Thursday, April 23, 2009

NYT Friday 4/24/09 - The Power of Two (Take Two)

Magdalen and I have been traveling and have concluded that it's more companionable to solve the New York Times crosswords together in that situation. We started with this Friday crossword and immediately noticed a huge difference: such puzzles usually take me an hour or more on my own; solo, Magdalen typically gives up after solving a few isolated clues and rarely manages to put a corner together.

Yet with our combined brains, we completed this seemingly tough puzzle in around 20 minutes. Helping me out, Magdalen seemed much more engaged in the process and she was instrumental in getting the NW corner done at the start. The knowledge we bring is complementary - Magdalen is particularly good on pop culture references and I know a lot of obscure vocabulary and can usually see through cryptic-like deception in definitions.

Why not always solve crosswords together? I have a dilemma, because I reckon I learn more by solving on my own and not being spoon-fed answers I need to memorize. Struggling to get to an answer seems to encourage the learning process for me. It seems like we can reach a reasonable compromise by jointly solving all cryptic puzzles, the Sunday NYT puzzles and any puzzle when we're traveling. I'll also call on her if I get really stuck on any late-week crossword.
Solving time: 22 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 6d DST {Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift}

Barry C. Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersBarry C. Silk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 27 (12.0%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.50)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points344 (average 1.74)
New To Me

Kings Peak19a Uinta {Kings Peak's range}. The Uinta Mountains are a subrange of the Rockies in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado; Kings Peak is the highest point at 13,528 ft.

Mike Witt24a Witt {1984 perfect game pitcher Mike}. Mike Witt played for the California Angels and scored the 11th perfect game in baseball history against the Texas Rangers.

Ric-A-Che25a Ric {Rapper ___-A-Che}. Detroit rapper Ric-A-Che (aka Rick Dennis) released the single Coo-Coo Chee/Lil Bro in 2004, followed by his full-length debut album, Lack of Communication. He's obscure enough not to have a Wikipedia article at this time.

UC Irvine anteater52a UC Irvine {The Anteaters of the Big West Conf.}. Colleges sometimes choose seemingly unfortunate team mascots. Another of my favorites is Swarthmore, whose sports teams are nicknamed the Earthworms (an anagram of Swarthmore).

guanacos3d guanacos {Residents of dry, open country in South America}. The compiler really got me with this one: I knew the answer was a word, but I solved the whole puzzle without realizing a guanaco is a woolly animal, not a human.

12d Baltic {Like Old Prussian}. Had to look this one up too - it refers to languages not states. Old Prussian is an extinct language in the Baltic group. It was spoken by the people of what became East Prussia (now divided between Poland and Russia).

14d Emmett {Daniel Decatur ___, minstrel who wrote "Dixie"}. Daniel Decatur Emmett (1815-1904) composed Dixie for blackface minstrel shows of the 1850s. It became the de facto anthem of the Confederacy in the American Civil War. It tells of a freed slave pining for the plantation of his birth - hence its performance now is a subject of some controversy.


jetty38a jetty {Reducer of pier pressure?}. This definition caused a bit of head-scratching: is the point that the stones of the jetty reduce tidal pressure on the wooden structure of a pier? Or that a stone jetty further out to sea protects inshore piers? We're still not clear on this one.

T Pyxidis nova47a novae {Phenomena associated with some dwarfs}. I soon realized this referred to astronomical novae, but had to look up why they should be associated with dwarf stars. Novae (different from supernovae) occur when a white dwarf accumulates hydrogen from a stellar companion, to the point where it undergoes a cataclysmic explosion.

48a mania {Way up state?}. A really misleading definition - a manic person is alarmingly "up".

changing the clock6d DST {Reason to do a 2 a.m. shift}. Another great clue. The shift is moving the clock forward or back an hour when starting and ending Daylight Savings Time - this being done at the convenient time of two in the morning.

yard of ale11d ale {Yard sale?}. Can you buy a yard of ale in the USA? I've never been tempted to try one, as drinking from the unwieldy glass seems akin to being waterboarded. The record shortest time for drinking a 2-pint yard is 5 seconds!

The Rest

1a tagged {Now out ... or "it"}; 7a Zimbabwe {Its flag features an image of a stone-carved bird}; 15a squats {Weightlifting set}; 16a one-alarm {Like a relatively minor fire}; 17a quaint {Like olde shoppes}; 18a on the lam {Running}; 20a olios {Jambalayas}; 21a tie {Inconclusive result}; 22a alas {"Regrettably ..."}; 23a Econo- {___-Car}; 26a Gregg {Texas county named for a Civil War general, with its seat in Longview}; 27a yacht {Millionaire's plaything}; 28a Enola Gay {Carrier of very destructive cargo}; 30a wok {Cooking vessel}; 31a session {One may be held in court}; 32a big ears {Pair of elephants?}; 36a alt. {Aviator's concern: Abbr.}; 37a Susan Dey {"L.A. Law" Golden Globe winner}; 41a https {U.R.L. opener indicating an additional layer of encryption}; 42a rpm {45, e.g.: Abbr.}; 43a ores {Mineralogist's sample set}; 44a warty {Toadlike}; 45a leap {Vault}; 46a yon {"Nightly she sings on ___ pomegranate-tree": Juliet}; 49a find a way {Succeed somehow}; 51a tenant {Studio occupant, say}; 53a wealth {What wisdom outweighs, according to Sophocles}; 54a last-year {Not too long ago}; 55a prissy {Too punctilious}.

1d T-squares {Drafting aids}; 2d aquiline {Hooked, as a nose}; 4d gaits {Ways to go}; 5d Etna {European smoker}; 7d zoology {Alfred Kinsey's field}; 8d inning {It has top and bottom parts}; 9d me too {"Join the club"}; 10d bahs {Cross words}; 13d wraith {Spirit}; 20d ocean {Big drink}; 23d ergot {Plant problem}; 24d waken {Reanimate}; 26d gaily {In a 38-Down way}; 27d yogas {Gym classes}; 29d LSATs {Hurdles for future D.A.'s}; 30d wispy {Not solid}; 32d Butte {Home of the World Museum of Mining}; 33d adrenals {They're located above the kidneys}; 34d repaints {Does some home maintenance}; 35d sympathy {What some cards express}; 37d strayer {Lost soul}; 38d joyful {Transported}; 39d Eroica {It was first publicly performed in Vienna in 1805}; 40d tennis {Racketeer's pastime?}; 41d Havana {Plaza de la RevoluciĆ³n locale}; 44d wowie! {"Unbelievable!"}; 45d Lanai {___ City, Hawaii}; 47d navy {Sub group}; 48d Meer {Physics Nobelist Simon van der ___}; 50d Dr. T {Richard Gere title role of 2000}; 51d twp {Local govt. unit}.


Aviatrix said...

I figured that boats could moor to the jetties, thus reducing the congestion on the main pier.

Crossword Man said...

That could be it: one of my dictionaries defines jetty as a small pier, which conforms with my limited experience of the terminology. Thanks for the feedback.