Jul 22, 2015

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 Tom McCoy

Theme: The Deion Sanders Shout-Out

The first word of each theme entry is a prime number, the second word is a period of time. This actually is a blecho from Argyle's blog on Monday ("Not ready for prime time") which is kinda neat.

16A. *It classifies ancient times based on metals : THREE AGE SYSTEM. A very rare cluing misstep here. The three ages are the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Spot the one that isn't a metal. The basis for the system is the material used to make tools.

31A. *Typical worker's break : TWO DAY WEEKEND. Theme entry odd-man out here - the third word of this entry is also a time period, which seems a shame to me.

44A. *Possible reason for marriage counseling : SEVEN YEAR ITCH. And the best possible excuse for posting this iconic image of Tom Ewell from the movie of that name. I'm not sure who the scene-stealing actress in the dress was.

62A.*Justification for eating food that's fallen on the ground : FIVE SECOND RULE. Also depends on where you dropped it, whether anyone has trodden on it, and whether you  have to fight the dog for it.

and the reveal entries:

69A. With 70-Across, prized programming slot ... or a hint to the first two parts of the answers to starred clues : PRIME

70A. See 69-Across : TIME

Merry Wednesday, everyone. Steve here with an unusual 14x16 grid from Tom McCoy. I liked the theme a lot, with the exception of the "WEEKEND" entry comprising two time periods, rather than a single one like the rest. That's my minor nit. Your mileage may vary. This is Tom's second LAT publication, the last one ("MERCURY") sparked a lot of debate here at the Corner.

I'm assuming that the grid dimensions came about due to difficulty finding an acceptable fill around the 63 theme squares - that's quite an impressive number for a midweek puzzle. I tried to fill a 15x15 grid for fun, but the SE and South-Central section with "PRIME" and "TIME" turned out to be a problem. At this point I'd have thrown in the towel, but kudos to Tom for resizing the grid and delivering a really fun Wednesday.

I remember reading that as late as the early twentieth century, the number 1 was considered to be prime, but that apparently made a mess of some mathematical theories so it was quietly dropped and swept under the rug. Poor digit. That leaves these four as the first four primes.

Righty-ho. Let's see what else we've got:


1. Place for Lightning and Hurricanes : RINK. Respectively, Tampa Bay and Carolina of the NHL

5. Confederate soldiers : GRAYS. I finally remembered how to spell "gray" in US English. Yay!

10. "It's okay, I guess" : MEH

13. Sign : OMEN

14. Screen dot : PIXEL. My laptop has got almost two million of the little blighters.My first computer had eight or so. Or was it two?

15. "Rumble in the Jungle" fighter : ALI. The classic Ali vs. Foreman fight. Ali, the challenger, knocked out the previously-undefeated Foreman for the Heavyweight title.

19. Ancient volume : CODEX. I learned this when I read "The Da Vinci Code". Shame that I filled it in as "CODEC" when my computerese-brain got in the way.

20. Passports, licenses, etc. : IDS

21. "Egad!" : OH NO! Eek!

22. Itty bit : TAD

24. "Green Eggs and Ham" opening : I AM SAM. I've never read this. Perhaps I should.

26. Toward the back : ASTERN

30. Jamaican export : RUM. Cheers! Myers is probably the best-known variety.

36. Seals with pitch : TARS. I'd have gone for a "sailor" type clue here, being as RUM is right next door.

37. Some drafts : ALES. Cheers! Tinbeni's happy today.

38. Frightful cry : EEK! Egad!

40. Fitting : APT

41. Cone droppers : FIRS

43. Where Georgia is : ASIA. An ex-member of the Soviet Union. Here's the flag, I don't recall ever seeing it before:

48. Fictional planet : ORK. Birthplace of Mork.

49. Go downhill : WORSEN

50. "The Kiss" and "The Thinker" : RODINS. Both sculptures by the good Monsieur Auguste. There are three versions of "The Kiss" which are sculpted in marble, and more than 20 of "The Thinker", which are cast in bronze.

