Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NYT Wednesday 2/25/09 - TMA

Is it my imagination, or are there too many abbrs. in this puzzle? I can't say it diminished the solving experience that much, but it was very noticeable when writing the commentary. I guess the appropriate TLA for this is TMA.

The theme of things that are "spiked" was fun, though for a while I thought they were "spiced" (applicable to punch bowls and news stories, at least). Choosing between these two came only from considering the other thematics, as 61a wasn't helpful.
Solving time: 21 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 23d ordain [Make a father of]

Things that might be 48d spiked:
21a news stories [Pulitzer Prize entries]
52a volleyballs [They may be served at the beach]
3d iron fences [Some ornamental barriers]
31d punch-bowls [Party servers]

Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersKelly Browder / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 41 (18.2%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.84)
Theme squares48 (26.1%)
Scrabble points257 (average 1.40)
New To Me

34a No Fear [Brand of clothing or energy drink]. No Fear is a clothing company linked with action sports, with an associated drinks brand in a joint venture with Pepsi.

61a Arawak [Indian encountered by Columbus]. The natives of the Greater Antilles and adjacent South America - the first people encountered by Christopher Columbus when he "discovered" America:
I, that we might form great friendship, for I knew that they were a people who could be more easily freed and converted to our holy faith by love than by force, gave to some of them red caps, and glass beads to put round their necks, and many other things of little value, which gave them great pleasure, and made them so much our friends that it was a marvel to see. They afterwards came to the ship's boats where we were, swimming and bringing us parrots, cotton threads in skeins, darts, and many other things; and we exchanged them for other things that we gave them, such as glass beads and small bells.
from the October 12, 1492 entry in The Journal of the First Voyage of Columbus

10d Carr [Singer Vikki]. Vikki Carr is best remembered for her songs sung in Spanish. Here's her 1972 performance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.


7a TMI ["More than I need to know," in modern lingo]. Too Much Information! I wouldn't normally choose to have an abbreviation in a grid, but might make an exception for this one. Social networking sites generate TMI for some people...

15a IOC [Games org.]. The much less colorful abbr. for International Olympics Committee.

suckers19a runt [Littlest sucker]. A beautifully cryptic clue that helped make the NE corner the hardest for me. Kept thinking of suction cups on octopuses.

AME Zion Church28a AME [___ Zion Church]. I really should have remembered these initials from last Thursday, but the "Zion" bit made me think we were dealing with something other than the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In fact this clue does refer to a different church with a different logo 'n' all.

45a OSS [Old spy org.]. Yet more initials: the Office of Strategic Services was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. It was established in 1942, and at the height of its influence in World War II employed over 24,000 people. Its functions were taken over by the CIA shortly after the war.

49a Laila [Muhammad's pugilistic daughter]. Another answer remembered from earlier in the year. Leila Ali gave birth to Curtis Jr. last August, putting a stop to Mom's pugilism ... for the time being at least.

Tora! Tora! Tora!63a Tora! [When tripled, a 1970 war film]. Tora! Tora! Tora! presents the story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor from both the Japanese and American points of view.

65a Stille ["___ Nacht" (German carol)]. German for Silent Night:

1d Plato's ["___ Republic"]. A great clue to a not-so-great partial answer, simply because you can't help thinking you're dealing with a country not a book.

fruits de mer4d Mer [Fruits de ___ (menu heading)]. A combination of seafood. Not usually my choice in a restaurant because of some nasty experiences with bad shellfish.

22d Woman [John's ode to Yoko]. The clue says it all really:

32d Tse [Philosopher Lao-___]. Literally "Old Master", a central figure in Taoism.

35d ferule [Schoolmaster's rod]. Easily confused (by me) with ferrule:
ferrule n a metal band, ring or cap on the tip of a stick, etc for reinforcing it; a threaded cylindrical fitting for joining two pipes or rods.
ferule n a cane or rod used for punishment.
from The Chambers Dictionary
37d LST [W.W. II transport: Abbr.] and 38d ETO [Arena where 37-Downs were used: Abbr.]. I guess these abbreviations are slightly less painful when paired like this: Landing Ship, Tanks and European Theater of Operations.

The Rest

1a primer [Base coat]; 10a cede [Turn over]; 14a Laredo [U.S./Mexico border city]. 16a atom [Tiny bit]; 17a adores [Is nuts for]; 18a pie [Chart shape]; 20a tin [Component of bronze]; 24a oaf [Big lug]; 25a otter [Web-footed animal]; 26a sled [Ride with runners]; 29a adapts [Makes evolutionary changes]; 36a amuse [Tickle]; 37a lectern [Stand that a speaker might take]; 39a spinner [Randomizing device]; 41a steer [Burgers on the hoof]; 42a picnic [Meal on a blanket]; 43a toss-up [Even chance]; 46a ohms [Resistance units]; 51a bop [Some jazz]; 58a or I ["... ___ quit!"]; 59a ETAs [ORD or LAX figs.]; 60a o'er [Above, to bards]; 64a Lai [My ___, Vietnam]; 66a seat [Boarding pass datum]; 67a Ams [Pro-___ (some tourneys)]; 68a sassed [Dissed verbally].

2d radial [Michelin offering]; 5d Eden [Scene of a fall]; 6d Rosé [Sommelier's selection]; 7d tipster [One with the inside track at the track?]; 8d moist [Like a towelette]; 9d ice tea [Summer cooler]; 11d étui [Place for a thimble]; 12d done [Ready to serve]; 13d EMTs [Rescue crew, briefly]; 23d ordain [Make a father of]; 27d dotes [Spoils, with "on"]; 28d Aer [___ Lingus]; 30d amnio [Prenatal test, for short]; 33d ser. [Sun. speech]; 39d sisal [Rope fiber]; 40d PCs [CD burners]; 42d Polaris [Star in Ursa Minor]; 44d payola [Radio no-no]; 47d morale [It may need boosting]; 50d I-beam [Construction girder]; 52d vets [Checks out thoroughly]; 53d Otoe [Oklahoma tribe]; 54d Lara [Zhivago's love]; 55d LSAT [Aspiring atty.'s exam]; 56d lass [Bonny one]; 57d Srta. [Mex. miss]; 62d A is [Grafton's "___ for Alibi"].

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