Sunday, March 17, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013, Joe Krozel


Eight fifteen-letter answers, spanning the entire puzzle. Just 18 black squares.

Tough puzzle to get into, but once it got going, it wasn't that bad. Our esteemed colleague Rex Parker hated this puzzle because of a single cross, but fortunately for us, Frances knew that MULETAS were (28A: Matadors' red capes), so MINAS just had to be right for (28D: ____ Gerais (Brazilian state)).

That cross aside, there was some nice cluing of crosswordsy fill like (18A: They often pass through needles) for SERA, (22A: Rounded-up numbers?) for HERDS, and RIOTS for (19A: People might leave them in tears). I also enjoyed HOPIN as a (23A: Driver's invitation). Never heard of a NIT being a (38A: Small grouse), but MENISCI (31D: Crescent-shaped bodies) came to me from my high school chemistry classes. I think we were supposed to read the bottom of the meniscus curve when measuring fluids. Is that right? Any chemists out there?

The one answer I strongly disliked was BIDIN (39D: Act to retain one's property at auction). Shouldn't that be BIDoN? You "bid at" an auction and you "bid on" an item in an auction. You don't "bid in" anything.

- Horace


  1. When measuring mercury, because of its weak adhesive forces and strong cohesive forces, you must read the top of the meniscus. Not that I'm a chemist or anything.


  2. Interesting. Is that because the top of the meniscus, in the case of mercury, is the center of the fluid. Or, to put it another way, because the meniscus is inverted compared to most other liquids?

  3. It's inverted, because mercury sticks to itself a lot better than it sticks to most other things. As long as you measure according to a horizontal line tangential to the curve, it doesn't matter if the meniscus is up or down. Also, the reason we measure this way is that the volume that is creeping up a tube around the edges is minuscule, as few more than one layer of liquid molecules can stick to the tube. In the case of mercury, it's not sticking, it's shunning the sides, so I'm not sure if there should be a slight correction or not. The consensus among scientists around here is that the top of the meniscus is just fine.

  4. Damn, I'm a good crossword solver! I finished this one--that Rex rated as challenging--in 35 minutes. Granted, I wasn't 100% sure of the T in ELASTIN/TRE, the M in MULETAS/MINAS, or the S in SERINE/SEGA; but all of them were variously educated guesses and I nailed every one. Rex sometimes strikes me as a somewhat less than fully rational, fully mature blogger. Yeah, I suppose the MULETA/MINAS cross is a Natick, but, seriously, how many reasonable guesses are there for that square? I liked all the ones you mentioned. Also enjoyed "Comets' head," "Blue states," and just the challenge of cobbling together eight fifteen-letter answers.

  5. Congratulations.

    I agree about Rex. He can be petulant, and his "knowledge base" has somewhat surprising lacunae. I think he, as perhaps you, rides on a vast knowledge of crosswordese. Of course, your knowledge of crosswordese is added to a much larger base of normal knowing. I'd pit you against Rex in a general knowledge quiz any day of the week.

    The two additional ones you mention were quite good. I was pretty happy with myself when I finally thought of Bill Haley!