Sunday, February 22, 2009

NYT Monday 2/23/09 - Merry-Go-Round

I've been trying to think of good metaphors for the New York Times crossword's hebdomadal cycle. The best I can come up with is a merry-go-round: once a week you see the faces of your friends the puzzles early in the week; but you're soon swept past them to strangers increasingly intimidating. Just when you're wishing the whole thing would stop, back come the friendly faces again.

Of course I'm on a merry-go-round that's not going to stop and I hope that I'll come to enjoy more and more of the ride as I gain experience. Experience really helped with this one: after getting just the band and bend theme answers, I was confident enough to put in bind, bond and bund in their correct places. This made it very easy to solve the corresponding clues and so report a fast time (for me):
Solving time: 7 mins (no cheating)

Phrases ending b?nd with each vowel used in turn down the grid:
17a rubber band [Stretchable holder]
23a around the bend [Loony]
35a the ties that bind [Strong family connections, idiomatically]
47a municipal bond [Tax-free investment]
57a cummerbund [Tux go-with]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersAlan Arbesfeld / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares71 (37.6%)
Scrabble points289 (average 1.53)
New To Me

16a Eric [N.F.L. Hall-of-Famer Dickerson]. It seems like a while since we've had an (American) football clue. I gather Eric Dickerson is one of the greatest running backs in history. His middle name Demetric is also a little unusual and definitely worth of a Friday or Saturday puzzle.

27a assists [Stats in hockey and basketball]. Another novel sporting reference to me - I could easily guess that this is awarded to players helping score a goal/basket.

Mila 18 Site52a Mila ["___ 18" (Leon Uris novel)]. A novel about the Nazi occupation of Poland, named for the headquarters bunker of the Jewish resistance fighters. There is now a monument to resistance leader Mordechaj Anielewicz at the site.

53a GSA [Fed. property manager]. Got this completely from cross-checking, as I couldn't see what it might stand for. So it's the General Services Administration - a sort of meta-agency with a mission to "help federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services and management policies."

62a Ernie [Country singer Tennessee ___ Ford]. A singer and television host. Cue for a song from the coal mines:

8d Ann [The Beach Boys' "Barbara ___"]. Not really New To Me, but assuming the song was called Baa Baa Baa Baa Baa Baran meant the clue answer was a guess anyway:

37d elhi [For grades 1-12]. I had to surmise this one and Magdalen was very sceptical about its use. But I found a citation easily enough:
elhi adj. informal of, relating to, or intended for use in Grades 1 to 12
from The New Oxford American Dictionary

6a chaw [Tobacco mouthful]. Not my first thought chew, which is a great answer until you try to solve 8d ...

6d cabins [Mountain retreats]. ... and this one made me think first of aeries, with its many spelling variants.

28d Sahl [Wry comic Mort]. Another instance where I definitely learned from a previous puzzle. In fact I met Sahl in a previous Alan Arbesfeld puzzle, where he was clued as "Satirist who wrote jokes for J.F.K.".

34d Edy's [Alternative to Häagen-Dazs]. Here's a progress report on my explorations in Ice Creamland: still working through the Turkey Hill flavors - best so far are Choco Mint Chip and Orange Cream Swirl. I haven't forgotten about you Edy's, but the local firm has priority.

57d CSI [CBS forensic drama]. Easy, as this is one of Magdalen's favorite shows.

The Rest

1a fawns [Offspring of bucks and does]; 10a cole [___ slaw]; 14a Aleut [Alaskan native]; 15a A-One [Top-notch]; 19a lava [Molten flow]; 20a mmm! ["Delicious!"]; 21a noir [Genre for "The Maltese Falcon"]; 22a peter [Lose steam, with "out"]; 29a -eers [Endings with mountain and election]; 30a NATO [Western alliance, for short]; 31a acro- [Prefix with phobia]; 32a hie [Get a move on]; 40a SLR [Camera choice, in brief]; 41a Mlle. [French miss: Abbr.]; 42a arty [Pretentiously styled]; 43a ha-ha ["That's a good one!"]; 44a barrels [OPEC units]; 51a abets [Aids and ___]; 56a tort [Basis of a lawsuit]; 60a eave [Projecting edge on a roof]; 61a snap [Sound heard with the phrase "Just like that!"]; 63a -ster [Suffix with poll or pun]; 64a ions [Atoms with + or – symbols]; 65a rasps [Talks like Don Corleone].

1d farm [50-acre homestead, maybe]; 2d alum [Reunion attendee, for short]; 3d webmaster [Internet guru]; 4d nub [Heart]; 5d stenos [Dictation takers]; 7d hoard [Stockpile]; 9d Wed. [Thu. preceder]; 10d celebs [OK! magazine topics]; 11d orate [Talk bombastically]; 12d liven [Animate]; 13d E-card [Modern-day birthday greeting]; 18d rout [Win by a wide margin]; 22d Perot [Ross who founded the Reform Party]; 24d riot [Big melee]; 25d tech [Kind of support offered by a 3-Down]; 26d Hera [Wife of Zeus]; 27d ants [Aardvarks' fare]; 31d ate [Lunched, say]; 32d hired guns [Armed thugs]; 33d intl. [Worldwide: Abbr.]; 36d iMacs [Apples on desktops]; 38d slap [Part of a Three Stooges routine]; 39d barn [1-Down building]; 43d hitter [One getting a single or a double, e.g.]; 44d blimps [Hoverers over sports stadiums]; 45d able [Well-suited]; 46d roarer [One guffawing]; 47d mates [Chess endings]; 48d U-boat [W.W. II Atlantic lurker]; 49d nerve [Chutzpah]; 50d Amman [Jordan's capital]; 54d snip [Paper doll-making sound]; 55d ades [Hot-weather quenchers]; 58d Uno [Numero ___]; 59d bra [Victoria's Secret purchase].

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