Sunday, January 25, 2009

New York Times, Mon, Jan 26, 2009 Timothy Powell and Nancy Salomon / Will Shortz

Nerts! Those pesky Americanisms are holding me up yet again. Being stalled by cultural references resulted in a solving time that's not entirely respectable for a Monday New York Times puzzle.
Solving time: 12 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 48a naif [Babe in the woods]

Three phrases equivalent to "Bad idea!". The compilers did well to find the 15-letter and two 14-letter examples, allowing for the symmetry required by convention:
20a let's not go there ["Bad idea!"]
38a you must be joking ["Bad idea!"]
52a I didn't hear that ["Bad idea!"]

Grid art by Sympathy

Grid15x15 with 36 (16.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Scrabble points314 (average 1.66)
Wiki Clues

18a Swit [Loretta of "M*A*S*H"] and 19a Alan [Alda of "M*A*S*H"]. Great to see these two clued consecutively. M*A*S*H certainly made it over to the UK and was a hit there. I remember my barber talking about it in the mid-70s and saying I (at 14 or so) was too young to watch it!

23a Nate [Archibald or Thurmond of the N.B.A.] - Huh? I've no idea how I'm going to learn all these sportspeeps. Maybe by memorizing the Hall of Famers - do you have to be one to get into a crossword? Nate Archibald and Nate Thurmond are both retired players in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

37a Mr. Lee ["My sweetie" in a 1957 hit for the Bobbettes] - new to me, so this calls for a YouTube - I'd no idea the famous Reb general had inspired a hit song:

41a Ol' Man ["___ River" (song from "Show Boat")] - I can't imagine anyone topping Paul Robeson at this one:

43a NSA [Hush-hush org.] - not so hush-hush that it doesn't appear every other day in a crossword.

47a Edy's [Ice cream brand] - the Edy's flavors I've tried were yum, but my current project is to work through Turkey Hill's repertoire.

64a O'Neal [Center Shaquille] - another basketball player new to me, nicknamed Shaq.

2d Auel [Jean who wrote "The Clan of the Cave Bear"] - Jean Auel writes fiction with the unusual setting of prehistoric Europe.

13d Anne [One of the Brontë sisters] - the sisters chose pseudonyms with matching initials, so Anne wrote as Acton Bell.

40d Jeter [Shortstop Derek] - now we're on to a baseball player. With a name like Jeter, he must have a good throwing arm.

Dici Clues

15a he-he [Gleeful giggle] - I had te-he to start with, which was wrong on two counts: that kind of laugh isn't giggly and it's spelled te-hee or tee-hee anyway.

44a kibitz [Offer advice from around a card table] - two Bs or not two Bs, that is the question. kibbutz has two Bs, but kibitz doesn't.

48a naif [Babe in the woods] - made me smile.

21d nerts! ["Phooey!"] - this caused a lot of difficulty and I've found it hard to justify the answer from my reference books. However, it is in online dictionaries. Apparently a euphemism, one wonders just what is so terrible about saying "nuts!" that it needs to be euphemized.

45d zither [Instrument with 30+ strings] - Anton Karas used one to great effect in The Third Man.

49d f-hole [Cello feature] - I love an answer that starts in a way no word should.

Quicky Clues

1a nag at [Bother persistently]; 6a on TV [Airing]; 10a nada [Zilch]; 14a furor [Lots of screaming and shouting]; 16a oxen [Plow team]; 17a leery [Distrustful]; 24a hers [His and ___]; 25a sets [6-1, 3-6 and 7-5, in tennis]; 27a rev [Race, as an engine]; 30a seabed [Sunken ship's locale]; 34a ach ["Oh!" in Österreich]; 35a stair [Steps between floors]; 42a Seder [Passover meal]; 46a sot [Barfly]; 50a estd. [Cornerstone abbr.]; 58a Dior [Couturier Christian]; 59a hoax [Elaborate April fool]; 60a Oates [Hall's singing partner]; 62a esta [Are, in Argentina]; 63a else ["You're something ___!"]; 65a shag [Kind of carpet]; 66a reed [Woodwind item]; 67a pesky [Bothersome].

1d NFL [Org. for Patriots and Packers]; 3d greenthumb [Gardener's gift]; 4d aortas [Arterial trunks]; 5d tryst [Romantic rendezvous]; 6d oh so [Very]; 7d newt [Small salamander]; 8d thigh [Chicken piece]; 9d vetoes [Presidential noes]; 10d Noah's ark [Two-by-two vessel]; 11d axle [Car bar]; 12d dear [Letter starter]; 22d tremor [Cause of a low Richter reading]; 25d say OK [Give the go-ahead]; 26d e-coli [Undercooked meat danger]; 28d eats [Has dinner]; 29d vibes [Aura, informally]; 31d blind dates [Social arrangements that don't always work out]; 32d eensy- [___-weensy]; 33d Degas [Edgar who painted ballerinas]; 35d suntan [Beachgoer's acquisition]; 36d redo [Work over]; 39d main drag [Central street]; 47d ethane [Flammable gas]; 51d stoop [Bend to go through a doorway, say ... or what may be in front of the door]; 52d ides [Fateful day in March]; 53d dish [Satellite signal receiver]; 54d iota [Letter after theta]; 55d ease [Lighten, as a burden]; 56d axed [Pink-slipped]; 57d teak [Wood for shipbuilding]; 61d sly [Wily].


NYTAnonimo said...

I also had trouble with NERTS. Can't say I've ever heard it before. Enjoying your posts and commentary.


Sportspeeps? Is that British, I call all my operators at the plant my peeps and they love it. Never heard of nerts and I've heard every off color remark possible. Wonder who says that and exactly why?

Crossword Man said...

Some further digging suggests nerts! dates from the 1920s when nuts (ie testicles) may have been offensive enough to need euphemizing. It doesn't sound like it's used much now.
Peeps isn't British. Magdalen says it a lot and I copy her like a little kid. We like the marshmallow Peeps too.