Monday, February 2, 2009

New York Times, Tue, Feb 03, 2009 Katie Yeager / Will Shortz

It's Groundhog Day (again) and Punxsutawney Phil says he saw his shadow, meaning there are another six weeks of winter to go.

The conclusion at last night's yoga class was that Punxsutawney Phil should be shot, but I suspect no-one can be bothered to journey half way across the state to do it.

The second puzzle of the week was still fairly straightforward, though I was having to make a few guesses about stuff that was New To Me.
Solving Time: 10 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 2d Celia [Anagrammatic cousin of Alice or Lacie]

Things not living up to their name, inspired by 55a isn't it ironic [Musical question posed by Alanis Morissette, as suggested by 20-, 33- and 40-Across]:
20a silver dollar [Coin composed of copper, nickel, zinc and manganese];
33a permanent wave [Hair treatment that generally lasts three to six months];
40a New York Giants [Pro football team based in New Jersey];
The question in question comes from the song Ironic:


Grid art by Sympathy

Grid15x15 with 42 (18.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.82)
Scrabble points299 (average 1.63)
New to Me

36a Avon [Mary Kay competitor] - the answer was familiar from "Avon ladies", who it seems ply their trade the world over. I hadn't heard of Mary Kay though, which also relies on unconventional sales methods.

39a item [Line-___ veto] - I'd not come across this power to reject individual provisions of a bill before, so it may be specific to the US political system (and ones that derive from it).

46a Sela [Actress Ward] - she played one of House's old girlfriends. I feel some kinship with Hugh Laurie as we were born in the same year and grew up in the same suburb of Oxford. He went to Cambridge and I went to Oxford, though, so we could never be that close :)

68a Redd [Foxx of "Sanford and Son"] - I see that that Sanford and Son was based on a BBC sitcom I'm familiar with. Redd Foxx has a very distinctive letter pattern - I wonder if anyone's made a puzzle based on names like that.

10d Burr [Victor in a duel with Hamilton] - a fascinating paragraph in US history. It might have been fun to see Biden and Palin fight it out in a duel instead of those tedious TV debates.

27d Orem [Utah city] - except that it is helpful to crossword compilers, this city seems to have little to commend it. Their baseball team is the Owlz - another answer that could rescue a compiler in a tight corner.

35d Edie [Singer Brickell] - I had to guess at this forename, as I didn't know Sela either. Thankfully there was only one letter that could reasonably go at their intersection. Her Mama Help Me video features a "living mural" (based on The Last Judgment?):

37d velo [Rider-propelled vehicle, for short] - this answer seemed reasonable as a shortening of velocipede, but is hard to justify from dictionaries. Vélo is the French equivalent of "bike", so I'm surprised the answer wasn't clued with reference to that (maybe too hard for a Tuesday puzzle?).

44d Nair [Hair removal product] - another answer that I wasn't sure of, crossing with Sela. They even have hair dissolving products for men, but I think I need to hold onto what little I have left.


45a O'Leary [Catherine whose cow is said to have started the Great Chicago Fire] - Magdalen explained the history a few days ago, so technically this wasn't new to me, although I'd forgotten the surname that would have given me the answer. I gather that the story of the cow is another urban legend.
Late one night, when we were all in bed,
Mrs. O'Leary lit a lantern in the shed.
Her cow kicked it over,
Then winked her eye and said,
"There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight!"
The O'Leary Legend
47a nor [Word before "rain," "heat" and "gloom of night" in a postal creed]. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" appears on inscriptions in post offices. The posties round here live up to this, as our mailbox gets filled at roughly the same time, whatever the weather.

58a Zippo [Lighter brand] - here's Liane Hansen (familiar from NPR's Weekend Edition) talking about Zippos old and new, real and virtual:

2d Celia [Anagrammatic cousin of Alice or Lacie] - neat approach to clueing a forename.

25d that's ["___ what you think!"] and 26d we've ["___ Only Just Begun"] - it's a little ugly to see these similar clues juxtaposed - the problem goes back to the grid construction, as "fill in the blank clues" are really the only option.

34d Enya ["Orinoco Flow" singer] - this new-ager appeared yesterday and seems to be making the running as Singer of the Week.

52d gnome [Knee-high, bearded figure] - they're well-known for their love of travel.

The Rest

1a acts [Delays no longer]; 5a bras [Some intimate apparel]; 9a Abbey [The Beatles' "___ Road"]; 14a meal [Supper, e.g.]; 15a each [Per person]; 16a quote [Kind of mark]; 17a all a ["It was ___ mistake"]; 18a dire [Urgent]; 19a urban [Not rural]; 23a says no [Refuses]; 24a lav [John, for short]; 25a two [Early afternoon hour]; 28a gods [Pantheon members]; 31a wither [Shrivel]; 38a rad ["Far out!"]; 48a I am ["Take Me as ___"]; 50a giggle [Girlish laugh]; 61a idée [___ fixe (persistent thought)]; 62a nova [Exploding star]; 63a apron [Cook's wear]; 64a doer [Go-getter]; 65a emir [Kuwaiti pooh-bah]; 66a goods [They may be durable]; 67a alms [Donations to the needy].

1d amass [Stockpile]; 3d tally [Add up]; 4d Slavs [Czechs and Poles]; 5d bedroom [Bureau locale]; 6d raid [Speakeasy's worry]; 7d acro- [Prefix with phobia]; 8d shell [Beach memento]; 9d aquavit [Clear Scandinavian liquor]; 11d bob [Short hairstyle]; 12d eta [Second letter after epsilon]; 13d yen [Tokyo dough]; 21d engr. [Mechanical whiz: Abbr.]; 22d lawn [Cemetery expanse]; 29d dark [Like some turkey meat]; 30d snags [Hosiery mishaps]; 32d twit [Pipsqueak]; 33d power [Might]; 36d anon [Soon]; 41d orisons [Prayers]; 42d Ryan [TV host Seacrest]; 43d Algiers [Capital on the Mediterranean]; 49d Mt. Ida [Sacred peak in Greek myth]; 51d goner [One who's toast]; 53d livid [Spitting mad]; 54d e-card [Modern birthday greeting]; 55d iPod [Music device with earbuds]; 56d idol [Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe]; 57d teem [Burst (with)]; 58d zag [Second in a series of sharp turns]; 59d IPO [Big Wall St. news]; 60d pro [Con's opposite.


Bill Butler said...

Nice write-up, Ross, as always.

I've had enough of Enya, to be honest. I was more pleased with the Carpenters clue, because when I went to look up the history of the song I found out that it was actually used in a commercial for a bank before the Carpenters ran with it. Who knew!

Crossword Man said...

The Carpenters connection really passed me by - I guess if a fill-in-the-blank answer seems to fit, you don't even look to see any secondary significance to the phrase. Enya must be one of those puzzle cliches, like Xena, but I haven't been doing the NYT long enough to become that bothered by repetition ... give me a year and I'll be screaming for more novelty!