WOMBS); 80A: Kid's shooter (POP GUN); 82A: Burlap source (HEMP); 83A: Crunch targets (ABS); 87A: Sorrow (REMORSE); 91A: Judgment Day hymn (DIES IRAE); 97A: One whose tickets are often expensive (COP); 101A: Big cat sign (LEO); 108A: Most of Uruguay (PAMPAS); 110A: Hayseed (RUBE); 112A: Aunt, in Uruguay (TÍA); 114A: Capitale south of San Marino (ROMA); 119A: They may be pale (ALES); 123A: Knockouts attract them (STARES); 1D: Leave no doubt (PROVE); 2D: Carnation location (LAPEL); 3D: __ acid (AMINO); 4D: Nano or shuffle (IPOD); 5D: Pita look-alike (NAN); 6D: TV shooting victim of 3/21/1980 (J.R. EWING); 8D: Geeky types (NERDS); 10D: "__ 18" (Uris novel) (MILA); 11D: "Too rich for my blood" (I'M OUT); 12D: Lunar Module test mission (APOLLO IX); 15D: Eyelid sores (STYES); 16D: Delivery notice? (IT'S A BOY); 17D: Garnier products (SHAMPOOS); 18D: Monocled food mascot (MR. PEANUT); 19D: 2006 Rihanna hit (SOS); 28D: Showed where to go (GUIDED); 30D: Baltimore daily (SUN); 32D: Mineral in oysters (ZINC); 33D: Bared one's soul (OPENED UP); 40D: The same either way (PALINDROMIC); 42D: Lane partner (KENT); 44D: APB part (POINTS); 45D: Temper (ANNEAL); 46D: Lavishly entertain (REGALE); 51D: Breakfast staple (BRAN); 53D: Abalone product (NACRE); 54D: Virtuoso (WIZ); 58D: Adopt, as a cause (ESPOUSE); 59D: Moved out (LEFT HOME); 67D: Throughout, in music (SEMPRE); 70D: Casual rebuffs (NOPES); 71D: Either of two Henry VIII wives (ANNE); 74D: Moat site (ZOO); 79D: Presage (BODE); 84D: Ectomorph (BEAN POLE); 85D: Newlyweds' car decoration (STREAMER); 88D: Barely beats (NIPS); 90D: Holdup cover-up (SKI MASK); 92D: Peaked (ILL); 93D: Fountain drink (SODA POP); 95D: High point of a European vacation? (ALP); 98D: Army medic's system (TRIAGE); 100D: Doesn't die out (LASTS); 102D: Eccentric (OUTRE); 104D: Type of alcohol (ETHYL); 105D: Jazz pianist Chick (COREA); 106D: Gets wind of (HEARS); 107D: Driller's filling (INLAY); 109D: Obsession for Lady Macbeth (SPOT); 113D: Hudson Bay tribe (CREE); 114D: British rule in India (RAJ); 116D: TV wheel spinner's purchase (AN A); 117D: "Criminal Minds" network (CBS); 118D: Tiny army member (ANT).


Lemonade714 said...

While I know CHI can be used as part of CHI TOWN (pronounced shy), why not use the Chinese source of energy, or TAI ____. While I thought the puzzle was really well crafted, the variants were just lazy, especially SHERD, which could have been SHARD and the cross, Mediterranean Airport ATH.

Orange said...

If you're looking for discussion of today's Calendar puzzle and it's a Merl Reagle crossword called "This Bud's for You," visit Diary of a Crossword Fiend. If you haven't done today's other puzzles (including the NYT and Merl's Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle), then squint your eyes as you scroll down to avoid spoilers.

Crockett1947 said...

What an amazing puzzle!!!!!! !!!

The LET is a "Net grazer" that lands in a legal service area. If the ball grazes the net and is either long or out to the sides, then it's a fault. Not my fault!!!!!

Did I mention I loved this puzzle?!!!!!

Will Nediger said...

Glad you liked the theme, PuzzleGirl! Full disclosure: the theme's been done before, in David J. Kahn's 5/25/2003 NYT puzzle, which was a 23 by 23 with 18(!) birdies, though they weren't symmetrically placed. But David and I took totally different approaches to the construction, so I figured no one would mind seeing the theme again.

Eri c said...

Great puzzle. Thoroughly enjoyed the mix of difficulty. Did not see the theme until really late. Nice write-up PG.

jeff in chicago said...

Loved this puzzle. Preferred it to today's NYT. Brilliant construction. Thanks, Will!

@PG: Maynard Ferguson played at my high school, too! I was in my school's jazz band (piano) and was a huge Ferguson fan. I was addicted to the "Primal Scream" album. My other jazz highlight: My school hosted a festival every year for the area high school jazz bands. The bands were judged. We usually had two local musicians and one "famous" one. My senior year the famous one was Ed Shaughnessy, of the Tonight Show band during the Carson years. At the end of the festival he sat in on drums with our jazz band. I got to play with Ed Shaughnessy! It was very cool.