53. Soup veggie : PEA. Food! I make mine with a smoked ham hock thrown in for flavor and seasoning.

54. Many a miniseries : EPIC

55. Spoil : MAR

57. Obedience school item : LEASH

65. Genetic info carrier : R.N.A. Compare and contrast with D.N.A. Fill in the "NA" and wait for the crosses.

66. Like Cheerios : OATEN

67. "Paradise Lost" character : ADAM

68. Hankering : YEN


1. Military prep prog. : R.O.T.C. The Reserve Officer's Training Program.

2. Texter's qualifier : IMHO. In my humble opinion, this now qualifies as crosswordese.

3. Stereotypical sci-fi fan : NERD

4. Joint where kids are welcome? : KNEE. Nice clue!

5. A D will usually lower it: Abbr. : G.P.A.

6. Unbending : RIGID

7. Took a hatchet to : AXED

8. "You got that right!" : YESSIREE! Egads! Eek! Quite a few "exclamations" in the puzzle today.

9. Wily : SLY

10. Trig or calc, to a Brit : MATHS. Easy-Peasy-Lemon-Squeezy for me. I was surprised to discover that this word has never been used (in the modern era at least) in either the LAT or the NYT crosswords.

11. Colleague of Antonin and Anthony : ELENA. The crosses filled this one in for me, so it's only now I look back and wonder where this came from. All Supreme Court Judges, thank you Google. Wow - and it's only Wednesday? Argyle called it on Monday expecting some unexpected hurdles during the week.

12. Call-home opener : HI MOM! Popular stadium sign text too.

17. Not needed : EXTRA

18. French river to the English Channel : SOMME. I had the "S" so SEINE went in, then quickly came out.

23. "__ more bright ideas?" : ANY

25. Arctic divers : AUKS

26. "__ girl!" : ATTA

27. Cashless deals : SWAPS. Does anyone swap things at a swap meet any more? I think it's all cash. C.C? (From C.C.: Mostly cash. And I do swap things with others at the flea market.)

28. Rich dessert : TORTE. Food! Gimme. As in, gimme more torte.

29. Newspaper figs. : EDS. Rich Norris is our favorite editor.

32. On the lookout : WARY

33. Otherwise : ELSE

34. Stacks like Tupperware : NESTS. Because "teeters uncontrollably in a cupboard with a collection of mismatched lids which cascade on your head when you open aforesaid cupboard" doesn't fit.

35. Unfreeze : DE-ICE

39. Madeline of "Clue" : KAHN. Thank you, crosses. It's very rare that I can fill in an actor without help.

41. Seedless plant : FERN

42. Lefty's writing concern : INK SMEAR. My brother is left-handed. I wanted to tease his writing style when we were kids, but he's two years older than me and he would have done unspeakable things to me. So I kept quiet.

43. __ Jordan : AIR

45. Give expression to : VOICE

46. Stun : AWE

47. Willy Wonka creator Dahl : ROALD. Why on earth for a brief couple of seconds did I think his name was RAOUL and was confused that it wouldn't fit?

50. Prepare beans, Mexican-style : REFRY

51. Weigh in : OPINE

52. Backless sofa : DIVAN

53. Introduction : PROEM. Brand-new to me, and therefore my personal word of the day. Introduction to a book written by the author. I thought it would crop up more due to the convenient vowel progression, but it was last seen in the LAT crossword back in 2008.

56. When Tony sings "Maria" : ACT I. Saving my music link to the end. Worth every saved second.

58. Q.E.D. word : ERAT

59. BMW rival : AUDI

60. Shut angrily : SLAM

61. Iron-rich blood pigment : HEME

63. Bread, at times : SOP

64. Hershey-to-Scranton dir. : NNE. From Chocolatetown, USA to the Electric City.

And .... the grid. See my word of the day the last to fill.


