Friday, April 17, 2009

NYT Saturday 4/18/09 - Animal House

After struggling with yesterday's puzzle, I was really pleased to get this Saturday New York Times crossword done in around a half hour. It started well with Wikipedia; the long answers were fairly easy to guess and that is a huge help in breaking into all areas of the puzzle quickly.

Although this was a themeless crossword, the ground squirrels and scarlet tanagers nicely balance each other and usher in a grid with several animal references: a dog that goes grr, a camel that gives milk and fish with no privacy.
Solving time: 32 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 1a fishbowls {They lack private parts}

Byron Walden
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersByron Walden / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 24 (10.7%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 6.09)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points296 (average 1.47)
New To Me

Addis Ababa10a Ababa {Part of a capital's name meaning "flower"}. Addis Ababa seemed a likely candidate from the start - the only question was which part? The name comes from the Amharic for "new flower".

29a Esperanto {The 1965 William Shatner film "Incubus" is in it}. A film in Esperanto - who'd have thought it! In fact, this was the second of four films shot exclusively in the artificial language.

camel caravan53a camel {Source of Caravane cheese}. The name Caravane provides a helpful hint to the milieu of the animal. Production of dairy products from camels seems to be fraught with difficulties, not least the problem of how to milk the temperamental animals.

Carlos Beltrán13d Beltrán {1999 A.L. Rookie of the Year Carlos}. Beltrán seemed more like the name for a piece of machinery, but I convinced myself it had to be right from crossings. He plays for the New York Mets and currently has the highest stolen base percentage amongst active players with 250 or more steals ... whatever that means.

28d Raye {Country singer Collin ___}. Hmm ... fewer than usual popular music references in this puzzle: you have to get halfway through the downs to find one. Collin Raye had great success in the 1990s with songs such as "Little Rock", the story of a recovering alcoholic.

34d Eton {"A Yank at ___" (1942 Mickey Rooney film)}. The title to my mind echoes Laurel and Hardy's A Chump at Oxford, but is in fact the sequel to the 1938 British comedy A Yank at Oxford. The Mickey Rooney movie was shot entirely in Connecticut and shows the difficulties an uncouth American has fitting in to the famous British school for toffs.

39d Diomede {Little ___, island in the Bering Strait}. Little Diomede is the smaller (duh) of the two Diomede Islands. The Little one is American and the Big one Russian - they're nicknamed the Yesterday and Tomorrow islands because they're on either side of the International Date Line. If Sarah Palin lived on Little Diomede, she really could see Russia from her house!
Russia from Little DiomedeNoteworthy

no private parts1a fishbowls {They lack private parts}. Cryptic crossword compilers like to start their work off with a really great 1-across. Often they'll have a neat clue filed away and build the puzzle around it. I don't know if that's what happened here, but this misleading clue reads brilliantly and works for both the literal and figurative meanings of the answer.

19a Topsy {"Uncle Tom's Cabin" girl}. I love it when a clue seems ultra-obscure, but once you see what the answer is, you realize you knew it all along. In this case, the character Topsy is famous for giving us the expression "grew like Topsy".
"Do you know who made you?"
"Nobody, as I knows on," said the child, with a short laugh.
The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added,
"I 'spect I grow'd. Don't think nobody never made me."
From Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Mimi23a grr {Spot announcement?}. Another beautifully misleading clue. Our dog Mimi has very little opportunity to socialize with other dogs, and we're making a big effort to take her to dog parks so she doesn't use grr as an announcement when faced with friendly animals.

ISU45a ISU {Terre Haute sch.}. Let's hear it for the The Crucy League, as 39-down wasn't going to be much help in determining the critical first letter of this answer.

Galen47a Galen {Early advocate of bloodletting}. Galen (AD 129–200) is a good bet for any clue about early medicine.

57a Wikipedia {Its symbol is a globe composed of jigsaw puzzle pieces}; 36d article {57-Across offering}. Nice to have a few gimmes in a difficult puzzle: I get to see the Wikipedia globe several times a day mostly when I'm writing the blog. Regulars will know that almost all the links go to the famed free encyclopedia.

The Rest

15a in too deep {Unable to get out of a bad situation}; 16a roves {Is far from a homebody}; 17a ground squirrels {Marmots and prairie dogs}; 20a turns on to {Gets acquainted with something good}; 21a rage {Fashion}; 22a jeans {Wranglers, e.g.}; 24a Eda {Coloratura Christiane ___-Pierre}; 25a burr {A Scot has one}; 26a threat {___ level}; 32a earns {Generates returns}; 33a genuinely {From the heart}; 35a saris {They may be thrown over the shoulder}; 38a settled up {Squared}; 42a presto {Quickly}; 44a rhos {Fraternity letters}; 46a it's {With 6-Down, "Curious ..."}; 49a Pohl {"The Far Shore of Time" author Frederik}; 50a tit for tat {Mechanical trade}; 54a scarlet tanagers {Cardinal relatives}; 56a algae {Red ___}; 58a teens {World War I period}; 59a one-parent {Like some families}.

1d fig-tree {Jesus cursed one in Matthew 21}; 2d inroads {Headway}; 3d stop-gap {Improvised}; 4d house {Fraternity, e.g.}; 5d bony {Thinner than thin}; 6d odd {See 46-Across}; 7d Western US {Where M.S.T. and P.S.T. can be found}; 8d Le Quartier Latin {Home of la Sorbonne}; 9d spurn {Jilt}; 10d arrs. {LAX info: Abbr.}; 11d Boro {New York's Five ___ Bike Tour}; 12d avenger {Ant-Man, Iron Man, Wasp or Thor, in Marvel Comics}; 14d assorts {Divides by type}; 18d inst. {Tech., for one}; 22d Juan {San ___}; 25d Brest {French naval base in heavy W.W. II fighting}; 27d Hell's {Oregon and Idaho's ___ Canyon}; 30d egis {Protection: Var.}; 31d on the take {Corrupt, in a way}; 35d spits at {Shows contempt for}; 37d restage {Show, as past events}; 40d usher-in {Herald}; 41d pulls at {Tries to loosen}; 43d ogre {Brute}; 48d at two {When four bells ring on the middle watch}; 49d pager {It may give you a buzz}; 51d Fran {Memorable 1996 hurricane along the Eastern Seaboard}; 52d oles {Corrida sounds}; 53d capa {Corrida cloak}; 55d nip {Snatch}.

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