Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NYT Wednesday 2/18/09 - A Smooth Ride

Crosswords can drive me crazy, but today's was a very smooth ride without the clashing of gears: the theme made perfect sense and there was nothing too scary in the cluing.
Solving time: 12 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 15a mania [The Beatles produced it]

8a/61a Shift Gears [... a possible title for this puzzle]. Phrases starting with four of the standard shift positions in an automatic car:
19a Park City Utah [Home of the Sundance Film Festival]
28a reverse split [Corporate action that increases the par value of its stock]
41a neutral shade [Bone, for one]
50a Drive Me Crazy [1999 Melissa Joan Hart movie]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersSusan Gelfand / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares58 (31.4%)
Scrabble points315 (average 1.70)
New To Me

25a ado [Foofaraw]. Even Magdalen hadn't heard of this word, so it didn't surprise me when I found it is peculiar to the Western US, possibly deriving from the Spanish fanfarron ("braggart"):
foofaraw n a loud disturbance; uproar
n gaudy clothing and accessories, esp the latter
n ostentation, proud show
from The New Dictionary of American Slang
5d Cootie [Bug-building game]. I see: Cootie is American for Beetle. Actually I knew what Americans meant by cooties, just not that they'd made a game out of it!

35d Lana [Clark's crush on "Smallville"]. Superman's romantic interest when they were teenagers in Smallville, which became the name of a TV series about the young Clark Kent.

36d Bolivian [From Sucre, say]. I got the right answer here, but by association with the wrong South American county: the clue made me think of sucre, the currency of Ecuador, but the clue actually refers to Sucre, the constitutional capital of Bolivia.


14a Gore [Ex-politico with a Nobel and an Emmy]. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Primetime Emmy Award for creating Current TV.

13a idea [It may be bright]. A nice misleading definition.

18a Essex [English county on the North Sea]. It's the county that gave its name to two new types in the 1980s - supposed beneficiaries of Thatcherism:
Essex Man n an archetypal SE English working-class male without cultural interests or good taste but with a large disposable income which he spends freely, mainly on consumer goods and entertainment.
Essex Girl n an archetypal SE English working-class female with lowbrow tastes and supposedly limited intelligence.
from The Chambers Dictionary
24a Mer [Debussy subject]. Referring to the composer's three symphonic sketches La Mer. If you have to clue a foreign word, this isn't a bad way to do it.

33a OED [Wordsmith's ref.]. We have the Oxford English Dictionary in the "compact" one-volume edition, complete with magnifying glass.

36a bah! [Dickensian cry]. The interjection we associate mostly with A Christmas Carol:
"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried
a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's
nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was
the first intimation he had of his approach.

"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"
from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
39a Dom [Monk's title]. Short for Dominus ("master") - a title used by Benedictine and Carthusian monks.

45a Eli [One of the Manning brothers]. Footballers so famous that even I've heard of them (and not just through the Oreo commercials):

46a Ali [Noted convert to Islam in 1964]. Cassius Clay took the name Muhammad Ali shortly after his conversion.

58a linen [Closet filler]. Talk about linen filling closets! How come we have so much of it - in my bachelor days I somehow managed with just three sets of sheets. Only Magdalen can answer this one.

59a abet [Look out for?]. Presumably referring to a lookout man, who would be "aiding and abetting" an offense.

60a Nero ["Quo Vadis" role]. A role played by the great Peter Ustinov.

2d Adlai [First name in 1950s politics]. A name I know well from a New York Times crossword earlier this year.

7d Tecumseh [Shawnee chief at the Battle of Tippecanoe]. I knew the name: was it because I'd remembered some of the American History books I've read over the last three years - I like to think so. His curse says that each American president who has won election in a year ending in zero dies in office. Ronald Reagan proved this was mere superstition.

27d Otis [Porter's regretful "Miss"]. This version is by the remarkable young singer, Nikki Yanofsky:

28d Roget [Physician/synonymist]. When solving, I knew who the synonymist was, but wasn't sure the physician was the same guy. Turns out Roget of the Thesaurus invented the log-log slide rule and co-founded the Medical School in Manchester, England.

43d Hamlet [Shakespearean soliloquist]. There are many other soliloquies, but I wrote this in with no crossing answers: could it be anything else in a Wednesday puzzle?

The Rest

1a zaps [Hits with bug spray]; 5a cat [Jaguar, e.g.]; 16a plan [New entrepreneur's need]; 17a ROTC [Cadets' org.]; 22a oil [Dipstick coating]; 23a Rei [King, in Portugal]; 31a quote ["And I ___ ..."]; 34a rani [Sari-clad royal]; 35a lunge [Fencing move]; 37a mocks [Makes fun of, in a way]; 38a aide [Right hand]; 40a pesky [Like gnats]; 44a ate [Grazed, e.g.]; 47a cab [Semi part]; 53a adieu [Parting word]; 56a ills [Poverty, pollution and such]; 57a a gun [Have ___ to one's head]; 62a net [Mosquito protection]; 63a grew [Mushroomed].

1d zippo [Nada]; 3d pearl [___ onion]; 4d sank [Brought to ruin]; 6d arty [Pseudo-cultured]; 8d smears [Artists' boo-boos]; 9d hash [Beanery fare]; 10d ins [Favored bunch]; 11d fie! ["For shame!"]; 12d tax [Cigarettes have it]; 14d grieve [Show sorrow]; 20d Crete [Minos's land]; 21d teed [Ticked (off)]; 25d alack! [Word of woe]; 26d dinky [Awfully small];
29d roams [Gads about]; 30d prose [Plain English]; 31d quiet [Library sign]; 32d undue [Excessive, as force]; 37d medic! [Battlefield shout]; 39d Dali ["The Persistence of Memory" painter]; 40d palest [Most likely to sunburn]; 42d reruns [Off-season offerings]; 47d cager [Hoops player]; 48d azure [Like a clear sky]; 49d by now [At this point]; 50d deer [Animal on XING signs]; 51d Elbe [Hamburg's river]; 52d rang [Summoned, in a way]; 53d alg. [Subj. with unknowns]; 54d die [Go kaput]; 55d in a ["___ pig's eye!"].

1 comment:

Magdalen said...

Yes, okay, so I like sheets. And Ross doesn't know the half of it. Back when I was living on my own and in law school, I had "a bit" of a sheet fetish. (And associated forms of bedding -- dust ruffles, duvet covers, shams, etc.) I literally could change my sheets weekly and still have a different set for over a year.

And that was for a double bed. When I moved in 1998, I bought a queen-sized bed and needed all new sheets. I divided my double-bed sheet collection by giving a dozen pink floral sets to a friend with all daughters, some sets to my siblings for the family beach house, some sets stayed in Hub 1.0's house in Philadelphia, and some came here for the guest rooms. Even with all that, we still had sheets with no homes; not sure what Hub did with those.

Now, it's *SO* much more modest -- we could change sheets weekly and see the same set again in a mere six or seven months...