Notes from C.C.:

1) Congrats to TTP on his retirement! Now he'll have plenty of time to improve his golf and cooking skills. So nice to have you back, pal.

2) Last night Jazzbumpa (Ron) sent me this lovely picture of him and his grandkids. Nate has grown up! Ron said that Nate's team went to the Cal Ripken tournament at Myrtle Beach after this picture was taken and Nate pitched the last couple innings in their last game.

In front: Samantha, Emily and Nate.
Behind: Danny, Alexa, me, Amanda, Ryan.

July 2, 2015


OwenKL said...

Not too evil a puzzle today. I've never heard the term THREE AGE SYSTEM before, which was further confused by the indefinite AGE, grouped with the concise DAY-YEAR-SECOND. And after THREE & TWO, I was sure the last two would be ONE & ZERO, so 7 & 5 threw me, also. Would have been nice to have numbers and/or times in order, but I guess I can't complain about that until I start constructing my own.

Retirement, some say, is the PRIME TIME of life;
No more work with all its stress and strife.
To while time away
You can have sex all day! --
(Hah! That's a pipe dream if you've got a wife!)

RODIN'S Thinker sits alone on his rock,
The Kiss, two lovers in passion lock.
The Thinker's dejected,
His suit was rejected
And that's why he sits without even his socks!

Barry G. said...

Morning, all!

Kept getting distracted by the grid size this morning, looking for the 16-letter answers that weren't there. Thanks, Steve, for sussing out the probable reason for it.

Had trouble getting started in the NW, mostly because I wanted NHL for 1A (it obviously wouldn't fit) and THREE AGE SYSTEM seems completely made up despite the fact that I am fully aware of the actual ages in question.

Once I got past all that, however, the rest of the puzzle was straightforward enough. I grokked that the theme involved phrases with numbers, but it was a nice little extra surprise to discover they wree all PRIME numbers at the end.

Lemonade714 said...

An interesting puzzle and write up, thanks Tom and Steve.

I agree with almost everything that Steve said except I prefer APPLETON .

I had filled PROEM from perps so it did not slow me down, though I do recall it was a common fill in the NYT back when I started solving. MATHS however did appear in a puzzle I blogged here on Allen's last BIRTHDAY .

Happy hump day

Hahtoolah said...

Good Morning, Steve and friends. Interesting puzzle that I was able to quickly speed through.

THREE AGE SYSTEM is a new term, but was easy enough to suss out with a little help with the perps.

PROEM is also a new word for me, and one I doubt I will remember the next time it appears in a puzzle.

QOD: It’s very important in life to know when to shut up. You should not be afraid of silence. ~ Alex Trebek (b. July 22, 1940)

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

Never noticed the odd-sized grid. Did notice the prime numbers. Didn't notice that they were followed by times. No matter. It filled in quickly and had some nice fill, to boot. Tried GEEK; didn't last. I've got a RIdGID table saw -- different spelling, though.

Learning moment: PROEM -- sounds like a golf tournament, doesn't it?

Congrats, TTP. Welcome to the leisure life. Now your only worry will be, "Will your nest egg last as long as you do?"

Nice looking family, JzB.

HowardW said...

Like Lemonade, I recalled PROEM as crosswordese, but hadn't heard of THREE AGE SYSTEM. Shied away from YESSIREE, as I wanted YESSIRREE -- one R just doesn't "look right" to me. Had INK STAIN before INK SMEAR, which slowed down the southern portion. I'm a big fan of The SEVEN YEAR ITCH movie, very funny (though a bit dated today).

Feeling very much like Watson today: I see but do not observe. Didn't notice the unusual dimensions of the puzzle, nor the theme. Well, until the reveal, that is.

Excellent writeup, Steve. Love your observation about Tupperware, which happens to me all the time. But you should fix the music link -- maybe this one?

Northwest Runner said...

Cluing misstep #2. 50 Down. You do not refry beans in Mexican cooking. This misconception arises from a misunderstanding of what the prefix "re" means in Spanish..

