Saturday, April 11, 2009

NYT Sunday 4/12/09 - Circling the Square

Solving this Sunday New York Times puzzle was a solo effort on my part, as Magdalen was lured away by the Masters. It was obvious early on what the circled letters were and this made for fast solving in all areas of the grid.

I can't recall any British papers using circles to mark squares in the grid - special squares are either shaded or marked with an asterisk (for example) in a corner. I'm currently working on enhancements to my Sympathy Crossword Construction software and I managed to implement circle drawing in the NYT style just in time to make use of it for today's grid.
Solving time: 30 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 14d Oh, say [Key opening?]

65a square pegs [Things that may not go in 69-Across] and 69a round holes [See 65-Across]. There are 10 groupings of the letters P E G S in a 2x2 square. As usual the special cells where the theme letters occur are marked with circles, presumably the "round holes" - so in this case, square pegs do go into round holes!


Eric Berlin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersEric Berlin / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 73 (16.6%) black squares
Answers142 (average length 5.18)
Theme squares60 (16.3%)
Scrabble points538 (average 1.46)
New To Me

28a Orser [1987 champion skater Brian]. Brian Orser is a Canadian figure skater, nicknamed "Mr. Triple Axel" for his consistency with that crosswordy jump. He won the World Figure Skating Championships just once in 1987. The next year, he won the silver medal at the Calgary Olympics, from which this performance comes.

46a She's Gone [1976 top 10 hit for Hall & Oates]. She's Gone is from the duo's 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette. How come the clue says 1976? The Tavares covered the song and made it a hit in 1974, which inspired Hall & Oates to re-release their version with greater success.

89a Angelina ["Farewell, ___" (Dylan song popularized by Joan Baez)]. Farewell Angelina was the title track on Joan Baez's 1965 album. It included three other Bob Dylan songs.

John Roberts and Barack Obama114a Roberts [Rehnquist's successor]. Magdalen helped me out with an explanation here: William Rehnquist was Reagan's appointee as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States; George W. Bush nominated John Roberts as the 17th Chief Justice in September 2005. Reading about him, I now recall Roberts's role in administering the oath of office on President Obama's Inauguration Day.

I GREW HEMP1d hemp [Crop grown by George Washington]. It's not what you're thinking! Hemp was grown to make cloth and paper - why, the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper.

6d envoi [End of a ballade]. An envoi is a short stanza at the end of a poem - addressing the patron, or commenting on the main body of the work, for example.

Francis Scott Key14d Oh, say [Key opening?]. I didn't appreciate quite how brilliant this clue is until Magdalen explained the reference to Francis Scott Key, who wrote the words to The Star-Spangled Banner.

Pasteur33d Pasteur [1936 Oscar-winning title role for Paul Muni]. I don't think anyone would make a biopic about Pasteur now, but between the wars, the scientist must have been hot at the box office.


61a rub [Catch]. Presumably catch in the noun sense of "concealed difficulty", as in "there's the rub".

112a USTA [Org. for singles?]. I thought "singles" meant recordings and tried to come up with four-letter equivalents of BMI and ASCAP. Definitely not the right track - I should have been thinking of tennis singles and the United States Tennis Association.

Venus and Amor8d Amor [Son of Venus]. Amor is another name for Cupid.

boccie43d boccie [Game with balls]. I had some concerns over this answer as I've only encountered the bocce spelling before.

