Friday, March 20, 2009

NYT Friday 3/20/09 - Mus gustavus

I solved this crossword at about midnight on the trip home from Philadelphia. Tiredness didn't affect my speed: I got the puzzle finished in under half an hour. But accuracy suffered, as I had Mus and mob instead of Gus and gob at 48a and 48d.

The grid has a lot of 15-letter answers, but my experience with puzzles like these is they suffer overall in achieving that goal. Here gobs of three-letter entries are needed and the four L-shaped blocks isolate the corners, which become separate mini-puzzles. The cluing was great, however, with some lovely misleading definitions.
Solving time: 25 mins (no cheating, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 5d etc [Condensation indication]

David Levinson Wilk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDavid Levinson Wilk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.40)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points294 (average 1.56)
New To Me

Utne16a Utne [___ Independent Press Awards]. Not knowing this unlikely answer, I had to check the crossings very carefully: Utne is the magazine that gives out the awards - it's named after the founders, Eric Utne and Nina Rothschild Utne.

Po' Boy20a po' boy [Hero, to some]. The submarine sandwich has various names around the US and these make for colorful crossword answers and clues. The po' boy is the Louisiana version, often containing seafood.

48a Gus [One of a pair of mice in "Cinderella"]. Oops ... I had Mus here, being satisfied with mob for 48d, and thinking of the mouse genus. In my defense I was solving at around midnight on a road trip. Jaq and Gus are the named murine pals of Cinders in the movie.

50a Olmos [Oscar nominee for "Stand and Deliver," 1988]. Edward James Olmos was nominated for playing Jaime Escalante, a real-life math teacher who taught poor minority students calculus.

Ho Ho2d Ho Ho [Chocolaty treat]. Based on Magdalen's description, Ho Hos are like the mini Swiss rolls you can get in the UK.

9d Sha [Al Green's "___-La-La (Make Me Happy)"]. The song is from Al Green Explores Your Mind, the soul singer's eight album.

11d Stop Making Sense [1984 Talking Heads concert film and hit album]. The title of the movie and soundtrack album comes from a repeated phrase in the Talking Heads song Girlfriend is Better.

26d A Safe ["___ Place," 1971 Orson Welles movie]. Orson Welles merely starred in this movie directed by Henry Jaglom.

31d a nest ["___ of traitors!": Shak.]. The words come from a line of Leontes in The Winter's Tale.

Alderaan51d Leia [Royal from the planet Alderaan]. Alderaan is home to Princess Leia. Star Wars movies are someone's favorite, as they seem required knowledge for New York Times puzzles at least.


5a Erda's ["___ Warning" ("Das Rheingold" aria)]. A bit of a gimme for me, but I doubt that's true of most people. Erda is the Earth Mother, who rises to warn Wotan not to mess with That Ring. Luckily for Wagner lovers, he ignores the advice, and another 12 hours or so of fabu music follow.

15a torch [It goes a long way before the Olympics], 22a hopes [You don't want them to be dashed], 10d autos [Jam ingredients], 12d in re [Dictator's opening]. Just a few examples of the beautifully misleading clues in this puzzle.

21a Tso [Name on a Chinese menu]. As in General Tso's chicken. This answer was very intriguing the first time I came across it, but is served up enough to be a little ho-hum now.

41a Ena [Faline's mother in "Bambi"]. Another popular reference. I'm now not sure if Aunt Ena is Bambi's biological aunt or just a maternal figure. If the former, this would make Faline and Bambi first cousins, so unlikely mates. Hmm.

jai alai63a cesta [Basket on a court]. Once a solver's heard what a cesta is in jai alai they're unlikely to forget it.

3d Alabama slammers [They include amaretto and sloe gin]. Here's Syrup magazine's recipe, in case you want to make it (but who keeps sloe gin in the house?).

5d etc [Condensation indication]. A great new clue for an answer that comes up about 10 times a year.

Virgin34d EMI [Virgin's parent]. Virgin Records was acquired by parent EMI in 1992.

37d Erl [Schubert's "The ___ King"]. Knowledge of classical music served you well in this puzzle - this seems fairly unusual in a crossword where popular music dominates. The Erl King is a setting for voice and piano of Goethe's poem of the same name.

48d gob [Lot]. I unfortunately chose mob as the answer here; I think this is excusable given that gobs of is US slang I'm unfamiliar with. I shouldn't really have been satisfied with Mus as the crossing answer though.

The Rest

1a chat [Bit of back-and-forth]; 10a as if ["Yeah ... whatever!"]; 14a cola [Cherry ___]; 17a character actors [Their parts are usually unusual]; 23a ate [Took a course?]; 24a ess [Surreal beginning?]; 25a -ism [Surreal ending?]; 26a ATM [A person who's short might run to it]; 28a NTs [Some Windows systems]; 29a as a [Comparison component]; 32a soaked to the skin [Not merely having wet clothes]; 39a at some other time [Later]; 40a fill in the blanks [Provide what's missing]; 42a hes [Fathers and sons]; 43a gat [Heat on the street]; 44a MVP [Series standout, briefly]; 47a ENT [Apnea specialist: Abbr.]; 52a cir. [Abbr. on a residential street sign]; 53a obese [Very big]; 56a feel in one's bones [Just know]; 59a fire [Can]; 60a freer [Less formal]; 61a ASAP [Dreaded letters for a procrastinator?]; 62a sass [Reason for parental scolding]; 64a tern [Coastal bird].

1d CCCP [Letters on old Russian maps]; 4d tarot [The Emperor, The Empress or The High Priest]; 6d rotten to the core [As bad as can be]; 7d dress to the nines [Get all dapper]; 8d across the street [Very close, in a way]; 13d fess [Utter guilt, with "up"]; 18d aye [Assembly call]; 19d chi [46-Down preceder]; 27d totin' [Gun-___ (like Yosemite Sam)]; 30d Simka [Carol Kane's role on "Taxi"]; 33d Kol [___ Nidre (Yom Kippur prayer)]; 35d den [Relaxation location]; 36d Heb. [Likud lang.]; 38d sta. [Stopping point: Abbr.]; 45d voles [Crop-damaging animals]; 46d psi [19-Down follower]; 49d U-boat [German diver]; 50d offs [Wastes]; 54d sear [Cauterize]; 55d ESPN [It shows many matches]; 57d NFC [Grp. with East and West divisions]; 58d Sra. [Tabasco title: Abbr.].


Daniel Myers said...

I made the same mistake w/ lot=mob. It was my only mistake in the entire puzzle. Looking at that other fellow's page who does the puzzle and his comments section, nobody mentions making this mistake. I wonder if it's because this lot in the US would never make the, ahem, connexion?

-Felllow Pommy again

Dan said...

"Star Wars" shows up a lot because it's such a big part of American pop culture... and the names are so vowely! LEIA, YODA, ARTOO DETOO, even little ANI.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for the tip Dan. I'll have to do a special post on Star Wars lore - researching the one on Spanish words really helped me learn those.

ANI is always a cuckoo in the cryptic crosswords I do. It is very liberating not to have clue answers via dictionary words.

Crossword Man said...

Glad (sort of) to hear you were in the same boat Daniel. "gob" as slang for mouth seems to be peculiarly British - that usage might discourage "gobs of" taking hold in Britain ...

Daniel Myers said...

Indeed, I would be gobsmacked if it did!