Argyle said...

Steve, tell Tony to put down the torte and start singing.

Dudley said...

Hello Puzzlers -

What Northwest Runner said. I seem to recall Lucina set us straight a few months ago about the meaning of "refrito".

Otherwise a very nice puzzle. Hand up for not noticing the odd grid size - I consider myself an observant person, but that sort of detail -!

C6D6 Peg said...

Fun puzzle today. Got the reveal quickly after the prime numbers and times filled in. Thanks, Tom!

Steve - That scene-stealer would be Marilyn Monroe, if I'm not mistaken. Thanks for the write-up.

Tinbeni said...

Steve: Thank You for a very informative write-up. Good Job!

Hmmm, I guess I'm probably the only one who at 30-a, Jamaican export, instinctively wrote in POT before RUM ruled the day.
And my favorite Jamaican RUM is Appleton Estate ...


Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

WEES. Good job, Steve. Did not notice the 14x16 before coming here. No other solving issues.

Have a good day.

Jazzbumpa said...

Hi gang -

When I first checked this morning there were 5 comments, and now 13. Both are Prime numbers, and Fibonacci numbers as well.

Nice puzzle. Theme was totally opaque without Steve's explanation.

INK SMEAR is my fav fill. Though I never do puzzles in INK.

This is the first year we didn't get to any of Nate's baseball games. Circumstances conspired against it. We're spending the day with Nate and Em tomorrow, so I can get the scoop on his Ripken experience. His mom texted me when he was pitching the late innings of the last game and said he found his curve ball. After the game, the other team's coaches were talking to him and said - you made our boys look stupid at the plate. Took a little bit of the sting out of a 9-5 loss.

Cool regards!

Hahtoolah said...

C6D6: Stevie's comment about now knowing who the woman was, was said in jest. I'm impressed he could identify Tom Ewell.

Big Easy said...

THREE AGE SYSTEM? A still, an oaken keg, a bottle.


I completely missed the PRIME TIME theme, thinking it had to do with television schedules. I do like the AGE, YEAR, DAY-WEEK, SECOND second word following the prime numbers. Only MONTH was missing.

But it was a speed run this morning.

TTP said...

Good morning all.

Thank you Tom McCoy and Steve.

The last two of the starred answers were easy compared to the first two. PROEM seemed new, but I think I have read that before. That fill gave great pause.

Running late today. Absent mindedly walked to my office at 6 AM to sign on to work. Then went back to bed.

CC, thank you. My culinary skills need to improve. What I refer to as my "mise en place", my wife refers to as my "mess-in-place." I think I'm methodical. She thinks I'm painfully slow. I think I'm being precise. She tells me I'm cooking, not baking. She's a very competent and talented baker, with a wide array of skills.

Anyone else tune into the BBC series Great British Bake Off when it is on ? We love it, but it's hard to find repeats. Saw some of the Season 4 episodes on PBS earlier this year. New (6th) season starts next month on BBC One.

Anonymous T and Chickie from last evening thank you. Desper-Otto, thanks for welcoming me aboard. Running out wouldn't be good. I ran the numbers six ways to Sunday, so unless DW and I are a couple of outliers on the actuarial tables...

Ron, great picture. You all look so happy. Nate looks like he's deep in thought about something.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

Clever theme and satisfying solve. Learning moment was proem. I had prime time filled in before any of the theme answers, so thought TV was involved.

Nice picture, Jazz.

Off to the farm stand to get the first sweet corn of this season.

Have a great day.

Irish Miss said...

Got so excited at the prospect of getting my corn "fix" that I forgot to thank Tom and Steve for making my Wednesday more enjoyable. Thanks, guys!

coneyro said...

Hello everyone...

I knew something was off about the puzzle size, so thanks for clarifying it.

For a Wednesday, this was a no brainer. The only answers I were not familiar with were PROEM and THREEAGESYSTEM, but filled in with perp help.

