Thursday, February 5, 2009

NYT Friday 2/6/09 - the Black and White Derby

Friday brings another tough New York Times puzzle and I had a tougher time than usual as Mimi was nudging me to pet her the whole way through.

This grid really splits into four corners and I found the NW straightforward. The SW was a bit of a struggle, but I got really stuck in the NE and SE. Perseverance was rewarded in the end and it was great to finish in under an hour and feel that the solution was correct.

No theme to this puzzle, but there was a smattering of clues referring to the turf. I'd love to see some harness racing, as I've seen it in several movies and they don't have it in England.
Solving time: 55 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 24d Leno [Star viewed at night]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersFrederick J. Healy / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 29 (12.9%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.44)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points315 (average 1.61)
New To Me

20a I Am A Rock [1966 hit from the album "Sounds of Silence"] - an album Magdalen knows well, but I'm pretty clueless about. We enjoyed listening to Art Garfunkel together at an outdoor concert in London in 2006.

28a keno [Game with many balls] - I couldn't recall if keno was a card game or lotto-like. It's the latter and the quaint term for the device delivering the balls is a "goose".

31a Han Solo [Sci-fi hero whose home planet is Corellia] - I was expecting an Iron Man type hero, but when the last letters turned out to be -olo, I managed to guess the rest.

38a grad [Many a 21-Down celebrant] and 21d May [Kentucky Derby time] - I'm unfamiliar with school, college and Derby schedules, but these answers seemed reasonable. I gather that High School graduation is more likely to be in June, so the celebrants are presumably college grads.

46a Karn ["Home Improvement" actor Richard] - a sitcom that didn't make it the UK:

47a Siberian [Yakut, e.g.] - the Yakuts are the indigenous people of northern Siberia.

49a Syria [Modern home of ancient Ebla] - a city southwest of Aleppo that was very powerful in the third millennium BC, dominating a region corresponding to modern Lebanon, northern Syria and southeastern Turkey.

23d Orel [City founded by Ivan IV] - a city in Russia, which can also be spelled Oryol. Orel is Russian for eagle.

28d Kans [Where Manhattan is: Abbr.] - I wasn't wise to this subterfuge, so it really held me up. I had NY, NY for a very long time until it was clear it just didn't work. So there's a Manhattan, Kansas - now I know.

41d Karnak [Site in ancient Thebes] - always get this one confused with the soundalike Carnac in France. Karnak is a temple complex on the Nile.


1a Jane Fonda [Big name in exercise] - Jane Fonda released her first exercise video back in the 80s, and a DVD re-release suggests they're still in demand.

18a reina [Sofia, por ejemplo] and 53d rey [18-Across's partner]. Español para los crucigramistas came in handy for these, once I'd recognized that Sofia was a queen and not a capital city.

22a last [Keep] - in the sense of "remain in good condition".

25a cee [It's passable] - difficult clue for me, as "pass" always suggests col, which is also passable in a sense.

30a Bantu [Zulu's group] - there are more than 400 Bantu languages of which Swahili, Xhosa and Zulu are the most important.

37a silks [Derby attire] - the garments worn by a jockey in the owner's colors. One of several references to horse racing in the puzzle.

6d oda [Certain ladies' room] - a room in a harem. I'm very familiar with this one, not because I frequent harems, but because it comes up a lot in cryptic crosswords.

10d do-rag [It might be worn under a cap] - a scarf or cloth worn to protect one's hairstyle (a 1990s coinage according to lexicographers).

The Rest

10a depts. [Firm parts: Abbr.]; 15a I'm on a diet [Dessert skipper's declaration]; 16a owlet [Big-eyed baby]; 17a gold watch [Valuable piece of time?]; 19a groin [It's sometimes pulled while running]; 23a old nag [Track has-been]; 26a els [Transports near stairs]; 27a greedy [Like pigs]; 29a up-end [Topple]; 34a leanest [Most economical]; 36a idées [Bits of créativité]; 39a tickle [Amuse]; 41a KOs [Lays out]; 44a hor. [Knob on old TVs: Abbr.]; 45a gashes [They might be in stitches]; 50a ptero- [Feather: Prefix]; 51a your honor [Term of address used during an argument]; 54a oleos [They're often found in tubs]; 55a none at all [Zip]; 56a tyros [They're green]; 57a okey-dokey ["Sure"].

1d jiggle [Shake]; 2d amoral [Unlikely to be judgmental]; 3d no loss ["It won't be missed"]; 4d end it [Split up]; 5d fawn [Forest issue]; 7d nit [Small beef]; 8d decided [Unquestionable]; 9d at hand [Near]; 11d ewer [It has a lip and a mouth but never speaks]; 12d Pliocene [Epoch when the landmasses of North and South America joined]; 13d ten cents [A call used to go out for this]; 14d stakeout [Plan to catch a criminal]; 27d GPOS [Mailing ctrs.]; 29d used [Handled]; 30d bake [Oven dial word]; 31d high spot [Climax]; 32d adroitly [À la an expert]; 33d near beer [Drink for a designated driver, maybe]; 34d like [Not far from]; 35d ells [Direction-changing pipes]; 37d schnook [Blockhead]; 39d tai [___ chi]; 40d I say no [Rally speaker's emphatic response to his own rhetorical question]; 42d Oriole [A.L. East player]; 43d snarly [Cross]; 45d gross [Total amount]; 46d Kyoto [Former capital of Japan]; 48d -eroo [Sock attachment?]; 49d shad [Atlantic catch]; 52d une [Armagnac article].



You saw Art Garfunkel, performing without Paul Simon? Blimey dude, that is just wrong.

Bill Butler said...

This one was tough for me. I had "dee" as a passing grade for the longest time, instead of "cee", and when I copped onto "pliocene" I had it as "pleocene". I'll swear we spelled it that way at school!

Crossword Man said...

No Paul Simon at the concert. But Art Garfunkel's son James (who looked to be about 15) joined in for a number or two.

And is it Plasticene or Plasticine? Chambers Dictionary had that one wrong at one time.

Magdalen said...

FMC (let me know about the shorter name when you get a chance) -- as a huge fan of Simon & Garfunkel, I know all the criticism of Garfunkel's reedy voice, lack of musical chops, etc., etc. The concert was okay (we'd won free tix through the Times of London) and it was just on the other side of Hampstead Heath from where we were staying, so convenient to get to), but what I really wanted to hear was some of his stuff from the album he did recently (like 2005) with Buddy Mondlock and Maia Sharp, "Everything Waits to Be Noticed." Check it out -- it's really good. He did one song, I think -- that was disappointing, but it was still a fun concert. We saw Richard & Judy (or Richard without Judy, I forget) -- the Regis Philbin & Kathie Lee Gifford of Brit TV.