12.11.11 — Taking Half-Steps

Sunday, December 11, 2011

TAKING HALF-STEPS, Crossword by Timothy Polin
Edited by Will Shortz

The music notations of FLAT, NATURAL and SHARP in 14 squares (five flats and sharps and four naturals), forming both across and down answers, constitute the interrelated group of this slog of a Sunday crossword.

  • [FLAT]WARE (1A. Knives, forks and spoons) with [FLAT]TOP (1D. Aircraft carrier)
  • JEW'[S HARP] (6D. Instrument played in the mouth) with PENCIL [SHARP]ENERS (26A. Little shavers at school?)
  • NATURAL] HABITAT (12A. Where a plant or animal thrives) with [NATURAL] CAUSES (12D. There’s no foul play when one passes by these)
  • O[F LAT]E (32A. Just recently) with [FLAT]TERER (33D. Sycophant)
  • ALL [NATURAL] (36D. Organic food label) with PRETER[NATURAL] (57A. Extraordinary and unexplainable)
  • RAZOR [SHARP] (39A. Like trenchant wit) with [SHARP] SET (44D. Fixed at an acute angle)
  • KEEP A [SHARP] LOOKOUT (59A. Play sentinel) with [SHAR P]EIS (60D. Wrinkly-faced dogs)
  • CARD [SHARP]S (70D. Bottom dealers, perhaps) with [SHARP]IE (93A. Trademarked marker)
  • HYPERIN[FLAT]ION (65A. Economic woe) with [FLAT]LY (68D. Way to refuse)
  • [NATURAL] LAKE (75A. Body of water in a volcanic crater, for one) with [NATURAL] SELECTION (75D. “The Origin of Species“ concept)
  • [FLAT] EARTH SOCIETY (76A. Group that doesn’t believe in revolution?) with [FLAT]CAR (76D. Part of a freight train)
  • [FLAT] FEE (86A. Fixed price) with [FLAT]TED NOTE (86D. F major has just one)
  • [SHARP] OBJECTS (106A. Dangers for children and klutzes) with [SHARP]TON (106D. Al who sought the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination)
  • [NATURAL] BORN CITIZEN (111A. Immigrant’s opposite) with [NATUAL] GAS (111D. Piped fuel)

Other — ARIETTAS (7D. Short operatic solos), ARTIER and ART LOVER (14D. More pretentious; 25A. Aesthete), CORONADO (22A. Spanish conquistador who searched for the Seven Cities of Gold), ENGINEERED (5D. Planned), NAYSAYER (122A. Vocal skeptic), OCOTILLO (119A. Cactuslike plant of the Southwest), TRUE LIES (116A. 1994 Schwarzenegger film), UNIONIST (28A. Northern sympathizer).

Mid-size — ALETTE (120A. Doorway jamb), ALSO-RAN, ASININE (55A. Cockamamie), CAPEESH, E CLASS (46A. Mercedes sedan), ERASES, ERNEST, EVERETT, GIDEON, HELICES (54D. Shapes studied by Dr. Watson and his partner), JANETS, LABILE, LANCER, LEO VII, NANNIES, OKAPIS, OLD PRO, REALMS, RETOOL, SCISSOR (90D. Kind of kick), SEXTET, SICILY, TEARER, TENSES, WINK AT.


Short stuff — ACED, ADES, A FOR Andromeda“, AMIN, APIA, Lhasa APSO, AUEL, BUOY, CEOS, COLS, CTRL, DEN, DPS, EAVE, ELIA, ELON and ENOL, ELSA, HASH (48A. Potpourri), HEHS, ICC, IHOP, ILER, IN ON a secret, ISLE, ISIS, JETS, KUE, LTR, NITS, OLIO (42D. Potpourri), ON A moment‘s notice, ORCA, ORTS, OSSE, RELL and RELS, RENU, RISE, SCOT, SLO, SOLO, SOON, SST and SSTS, Rikki-tikki-TAVI, THOM, TIRE, TORT, Set-TOS, “Open WIDE“, ZANE, ZONK.


Click on image to enlarge.

Puzzle available on the internet at
Remaining clues — ACROSS: 6. Jackson and Reno; 20. Shakespearean nobleman; 21. Wipes out; 23. Taking too much; 24. Reassure that one’s joking, in a way; 30. Tucker out; 31. Bone: Prefix; 35. Maternally related; 37. Knoll; 45. Paper tray size: Abbr.; 50. Burrowing rodents; 51. Home in the woods; 52. Kin: Abbr.; 53. Radiohead front man Yorke; 61. Fix, as a fairway; 62. “The Clan of the Cave Bear” author; 63. Southern university whose campus is a botanical garden; 64. Table scraps; 69. Burns, e.g.; 73. Ones pictured in corp. reports; 74. Newspaper units: Abbr.; 82. #2 or #3; 84. “Get it?”; 85. “Lohengrin” soprano; 87. Quick inning enders, for short; 88. Walled city of Spain; 89. Key; 91. Modernize the plant; 94. Spheres; 96. ___-Alt-Del; 98. Gusto; 99. Draft inits.; 100. Goddess with a headdress depicting a throne; 102. Killed, as a test; 104. Former transportation regulation agcy.; 117. Judge in Judges; 118. Neighbor of a Turkmen; 121. Remark after an awkward silence; 123. Hockey team, say; 124. Nobelist Bohr. — DOWN: 3. Cruel Ugandan; 4. Veg-O-Matic company; 8. Kid minders; 9. Glacial ridge; 10. Render; 11. Retired boomers; 13 Brass; 15. Vaquero’s neckwear; 18. Some punches; 19. Slander or libel; 27. Cavalry member; 31. 2005 biography subtitled “The Making of a Terrorist”; 32. Seasoned hand; 34. Repeated film title role for Jim Varney; 38. Links chain; 40. Orly bird?; 41. Pass (out); 43. Lens solution brand; 47. Guide; 49. Fox hunter’s cry; 56. Frequent answer to “When?”; 59. Letter after pee; 65. Dastardly laughs; 67. Like some cigarettes; 69. Pavement caution; 71. Cousins of giraffes; 72. Tightens (up); 73. Backups for backups; 77. Something a dome lacks; 78. Samoan port; 79. Former Connecticut governor Jodi; 80. Welsh, e.g.; 81. Robert of “The Sopranos”; 83. 10th-century pope; 92. Former surgeon general C. ___ Koop; 95. It’s found near the toe of a boot; 97. Apt. to change; 101. Inscribed marker; 103. Ancient volume; 105. Wispy clouds; 107. Water hazard?; 108. Give a lift; 110. Director Kazan; 111. Piped fuel; 112. Site for techies; 113. Writer Grey; 114. Organic compound; 115. Tiny criticisms.

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