The Rest

1a halite [Rock salt]; 7a gasp [[I'm shocked!]]; 11a awl [Item in a belt-maker's tool belt]; 14a orgs. [Grps.]; 18a eminent [Distinguished]; 20a Amer. [AARP part: Abbr.]; 21a née [Formerly]; 22a Heep [Wickfield's scheming partner in "David Copperfield"]; 23a misgave [Felt suspicion]; 24a mono [Like early Beatles recordings]; 25a gets sore [Becomes peeved]; 27a Pepe [Cartoon skunk]; 30a displeased [Frowning]; 32a spiral [Shell shape]; 34a punt [Give up, slangily]; 35a icy [Not offering traction, in a way]; 36a Costa [___ del Sol]; 39a ipecacs [Medicinal syrups]; 41a SVU ["Law & Order: ___"]; 42a ABC [Epitome of simplicity]; 45a ABA [Attorneys' org.]; 48a suer [One who goes a-courting?]; 49a too ["___ bad"]; 50a Dogstar [Bright spot in the night sky]; 52a Perots [Politico Ross and family]; 54a epoch [Ages and ages]; 56a seeped [Came through the wall, maybe]; 57a rail [Stairway part]; 59a slam dance [Punk rock club activity]; 62a eres [You are: Sp.]; 63a Mona [Marisa's role in "My Cousin Vinny"]; 64a rain [Word repeated before "go away"]; 71a easy [Word with chair or street]; 72a SUNY [Schools in Albany and Oneonta are part of it: Abbr.]; 73a Desi [First name in '50s comedy]; 74a -ial [Suffix with adverb]; 75a in neutral [Idling]; 77a Abes [Fivers]; 78a gneiss [Layered rock]; 82a stern [Hard-nosed]; 83a sclera [Eyeball covering]; 85a magenta [Plumlike shade]; 86a maw [Gaping opening]; 87a Chet [Newsman Huntley]; 92a keg [Tap site]; 93a OSS [Org. in the 1946 thriller "Cloak and Dagger"]; 94a lad [Huck Finn, e.g.]; 95a crisper [Refrigerator part]; 96a rasps [Horseshoers' tools]; 98a AAs [Some batteries]; 99a Capt. ["Aye, aye!" hearer: Abbr.]; 100a harass [Bug]; 102a rings a bell [Sounds familiar]; 106a or not ["... but I could be wrong"]; 107a leas [Places to graze]; 111a accepted [Took]; 116a noon [Good time for suntanning]; 117a -ite [Native's suffix]; 118a Geri [Spice Girl Halliwell]; 119a sloe-gin [Fizz ingredient]; 120a inst. [Tech. school]; 121a TAs [Univ. aides]; 122a spam [Many unread messages]; 123a lapses [Small mistakes].

2d amie [Billet-doux recipient]; 3d lisp [Orator's challenge]; 4d ingest [Swallow]; 5d tea [Caffeine source]; 7d game leg [Cause of a limp]; 9d Sen. [Something D.C. does not have]; 10d producer [Film V.I.P.]; 11d angst [Unsettled feeling]; 12d weep [Boo-hoo]; 13d let live [Spare]; 15d REOs [Vintage cars]; 16d Gere ["Nights in Rodanthe" star, 2008]; 17d sped [Careered]; 19d terrier [Game pursuer]; 26d secured [In the hold, say]; 29d saps [Suckers]; 31d ins [Entrances]; 34d panels ["What's My Line?" features]; 36d cads [Heartbreaker types]; 37d oboe ["O" in the old Army phonetic alphabet]; 38d sage [Mint relative]; 40d copies [Knockoffs]; 41d Susann [Best-selling novelist about whom Gore Vidal said "She doesn't write, she types!"]; 42d atonal [Lacking a key]; 44d Cohens [Songwriter Leonard and others]; 47d had best [Really ought to]; 48d St Louis [End of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 9/23/1806]; 51d sprayer [Exterminator's tool]; 53d osmose [Diffuse slowly]; 55d parolee [Recent release?]; 57d re-enact [Simulate, as an event]; 58d Argyll [Historic Scottish county]; 60d Madigan [Amy of "Field of Dreams"]; 65d seismo- [Prefix with graph]; 66d Qantas [Flying Kangaroo company]; 67d US News [Longtime Time rival, informally]; 68d pursed [Puckered]; 69d rebags [Packs again, as groceries]; 70d hangars [Buildings on some bases]; 73d darn it! ["Phooey!"]; 76d unclasp [Remove, as a necklace]; 79d inks [Closes, as a deal]; 80d step [Instructions part]; 81d sags [Doesn't look at all youthful]; 84d earplugs [Silencers?]; 85d mirrors [Duplicates exactly]; 88d has at it [Attacks]; 90d Ephraim [Patriarch of a tribe of Israel]; 91d lean [Show a preference]; 95d Cal [Political columnist Thomas]; 97d asleep [Not up]; 98d agent [Representative]; 99d cedes [Hands over]; 101d atoll [Transpacific landing site]; 102d rani [Eastern queen]; 103d icon [Something to click]; 104d NCOs [PX patrons]; 105d beta [Test stage]; 106d otra [Other, in Oaxaca]; 108d ergs [Physics 101 units]; 109d a tie [In ___ (even)]; 110d SSNs [Some IDs: Abbr.]; 113d Sep. [Natl. Library Card Sign-Up Month]; 115d boa [Diva's wrap].

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