Thursday, February 12, 2009

NYT Friday 2/13/09 - Lucky in Love

It's Friday the 13th and we should have a puzzle about phobias, right? Not this time - if anything, there's a romantic flavor, with Kev and Winnie from The Wonder Years, a vase for flowers, out-of-the-way places like glens and a dell, perhaps even a keeper? More of a St Valentine's theme.

I'm feeling very lucky, as I chalked up one of my best times for a Friday crossword. It was also a really fun puzzle to do, with lots of great clues.
Solving time: 32 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 43d events [Composition of some chains]

Grid art by Sympathy

Compilers Doug Peterson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.57)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points314 (average 1.61)
New To Me

29a Edie ["Desperate Housewives" housewife]. Not knowing this caused some anxiety given it crossed with the unlikely Al Kaline. Not a show I watch, but it's clear that Edie must be remembered, and perhaps Eli ...

8d Andromeda galaxy [Locale of Krypton in the Superman saga]. Ignorance of this didn't hold me up much.

13d Al Kaline [1955 A.L. batting champ]. I couldn't believe someone would actually be called this, but it's true. As Wooster noted, "there's some raw work pulled at the font".

24d vase [Boughpot]. Wow! A dictionary word I haven't come across before.
boughpot n (archaic) a pot for boughs as an ornament; a flowerpot; a bunch of flowers.
The Chambers Dictionary
25d Orel [City liberated during the Battle of Kursk]. A major battle on the Eastern Front of World War II. Compilers continue the quest for interesting ways to clue an overused answer.

31d Glo [___ Worm (1980s light-up toy)]. A plush glowworm whose face lights up when you squeeze it. Hard to believe anyone would actually make this, but It's All True:

34d Eldorado [Poe poem about a knight's lifelong quest]. Not Poe's best known work - a poem written in reaction to the California Gold Rush:
And o'er his heart a shadow,
Fell as he found,
No spot of ground,
That looked like Eldorado.
From Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe
42d grapes [Balsamic vinegar source]. Didn't know this for sure - it seems that balsamic vinegar is not a vinegar in the conventional sense, but a reduction of cooked grape juice.

57d Kev ["The Wonder Years" teen who loved Winnie]. Magdalen had some specific objection to this clue, and I'll leave her to comment about that. I hadn't heard of any of this until reading the Wikipedia article on this 1980s TV comedy.


1a spinal tap [Activity involving a needle]. It's hard to see this answer and not think of the great spoof rockumentary.

31a glens [Out-of-the-way spots]. This definition seems a little off-the-mark: glens are narrow valleys, but are they necessarily out-of-the-way?

32a Ziegfeld Follies [Big draw of early Broadway]. Getting this first long answer was very helpful. I know the title well, but have to refer to the movie for an impression of what the Broadway shows must have been like:

39a Aldo [Ray in pictures]. Definitely know the name, but not sure why - looking at his filmography, there's nothing I recognize as having seen.

41a aggie [Cat's-eye alternative]. The reference is to marbles. The sport of marbles is full of colorful language: an imitation aggie is an immie; target marbles are mibs or kimmies.

43a Ewok [Furry sci-fi figure]. Star Wars again - it's essential to know this stuff. Ewokese is based on the language of a remote nomadic people of China.

47a bootstraps [Self-starter's equipment?]. One of many totally awesome clues. The reference is to "pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps".

52a dente [Grinder in an Italian restaurant]. Italian for "tooth". Of course, the compiler can get away with this because of the familiarity of al dente (literally, "to the tooth").

61a Sylvester [Merrie Melodies regular]. Our tuxedo cat Linus is a lot less animated!

10d Paseo [Madrid's ___ del Prado]. A cuter alternative to "Walk: sp." - another one for Español para los crucigramistas.

21d bor. [Part of N.Y.C.: Abbr.]. Presumably just the abbreviation for "borough".

35d gest [Exploit]. Another obsolete word, meaning "exploit" in the sense of derring-do.

