WEDNESDAY, October 28, 2009—Barry C. Silk

THEME: "Tie the Knot"—Four phrases begin with kinds of KNOTs

I didn't grasp the theme after I had the first two theme entries, but once GRANNY reared her head, I knew the puzzle had a knack for knots.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Life insurance clause (DOUBLE INDEMNITY). Is a double knot an official sailing/scouting/knot-tying sort of knot? Wait, it's the shoelace double bow I'm thinking of. Yes! There is probably a double knot. As for Double Indemnity, I've never seen the movie.

  • 25A: Hoedown activity (SQUARE DANCE). The square knot is, the dictionary tells me, a particular kind of double knot. But "double knot" is not an entry in that dictionary. You know what you might find at a hoedown or SQUARE DANCE? Bales of hay for decoration. PuzzleGirl knows a woman from her school committee who knows where to go to find hay bales, but she's not gonna do it. There was a memo to that effect. As Joan Crawford is to wire hangers, that committee member is to hay bales.
  • 43A: Apple variety (GRANNY SMITH). I used to love those apples but then I remembered that sweet is better than sour. A granny knot is a square knot that's gone awry so the rope may slip.
  • 54A: Inadvertent remark (Slip of the tongue). The slip knot can be undone by pulling on it. Don't use this to tie up your horse or your boat or your child, or you may lose them.
  • 62D: 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across begin with a kind of one (KNOT). Exactly where we like to find the Grand Unifying Answer, in the slot for the very last Across answer.
Alrighty, let's take a peek at some of the fill that is decidedly not crosswordese:
  • 15A: Known as "the Impaler," prince who inspired "Dracula" (VLAD). Halloween is nigh. How about a creepy Dracula movie clip? Here's the first 10 minutes of the 1931 classic with Bela Lugosi (and parts 2 through 8 contain the rest of the movie). Skip ahead to about the 5:45 mark if you want to get straight to the coffins.

  • 22A: Posh (RITZY). Aw, too bad I just embedded a video. It's too soon to have another one, so no Taco's "Puttin' on the Ritz" today.
  • 25D: Missouri city nickname (ST. JOE). I may or may not have been through there, years ago. Is there...is there hay there?
  • 26D: Fundamental particle (QUARK).
Yep, with XENO joining these other Scrabbly answers, we do have a pangram on our hands. That's the term for a crossword that contains all 26 letters.

How difficult was this puzzle? By my metric, it's as hard as an easy Wednesday NYT, and harder than the typical Tuesday. How about that? A Wednesday L.A. Times puzzle that lands in Wednesday NYT territory! I like this.

Crosswordese 101: Holy bear in the sky! Can it be? Have we really not covered URSA and its Latin plural URSAE by now? 60A: Bears, in Latin are URSAE. We see the singular form much, much more often. The constellation we call the Big Dipper is part of a larger star group called Ursa Major, or the Great Bear. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, includes the Little Dipper. Fill-in-the-blank clues that end with Minor or Major are usually URSA. Other popular clues include celestial bear, sky bear, and bear in the air.

