Sunday, March 15, 2009

NYT Sunday 3/15/09 - Bells on Sunday

Magdalen and I were at the Cider Mill Playhouse again last night, seeing the very funny Ray Cooney farce Caught in the Net, about a bigamist cab driver who is in danger of being found out when his son and daughter (by the different wives) start chatting on-line. So for a change we actually solved the Sunday puzzle on Sunday morning, over breakfast. This one seemed a little easier than usual - perhaps because the many thematic answers were easily guessed (and an initial S was a given in each case).

Crossword Puzzle ChallengesThe compiler of this New York Times puzzle, Patrick Berry, rang a bell - I'd just received a copy of his Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies. I'm going to try compiling American puzzles this year and this book had been recommended to me for its section on constructing crosswords for the US market.
Solving time: about 40 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 26a tip [Scratch left on a table?]
Theme

Two-part phrases with "prior esses" (an S at the start of each half), making a pun. There are 12 examples in the grid - quite an achievement:
23a screamed scorn [Ridiculed someone as loudly as possible?]
28a stable stalk [Piece of hay?]
30a stool skits [Comedic bits by guys sitting at a bar?]
39a space scar [Astronaut's old wound?]
53a sold sage [Worked at an herb shop, maybe?]
57a switch shunts [Change devices that divert trains to different tracks?]
81a smelting spot [Ore refinery?]
84a soil span [Large field of dirt?]
99a sham shock [Reaction upon being hit with a chair in WrestleMania?]
108a spit screws [What an angry robot might do?]
111a slaying slow [What Buffy might be doing at the end of a long, hard night?]
119a swishing swell [Increase in perfect basketball shots?]
Solution

Patrick Berry
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersPatrick Berry / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 73 (16.6%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares126 (34.2%)
Scrabble points556 (average 1.51)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

27a Lila [Oscar winner Kedrova]. Lila Kedrova won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Madame Hortense in Zorba the Greek.



Gateway Arch36a Eero [Architect Saarinen]. Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis.

49a Ely ["Tarzan" star Ron]. Huh? I thought Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan. He wasn't the only one: Ron Ely played Tarzan on TV in the 1960s.



64a Anita ["Rapture" singer Baker]. Rapture was the second album for R&B singer Anita Baker. The song Sweet Love became her first mainstream hit.



70a Ving [Actor Rhames of the "Mission: Impossible" films]. Ving Rhames - what a great name! Christen somebody that and you guarantee to get them into a crossword at some point.



14d Lois ["Family Guy" mom]. Lois Griffin is voiced by former MADtv cast member Alex Borstein.



Noteworthy

Samuel Gompers12a AFL [Org. founded by Samuel Gompers]. Magdalen tells me this isn't the football league, but the American Federation of Labor union that was merged into the AFL-CIO. Samuel Gompers founded the AFL back in
1886.

26a tip [Scratch left on a table?]. Nicely misleading - our favourite clue.

Hugo Award74a Hugo [Literary award shaped like a rocket]. Makes sense, as the Hugo Awards are for sci-fi or fantasy works.

4d TAE [Inventor's inits.]. Ie Thomas Alva Edison.

13d five [V, to Valerian]. I'm surprised the reference to Emperor Valerian wasn't made slightly more misleading by wording the clue "V for Valerian".

40d canst ["Bold Lover, never, never ___ thou kiss": Keats]. Easy to guess this one from Ode on a Grecian Urn:
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal - yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
from Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

