Sunday, April 12, 2009

NYT Monday 4/13/09 - Rick Trick

This Monday New York Times crossword seems to have been built around Rickrolling, which hadn't become widespread enough to reach my attention (for more details see Theme below). Extending from Rick to the other vowels, we get a neat thematic puzzle that seems to suit a 15x15 perfectly.

As usual, quickly spotting the pattern behind the thematic answers really helps - I wasn't expecting such a fast time given all the answers I didn't know.
Solving time: 7 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 33a Steve [Jobs at Apple]

R?CK words, with each vowel in order:
18a racketeer [Al Capone, for one]
24a reckless [Not heeding danger]
37a Rickrolling [Widespread Internet prank involving a bait-and-switch link to a music video]
54a rock star [Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen]
60a rucksacks [Packs for bikers and hikers]
I fancied I'd heard of most Internet phenomena, but mercifully have escaped being Rickrolled. It involves tricking a person into following an apparently interesting link, which instead sends them to a video of the much-derided Rick Astley ... such as this one which has been viewed getting on for 20 million times (let's see if featuring in a New York Times crossword can take him past that milestone!):


Natan Last
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersNatan Last / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.00)
Theme squares45 (24.3%)
Scrabble points309 (average 1.67)
New To Me

Nick at Nite28a Nite [Nick at ___]. Nick at Nite is what Nickelodeon broadcasts when all the kids have gone to bed: ten-year-old sitcoms aimed at adolescent and adult audiences.

6d Aba ["The ___ Daba Honeymoon"]. Nice to get away from the "Lawyer's org.". Aba Daba Honeymoon was first recorded by the comic duo Collins & Harlan in 1914. A version featured in the 1950 movie Two Weeks with Love:

Morton's Salt12d Morton ["When it rains, it pours" salt brand]. This answer is presumably known to all Americans, but I had to work around it: the standard salt brand where I grew up was Cerebos, with the slogan "See How It Runs".

25d Kevin [Bandleader Eubanks of "The Tonight Show"]. I have caught Leno a few times since arriving in the USA, and was surprised at the prominent role the bandleader had in it ... but could I remember his name?

eco-car34d eco-cars [High-m.p.g. vehicles]. eco-car seems to be the generic (and logical) term for a highly fuel-efficient vehicle. There is also a specific project called EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, which encourages engineering students to build advanced vehicles with minimal environmental impact - I'm not sure that's what the clue is going on about though.

38d Koo [Hootchy-___]. How to choose between Hootchy-Coo and Hootchy-Koo? I don't think you could really - you just had to trust that the theme was consistent down the grid.

Brer Rabbit45d Harris [Joel Chandler ___, creator of Uncle Remus]. Joel Chandler Harris (1845-1908) wrote stories featuring Br'er Rabbit and narrated by Uncle Remus. They were based on the African-American folklore of his native Georgia.


33a Steve [Jobs at Apple]. It's sometimes hard to pick a clue of the puzz early in the week. Not today, as this clue referencing Steve Jobs reads very naturally and has the classic trick of disguising a proper name in the first word.

59a RKO [Studio that made "Notorious"]. RKO Pictures was responsible for many timeless classics of their era, such as King Kong, Citizen Kane and one of Hitchcock's best, Notorious:

The Rest

1a Myst [Best-selling computer game of the 1990s]; 5a cast [Players in a play]; 9a spam [Unwanted e-mail]; 13a rotor [Helicopter blade]; 15a obey ["___ your thirst" (former Sprite slogan)]; 16a ergo [Therefore]; 17a Burma [Myanmar, once]; 20a Uri [Mentalist Geller]; 21a imp [Little devil]; 23a extent [Breadth]; 27a condo [Apartment that's owned, not leased]; 29a techie [Computer whiz]; 32a San [___ Antonio, Tex.]; 35a halls [Corridors]; 41a no oil [Reason for engine trouble, perhaps]; 42a noels [Christmas carols]; 45a ham [___ and eggs]; 48a cobalt [Metal that gave its name to a shade of blue]; 51a Bret [Writer Harte]; 52a Aruba [Caribbean vacation spot]; 56a rosary [Prayer beads]; 58a oui [Parisian "yes"]; 63a squab [Young pigeon]; 65a isle [52-Across, e.g.]; 66a whee [Cry while careering downhill]; 67a sedge [Bulrush, e.g.]; 68a seer [Fortuneteller]; 69a sign [Stop or Do Not Pass]; 70a dees [Almost-failing grades].

1d Mr. Burns [Owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant on "The Simpsons"]; 2d you're it [Shout in tag]; 3d stricter [Less forgiving]; 4d Tom [___ Sawyer]; 5d corpse [Body in a whodunit]; 7d sec. [Fraction of a min.]; 8d tyke [Little fella]; 9d set-to [Fight that might include fisticuffs]; 10d preens [Prettifies oneself, as in a mirror]; 11d agenda [Order of business at a meeting]; 14d rail [Train travel]; 19d excel in [Be great at]; 22d met [Encountered]; 26d scholar [Learned one]; 30d Hal ["2001" computer]; 31d ill [Running a temperature, say]; 36d snobs [Hoity-toity sorts]; 39d rib ["Spare" part of the body]; 40d Gertrude [She says "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" in "Hamlet"]; 43d leakage [Problem with pipes]; 44d strobes [Disco lights]; 46d arouse [Excite]; 47d muscle [What a bodybuilder builds]; 49d loosen [Undo, as laces]; 50d TCU [Fort Worth sch.]; 53d baker [Cake maker]; 55d kiss [Smooch]; 57d yaws [Deviations of a ship's course]; 61d chi ["The Sweetheart of Sigma ___"]; 62d keg [What's tapped at a beer bust]; 64d Q.E.D. [Letters at the end of a proof].

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