37d odes [Expressions of praise]. This could equally well lead to oles - a deliberate trap? Only knowing Aldo Ray saves you here.

43d events [Composition of some chains]. Another fabu clue: not stores, not mountains, but a "chain of events".

46d keeper [Big-enough catch]. I thought the compiler meant this figuratively (ie a partner for the long term). Apparently, this is an actual term in angling, where smaller fish are thrown back.

48d store [Browser setting?]. Where someone goes to look, but not necessarily buy.

56d Cpl. [Person in the fourth grade: Abbr.]. This is getting really obscure: a corporal is in the fourth grade of the US Army pay structure.

The Rest

10a paean [Expression of praise]; 15a home loans [Household help?]; 16a apple [Flavor of Calvados brandy]; 17a amplitude [Wave measurement]; 18a spike [Unusually high 17-Across]; 19a least [Closest to nil]; 20a rube [Potential sucker]; 22a sad [Wretched]; 23a olio [Gallimaufry]; 24a voodoo doll [One getting pinned?]; 27a morn [Even's counterpart]; 28a armor [It's hard to penetrate]; 30a I see ["Point taken"]; 38a idles [Putters]; 40a meds [Dispensary stock, for short]; 49a vibe [Something that's picked up]; 50a agr. [Field of field workers: Abbr.]; 51a teal [Small dabbler]; 53a bravo [Indication of a job well done]; 55a packing up [Getting ready to make one's move?]; 58a wader [Crane, e.g.]; 59a expertise [Command]; 60a emote [Act unprofessionally].

1d shalom [Peace]; 2d pomelo [Thick-skinned fruit]; 3d impair [Debilitate]; 4d Nelson ["The Simpsons" bully]; 5d alit [Set down]; 6d lot [Choosing method]; 7d tau [19th of 24]; 9d pseudo [Feigned]; 11d app. [Useful piece of code, briefly]; 12d Episode I [Series kickoff]; 14d needless [Gratuitous]; 26d dell [Hollow]; 30d ifs [Hypotheticals]; 32d Zimbabwe [Victoria Falls forms part of its border]; 33d ideogram ["No smoking" symbol, e.g.]; 36d flip [Disrespectful]; 41d ate [Bolted things down]; 44d wing it [Ad-lib]; 45d obtuse [Thick]; 52d dire [Very serious]; 54d vet [Clinic worker].


Magdalen said...

Okay, before I express my objections to the Wonder Years clue, let me be clear -- I found this to be a nearly impossible puzzle. I did get Ziegfeld Follies and bootstraps, and guessed that the planet Krypton was in some sort of galaxy, but I still couldn't make the grid build. So it's all sour grapes on my part, or perhaps sour balsamic vinegar . . .

Nonetheless, Kevin is the name of the character who loves Winnie in The Wonder Years. Some of the other characters, notably his brother, call him Kev, but that's not his name, and it's not what Winnie called him. Surely someone else is named Kev? Or, clue the brother.

But to get back to the theme, and while I'm thinking about it, Will You Be My Valentine, oh CrosswordMan-o'Mine?

Bill Butler said...

OK, Magdalen. I thought about this one too. I forgave the puzzle master because he used "Winnie", nickname for Winifred presumably. So, using "Kev" as the nickname for Kevin made some sense BUT BUT BUT, I agree, and I don't think I ever heard Winnie call Kevin "Kev".

BTW, have you seen Winnie on "The West Wing"? She is all growed up now :o)

Doug Peterson said...

I just discovered your blog, and it's great! The color-coding of grid letters by Scrabble value is novel and a lot of fun. The patterns are fascinating.

I've always loved the oddness of AL KALINE's name, so I'm glad I was able to put that into a puzzle.

Crossword Man said...

Glad you enjoyed the post Doug. I must be on your wavelength as most Friday puzzles take me over an hour and/or need googling. Keep up the good work!