The Rest

1a Miatas [Sporty Mazdas]; 7a James [Name shared by two apostles]; 15a pub [Dartboard site]; 18a Uniate [Eastern Catholic who recognizes the pope's authority]; 19a usages [Habitual practices]; 21a Miocene [Geological epoch when mastodons appeared]; 25a Avianca [Colombian carrier]; 34a agog [Stoked, perhaps]; 35a née [Originally]; 37a scats [Does some improvisations]; 43a Esther [Book recited during Purim]; 46a cups [Tarot suit]; 48a smatter [Modest knowledge]; 50a modems [Holders of jacks]; 52a NCR [Co. that makes bar code scanners]; 63a Ida [Gilbert and Sullivan princess]; 66a strait [Nautical passage]; 67a Maui [The Pacific's "Valley Isle"]; 68a king [It may be checked]; 72a harp [Icon on Guinness bottles]; 73a salt [Cracker coating]; 75a rental [Blockbuster movie, e.g.]; 77a Petra [World Heritage Site in Jordan]; 80a CSI [CBS show with two spinoffs]; 86a Luc [Director Jean-___ Godard]; 87a ye Gods! ["Holy moly!"]; 89a neo- [Opposite of paleo-]; 90a plugola [Kickback for good publicity]; 94a door ["Let's Make a Deal" choice]; 95a Delphi [Pythian Games site]; 101a stirs [Removes lumps from batter]; 104a Aron [Schönberg's "Moses und ___"]; 105a eis [German "rocks"]; 106a need [Desideratum]; 116a Leia [See 121-Down]; 117a CEO [Hierarchy chart's top box]; 118a Algeria [Atlas Mountains locale]; 123a minting [Making, as money]; 124a on loan [Out, in library lingo]; 125a meddle [Be a busybody]; 126a EEE [It's considerably bigger than D]; 127a Sao [___ Miguel (largest of the Azores)]; 128a slung [Tossed]; 129a assess [Judge].

1d must-see [Too good to miss, as a TV show]; 2d incites [Urges on]; 3d Airport [1970 disaster flick]; 5d at all [In any way]; 6d semis [Penultimate round]; 7d Judaic [Like bar mitzvahs]; 8d ass [Dummkopf]; 9d Mac [Buddy]; 10d egos [Yes-men feed them]; 11d Serta [Tempur-Pedic competitor]; 12d amalgam [Combination]; 15d penance [Hair shirt wearer's activity]; 16d unclear [Not properly explained]; 17d beaker [It might hold the solution]; 20d snags [Hiccups, so to speak]; 22d cat [Cool ___]; 24d Elks [Group with an Exalted Ruler]; 29d bops [Hits with one's fist]; 31d oohed [___ and aahed]; 32d taco [Folded fast food]; 33d studs [Snow tire features]; 38d spews [Ejects]; 41d etch [Make aquatints]; 42d strums [Moves fingers across strings]; 44d Elsa ["Born Free" lioness]; 45d Ryan [Illinois governor before Blagojevich]; 47d Smith [See 115-Down]; 50d meting [Dispensing, with "out"]; 51d strap [Standing subway passenger's aid]; 53d Sikhs [Worshipers at Amritsar's Golden Temple]; 54d odium [Disgrace]; 55d Lange [Depression-era photojournalist Dorothea]; 56d given [Accepted fact]; 58d caress [Nice touch]; 59d hip to [Aware of]; 60d NAACP [Org. co-founded by W. E. B. Du Bois]; 61d Tulsa [City in Tornado Alley]; 62d sit-in [Audit, with "on"]; 65d antsy [Apprehensive]; 69d Gollum ["The Lord of the Rings" ring bearer]; 71d gaped [Opened wide]; 75d Ricoh [Maker of Caplio cameras]; 76d logos [Brand recognition aids]; 78d rind [Drink garnish, often]; 79d alee [Away from the wind]; 82d tugs [Actions on shirtsleeves]; 83d toots [Honey pie]; 85d solar [Alternative energy type]; 88d drip [IV]; 90d Phillie [2008 World Series winner]; 91d lasagne [Trattoria dish]; 92d long ago [In ancient times]; 93d aces [Strong hold'em holding]; 96d precede [Go before]; 97d Howells [Writer William Dean ___]; 98d insoles [Foot pads?]; 99d sesame [Bun topper]; 100d Kelso [Only five-time U.S. Horse of the Year]; 102d riling [Irritating]; 103d Sten [W.W. II submachine gun]; 107d downs [Certain crossword entries]; 109d sigma [Arithmetic series symbol]; 110d cases [Docket listings]; 112d yet [On the other hand]; 113d iris [Rainbow goddess]; 114d Nina [Ingénue in Chekhov's "The Seagull"]; 115d Will [With 47-Down, Oscar nominee for "Ali"]; 120d sou [Old bronze coin]; 121d Han [___ Solo, love interest of 116-Across]; 122d wds. [Dict. entries].