I, too, at first thought the theme was TV related, but realized quickly after a few more fill-ins that the theme was numbers and time. Other than that, no hiccups at all.

GREY/GRAY..what is the difference? I always get confused. Is one British and the other American?

One or FIVE SECOND RULE. I don't care. It hits the ground, it's in the garbage.

My son was reading by the age of two. He devoured the Dr. Seuss collection. He used to read to ME, before he went to bed, instead of the other way around. Living with a gifted child is not easy. A very old soul in a young body. No fairy tales for him. Had to persuade him not to tell the other kids that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. were not real. Everything had to be "logical". Fun times were NOT had by all.

With all the relatively inexpensive throw-a-way plastic storage items available in the supermarket today, do people still need to purchase overpriced Tupperware? Their parties were fun fifty years ago, but I think it has passed its PRIME.

Anyhoo, my middle of the week mumblings are done. Carry on all..

unclefred said...

Fun puzzle, Tom. I managed to get 'er done w/o cheating, (except for red-letters----is that cheating?) but like others, PROEM = new word for me. Nice write-up, Steve. Thanks for the limerick, Owen, always enjoy them. Well, almost always. I was half way through the puzzle before I noticed the unusual grid, but that didn't really affect the solve. As usual, dopey me never saw the full theme. I saw numbers were involved, and latched onto that to help with the solve, but looked at "PRIME TIME" and all I could think about was TV, so (DOH!) missed it, as usual. :-( Wish I was smarter but, as the old AAMCO saying goes, "Wishin' won't fix your transmission!" Won't make me smarter, either.

Occasional Lurker said...

Dudley, you don't have to be 'observant' and 'eagle-eyed' enough to notice the details like the size of the grid. Just be 'hawk eyed' enough to notice nearby flying objects and the runway on the ground. That'll be quite sufficient. Meant in jest.

If I remember right, what Lucina taught us is that 'refried' or 'refrito' was that the beans were well cooked ( and mashed) - 're' ... being like a superlative, rather than a duplication. Ironically, most mexican cookbooks make a point of observing that the beans are soaked, overnight, and cooked, but not necessarily fried or baked. So 'refried' is a misnomer, in more ways than one.

CrossEyedDave said...

I wouldn't call it a speed run, because I took a break after each pass to make it last longer.

Prime Time?

Congrats TTP!

Now... Where was I?

Anonymous T said...

Hi All!

Thanks Tom for a PRIME puzzle that filled almost as fast as a Monday. Steve - an xkcd in the writeup?!? You get EXTRA NERD points.

Funny, I put in GReYS & MATHS w/o thinking... and I'm 'Merican. 7d fixed me up. The unknowns were perp'd filled (I didn't even notice PROEM until the expo), nor the odd grid.

My only INK SMEAR is at 31a. I had DAY sitting there so I backfilled midDAY...

TIME to end my midDAY break... I'll play more tonight.

Cheers, -T

michael said...

Did you really not recognize Monroe from the Seven Year Itch?

Jayce said...

Interesting puzzle, not MEH at all, IMHO. I bet even Apolo Anton OHNO would like it, maybe.
Is it grammatically incorrect to claim IAMS AM good for your dog? Think about it FIRS, before you answer.
Hmm, PRIME crosses PROEM.
As lawyers like to say, AXED and answered.

Peter said...

Rather unimpressed. THREE AGE SYSTEM is not a recognizable thing, nor does the clue appear to be correct. No thematic reason to have a nonstandard grid other than the entries themselves. At least it was an easy solve, I guess.

Anonymous T said...

coneyro - GRAY is a color while grey is a colour. C, -T

Mnemosyne said...

grAy is American and grEy is English (well, British).

Though I think AT's explanation is cleverer.

VirginiaSycamore said...

I found this an enjoyable and solvable puzzle, with perps helping.
As I solve the LAT puzzle at the Puzzle Society page, the short width of the puzzle was evident from square gray boxes along the east border. I immediately got worried that there was some sort of typo at the web site. But when the clues all worked out I relaxed. I think this truncation may have caused a large number of 3-letter fills.

