03.02 Wed

March 2, 2011
Dan Naddor

Theme: Nine-letter, one-syllable words

Theme answers:

  • 23A: *Poker holdings (STRAIGHTS).
  • 31A: *Subdued (SQUELCHED).
  • 38A: *Prepared to jog (STRETCHED).
  • 45A: *Stained (SPLOTCHED).
  • 11D: *Pocketed the cue ball (SCRATCHED).
  • 30D: *Fortes (STRENGTHS).
  • 17A: Feature of the answers to starred clues (NINE LETTERS).
  • 55A: Feature of the answers to starred clues (ONE SYLLABLE).
Whoa. That's a lotta theme in that there grid. I can't say I'm super excited about this puzzle. The theme idea is pretty cute, but I have a couple issues with it. First, STRAIGHTS and STRENGTHS are kind of the odd men out here. Because they're both different than the rest of the theme answers, I wish they had been placed symmetrically in the grid. Which brings me to my second point. There is so much theme in this puzzle, that the fill is definitely compromised. The biggest offenders are the abbreviations. Look at that center section! CCS, SCH, QUE and USD. As if it's not bad enough to have all those abbreviations right next to each other, they're all crossing the hideous ACCUSAL.

There are a few things I like about this grid. For example a couple of the long downs are pretty cool: like WHO'S THERE and EAST-SIDER. The grid is fairly Scrabbly, or maybe it just looks that way because of all the Qs. No, we've got a K, a W, and a V lurking down in the southern hemisphere, so that counts. NOTCH, SKEIN, and POSSE are all colorful entries. I'd probably add MALLRAT to that list as well. Overall, though, I've just gotta believe that Dan would have created a much smoother grid if he had cut back on the theme density.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 34A: First N.L. 500 home run club member (OTT).
  • 37A: "__ pales in Heaven the morning star": Lowell (ERE).
  • 51A: Ship of Greek myth (ARGO).
  • 57A: Morse unit (DAH).
  • 5D: Sushi fish (EEL).
  • 10D: One-third of ninety? (ENS).
  • 18D: ER tests (ECG'S).
  • 55D: John Lennon Museum founder (ONO).
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Everything Else 1A: Sierra Nevada resort (TAHOE); 6A: Like some checking accounts (NO-FEE); 11A: Scand. land (SWE.); 14A: Observe Yom Kippur (ATONE); 15A: Neptune's realm (OCEAN); 16A: When repeated, a Latin dance (CHA); 19A: Children's author/illustrator Asquith (ROS); 20A: Icky stuff (GLOP); 21A: Common flashlight power source (C CELL); 22A: Endure (LAST); 25A: Actor Dillon et al. (MATTS); 26A: Hwys. (RDS.); 27A: Chinese discipline (TAI CHI); 28A: Cut's partner (PASTE); 34A: First N.L. 500 home run club member (OTT); 35A: Indictment (ACCUSAL); 37A: "__ pales in Heaven the morning star": Lowell (ERE); 40A: Less refined (RUDER); 42A: Degree requirements, at times (THESES); 43A: Convert to leather, as a hide (TAN); 44A: Minor cost component (CENTS); 51A: Ship of Greek myth (ARGO); 52A: European toast (SKOAL); 53A: Fit (HALE); 54A: Living in Fla., maybe (RET.); 57A: Morse unit (DAH); 58A: Racket (NOISE); 59A: More repulsive (VILER); 60A: Many IRA payees (SRS.); 61A: Landlord (OWNER); 62A: Really dumb (INANE); 1D: Zesty flavors (TANGS); 2D: Leaning (ATILT); 3D: __ society (HONOR); 4D: Cocktail preparation phrase (ONE PART); 5D: Sushi fish (EEL); 6D: Tally symbol (NOTCH); 7D: Large wedding band (OCTET); 8D: Strikes one as (FEELS); 9D: Viscount's superior (EARL); 12D: Obligatory joke response (WHO'S THERE); 13D: Park Avenue resident, e.g. (EAST-SIDER); 18D: ER tests (ECG'S); 22D: Secular (LAIC); 24D: Imagines (IDEATES); 25D: Young food court loiterer (MALLRAT); 27D: Afternoon service (TEA); 28D: Gift shop items on a rotating stand (POSTCARDS); 29D: Where to see a caboose (AT THE REAR); 31D: USC or NYU (SCH.); 32D: Prov. on James Bay (QUE.); 33D: Amer. currency (USD); 36D: IV units (CC'S); 39D: __ perpetua: Idaho's motto (ESTO); 41D: "__ My Heart": 1962 #1 R&B hit for Ray Charles (UNCHAIN); 43D: Going rate? (TOLL); 45D: Coil of yarn (SKEIN); 46D: Western chasers (POSSE); 47D: Ply (LAYER); 48D: "&ques;__ usted español?" (HABLA); 49D: Paula's "American Idol" replacement (ELLEN); 50D: Steel plow developer (DEERE); 52D: Winter forecast (SNOW); 55D: John Lennon Museum founder (ONO); 56D: VII x VIII (LVI).


