Wednesday, January 28, 2009

New York Times, Thu, Jan 29, 2009 Barry C. Silk / Will Shortz

This was the second Barry C. Silk puzzle of the year, and I think he is the first compiler to be so honored in 2009. I seem to be on his wavelength as his puzzle last Friday seemed straightforward and I logged a reasonable time for this.

My strategy with this type of puzzle is to try to get the theme answer being defined (bar in this case) as early as possible. I was hampered by the difficulty of 56d and 57d, but realized what was going on after about 5 minutes.

Is Barry an Apple fan, as I can see three of their best-known products in the grid: Macs, iPods and the iPhone?
Solving time: 14 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 22a oars [They're inserted in locks]

Five answers define the last across answer 66a bar:
17a legal profession
25a banish by decree
35a taproom
45a unit of pressure
58a musical notation
The last down answer 60d law [66-Across topic] was also clued with reference to the theme.


Grid art by Sympathy

Grid15x15 with 36 (16.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Scrabble points318 (average 1.68)
Wiki Clues

15a iPhone [Time magazine's 2007 Invention of the Year]. Last year's was the Retail DNA Test.

16a Yves [Jacques Cousteau's middle name] - not known to me, but the answer seems eminently suitable for the great French oceanographer.

23a Giza [City on the Nile] - familiar as the site of the Great Sphinx and Great Pyramid.

31a Galen [Influential Greek physician] - he was considered the authority on medical matters for over a thousand years.

34a URI [Sch. with a Providence campus] - University of Rhode Island. Kind of the compiler to give a strong hint to the RI bit.

39a Zak [Ringo's drummer son] - Zak Starkey (since Ringo's real name is Richard Starkey) - born with a silver drum in his mouth according to this vintage news clip:

50a Lett [Riga resident] - Latvia used to be called Lettland and its citizens are still called Letts. They speak Lettish. I'm not making this up!

54a Amarillo [Texas panhandle city] - and a cue for a song (this takes me back to when I was a tweenager):

64a Xena [TV heroine who wielded a chakram as a weapon] - a chakram is a throwing weapon somewhat like a discus.

65a tweens [Sixth graders, e.g.] - I'm still struggling to understand the US grade system (the UK does things differently).

If I understand this Wikipedia article right, someone in grade X is usually X+5 to X+6 years old. So a sixth grader is usually 11-12, the classic tweenager:
tweenager: a child who, although not yet a teenager, has already developed an interest in fashion, pop music, and exasperating his or her parents.
The Chambers Dictionary
1d Iola [Seat of Allen County, Kan.] - I'm expected to remember this place?

8d in F [Like Beethoven's Sixth Symphony] - these clues now seem rather pointless to me: isn't it equivalent to saying "the answer starts IN and ends A thru G"?

11d Avia [New Balance competitor] - a new name to me, and with that letter pattern, it's worth remembering. Makers of sports shoes with a fun web design.

37d pope [The Swiss Guards guard him]. Why Swiss guards? Swiss mercenaries used to be employed as guards in many European courts - the Vatican is just the last surviving one.

47d Elmore ["Get Shorty" novelist ___ Leonard] - here are the rules he follows as a writer.

48d Seaton [George who directed "Miracle on 34th Street"] - George Seaton at IMDb.

56d Loma [___ Linda, Calif.] - a group of Seventh-day Adventists here have the highest longevity rate in the US according to researchers.

Dici Clues

1a -ize [Suffix with social] - not the most helpful clue, since there are so many possible suffixes: TEA also gives -ism, -ist, -ite, -ise and -ity.

4a outwit [Best in mental combat] - "Best" is nicely misleading. The clue could also have been "Worst in mental combat", but maybe that's a little too devious!

22a oars [They're inserted in locks] - great clue - had me thinking of keys and then I couldn't let go of that.

32a øre [1/100 of a krone] - could be referring to either the Norwegian or Danish currencies.

52d cuke [Salad veggie] - more subtle than I originally thought - the informal "veggie" specifically indicates an informal answer.

54d ante [Chip without dip?] - referring to anteing up with a poker chip.

Quicky Clues

10a macs [Some rain gear]; 14a own [Hold one's ___]; 20a airspeed [Cockpit datum]; 21a I pass [Bridge declaration]; 33a eave [Roof projection]; 40a robs [Plunders]; 42a roe [Some eggs]; 43a iPods [Products once pitched by U2 and Eminem]; 49a apse [Basilica part]; 51a I came [Start of Caesar's boast]; 61a akin [Related]; 62a patrol [Soldiers may be on it]; 63a Mme. [Abbr. in French mail].

2d zwei [Deux : France :: ___ : Germany]; 3d engr. [Technician: Abbr.]; 4d oil paint [Artist's application]; 5d uppers [Amphetamines, e.g.]; 6d thresh [Separate the wheat from the chaff]; 7d wood [Golf club]; 9d tee [Place to start a hole]; 10d MySpace [News Corporation acquisition of 2005]; 12d CEOs [Business honchos]; 13d SSNs [I.R.S. data: Abbr.]; 18d as one [In harmony]; 19d size [Tag info]; 23d gyro [Greek restaurant offering]; 24d ideo- [Logical introduction?]; 25d baron [Captain of industry]; 26d alibi [Out]; 27d borer [Hole-making tool]; 28d razor [Shadow remover]; 29d evade [Duck]; 30d eeks [Mice might elicit them]; 31d guru [Wise guy]; 36d arfs [Pet sounds]; 38d mistrals [Cold northerly winds of southern France]; 41d stamina [Endurance]; 44d put it ["___ down!" ("Drop the gun!")]; 46d OPEC [Crude letters?]; 51d IMAX [Big film shower]; 53d asin [Q ___ queen]; 55d limb [An arm or a leg]; 57d oner [Humdinger]; 59d apt [Fitting].

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