Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New York Times, Thu, Jan 22, 2009 Gary J. Whitehead / Will Shortz

Thursday's puzzle turned out relatively straightforward, taking me around the same time as the previous day's. Compared to the Wednesday puzzle, there were fewer encyclopedic references in clues but lots more "clever" definitions.

This puzzle was the first of the year to require entry of more than one letter in a square, perhaps replacing the letters with a symbol. In this case, the letters HEAD had to be crammed into a square. I usually key in the answers into AcrossLite and it's not clear to me how to deal with this situation. Hopefully the question will not arise for the puzzles at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
Solving time: 35 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 23a E-I-E-I-O [Refrain from singing in kindergarten?]
Theme

37a shrunken heads [Primitive trophies ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme]. As kids, we were taken to see the examples on display at the Pitt Rivers Museum - very creepy. I decided the ones in the grid should be smiling: it was good to see they were symmetrically positioned - it makes for happy solvers too.

Here are the answers and clues affected by the theme:
10a egghead [Walking encyclopedia]
20a head for the hills [Split]
33a head-to-toe [All over]
43a Radiohead [Alternative rock band with four platinum albums]
54a drawbridge ahead [Traffic sign that indicates a possible temporary road closure]
66a head end [Front]
1d bigheaded [Macrocephalic];
9d swellhead [Egoist];
13d head-on [One way to meet];
45d head cases [Nut jobs];
49d beheading [Lady Jane Grey's fate];
58d axhead [Chopping part of a chopper];
Lady Jane Grey was queen for just nine days - the shortest-reigning English monarch.

Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
Grid15x15 with 40 (18.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.87)
Scrabble points308 (average 1.66)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
Wiki Clues

16a Palo [Alto lead-in?] - as a techie, I knew of Palo Alto well before I arrived in the US. It's the first two letters of that cauldron of invention PARC.

17a Gare [Paris's ___ de Lyon] - the station for trains south. What to say to a French tourist mistaking the station? "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la gare".

18a C-Note [Benjamin] - I don't think I've seen a real Benjy but it looks splendid.

23a E-I-E-I-O [Refrain from singing in kindergarten?] - reference to the traditional rhyme Old MacDonald had a Spaceship:



29a yuan [Chinese dollar] - the basic monetary unit of China literally means "round thing".

34a Bosnia [1990s war site] - the Bosnian War.

41a Ghia [Karmann ___ (old Volkswagen)] - a car marketed from 1955 to 1974.

62a Lehi [Where Samson defeated the Philistines] - the place is Ramath Lehi (Jawbone Hill) in full.

63a Xena [Lawless role] - here's Lucy Lawless in warrior-like action:



2d Olaf II [Sainted king known as "the Fat"] - king of Norway.

4d Oteri ["S.N.L." alum] - Cheri Oteri.

30d USN [Seal's org.] - United States Navy SEALs.

31d Anka ["My Way" songwriter] - Paul Anka. Here's Robbie Williams to sing it:



37d Shaw ["Rich Man, Poor Man" novelist, 1970] - Irwin Shaw.

47d Steele [English essayist Richard] - Sir Richard Steele co-founded The Spectator in 1711.

51d Kwik-E- [___-Mart] - I had to look this up to realize it was from The Simpsons, not a real store! Famous as the workplace of that frequenter of crossword grids, Apu.

56d ReNu [Bausch & Lomb lens-care product] - brand of soft contact lens care products.

57d Inge [Playwright William] - American playwright who got a Pulitzer for Picnic.

60d TNN [Former TV inits.] - now called Spike.

Dici Clues

5a icons [Trash cans and such] - icons on a computer screen.

19a iron [Wood alternative] - golf clubs.

28a dis [Zing] - "zing" in the US means attack or criticize sharply.

50a ewe neck [Conformation defect in a horse] - in which the upper outline curves downward instead of upward. Lots more about equine conformation here.

58a ante [Deal preceder] - the stake put up in poker etc before players are dealt cards.

68a ten G [100 18-Acrosses] - $10,000 - a slightly undesirable answer is lifted greatly by being linked in this way.

3d zeroes [Numbers in the thousands?] - nicely misleading.

26d rots [Fails to keep] - another beauty which had me fooled for a long time.

27d dee [It's barely passing] - as an exam grade presumably?

39d hut [Wickiup, for one] - "wickiup" is "house" in the Fox language, which is said to have no more than 300 speakers.

41d GRE [Test for M.A. seekers] - Graduate Record Examination (just had it on Tuesday).

Quicky Clues

1a bozo [Schmo]; 14a I let ["How did ___ this happen?"]; 15a nohow [Opposite of someways]; 24a placard [Picketer's sign]; 36a pâté [___ feuilletée (puff pastry)]; 42a actual [Genuine]; 46a ests. [Repair shop figs.]; 47a sob [Cry out loud]; 52a EAT ME [Words on a Wonderland cake]; 61a siren [Cause for pulling over]; 64a eking [Managing, with "out"]; 65a elan [Zest]; 67a segue [Go from one number to another].

5d inch [Creep]; 6d cone [Gelato holder]; 7d oh! oh! ["Pick me! I know the answer!"]; 8d no tip [Angry diner's decision]; 10d episcopal [Like a bishop's authority]; 11d gar [Elongated fish]; 12d glo [Day-___]; 21d To You ["Happy birthday" follower]; 22d lat [Back muscle, for short]; 25d a tad [Slightly]; 32d niece [Eleanor Roosevelt, to Teddy]; 34d brain-dead [Unable to think at all]; 35d ants [Things with antennas]; 38d hide [Lie low]; 40d eased [Lightened]; 44d o'er [Done, to Donne]; 48d Omahan [Certain Nebraska native]; 53d aglet [Shoelace tip]; 55d brig [Ship part]; 59d née [French word in some bios].

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