Unknown said...

I don't get the one third of ninety= ens

Anonymous said...

Donald --- ninety has 6 letters 2 of which are the letter en --- Hence, 1/3 of ninety.

Also, you will never see a caboose at the rear of a train. They have been gone for a long time. Unless, you take 'caboose' to mean something else.

Anonymous said...

Re: Caboose - not necessarily so. Cabooses are still used for some trains, mainly local runs that involve a lot of backing up. It is true that you generally will not find them on most trains.

v-man said...

I enjoyed the idea behind the puzzle and the words squelched and splotched are not seen very often. Ott has to be the most often used baseball name clue in crossword world by far. I've done seven puzzles since Saturday and have seen it three times. Anyway I had some fun with this one and it was a pretty quick solve.

wilsch said...

Mr Naddor had a lot of puzzles prepared when he passed away. No only are the themed answers all one syllable, nine letter words, each begins with a triple /s/ blend(/str/, /skw/, /str/, /spl/, /skr/,and /str/ again, speaking phonetically). The last answer I got was CCELL; the ECG cross threw me off - I've always thought of an electrocardiogram as an EKG.

Anonymous said...

I never paid attention to constructors until I read about Mr. Naddor's passing. Since then, I've become a fan; and, a puzzle like this is an excellent example. 6 theme answers + 2 reveals? That's so good, it's practically showing-off.

With that amount of theme-related answers, you're bound to have some crappy crosses (though USD seems more legit than the others).

mac said...

Decent Wednesday puzzle, with some weaknesses and some really good expressions.

I wonder which caboose/rear he was thinking of?

The C in ECG was my last entry also.

SethG said...

A: "Knock knock"
B: "Who's there?"
A: "Horton hears a"
B: "Horton hears a who?"
A: "Yes, he does."

was maybe the first joke I ever wrote. This is not the first time I posited E-Cell batteries. I like the word SKEIN.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Wilsch and Mac regarding ECG / EKG.


*David* said...

The ECG/CCELL is a problematic cross. I weighed whether I liked this puzzle for a while and then decided that the uniqueness of the theme, outweighed any generic feelings that the puzzle left me with. I seem to give the benefit of the doubt to something different even if it leaves me with a generic feel on the first pass. It is interesting to have all of those nine letter words with one syllable and that's good enuf for me.

Tuttle said...

ninety has 6 letters 2 of which are the letter en --- Hence, 1/3 of ninety.

Right. E-N. So where did the S come from? No hint that a plural was expected and, really, it makes no sense as a plural since e-n isn't a discreet unit in the word "ninety".

And my nit of the day: Quebec is a province abutting James Bay (as is Ontario) but the only political region ON James Bay is the territory of Nunavut which administers all islands in the Hudson and James bays. But that's semantics.

Anoa Bob said...

I'm counting 76 (!) squares for theme entries. I wonder what the record is for highest number of squares devoted to theme entries in a 15X15 puzzle. This might be it. Plus Mr. Naddor threw in triple-stacked nines in the NE and SW. With that kind of puzzle wizardry, a few SCH, QUE, USD and the like are forgivable.

I think the K in EKG was from the German spelling for the heart prefix "kardio" and the acronym latter started showing up as ECG to reflect the English "cardio" spelling.

Anonymous said...

EN is how you spell the letter "n". The two letters are NiNety, not niNEty. That's more than one "n", which is ENS.

And it's not like islands just sit there floating on the water. A house on the water doesn't just mean a houseboat--on is used to indicate immediate proximity, and the clue is correct.

lit.doc said...

