Tuesday, March 24, 2009

NYT Wednesday 3/25/09 - Scratchy and Itchy

This was a theme that I could see worked fine, but I wondered if there was any reason behind the selection of the particular word endings used: did the compiler aim to implement the general idea with four 15-letter answers and then find this was the only option that worked? I can see that constraining 60 of the squares makes the fill pretty difficult.

One feature of this idea is that once you've got the first two example answers, you can fill in the ITCHES for the other two immediately and have few choices for the ATCHES. This simplified the solving process a little, but the overall solving time seems to be about average for a midweek puzzle.
Solving time: 15 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 5d re-elect [Return to one's seat?]

Two word answers of the form Xatches Yitches:
17a catches glitches [Debugs computer programs, e.g.]
24a scratches itches [Responds to rashes]
41a patches britches [Does some mending]
54a matches stitches [Lines up the sewing]

Jerry E. Rosman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersJerry E. Rosman / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares60 (31.1%)
Scrabble points303 (average 1.57)
New To Me

9a Jesse [Heartbreaker who's "back in town" in a 1980 Carly Simon hit]. Jesse is a hit song from the album Come Upstairs.

collecting splinters32a sit [Collect splinters, so to speak]. I've not heard this idiom before, but it seems particularly apt. Based on Google results, it looks like it's mainly used by commentators of sportsmen who are "on the bench" for whatever reason.

59a Dopey [Only beardless Disney dwarf]. Can this be true? Time to check out a clip.


Wulfenite35a -ite [Ore suffix]. It was a mistake to look for suffixes to Ore, like Ida (as in Ore-Ida). The clue simply refers to the large number of ores that end -ite, such as diorite, andesite, pegmatite, wulfenite etc.

38a MOs [Rap sheet entries, for short]. Presumably modi operandi, which I think is the correct plural. If you use the abbreviation, you don't have to think about that!

re-elect5d re-elect [Return to one's seat?]. A very neat piece of deception.

8d Selassie [Ethiopia's Haile ___]. I knew the answer, but getting the spelling correct caused me nightmares. I started with Seilasse, then tried Selaisse, before finally getting the I in the right spot.

chicle42d chicle [Raw material for Wrigley's, once]. This is something I've seen in dictionaries but never met in the flesh. Chicle is the milky latex of a type of sapodilla tree, that was used to make chewing gum before synthetic rubber became available. The word chicle comes from the Nahuatl tziktli.

T-Top49d T-top ['Vette roof option]. I thought this might be an abbreviation for a Targa Top, but it isn't quite the same thing. A T-top is a roof with removable panels and is designed to be safer than a standard convertible roof.

The Rest

1a bole [Tree trunk]; 5a RCAs [Some HDTVs];14a open-weave [Feature of mesh fabrics]; 16a Etats [The Carolinas, e.g., to the French]; 19a Als [Two of racing's Unsers]; 20a Alb. [Neighbor of B.C.]; 21a Anselmo [San ___, Marin County]; 22a Brea [La ___ Tar Pits]; 23a suet [Bird feeder fill]; 31a too hot [Like Papa Bear's porridge]; 33a Ala. [Tuskegee's locale: Abbr.]; 34a UConn [Nutmeg State sch.]; 36a a drag ["What ___" ("Ho-hum")]; 39a RNA [Messenger ___]; 40a Arista [Record label owned by Sony]; 45a hive [Cellular construction]; 46a omit [Overlook]; 47a Antigua [One of the Leeward Islands]; 50a uhs [Hesitant sounds]; 51a Sra. [Mexicali Mrs.]; 57a atoll [Coral creation]; 58a O Negative [Blood type historically considered the universal donor]; 60a nosh [Have a knish, say]; 61a NASA [Orbiting telescope launcher].

1d Boca [Florida city, for short]; 2d opal [Australian gem]; 3d let's ["Sure, why not?!"]; 4d enc. [Business letter abbr.]; 6d casbah [Quarter of Algiers]; 7d avg. [Batter's fig.]; 9d jet set [Glitterati]; 10d etc etc [Blah, blah, blah, for short]; 11d Sahl [Satirist Mort]; 12d stem [Skier's turn]; 13d Esso [Gas brand in Canada]; 15d Wharton [Prestigious business school]; 18d Inuit [Umiak passenger]; 22d Bahn [Road, in the Rheinland]; 24d stump [Speech spot]; 25d cocoa [Tiramisu topper]; 26d roost [Place to rule]; 27d estab. [Business sign abbr.]; 28d harsh [Like Siberian winters]; 29d elate [Give a lift]; 30d sagas [Long tales]; 35d in season [What oysters "R" during "R" months]; 36d artista [Da Vinci or Michelangelo, to Romans]; 37d dict. [Wordsmith's ref.]; 39d revue [Florenz Ziegfeld offering]; 40d aim high [Set a lofty goal]; 43d highly [To a great degree]; 44d routes [MapQuest offerings]; 47d a mad [Make ___ dash]; 48d Nato [Brussels-based alliance]; 51d Shia [Islamic sect]; 52d revs [Amps up]; 53d asea [On the main]; 55d Sno [___-Cat (winter vehicle)]; 56d ctn. [Doz. eggs, commonly].


Daniel Myers said...

Your Latin checker here again---I'm afraid you made a muddle of it ab initio!---The singular is modus operandi--mode of operating (operandi is in the genitive.) Thus, the plural is modi operandorum. But, as you say, you don't REALLY have to think about it.

Crossword Man said...

In my defense, the Oxford lexicographers seem to think modi operandi is the plural - but this may just reflect typically ignorant usage, not the correct Latin...

Daniel Myers said...

Yes, I have the uabridged OED too. I saw that J.S. Mill quote employing "modi operandi" as the plural. Ach! - 4 years of Latin will make a certified quibbler of you. I always check my Liddel & Scott before posting here, "modi operandorum" is what a Roman crossword puzzler would have said in any event. You seem to be correct in idiomatic English though - Point conceded.