Denise said...

I love "The Duke of Earl." Did anyone else do "the stroll"?

Fun puzzle -- I am entering the world of golf (vocabulary, not as a player) through my son-in-law.

SHERD did NOT work for me.

Otherwise. Terrific.

Anonymous said...

"9D: MS. fixers (EDS.) hurts a little. MS = manuscripts and EDS. = editors."
Actually, MS refers to Gloria Steinem's MS magazine.

Anonymous said...

Some of the answers to the clues seemed to be made up. I really didn't get the theme at all.

Orange said...

No way, Anonymous 10:41. The magazine is Ms., no capital S. One could argue that a large or particularly messed up manuscript could require the work of multiple editors to ready it for publication.

PuzzleGirl, when I'm writing my address on a form with teeny spaces, I go with "Chgo." as my default abbreviation. But everyone here knows "Chi-town" as a nickname for the city, and some people refer to the White Sox as the ChiSox (vs. the BoSox). Granted, the Greek letter chi and the Chinese vital source chi (also spelled qi) are unabbreviated alternatives for the CHI clue, and usually one prefers to avoid the abbrev.

Gary Lowe said...

I always wonder if the locals wince at references such as "Chi-town", or "Big Apple".
I have several friends in the Bay area who absolutely gag whenever someone says "Frisco".

Gary Lowe said...

@Lemonade: SHERD to SHARD makes the cross ATHYL, not ATH, and even if it did I don't think the puzzle would have benefitted from it.
SHERD is (quasi) legit, and I guess within reason for this very good construction accomplishment.

Patticakes said...

I think 38A refers to the "line" that guys use to "pickup" girls at a singles bar.

Also, for 47A think "chill out" and it makes sense.

Lemonade714 said...

Sorry, I was so impressed with the puzzle construction and symmetry of all of the theme related answers, I just did not like sherd. I have spoken to my arhaeology major son, and he informed me it was the word of preference among the British archaeology community.

mac said...

I liked this puzzle, printed it out and had a good time with it.

@pg: thanks for the family tree - it's helpful, I'll remember those names.

I also think MS magazine was meant in that clue.
Creepo is a weird answer, never heard of it. 38A Pick-up.... I have to admit I read pick-up truck. Made the answer tough, but I'm not sure I understand this line.

No idea about Boo Boo and oso, and I don't like LeBron James anymore after he turned out to be such a bad sport, not shaking hands with the team that beat him.

Looove the Coen brothers, especially after seeing their play "Offices" a couple of weeks ago; very smooth and fast and a lot of fun.

Joon said...

brilliant puzzle! my world has been rocked.

Lemonade714 said...

Puzzle Girl:
I also loved the picture of Tootie, next to TUTEE, very entertaining thought...

moops said...

I also read pickup truck and never recovered from it! Chi was obvious to anyone who watches sports as three letter abbreviations for cities is the norm. 'Diesirae' was a total killer, religious clues are simply dead ends for those of us who aren't brainwashed by the church.

And at least this Canadian figured out the HI and OK quickly enough. Phew.

Great puzzle!

Orange said...

Moops, DIES IRAE is two words and most solvers know it because [Dies ___]/IRAE is standard crosswordese. I'm not religious either, but I've gotten to know the various books-of-the-Bible clues after seeing them so much.

Charlie said...

I agree with all, a very nice theme and some very tough fill that forced more out-of-the-box thinking than normal.

I struggled with quite a bit of the obscure fill which, in turn, threw me off my game and affected my flexibility of thought.

First time in a while that I left such a large chunk of a Sunday puzzle unsolved (about 10%). I normally would obsess over it more, but I have a busy week ahead.

I'll be keeping an eye out for future Nediger offerings and will be sure to bring my A game and to don my red shirt (a la Tiger Woods on Sundays) next time.

JaJaJoe said...

Upon having __NE for 38A Pickup trick, I thought of JANE as like the female gender of a john, AKA trick.-/

Birdie, birdie, in the sky,
dropped some whitewash in my eye;
I'm not angry, I won't cry,
I'm just happy cows don't fly.

Dolf said...

June 14, 2009 "Watch the Birdie". Truly inspired. Ran to show my wife the puzzle's remarkable construction. Finally looked Will Nediger up today just to him WOW!. I do the Sunday NY Times each week -- so nice to see it eclipsed by my local Florida Times-Union offering.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the answer to
5 down. Pita look-alike + nan?

Orange said...

Nan is an Indian bread that's flat and roundish, like pita. It's handy for sopping up tasty curry sauces.