Sunday, March 22, 2009

NYT Monday 3/23/09 - Chuck Series

This Monday puzzle from the New York Times took me about the same time as usual, but struck me as having more obscure language and vocabulary than I'm used to at the beginning of the week: picayune, Eda LeShan and Bret Harte all seem a little out of place, but these could be more familiar to the locals.

Word Play companion bookIt's nice to see a pangrammatic grid (all letters of the alphabet are used at least once). The theme is simple, but exemplary in tightness, with all four examples having the same "X a Y" format. I'm reading the companion book to the Word Play movie at the moment: it goes into some detail on the compiling process and what editors look for in a puzzle - consistency in thematic answers being a must.
Solving time: 8 mins (no cheating)

Four things to hurl (but not literally):
20a toss a salad [Fix part of dinner with lettuce, carrots, peppers, etc.]
58a pitch a tent [Prepare to camp]
10d cast a vote [Participate on Election Day]
36d throw a fit [Show childish anger]

Randy Sowell
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersRandy Sowell / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares38 (20.3%)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.71)
New To Me

Frank Sinatra18a Copa ["Meet Me at the ___"]. A song recorded by Ol' Blue Eyes in 1950. Couldn't find it on YouTube for you, so here's a picture of him in Philadelphia. Such murals are a striking feature of Philly, but I don't remember seeing this one - maybe Magdalen will point it out to me next time we drive past?

Bret Harte35a Bret [Writer Harte]. Bret Harte (1836-1902) is best known for his accounts of pioneering life in California.

wat in Vientiane13d Laos [Vientiane's land]. Vientiane is the capital of Laos as well as the country's largest city. The picture shows a wat - what we had on Saturday!

25d GAO [Fed. auditing agcy.]. Just when I thought the GSA was all I needed to know, here comes the Government Accountability Office - a solver's work is never done!

44d Eda [Psychologist/writer LeShan]. Eda LeShan (1922-2002) was a writer and TV host. One of her books has the memorable title It's Better to be Over the Hill than Under It.

Chi Sox cow48d Chi Sox [Longtime Comiskey Park team, informally]. Have vaguely heard of the Chicago White Sox, but haven't come across this abbreviation before. In Chicago even the cows dress up for a game.


Petco Park40a Petco [Retail giant selling dog food, birdcages and such]. When solving, I wasn't quite sure if this was an actual company or just a generic term for a pet food company. Checking it out later, I realize it's a store I've been past numerous times. The company paid for naming rights at the home of the Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres.

Food Network mystery dish48a chefs [Food Network stars]. I don't watch the network as a rule, but know a little bit about it because an episode of Dinner: Impossible was shot at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament this year. The top solvers tried to guess cliches based on dishes chef Robert had prepared - the picture shown was one of the easier ones. The ACPT episode is due to air on May 6th.

6d picayune [Petty]. This less well-known answer surprised me in a Monday puzzle. I fancy I have a pretty large vocabulary, but don't recall ever getting picayune into a conversation (that'll be my challenge during the next few days).

Mahmoud Abbas26d Abbas [The P.L.O.'s Mahmoud ___]. Mahmoud Abbas has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 2004.

49d Spacek [Sissy of "Carrie"]. Carrie is one of the better adaptations of the oft-filmed Stephen King oeuvre.

The Rest

1a blame [Point the finger at]; 6a pert [Impudent]; 10a cell [Jail unit]; 14a roles [Parts to play]; 15a icer [One putting finishing touches on a cake]; 16a aqua [Light greenish blue]; 17a agent [Worker for 15%, say]; 19a sumo [Japanese wrestling]; 22a tips [Large part of a waiter's income]; 23a atty. [A.B.A. member: Abbr.]; 24a Sega [Game company behind Sonic the Hedgehog]; 26a act [Play a part]; 29a erupt [Go off like Mount St. Helens]; 31a avast! [Sailor's "Stop!"]; 37a in a [Put ___ good word for]; 38a Look Ma! [Words cried before "No hands!"]; 39a bath [Activity with bubbles]; 42a ties [Knots]; 43a Azores [Islands west of Portugal]; 45a Cro [___-Magnon man]; 46a état [Coup d'___]; 47a synod [Church council]; 50a are ["___ you ready?"]; 51a wash [Take a 39-Across]; 53a saps [Boneheads]; 55a Baja [___ California]; 63a Olaf [Minnesota's St. ___ College]; 64a I see [What "video" means literally]; 65a cameo [Bit part]; 66a Ravi [Sitarist Shankar]; 67a torn [In tatters]; 68a Evian [Perrier competitor]; 69a gnat [Pesky flier]; 70a exit [Lighted sign over a door]; 71a Kerry [Bush's 2004 opponent].

1d brat [Kid with frequent temper tantrums]; 2d logo [Golden arches, for McDonald's]; 3d ales [Pub draughts]; 4d Mensa [High-I.Q. group]; 5d estate [Billionaire's home]; 7d ecol. [Environmental sci.]; 8d repast [Meal]; 9d trade [Swap]; 11d equi- [Prefix with lateral]; 12d lump [It's in your throat when you choke up]; 21d strips [Bacon units]; 27d crazy [Touched in the head]; 28d Teton [Wyoming's ___ Range]; 30d patch [Where watermelons grow]; 32d akita [Japanese dog]; 33d smear [Mascara mess]; 34d taste [Important sense for a gourmet]; 38d loofah [Sponge used in a 39-Across]; 41d crescent [Moon shape]; 52d spite [Ill will]; 54d stave [Prevent, with "off"]; 55d Borg [Tennis's Bjorn]; 56d Alan [Astronaut Shepard or Bean]; 57d Java [Coffee, slangily]; 59d Teri [Garr or Hatcher]; 60d emir [Mideast bigwig]; 61d near [Close]; 62d Tony [Broadway honor].

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