Monday, February 23, 2009

NYT Tuesday 2/24/09 - EEE-K!

Tuesday puzzles shouldn't be scary. This one was because of a nasty cluster of clues requiring US-specific knowledge of cars (XK-Es), the military (on KP), shoe sizes (EEE) and baseball (pegs). I completed all but four squares of the grid in 12 minutes; another 8 minutes of musing over those four little squares was never going to do me good as I had to guess anyway.

If this sort of cluster (which probably the editor probably wouldn't be aware of as problematic) occurs in an ACPT puzzle, I will be in serious trouble. Magdalen of course didn't have the difficulties I did, and got the puzzle right in a mere 18 minutes.
Solving time: 20 mins (4 wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 42d leopards [They're spotted in tall grass]

"X one's Y" phrases where X is coincidentally a bird:
21a crane one's neck [Strain to see over the top]
41a swallow one's pride [Eat humble pie]
59a hawk one's wares [Be a street peddler]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersStephen Edward Anderson / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 38 (15.8%) black squares
Answers81 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares42 (20.8%)
Scrabble points347 (average 1.72)
New To Me

1a topaz [Birthstone for most Scorpios]. As a November-born Scorpio, I guess I should have been able to answer this. Birthstones seem to have been originally associated with calendar months, and the clue assumes the former. But the astrology crowd have reassigned stones to zodiac signs - on that basis, Scorpios have beryl as the birthstone?

16a Omni [1970s-'80s Dodge]. My ignorance of American car models didn't cost me this time, as I don't remember ever solving this clue. The Omni was a front wheel drive model introduced in 1978. Industry expert fmcgmccllc may be able to expand on this :-)

XK-E46a XK-Es [Classic Jags]. This one contributed to my downfall. I thought the model must be XK something from 39d, but had Jaguar XJSs on my mind, so kept trying to make XKSs work here. I see now why I had problems: the XK-E is what Americans call the E-Type.

51a pegs [Hard throws to first base, say]. Another clue that wouldn't work in the UK.
peg vt informal throw (a ball) hard and low, esp. in baseball: the catcher pegs the ball to the first baseman
from The New Oxford American Dictionary
Omar Bradley2d Omar [Five-star Bradley]. Omar Bradley, The G.I.'s General, commanded the US First Army at the Normandy Invasion. Good job, Sir!

14d Pam [1989 Bond girl Bouvier]. The character played by Carey Lowell in Licence to Kill.

22d Ortho [Big name in lawn products]. The weed and bug killing brand of the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

39d on KP [Preparing hash for G.I. Joe, say]. This US-age caused me trouble: "kitchen patrol" would be called "spud bashing" in the British Army.

43d EEE [Wide shoe spec]. My ignorance of this may be due to different terminology in the UK or simply that I have such narrow feet that I could probably fit both together into an EEE.


10a twerp [Insignificant type]. I kinda assumed this was British slang and I'm glad to see I can use it over here. The twerp in Antwerp makes it one of the easier Belgian ports to write a cryptic clue for.

volutes17a Ionia [Ancient region with an architectural style named after it]. You can tell Ionic architecture by the scrolls (volutes is the fancy term) around the capitals of columns - like the ones on the Jefferson memorial.

19a wiggle room [Margin to maneuver], 65a paper tiger [Toothless enemy]. These two are such colorful answers that I wondered whether they were thematic. Apparently not, so kudos to the compiler for including them just because ...

34a Niagara [Honeymooners' destination]. Magdalen and I are hoping to visit this year. I can't wait to follow in the footsteps of Dickens and Mahler:
Niagara was at once stamped upon my heart, an Image of Beauty; to remain there, changeless and indelible, until its pulses cease to beat, for ever.
American Notes by Charles Dickens

Fortissimo at last!
Gustav Mahler by K. Blaukopf
69a fjord [Norwegian coast feature]. Always a tough answer because fiord is an equally good spelling. Luckily I was confident of the crossing down.