Everything Else — 1A: Run smoothly (FLOW); 5A: Uzi filler (AMMO); 9A: Bench warmers aren't on it (A TEAM); 14A: Excellent (A-ONE); 15A: Known as "the Impaler," prince who inspired "Dracula" (VLAD); 16A: American competitor (DELTA); 17A: Life insurance clause (DOUBLE INDEMNITY); 20A: Printers' widths (EMS); 21A: A deadly sin (ENVY); 22A: Posh (RITZY); 23A: Neurologist's test, briefly (EEG); 24A: Publicizes (AIRS); 25A: Hoedown activity (SQUARE DANCE); 30A: Poor, as an excuse (SAD); 33A: Second most populous Oklahoma city (TULSA); 34A: Alan of "The West Wing" (ALDA); 35A: Marquis de __ (SADE); 36A: Youngest of the musical Jacksons (JANET); 37A: Golfer's concern (LIE); 38A: Mass of grass (CLUMP); 39A: Vocalized (ORAL); 40A: Defendant's answer (PLEA); 41A: Accountant's review (AUDIT); 42A: Barely squeeze (out) (EKE); 43A: Apple variety (GRANNY SMITH); 45A: Petting places (ZOOS); 46A: BMOC, for one (VIP); 47A: Washington neighbor (IDAHO); 49A: Yoked beasts (OXEN); 51A: Psychic's asset, for short (ESP); 54A: Inadvertent remark (SLIP OF THE TONGUE); 57A: Common news hr. (TEN PM); 58A: "I'd advise against it" ("DON'T"); 59A: Brand with a paw print in its logo (IAMS); 60A: Bears, in Latin (URSAE); 61A: Pump or loafer (SHOE); 62A: 17-, 25-, 43- and 54-Across begin with a kind of one (KNOT); 1D: Lose brightness (FADE); 2D: Weaver's machine (LOOM); 3D: "We're treating" (ONUS); 4D: Surfing area with no water, with "the" (WEB); 5D: Get even for (AVENGE); 6D: LXII x XVII (MLIV); 7D: Quite a few (MANY); 8D: Unusual (ODD); 9D: Regard highly (ADMIRE); 10D: Portable shelters (TENTS); 11D: Part of QE2: Abbr. (ELIZ.); 12D: ABA member (ATTY.); 13D: Perhaps will (MAY); 18D: Ogle (LEER AT); 19D: "Fear of Flying" author Jong (ERICA); 23D: Painter's stand (EASEL); 24D: Like llamas (ANDEAN); 25D: Missouri city nickname (ST. JOE); 26D: Fundamental particle (QUARK); 27D: Radii neighbors (ULNAE); 28D: City in which the State Fair of Texas is held annually (DALLAS); 29D: Out of this world (ALIEN); 30D: Riyadh resident (SAUDI); 31D: Fess up (ADMIT); 32D: Pool measurement (DEPTH); 35D: Batter's dry spell (SLUMP); 38D: Vegas attraction (CASINO); 40D: Evidence (PROOF); 43D: End a vacation, say (GO HOME); 44D: Mimieux of "The Time Machine" (YVETTE); 45D: Mothers of Invention musician (ZAPPA); 47D: Robert of "The Sopranos" (ILER); 48D: Cacophonies (DINS); 49D: "Whoops!" ("OH OH!"); 50D: Strange: Pref. (XENO-); 51D: Alaska's first governor (EGAN); 52D: Japanese wrestling (SUMO); 53D: Nuisance (PEST); 54D: Early Beatle Sutcliffe (STU); 55D: NFL six-pointers (TDS); 56D: Ending with beat (NIK).


BoyScout said...

ALWAYS tie your horse up with a slip knot - That way if the horse spooks you can untie the lead line before it gets hurt.

This puzzle just flowed for me, would have guessed on of my faster times, if I ever timed.

babe50 said...

Orange: Need bales of hay? Try a local Agway store, or any place that sells plants, trees, mulch, etc.
( and then buy an extra to put on the lady-who -will-not share-info 's front door step)
Thanks for the comments!


I always like Barry Silk’s puzzles and today’s was an AONE (14a).

Awwww, now I get it. I had no idea what the theme was until I read this blog.

Well today I learned about VLAD III, Prince of Wallachia, known as the Impaler.
Here’s a person that everyone should have as a neighbor… who knows, you may just run into one of his victums next Saturday night.
Wikipedia has a fascinating writeup on this guy.
[How do I embed this link under a caption?}

I was afraid to look up stuff about Marquis de SADE (35a).

Interesting cluing for 3d, ONUS.

Liked cacophonies (DINS) right next to Frank ZAPPA… how appropriate.

Didn’t like 6d, the Roman Numeral math problem. I’m still waiting for a constructor to hit us with some binary math.

50d is XENO for {Strange: pref.} I wonder how that relates to xenophobia. Do you suppose it’s fear of strangers? I always thought it had to do with foreigners.

Seemed like today it was a geography lesson: IDAHO, STJOE, SAUDI, TULSA

Now JOHNS NEVER HOME just needs to GOHOME (43d).
The problem with being retired is, you never know when you’re on vacation.

Gareth Bain said...

Solid theme, well-executed puzzle (any puzzle that has QUARK in it is just automatically cool!), but still felt like a standard Monday for me - I was under 4 minutes, and I've never done that on a NYT Tuesday...

"Xeno-" as a prefix can mean foreign or strange, there's not a big leap in meaning between the two. Check out http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50288470?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=xeno&first=1&max_to_show=10 for a slew of words with xeno- that you'll never need to know!

backbiter said...

"Double" and "square" had me thinking it was a math theme. Somehow I bypassed "granny" and it was "slip" that gave away the knots.

And now! Since I can't stand tacos I present you this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j02k9t4rP50

Grandpappy Steve said...

Pretty good Wednesday with some interesting fill. Loved seeing Zappa in the puzzle. Did you know that he has an asteroid named after him?

Didn't like double knot. All the other theme answers are actual knots but, to my knowledge, there is no such thing as a double knot. You can have a double surgeon's knot or a double windsor knot but not a double knot.

Anonymous said...

When wearing sneakers/trainers/athletic shoes one always uses a double knot so they don't come undone. I am assuming that's the reason for the clue, even if not in the dictionary.

Anonymous said...

You've got to see Double Indemnity! Great movie!

