Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NYT Thursday 2/26/09 - Quigley is for Q

I haven't often talked about the individual constructors, because it takes a while to detect the different traits they have. Brendan Emmett Quigley probably wouldn't have been more than a weird name to me unless I'd read about him in Crossworld, in which he acts as Marc Romano's Virgil through the nine circles of hell that is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

Marc is a big BEQ fan and I can see why more with this puzzle than his previous one this year. It was quite an achievement to get the Q quota to 4, all of them constrained by inclusion in a thematic answer. Then make the grid pangrammatic. If Q is for Quigley, then Quigley is also for Q in a big way.

So I didn't feel too mad at him when I discovered I'd got a letter wrong (I felt so proud of myself for "finishing" a Thursday puzzle in 17 minutes that I couldn't conceive I'd made a mistake).
Solving time: 17 mins (no cheating, but two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 56a Twix [It comes from Mars]

Phrases with an embedded ____ing qu____:
20a living quarters [Residence]
25a burning question [It has to be asked]
43a homecoming queen [Alumni weekend V.I.P.]
48a string quartets [Many Haydn compositions]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.05)
Theme squares58 (31.0%)
Scrabble points345 (average 1.84)
New To Me

14a Evil ["The ___ of Frankenstein" (Peter Cushing film)]. An easily guessed fill-in-the-blank: one of the cheaply made, but lucrative Hammer horror movies.

Warped Tour23a Emo [Some music on the Warped Tour]. I now expect any three-letter music answer to be either ELO or emo. I hadn't heard of the touring festival of music and extreme sports before and I guess it's worth remembering if it's on Quigley's radar.

36a LXI [Middle year of Nero's reign]. Nero reigned from 54AD to 68AD. I was 50 years out here and guessed CXI - working forwards from Julius Caesar, I imagined it would have taken longer to get through 5 emperors.

Baker House61a Aalto [Finnish architect Alvar ___]. He has the first entry in my Dictionary of Biography, but he's also notable for his architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware. His most famous building in the USA is the Baker House dorm on the MIT campus, for which he also designed the furniture.

3d Kiri [___ Davis, "A Girl Like Me" documentarian]. Te Kanawa I'd have recognized, but not this young filmmaker who made a documentary about the importance of color, hair quality, and facial features for young black woman today in the United States.

26d Utero ["In ___" (1993 #1 album)]. A studio album by the American grunge band Nirvana

31d Ilene ["The L Word" creator/producer Chaiken]. I suppose I should have guessed that a variant of Eileen was more likely, but I had Icene here. The L Word portrays the lives of a group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender men and women.


Ensenada, Baja California10a Baja [Home of Ensenada, informally]. Baja no longer has the has the mystique it once did: why, I even pronounce it BAH-hah instead of BAR-ger now! I kind of expect Baja to show up in a puzzle now, so Ensenada didn't throw me.

35a lusty [Like Petruchio's wench in "The Taming of the Shrew"]. Petruchio refers to Kate thus in Act II Scene 1:
Now, by the world, it is a lusty wench;
I love her ten times more than e'er I did.
O, how I long to have some chat with her!
from The Taming of the Shrew

46a Lou [1961 Top 10 hit "Hello Mary ___"]. The Ricky Nelson hit:

47a AFC [Texans' grp.]. Do I know this? Oh I see, here is another football clue in disguise: the Houston Texans play in the American Football Conference. Another expat reader tells me he's been in the USA for 42 years and still struggles with "sports" clues - I can see why!

56a Twix [It comes from Mars]. Finally an item of confectionery that has the same name in the US and the UK - years of attention to 80s ads finally pays off:

58a prez [Firm honcho] and 59d zap [Delete in one quick stroke]. I pondered pres and sap which works until you realize that "delete" doesn't usually mean strike ... and that there's gotta be a Z somewhere in the puzzle.
sap vt to strike with, or as if with, a sap.
from The Chambers Dictionary
64a my son [Words repeated after "O Absalom" in the Bible]. Words that have inspired many musical interpretations. I remember singing the Thomas Tomkins setting in my college days:

brougham38d brougham [Closed carriage with the driver outside in front]. Some horseless carriages are broughams, but the clue seems to be referring to the horse-drawn carriage from the mid 19th century.

45d Garson [She played Mrs. Miniver in "Mrs. Miniver"]. Dragged Greer Garson up from the recesses of my mind:

48d St. Lô [French town of W.W. II]. Not so tricky after the February 12 puzzle. Saint Lô was almost completely destroyed in the Battle of Normandy.

49d two-d [Lacking depth]. Another answer that caused a lot of head-scratching the first time I saw it, but is now more two-dimensional.

50d rico [Opposite of pobre]. I guess rico and pobre should go into Español para los crucigramistas.

The Rest

1a joke [Toastmaster's offering]; 5a plied [Worked regularly at]; 15a Lorca [Poet Federico García ___]; 16a exec. [Acct. ___]; 17a ware [Delft, e.g.]; 18a an art ["Conversation is ___ in which a man has all mankind for his competitors": Ralph Waldo Emerson]; 19a alee ["Hard ___!" (captain's order)]; 24a so I ["___ see!"]; 34a ate at [Troubled]; 37a team [Santa's reindeer, e.g.]; 38a boats [Common origami figures]; 39a seek [Ask for]; 40a cri [___ de coeur]; 41a erase [Clean, in a way]; 42a Sanyo [Consumer electronics giant]; 57a hurls [Casts]; 60a loci [Centers of activity]; 62a aura [Ambiance]; 63a odor [Something in the air]; 65a neap [Occurrence in the moon's first quarter].

1d Jew [Wandering ___]; 2d oval [Eyeglass lens shape]; 4d eleven am [Matinee showing time, maybe]; 5d plan on [Have in mind]; 6d long [Pants spec]; 7d Iraq [Modern home of the ancient Akkadian empire]; 8d ecru [It's similar to cream]; 9d data sets [Records for computer processing]; 10d beat it! ["Vamoose!"]; 11d axle [Part of a wheelset]; 12d jeer [Raspberry]; 13d Aces [Reno's AAA baseball team]; 21d I'm it ["You're looking at your guy!"]; 22d rosy [Upbeat]; 25d batch [Bake sale display]; 27d re-aim [Adjust, as a satellite dish]; 28d gloam [Twilight, old-style]; 29d quasi [Somewhat]; 30d US-Ten [Old hwy. from Detroit to Seattle]; 32d oxeye [False sunflower]; 33d Nikon [Coolpix camera maker];39d saucepan [Its home is on the range]; 41d econ. [Capital subj.]; 42d sq. ft. [Carpet meas.]; 44d elixir [Alchemist's concoction]; 51d quay [Unloading site]; 52d URLs [They may be bookmarked]; 53d alto [Certain castrato]; 54d true [Legitimate]; 55d sera ["Buona ___"].

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