Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thursday, February 7 - Kenneth J. Berniker

I always thought it was a little creepy to Google a constructor, but I'd never heard of Kenneth J. I did it. He's a neurologist and medical writer who has had at least one puzzle published in The Permanente here to see (and solve) well as a New York Times puzzle in December 2006.

I figured out the theme early on, but didn't realize that I had. In other words, I thought I had a bunch of wrong answers. The theme is revealed at 34D: Restricted space...or a hint to the answers to the six starred clues (NO FLY ZONE). The six theme answers are common words or phrases...each without its FLY.

17A: *Hairy-leaved plant (VENUS [FLY] TRAP). I would have preferred to see it clued in relation to this guy. I've probably said it before...I loved WKRP in Cincinnati. It was one of the funniest shows of its time.

24A: *Fighter at 112 pounds or less ([FLY]WEIGHT BOXER). My goal for this year is to get back into that category. I'm not sure it's possible.

37A: *Classic comical restaurant complaint (THERE'S A [FLY] IN MY SOUP). I knew this was the answer, but it just wouldn't fit. I ended up with all of the letters in place...but didn't know why.

45A: *Umpire's invocation after a pop-up, perhaps (INFIELD [FLY] RULE). Don explained this to me during the World Series, so this one came rather easily. That's when I realized that FLY was left out of the answers...and it all came together.

58A: *Advice to a careless dresser, maybe (ZIP UP YOUR [FLY]). Another gimme.

3D: *Unreliable sort ([FLY]-BY-NIGHTER). This was the hardest one to get. Trouble with some of the crosses didn't help. I wasn't sure if 1A: Jet referred to a plane or the color black...the answer was sable. For 14A: Indo-__, all I could think of was wouldn't let Aryan come through. 23A: Bootblack's need (rag)...all I could think of was wax. Once that section came together, the puzzle was finished.

This was a pretty clever theme, and I enjoyed solving the puzzle. There were a few tough answers, but the crosses took care of most of them. The only one I'm still unsure about is 58D: Hole-punching tool for a slater. I have zax...which isn't listed in my dictionary. In fact, there isn't a three-letter word that starts and ends with those letters. I didn't check the grid on Across Lite, but I just checked JimH's blog, and he has the same answer. If I'm wrong, so is he.

Favorite clues or answers:

16A: Spam flavorer (clove). SPAM (the preferred way to write it) is big stuff in Hawaii. It's in every restaurant and on every breakfast menu...including Burger King's. I put a can in Don's stocking the Christmas after our first trip. I knew we'd never eat ended up as part of a donation to the local food bank. This SPAM upside down pie doesn't look quite as tasty as the pineapple upside down cake from last Sunday.

22A: Parish V.I.P. (curate). I don't get the abbreviation in the clue...shouldn't that only be used if the answer is also an abbreviation?

31A: Seaver once called it home (Shea). Okay, I'm guessing that Seaver is a baseball player and it's referring to Shea Stadium. Yes...Tom Seaver.

41A: S.O.S., in essence (plea). I guess there can be abbreviations in clues, whether or not the answer is. My first answer was help, but plea is much better. I like that it looks as though it should rhyme with Shea.

43A: "__ sport" (be a). Three of them...all near one another!

44A: Singer Jacques (Brel). Totally unfamiliar. Tough crossing at 39D: Easily maneuvered, as a boat (yare).

57A: Traditional spy wear (cloak). I used this picture in an earlier blog, but I'm happy to have the chance to use it again. Spy vs. Spy was a favorite when I was a kid.

63A: Occasion to sing "Dayenu" (Seder). I'm not familiar with the song, but I am familiar with Seder. My best friend in high school was Jewish, and I was always part of their Seder dinner. This article explains what's on the Seder plate...and the significance of each food item.

11D: Bluesman Willie (Lomax). I don't know why I knew that, but I did. I definitely like seeing X used twice in the northeast corner.

22D: Third-stringers (C-team). I had C-list for a while...but at least I was on the right track this time.

25D: Villainous one in "The Lion King" (hyena). The hyenas always made me laugh...Scar was truly villainous.

One more thing that I just noticed...the similarity among 27D: Where punts were spent (Eire), 40A: Fictional governess (Eyre) and 56D: Assessor (eyer). I wonder if Dr. Berniker did that purposely?