What I most liked about this puzzle was that it was satisfyingly more difficult than today's NYC. What I least liked was the, to me, meh theme. Nine letters, one syllible? Yipee. "We have an app for that!"

Slowed down by the usual "which is it this time?" suspects: DIT/DAH, SEEMS/FEELS, and EKG/EEG/ECG. E cell? Hell, why not. One size bigger than a D cell. K cell? I don't know what they call those big 9-volt batteries that often go in flashlights, do you?

@Donald, I've heard the type of clue used for ENS referred as "letteral", punning on literal. Nice mnemonic to remind myself to be on the lookout for that sort of thing.

@SethG, LOL at your knock-knock joke. My favorite is to say "OK, here's a knock-knock joke you've prob'ly never heard. Say 'knock-knock'..." Then I say "Who's there?" I catch a couple of people a year with it.

StudioCitySteve said...

Enjoyed this a lot today. Took me a while to get going, hit a purple patch in the middle, then stared at the top-middle section for ages until NOFEE finally hit me.

Didn't help I had SEEMS for FEELS, and GOOP for GLOP.

Also didn't like the ECG/CCELL cross, but I'm OK with it.

I liked the ENS clue and answer, I thought it was pretty cool.

John Wolfenden said...

Definitely a stronger puzzle than some of the recent Naddors we've seen. Some clever cluing, like "Going rate?" for TOLL.

I was ready to be annoyed by the ECG/CCELL cross, but since I've never heard of a KCELL I decided it was fine.

In SWEdish the toast is "Skål," In Norwegian it's "Skøl." I'm sure there is a language in which it's spelled "Skoal," but it's not nearly as widely used and Dan could've easily made the clue about SKOAL tobacco.

PG, why is ACCUSAL terrible?

To me, "secular" for LAIC is slightly wrong. Members of a religious order refer to everyone outside the order as the laity, including both the secular and members of different religions who are non-secular.

Dorky observation: STRENGTHS has the highest consonant-to-vowel ratio of any English word.

C said...

I liked today's puzzle. Mr. Naddor went big on this puzzle and left it all out in the grid. Some random letter fill due to this but I can look past this today.

@SethG, I thought I was the one inventing something new today with the ECELL battery. Guess that shows that everything is reinvented at one time or another.

Larry Sittig said...

Hand up for getting stuck on the cross of ECGS and CCELL. I held my nose when I finally filled in that stinker. I vote for the extensive theming justifying the abbreves and inits, but this GLOP SPLOTCHED things up for me.

You mean nobody but me put New YorkER for 13D? Getoutahere.

CWeseOTD: DAH, never knew dit (sometimes di) and DAH are the sounds of dot and dash.

Ruth said...

Chiming in from the world of medicine: ECG is entirely legit. Most people say EKG and you actually sound a little pedantic if you say ECG, but everybody knows what you mean.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the one syllable answer three of the stared answers end in ed which gives them a second syllable

lit.doc said...

@Anon 1:26, file this under Picky Points of Grammar. I know what you mean, but in modern English an ending like ed is sounded like it's part of a mutant diphthong.

Compare to Elizabethan pronounciations, where the second syllable was actually sounded as a second syllable. I don't think you'd want to say "I stretch-ed my ham's before I ran" at a party. FWIW.

Avg Joe said...

Funny you should bring that up.

Just yesterday somebody called me a mutant diphthong.

From the look on their face, I didn't really think of it as a compliment. :-)

Sfingi said...

Liked this one from the late Dan Naddor.

Googled more for this than today's crazy NYT: OTT (I know he's baseball, but don't know what he did beyond having a crosswordy name), ROS, ESTO, ERE. Prefer "Spud Perpetua," for Idaho's motto.

Had "cover" before PASTE, as in "cut and cover," one way to make a hole for a subway.

Had ScOne before SKOAL.

Thought it was great that Roman #56 was at 56D.

The theme was something I've fooled around with, myself. Another feature of these words is that they start with S, which could have been included. The single syllable words are mighty rare in Italian, at any length.

@V-man - and Mel OTT is a frequent contributor to the crossword blogs!

Captcha - supines. Verb or noun? or some evergreens on the hill in Syracuse?

Anonymous said...

Thank you.Its so easier to learn this way.I usually have 3or4 dictionary ...pain in the ?&@!!!