Lincoln Highway70a Main [Street that may be a U.S. highway]. We've heard much of "Main Street" recently in contrast to "Wall Street". I hadn't appreciated the link with federal highways before, but I suppose it's logical that a town built around a U.S. route should make that their Main Street? Or could this clue be a reference to the Lincoln Highway, aka "The Main Street Across America"?

1d talc [1 on the Mohs scale]. Diamond is at the other end of this scale of mineral hardness.

7d amie [Friend who's fran├žaise]. Neat use of feminine in the clue to indicate the feminine answer.

6d mown [Like golf greens, frequently]. Interesting that "frequently" can be taken two ways: that most golf greens are mown, or that golf greens are mown very often. Clearly the latter in this case.

tie clasp10d tie clasp [Haberdashery accessory]. Another name for tie clip. The tie-bound can make a great tie clasp out of an iPod shuffle.

12d Eno [Musician Brian]. The father of ambient music.

20d Leo I [First in a string of 13 popes]. So popes come in strings, like "popes on a rope"? After gathering the evidence on this since the beginning of the year: to a first approximation, all popes were called Leo.

30d pearly [___ white]. Can only think of Mack the Knife here:

SSgt44d SSgts [U.S.M.C. noncoms]. Staff sergeants - senior tactical advisers to platoon commanders.

60d Neil [Singer Sedaka]. Fans of the singer continue the campaign to get Neil Sedaka into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

61d Erno [Professzor Rubik]. A misprint? No, the Hungarian spelling of Professor.

The Scarlet Letter62d red A [Stigma borne by Hester Prynne]. The scarlet letter of the book title.

PFC65d PFC [Low-rank inits.]. A lowly rank compared to SSgt.

66d Aja [Steely Dan's stellar seller]. Thank goodness for the Sunday puzzle where we learned this one. Otherwise, I'd have guessed aia, as that's at least a dictionary word (the crossing answer can be spelled both ways).

The Rest

6a ma'am [Sir's complement]; 15a amigo [Friend in a sombrero]; 18a Latin [Root of all Romance languages]; 23a grr [[That makes me a little angry]]; 24a tool [Hammer or tongs]; 25a leg [Pants half]; 28a map [G.P.S. offering]; 31a Styx [River of Hades]; 36a -ites [Social finishes?]; 38a hobo [Bum]; 40a Sodom [City God destroyed with fire and brimstone]; 45a hiree [Company newbie]; 47a peer [One's equal]; 48a all done! ["That's it for now!"]; 53a sss [Sound of bacon frying]; 54a ply [Perform, as one's trade]; 55a pest [Real pill]; 57a tax [Line on a receipt]; 68a one no [Terse bridge bid]; 71a udder [Milk dispenser]; 72a capos [Mafia dons]; 73a Oslo [Capital on a 69-Across]; 74a toast ["Here's to ...," e.g.].

3d pita [Hummus scooper-upper]; 4d aging [Cause of some wrinkles]; 5d zoners [Land-use regulators]; 8d angst [Unfocused dread]; 9d mignon [Filet ___]; 11d work [Slacker's bane]; 13d Rio [Carnival locale]; 25d Ladies [Part of L.P.G.A.]; 26d erodes [Wears away]; 27d gamers [Arcade fans]; 28d mishap [Fender bender, e.g.]; 29d at will [Whenever your heart desires]; 32d yow ["Ouch!"]; 33d Xbox [___ 360]; 35d gorp [Hiker's snack]; 37d sled [Musher's carrier]; 49d Newt [Politico Gingrich]; 50d Eskimo [One for whom Nome may be home]; 52d saw out [Walked to the door]; 56d togas [Forum attire]; 58d X and O [Tic-tac-toe alternatives]; 59d hero [Key to the city recipient, maybe]; 63d -enes [Hydrocarbon suffixes]; 64d sort [Type]; 67d pop [Top 40 genre].

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