I had some surprise news from the eye doctor. My prescription was reduced slightly...for both eyes. Could my vision actually have improved? Or is it more likely that I've been wearing glasses that were too strong and my eyes simply rebelled? Whatever...I got some really cool frames. A combination of purple and burgundy. My second pair (red) will have my midrange prescription, to help with long hours spent on the computer. Blogging and working take a toll on vision.

Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

Yep, I'm feeling a little uncertain about ZAX too, but I'm happy to know that if I go down in flames, I have good company :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, zax is apparently a device used by roof slaters. I tried wax for rag and china for aryan, too, and thought there was a rebus afoot, but figured out quickly from noflyzone that the flies had flown. I love orangs, especially the babies, speaking of which, my sister had one today. A baby, that is, not an orang...her best friend carried the baby for her...what a gift. Miraculous. Welcome Cassidy Rae Malone.

Didn't know Lomax, but knew Danny Ainge from the Celtics. Knew Eyre, but not Enid. Saw Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris when I was in college.

Nice and solid Thursday puzzle.

coachjdc said...

One letter! (and I didn't feel like googling for it):
44A: Singer Jacques (Brel). Totally unfamiliar. Tough crossing at 39D: Easily maneuvered, as a boat (yare).
So Happy It's Thursday :-)

Linda G said...

No flames for us today, Jim. Thanks, Rikki, for clarifying that.

A warm welcome to Cassidy Rae...a very loved baby girl!

Coach, there was a time in my life when I wouldn't have been able to go to sleep with one letter missing! It's good that we mellow with time ; )

Anonymous said...

I bet Dr. Seuss would know whether someone had a ZAX on his roof...


DONALD said...

...and that entry of ZAX was not just "fill", it was done on purpose -- it could just as well have been ZAG, ZAP, even ZED or ZEE and still work with 64 Across.

A little bit of playfulness on the part of Messrs. Berniker & Shortz...

MBG said...

Nice Thursday puzzle, some tough stuff but very doable. I wanted Indo to end with china, never heard indo-ARYAN before, and penny SAVER? That was the very last thing I got in the NW. Tried penny ante, penny bank, etc. The theme fell for me with FLYBOXER, but I puzzled over it for a while. BREL and YARE were gimmes. I love how we each have our own set of gimmes.

rikki, congratulations on your new neice! That's a beautiful name.

Linda, I think having too-strong glasses may be fairly common. It's happened to me. Glad you got it straightened out, and the new frames sound fantastic. Burgundy and purple are my kind of colors.

Anonymous said...

Sadly Linda G as we age we get presbyopic (elder eyes) or more farsighted. If you start out nearsighted you need a weaker prescription over time, but you also loose the ability to focus on close objects like the NY Times Xword puzzle. This is due to the loss of elasticity in the lenses of our eyes. Until I was older I never knew why some people needed reading glasses and magnifying mirrors. Sadly I now know. - DrBob

Linda G said...

Sean, thanks for the laugh! I thought of Dr. Seuss every time I looked at LOMAX.

Donald, ZAP definitely...that would give us PER. ZAG...GER, abbreviation for Germany. But it's always much more fun with a Scrabbly X!

Annielee, you amaze me with your gimmes. They're usually stumbling blocks for me...and several others.

DrBob, thanks for the info...depressing as it was ; )

Anonymous said...

Late to the show, but just a few comments on a fun Thursday puzzle and very nice write-up:

Why should you think it's creepy to google a constructor's name. It's in the paper for the world to see. And, you learned some interesting stuff about today's constructor, I thought. Another science/math/musician constructor. Seems to be lots of those.

Re zax, here's a web site I like to use for dictionary references. After you enter the word you're looking for, you get a list of dictionaries on the left, and a 'quick definition' on the right. Very helpful.

I think there's some 'rule' for abbreviations that are used more often than the full version of the term, for example S.O.S., G.O.P., and V.I.P. In cases like these, no abbreviation signal is necessary. I *think* these are Will's rules.

I knew/recalled Jacques Brel from a musical from long ago.

Donald, I don't see how ZAG, ZAP, ZED or ZEE could work with 64 Across. GEN GER? GEN PER? GEN DER? GEN EER? The clue called for a 2-word or a hyphenated word answer. A quick run through the alphabet revealed only XER to me.

See you tomorrow...