Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NYT Wednesday 3/18/09 - G-Go

Both Magdalen and I found the theme of this puzzle particularly elusive. It wasn't until 8 minutes into a 15 minute solve that I solved 60a growing pains and so saw the pattern.

Maybe that's something to do with four of the six theme entries being down. Usually the majority of theme entries read left to right and I'm surprised the puzzle wasn't flipped to make graven images etc run across.
Solving time: 15 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 37d Mensa [Group with a meeting of the minds?]
Theme

Six phrases making a pun when the leading G is removed:
16a griddle cakes [Mystery desserts?]
60a growing pains [Sculler's affliction?]
8d GReek Week [Period of seven days without bathing?]
10d grain alcohol [What the sky might do in an inebriate's dream?]
24d graven images [Illustrations for a Poe poem?]
40d grunt work [Employment in Munchkinland?]
British universities somehow manage to do without Greek Letter Organizations and "Greek Week". I guess Rag week is the nearest equivalent in the UK.

Solution


Robert A. Doll
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersRobert A. Doll / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares60 (32.1%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

KC Royals38a ENE [Direction from K.C. to Detroit]. My limited study of such clues suggests that the last letter of directions is invariably E. I've heard of LA and NY, but what is K.C.? Seems to be Kansas City - which can also be KCMO - home to the Royals.

Tater Tots41a Ore [___-Ida (Tater Tots maker)]. I heard of Tater Tots on one of Garrison Keillor's monologues, but haven't experienced them yet. I see they're a variant of the more familiar hash browns.

43a hulas [Miming dances]. I of course knew hulas, but why the miming reference? It seems the gestures aren't as arbitrary as I thought: they symbolize natural phenomena or historical or mythological subjects.



46a Ipana [Bucky Beaver's toothpaste]. This seemed a very unlikely name for toothpaste, so I double- and triple-checked all the crossing answers to make sure it couldn't be anything else. The brand has been discontinued in the US, but is still sold in other countries.



49a Alma [Soprano Gluck] and 45d soprano [Choir voice]. A lot of references to singers in this puzzle: soprano Alma Gluck was one of the world's most famous singers in the early 20th century. Here she is with Caruso in Traviata.



3d Edd [Byrnes of TV's "77 Sunset Strip"]. Edd Byrnes played Kookie in the show and his incessant hair-combing led to the hit song Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb.



RCA21d RCA [Zenith competitor]. Rivals in consumer electronics. The RCA logo was known as "the Meatball" to employees.

Noteworthy

22a Mira [Oscar winner Sorvino]. Mira Sorvino won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for playing Linda Ash in Mighty Aphrodite. I'm a Woody Allen fan, so of course had seen this movie, but couldn't remember much about it until seeing that Greek chorus again.



33a motel [Bates's business, in film]. I'm also an admirer of Alfred Hitchcock, so had no difficulty recognizing the reference to Psycho.



snoot48a snoots [High-hats]. Two informal terms for snobbish people.

68a res [___ judicata]. Res judicata ("a matter [already] judged") is a case in which there has been a final judgment, ie is no longer subject to appeal. I had to get Magdalen a special dictionary so she could make sense of this stuff.

poi2d poi [Samoan staple]. I'll have a piece of poi please! This is another foodstuff I've experienced only in crosswords. Poi is made from taro roots and no doubt poi making is one of the things they mime in hulas.

37d Mensa [Group with a meeting of the minds?]. A neat clue that does its best to mislead you.

47d pad [Inflate, in a way]. As in exaggerating one's expenses - another nice clue.

52d Alice [Sitcom with the catchphrase "Kiss my grits!"]. Had the other way round about a month ago.




The Rest

1a apers [Parroting sorts]; 6a sire [Stud on a stud farm]; 10a rep [Good name, casually]; 13a rodeo [Venue for some clowns]; 14a inner [Word before city or child]; 15a age [Basis for some discrimination]; 18a IRA [Thing to roll over, in brief]; 19a Timor [East ___, U.N. member since 2002]; 20a kernel [Central part]; 25a in-law [Acquired relative]; 27a Cats [Musical with the song "Mr. Mistoffelees"]; 28a on a par [Equal to, with "with"]; 30a legal [O.K. to do]; 32a navel [Orange feature]; 35a cam [Video shooter, for short]; 39a provoke [Stir up]; 42a ten [Top end of a scale]; 44a ashen [Visibly frightened]; 51a tra-la [Refrain syllables]; 54a plea ["Spare me!," e.g.]; 55a meadow [Place for a lark]; 57a liner [Winter coat feature]; 59a bag [Diamond corner]; 65a eve [Time of anticipation]; 66a crack [First-rate]; 67a indie [Many an art film]; 69a Skye [Hebrides isle]; 70a coopt [Take as one's own].

1d arr. [Flight board abbr.]; 4d red-tape [Reason for a long delay in getting approval, maybe]; 5d soli [Arias, e.g.]; 6d snarl [Motorist's headache]; 7d ink [Calligrapher's buy]; 9d Erse [Gaelic tongue]; 11d egret [Everglades denizen]; 12d peals [Belfry sounds]; 14d icon [Pic to click]; 17d emir [Mideast V.I.P.]; 22d Monet ["Impression, Sunrise" painter]; 23d inane [Cockamamie]; 26d altos [Choir voices]; 29d alpha [Leader of the pack]; 31d glean [Pick up bit by bit]; 33d molar [Place for a crown]; 34d ova [In vitro items]; 36d arête [Mountain ridge]; 48d sang [Spilled the beans]; 49d amber [Honey-hued]; 50d leave [Take a powder]; 53d link [___ sausage]; 56d orcs [Tolkien beasts]; 58d epic ["Beowulf," e.g.]; 61d way [Modus operandi]; 62d I do [Courtroom vow]; 63d nip [Barely beat]; 64d set [The "all" in "Collect them all!"].

1 comment:

Magdalen said...

Henry and I went to St. Lucia for a vacation (you would say "holiday") once and stayed at a very exclusive resort simply because supposedly you could see some awesome stars. When it's not cloudy; we were NOT lucky during that stay. Anyway, the restaurant was very famous on the island: Dasheen. Which is a white starchy vegetable, like taro. And something else that was served at the breakfast buffet. In fact, it got so that the phrase, "white starchy vegetable" became sufficiently ubiquitous that it could have played a role in the old SNL "land shark" routines.

[doorbell]
"Who's there?"
"Jehovah's Witness" / "Candy-Gram" / "Conservative Candidate" / "White starchy vegetable" / "But I'm Only a Dolphin" . . .