*David* said...

Decent puzzle liked seeing Robert ILER again, he used to be very popular in xwords when the Sopranos were on. YVETTE Mimieux is one I've seen a bit but can't place her, the last name gives it away once you got the YV.

The rest of the puzzle flowed really quickly other then where I put the NET versus the WEB. Is that a generational thing, I refer it to the NET nowadays maybe ten years ago I would have called it the WEB.

bullmktman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rex Parker said...

Did this in low 3's, which is decidedly faster than any NYT Wed. I've ever done.

There's a KNOT in the NYT today. Could Really have done w/o the ULNAE/URSAE double Latin plural thing today. Else, fine.


CrazyCat said...

@ PG you can get bales of hay or straw at a feed store. Just be very careful if you put them in your car or you could end up with bits of hay and straw in your car for the next two years. Live and learn......

I used to use a knot to tie up my horse, but I can't remember what it was called. It allowed you to pull one end to quickly release it, but if the horse pulled, it got tighter. Maybe it was a SLIP knot.

Nice Wednesday puzzle. However I was a bit irked by URSAE and ULNAE and ELIZ and ATTY next to each other. Liked QUARK even though I have no idea what it means. I will go look it up. Other than that it was AONE.
@ Johnsneverhome - I like your pumpkin head

shrub5 said...

@JOHNSNEVERHOME: Like your scary new avatar!

For some reason, I couldn't get the puzzle to print out for me today so I did it on line...and didn't like it. I prefer pen and paper. And then when I come here to comment, I miss my paper copy.

This puzzle was knot difficult -- the few clues I didn't know were easily filled by the crosses. EMS (Printer's widths) was new to me, and I'm not up on my early Alaskan governors (EGAN) or The Sopranos actors (ILER). Like the cute clue for ONUS.

@Orange: "Holy bear in the sky"??? LOL Thanks for the informative write-up.

chefbea said...

I always tied my kid's shoes with a double knot. There was no velcro back then.

Is it ok to have Aone and Ateam in the same puzzle??

Bohica said...

If this was a Wednesday NYT difficulty level I'm getting good! I'm thinking not. I do like the fact that it was a panagram, that cannot be easy to pull off, but this puzzle went down smooth as silk (pun intended).

Liked the cluing for ONUS and ZAPPA. Hate using a calculator for solving a crossword (my only help today).

bluebell said...

Worked straight through this one with only momentary hesitations. Agree that stopping to translate and work out Roman Numeral math problems is a pain. Is there someone who can do those without translating?

Cacophonies is a lovely word. Almost onomatopoetic.

*David* said...

My general principal with Roman numeral calculations fill is to fill them in through the crosses. I refuse to play that game unless I'm absolutely stuck.

Orange said...

You know what I forgot to mention? That I looked at the crossings for 45D and was thinking CAPRA would fit. Then I read the clue and said to myself, "Frank! Yep." and filled in CAPRA. Did not take me long to fix that with ZAPPA, but it amused me.

I must've been off kilter yesterday because nobody else seems to think this puzzle was Wednesday level. Maybe Frank Capra slowed me down more than I thought.

ddbmc said...

I think I mentioned Frank Zappa in the comments about 2 weeks ago? Included his musical piece, "Peaches in Regalia,". Not a big Zappa fan, per se, but he was always the Bad Boy of Rock And Roll years ago--now everyone seems to be!

I'm with JohnsNH et al,(nice Avatar!) on the Roman Numeral Math-not my fav.
"Double Indemnity" IS a great movie!

Re: Vlad-met up with a Russian gentleman on the ski lift many years back. A friend and I were taking a lesson and Vlad was in the class. My friend, who can talk to anyone, couldn't get a word out of him on the lift. When it was my turn to ride with him, he chatted a blue streak. My friend then dubbed me "Queen of Vladding" meaning I could get anyone to talk! We now refer to chatting up normally shy people as: Vladding.....
Wondered who did the music for the opening credits for "Dracula" and Wiki lists it as Philip Glass. Redone in 1998. Who d'thunk?

Hopefully, "Hayley Bales", who doesn't care for bales of hay, still likes to make hay!
@Sfingi--they're just my initials. Nothing special!

JIMMIE said...

Hay bales can be bound with twine or wire. If wire, watch out for the Joan Crawford hanger wire gal because balin' wire is just as good for that task.

Out here in CA, the bear is the OSO, the Spanish word. Could be clued as a Bear over Baja.

Nice puzzle & writeup. Loved the Dracula movie clip.

Van55 said...

NO NO NO NO!!!! No puzzle with a Roman numeral arithmetic problem is "fine." Sorry, gotta give this one an F.

JIMMIE said...

On second thought, a bear over Baja is still an URSA.