I have a flexible “floor time” rule. It depends on factors such as:
- is the toast butter side down?
- is it food I don’t really like?
- did the dog get it already?
- and most importantly, is it an M&M? I give those little candies an unlimited floor time, unless there is something yucky on them or the covering is cracked.

I am Sam said...

What do Green Eggs and Ham and Fifty Shades of Grey have in common?

Sam I am said...

They both encourage people who can barely read to try new things.

Anonymous said...

You like green eggs and ham.
You like them in a train.
You like them in the rain.
You like them on the ground.
You like them all around.
You like them while wearing leather--even more in hot, and humid weather.
You like them when I tie you down.
You like them as my queen, with a crown.
You like green eggs and ham.
You like them, and you want them.

Raw Dog said...

Re: 5 second rule

So this happened at the Twins/Angels game last night. Love this. This kid will grow up with a healthy immune system unlike many with helicopter parents. No hand sanitizer needed here. Prolly went home and had a handful of dirt for dessert.

Unless there is visible dirt on a piece of food I’m always picking it up and eating it, always. This kid is wise beyond his years.

Raw Dog said...

P.S. Gotta love the West Coast kids and their hot dog acumen.

Husker Gary said...

Oh, PRIME #/Unit of TIME along with challenging fill! Lovely summary, nits and all, Steve!

Musings says this is nonsense!
-Remembrances of those boys in GRAY are taking a beating these days
-Apple II with 80 x 48 pixels
-You don’t know what hot is until you TAR a roof on a 90˚F day!
-FIRS are doing fine but the wilt is killing many pines here
-Sweet GEORGIA Brown in Russian - Сладкий Грузии коричневый
-Mount Rushmore’s Gutzon Borglum knew RODIN in Paris and was greatly influenced by him
-Our use of this LEASH still amazes people
-If A D raises your GPA…
-Does seeing The SOMME conjure up this image and all the many deaths to you?
-NESTED Tupperware beats precariously stacked Cool Whip containers
-The great KC Royals bullpen is said to “SLAM the door” on opposing teams from the 7th inning on
-Great looking family, Ron!

Steve said...

Ooops! Fixed the "Maria" link.

And yes, I do know Marilyn. Tom is usually cropped out of the picture.

Beach Bum said...

Steve, allow me to also express appreciation for the XKCD cartoon. It's the first thing I look up on the internet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Avg Joe said...

D-Otto, you laughed at me on Sunday. But I knew. I just knew that the pronunciation of grey v gray would be a factor this week. :-)

WEES re Proem. And what several said about thinking prime time referred to TV. Could not crack the theme, even with the reveal. But it didn't slow me down that badly or stump the solve.

CrossEyedDave said...

Well, it's a long shot as far as segues go...

But how about Prime Time/Space Age?

fermatprime said...


Nice work, Tom and Steve!

I, too, saw the gray squares at left!


PROEM did not need all of the perps, as somewhere in my feeble brain it was lurking.

Knew that Steve was joking re MM!

Congrats, TTP!

Swell photo, Ron!

Pulmonologist appt. today followed by blood tests at nearby hospital. Am pooped.


OwenKL said...

Three Age System. Be WARY! This is one of the longest articles I've ever seen on Wikipedia!

I remember that girl in the photo! CED showed us a botter picture of her yesterday!

Anonymous T said...

CED - I don't know how you do it... Cpt. Janeway link/Frazer link... Thanks.

IDS saids I'd come back tonight to play. But, a buddy and I had an EPIC, er, MEH?, eve swiggin' RUM, er, beer.

Actually I had fun w/ my boss at the old firm SWAPing, AIRing, & unLEASHing life's little "OH NOs" while sharing a bit of time.

Since KAHN wasn't linked like, IMHO, she KNEE'd to be*, there she is.

Cheers, -T
*too much? :-)