Monday, February 16, 2009

NYT Tuesday 2/17/09 - Hole in the Heart

Coffee Jones and her crew left for home today, which I learn is appropriately called Beantown. After all the fun we had, it's sad to seem them go; but we parted hoping they can return for a longer visit in the summer. Mimi seems to be missing them too - she really enjoyed having new people to play with.
Solving time: 11 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 4d elect [Give a seat to]
Theme

Usually the thematic aspects of New York Times puzzles are straightforward. This one was more complicated to figure out: during solving, I assumed the first three thematics just included jumbles of HEART. This is true, but uninteresting (two of the answers would need the same jumble EARTH, which seems inelegant).

After discussion with fellow-solvers Magdalen and Dino_Burger, we conclude that the break is the space between the letters of HEART, which moves along as you go down the grid (only -hea rt- get omitted, being unpromising for word formation). A "hole in the heart", as it were.

Of course, you don't get to see that space when you enter the phrases in the grid, which makes it harder to appreciate the point of the puzzle.
20a rich earth tone [Umber or chocolate brown]
28a The Art of War [Military treatise by Sun Tzu]
46a now hear this [Captain's "Listen up!"]
53a broken-hearted [Sad, like 20-, 28- and 46-Across?]
Solution


Grid art by Sympathy

Crucimetrics
CompilersKristian House / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.00)
Theme squares48 (25.9%)
Scrabble points301 (average 1.63)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

19a Trix [Cereal "for kids"]. A colorful cereal brand introduced in 1954 that never reached UK shores - a shame, because the ads for it are so great.



36a Tormé [The Velvet Fog]. I read this as "The Velvet Frog", perhaps because we'd just had an awesome brunch at the frog-themed Patsel's Restaurant. It seems Mel Tormé didn't much care for his nickname, however lovingly-disposed.



42a roast [Friars Club event]. Magdalen has explained what "roasting" means to an American, but I hadn't come across this New York club for comedians and other celebs. The closest equivalent in Britain is probably the Groucho Club, although that has a much shorter history.

50a Tara [Gold medalist Lipinski]. An American figure skater - the youngest individual gold medalist in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.

67a Stan [Lee of Marvel Comics]. The creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men and numerous other iconic characters.

5d Red Hots [Candy that makes your mouth burn]. Cinnamon flavored candy from Ferrara Pan - I have to try these!

52d strip ["Blondie" or "Cathy"]. Comic strips by Chic Young and Cathy Guisewite. This one of the fields I'm hopelessly ignorant of - it's clear I need to get studying.

59d gap [Watergate tape problem]. Referring to the 18½ minutes "accidentally" erased when the tapes were transcribed. Brought up in Britain, I have a skimpy knowledge of the Watergate scandal, most of it coming from All the President's Men.

Noteworthy

15a Devo ["Whip It" rock group]. I should have learned this one in January when the group was clued as "Rock group whose members wear red flowerpots on their heads". I'm clearly getting old if this stuff isn't registering even when I get to see this clip:



37a Ugli [Trademarked citrus]. It's back again after six days and Uglier than ever.

6d Edda [Ancient Icelandic work]. 13th century Icelandic works that are our main source for Norse mythology.

12d Odie ["Garfield" canine]. Another repeat from January - clearly this pooch is more popular with compilers than Garfield.

54d rode [Hectored]. To "ride" somebody means to tease or pester them.

58d Day-O ["The Banana Boat Song" word]. The traditional Jamaican folk song most strongly associated with Harry Belafonte:



The Rest

1a maker [God, with "one's"]; 6a ETAs [Airport guesses, for short]; 10a idol [Word after matinee or teen]; 14a agile [Quick, like a cat]; 16a nada [Zilch]; 17a jawed [Chewed the fat]; 18a draw [Shootout shout]; 23a tot [Pre-K enrollee]; 24a AARP [Org. for boomers, now]; 25a CMI [Early 10th-century year]; 34a hand soap [Bathroom dispenser refill]; 38a stone [Thing in a sling]; 41a rave [Party with techno music, perhaps]; 44a revamped [Gave a makeover]; 49a sty [Pig's pad]; 51a TAs [Profs' helpers]; 59a grow [Shoot up]; 60a noel [Year-end air]; 61a urban [Built-up]; 63a aide [Adviser, say]; 64a aura [A person may have one of invincibility]; 65a Libya [Qaddafi's land]; 66a peel [Suffer from sunburn]; 68a Epson [Big name in printers].

1d Maj. [Hot Lips Houlihan's rank: Abbr.]; 2d agar [Petri dish stuff]; 3d kiwi [Fuzzy fruit]; 7d terr. [U.S. Virgin Is., e.g.]; 8d avatar [PC user's self-image]; 9d so what? ["Who cares?"]; 10d in top form [Managing perfectly]; 11d darn! ["Rats!"]; 13d LAX [Left Coast airport code]; 21d ethos [Body of cultural values]; 22d trot [It's faster than a walk];
25d churn [Antique farm device]; 26d Magoo [Myopic Mr. ___]; 27d in-law [Acquired relative]; 29d eat [Do lunch]; 30d aport [To the left, at sea]; 31d wraps [Cylindrical sandwiches]; 32d AMVET [W.W. II-era G.I., e.g.]; 33d reedy [Like an oboe's sound]; 35d dish-towel [Drier's need]; 39d Neh. [Book before Esth.]; 40d Evita [Madonna title role]; 43d teak [Flooring wood]; 45d as a rule [In most cases]; 47d arenas [Concert locales]; 48d ran out [Were completely depleted]; 53d Brie [Cheese with a moldy rind]; 55d Hera [Wife of Zeus]; 56d élan [Pizazz]; 57d ebbs [Falls back]; 62d nan [Tandoor-baked bread].

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