Saturday, March 28, 2009

NYT Saturday 3/28/09 - Setting Forth

My brother's houseI tackled the Saturday New York Times crossword at my brother's house in Naburn, York on Saturday morning. Several answers offered a good "way in" to the puzzle and I finished with an excellent time under half an hour. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Trollope let me down and I got two answers wrong.

Forth BridgesMid-morning, Magdalen and I drove north to attend the annual Listener Crossword Dinner. This year it was held in Scotland, and we took the western route, crossing the border near Gretna Green and stopping for lunch at the spa town of Moffat. The venue for the dinner was a hotel at the northern end of the Forth Road Bridge, where there is also a fine view of the Forth Railway Bridge, described as "the one internationally recognized Scottish landmark". I'll write about the dinner itself in a separate post.
Solving time: 25 mins (no cheating, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 29a dinettes [Parts of some studios]
Solution

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersJoe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 19 (8.4%) black squares
Answers64 (average length 6.44)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points265 (average 1.29)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Ponte di Rialto18a ponte [Common sight in Venezia]. I got into trouble here, thinking for some reason of the plural ponti and being satisfied with Erli as the surname in 5-down.

34a Susann ["Valley of the Dolls" novelist]. I had to guess this one and was surprised that the answer appeared to be a forename. Jacqueline Susann wrote this bestselling book about three girls in showbiz (the "dolls" of the title are downer drugs). It was made into a commercially successful movie:



45a Ulee [Title apiarist of a 1997 film]. The film is Ulee's Gold, which starred Peter Fonda as the beekeeper.



tir48a tir [French shooting match]. Is it reasonable to expect us to know this one? I suppose some solvers might have come across archery's governing body FITA, short for Federation Internationale de Tir a l'Arc.

5d Erle ["Phineas Finn" character Barrington ___]. Another mightily obscure reference: Barrington Erle is a Liberal MP and minor cabinet minister in Trollope's Palliser novels. He was played by Moray Watson in the 1974 TV series.



10d Avas [Prizes for video production]. Information on the Ava Awards is somewhat scant: I couldn't find the origin of the name - is it an acronym, or is there an Ava after which the award was named? Anyway, the prize is a statuette of a girl holding a reel of film aloft.

43d aetat. [Old tombstone abbr. meaning "at the age of"]. An abbreviation for aetatis, aet. being the more common form.

Noteworthy

line of scrimmage21a ends [Line pair]. When solving, I thought this must refer to (American) football, in which ends line up at either end of the line of scrimmage. Now I wonder if that's over-reading the clue and no specific line was intended?

The Artist's Studio29a dinettes [Parts of some studios]. A great clue - I couldn't help thinking of artists' studios.

O'Neal49a O'Neal [Cager who starred in "Kazaam"]. I came across Shaq when compiling The Crucy League. Kazaam received resoundingly negative reviews.

Brasil8d Brasil [Five-time winner of the Copa do Mundo]. Use of Copa do Mundo rather than World Cup calls for the Portuguese spelling of the country.

16d Lt. Cols. [Maj. superiors]. This answer was a gimme for me, as it was the rank my late father had in the British Army when he retired.

27d Tosca [Object of Cavaradossi's affection]. Another gift on a day when they are sorely needed.



The Rest

1a Hussein [Big catch of 2003]; 8a bravoed [Applauded with shouts]; 15a internal revenue [Estate taxes, e.g.]; 17a scarlet tanagers [Grosbeak relatives]; 19a ACs [Temp. reducers]; 20a Samos [It's north of the Dodecanese Islands]; 22a Alois [Joseph ___ Ratzinger, birth name of Pope Benedict XVI]; 24a nope [Casual rejection]; 25a Edo [Nigerian native or language]; 26a spill it ["Fess up!"]; 28a Mer [La ___ Caspienne]; 31a no meat [11-Down's request]; 33a Tories [Reactionaries]; 35a Singer [___ Building, company headquarters erected in 1908 in New York City, at the time the tallest building in the world]; 36a biscotti [Crunchy cafe treats]; 38a EOE [Want ad abbr.]; 39a sage-tea [Herbal brew]; 41a phr. [Sentence part: Abbr.]; 42a ansa [Looped vase handle]; 44a lames [Disables]; 46a mated [Like shoes and socks]; 50a a lot on one's plate [Tons of work to do]; 53a pleasure cruises [Carnival offerings]; 54a systems [Digestion and circulation]; 55a tasters [Intrepid palace employees].

1d Hi-Speed [Like many Net connections]; 2d unconditionally [Without reservations]; 3d stand on one's toes [Try to get a better view, say]; 4d Serts [Some Spanish murals]; 6d -ine [Serpent's tail?]; 7d Natalies [Wood and others]; 9d Ren [TV canine]; 11d vegan [One on a strict diet]; 12d one moment please [Operator's line]; 13d European Theater [It included the Eastern and Western fronts]; 14d dessert [There's sometimes no room for it]; 22d apteral [Having no aisles, in architecture]; 23d sinuses [Allergies often affect them]; 26d sties [Major messes]; 30d erg [Dyne-centimeter]; 32d Mao [Red giant?]; 34d sit erect [Be no slouch in class?]; 35d sea maps [Oceanographers' references]; 36d be mine [Words from the heart?]; 37d ireless [Having no spleen]; 40d gators [Southern snappers, briefly]; 45d unlit [Dark]; 47d dose [Recommended intake]; 49d opus [Work ID]; 51d Num. [O.T. book]; 52d Sra. [Title of respect in 8-Down: Abbr.].

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