PlinyTheReally,ReallyYounger said...

Quick lession in Roman Numeral Math: NNII x JJII = KKIV (N, J, K ) random Roman Numerals (other than V). We all know I & V right? 2x2 = 4 Right? Let the M/L/C/D fill itself in later.


@crazycatlady, shrub5, and ddbmc
That avatar is not really a scary pumpkin, it's my swollen head!
From solving this "difficult" puzzle so fast. Sometimes CWs just click and I don't know why.

Some time ago I took a Seamanship Course and got certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. A few of their classes were devoted to Marlinspike (the art of knot tying). Had to learn about bowlines and half-hitches and about fifty others. I've forgotten all that because I don't sail much anymore, but I vaguely remember a knot that releases easily (like for horses), but had strong tugability. Can't remember its name though... anyone? anyone?

Orange said...

Roman arithmetic problems beat the YOTP clues hands down. YOTP is short for "year of the pope." Those horrible "year of ____'s papacy" or "year of Emperor ___'s reign" clues are the absolute worst. Very few solvers will know the span of years for a given pope or emperor. Heck, a great many of us wouldn't even be able to pin down "does it start with 100, 500, or 1000?"

The "sixth-century date" clues are only slightly more gettable, but they still leave you hanging for the final digits.

With the arithmetic, at least you've got a shot at knowing the answer for sure if you pull out a scratch pad. No searching Wikipedia for articles on popes or emperors required!


Cheer up, all you Roman Numeral haters... it could be worse if these constructors ever discover the binary or hexadecimal systems. Just for instance think of how simple 3 X 9 = 27 is.
But, in binary this would be 11 X 1001 = 11011.
Oh my!!!

ddbmc said...

Ok, ok, no more %#*XIVII&#& about Roman Numerals....@Orange is right, Pope numbers would be worse!

Liked XENO and QUARK, today, too.

Hoping for some "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" in the puzzles this week! Great Pumpkin was on ABC tv last night! (Did I say how much I loved Sunday's puzzle????)

GLowe said...

Just got in the door from DC. You (I) cannot find the LAT xword in the airport(s) I was in, so I did the Times (DNF - wonder if I'll remember it 5 weeks from now?) and the USA Today (DNF). Just googled the solution for USAT and man, I'm gonna kill me a contstructor.

- Can you say 'DC' like it's cool, or is it lame like 'Frisco'? Anyway I was there looking at a lot of marble buildings, and dodging 4 zillion kids on field-trips at various venues.

- Places worth going: Mt. Vernon, and Occoquan (sp?). Warning - I had no luck with Virginia wine, in spite of paying 30 bucks for a bottle of (one of them). Even the locals wouldn;t drink it ...

Sfingi said...

Monday on a Wednesday. Didn't notice theme. Lotsa names (as well as the aforementioned geography lesson - also Andean) - Last: Alda, Egan, Iler, Sade, Smith, Zappa; Erica, Janet, Yvette, Stu, Vlad. How about that CLUMP SLUMP?

Love anything math, even Roman numerals. Bring on the hexa, hexa, hexadecimal!

@Pliny - wow - love it. Will practice up.

Capra and ZAPPA - 2 great Sicilians.
I've never seen YOTP.
Be careful that bales of hay be dry. Could spontaneously combust. I've seen it happen.

@ddbmc Thanx. I might be a vladder. No one notices me - short fat old lady, so I sidle up to the quiet ones and it's often interesting.

David - Yvette Mimieux was in the 1960 Time Machine, a great movie which was recently on TV. She played Weena, an Eloi, all of whom were dumb as hammers.

@Bluebell - very cute; I'll quote. Mel Brooks said "shower" is onomatopoetic. The "ow" part is when the hot water "sh" part hits you.

@Punkinsneverhome - I had a friend (deceased) we called Punkin. He was 6" tall and had a large round head with light orange hair.
And, yes, how does one embed? I'd welcome a mini-lesson or an all-out Blogspot lesson. Anyone?

shrub5 said...

@John, Sfingi

Type into Google:
"How to put a clickable link into a message"

Select the first choice.

Follow directions given.

Be extremely careful with the code, spacing, punctuation; anything wrong and it won't work.

Orange said...

@GLowe: When it comes to the USA Today crossword, it's usually much safer to blame the editor than the constructor. I have seen solid themes destroyed in the editing process—and then published as mystifying crosswords with no discernible theme.

JIMMIE said...


Might be a single bowknot, which pulls to untie,but holds the horse tight

ddbmc said...

Peaches in Regalia

Vlad the Impaler Here you go, JohnsNH!

Shrubb5--I did it! Thanks


Wikipedia has a fascinating writeup on this guy VLAD.