Saturday, April 4, 2009

NYT Sunday 4/5/09 - Punny Business

It seems a long time since the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, but we were very pleased to read Dan Margolies' account this weekend. We really enjoyed meeting Dan on the Sunday afternoon of the tourney. His experiences of the puzzles were remarkably similar to mine - no surprise given that we were very close in the rankings (479th and 488th).

Magdalen and I got back to some collaborative solving today and enjoyed the punny theme. Only one thematic clue caused a bit of headscratching: 77-across seemed such a straight definition that we wonder if we missed the point; or if there is room for improvement - in which case we offer the alternative clue "Paper or plastic?".
Solving time: 40 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 110d needle [Eye site]
Theme

Punning definitions of 11 business terms:
25a portfolios [Cruise brochures?]
27a joint venture [Founding of a hip replacement clinic?]
43a early retirement [New radials at 6 a.m.?]
60a safe investment [Purchase of a vault?]
77a marketing decision [To sell organic or not?]
94a long-range plans [Blueprints for a 50-mile grazing stretch?]
109a low-interest loan [Mortgage no one cares about?]
130a board meeting [Surfers' reunion?]
133a downsizing [Activity of duvet makers?]
3d partnership [Yacht in a time-share?]
85d bond trading [Exchange for 007?]
Solution

Charles Deber
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersCharles Deber / Will Shortz
Grid23x23 with 90 (17.0%) black squares
Answers170 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares139 (31.7%)
Scrabble points645 (average 1.47)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

105a Eva ["Deliver Us From ___" (2003 film)]. Tough unless you happen to know the crossing answer Eggar. Deliver Us From Eva is a modern urban reworking of The Taming of the Shrew.



89d Eggar [Samantha of "The Collector," 1965]. Samantha Eggar played opposite Terence Stamp in this movie based on a John Fowles novel.



Beauty97d Eaton's [___ Corrasable Bond (old typing paper)]. Magdalen was very helpful with this one: Eaton's Corrasable Bond paper has a special coating that can be typed on, but removed to allow a mistake to be corrected. Another casualty of advancing technology, the brand has been discontinued.

Noteworthy

58a Tati [Jacques who starred in "Mon Oncle"]. Mon Oncle is an old favorite of mine - Tati was a master of visual comedy. Here's Monsieur Hulot negotiating his way around an unfamiliar kitchen:



85a bag [Strong suit, slangily]. It took a while to work out the context here: not cards, but specialism. As in, "that's not my bag".

dodo92a dodo [Bye-bye birdie?]. A neat whimsical definition. Dodos were flightless birds native to Mauritius and were extinct within a century of their "discovery". It's now thought that the arrival of animal predators such as dogs, cats and rats had more impact on their numbers than hunting (although that clearly didn't help). My great-grandfather managed a bank on the island and my grandfather was born there, but the dodo would have been long gone even in their time.

zebras5d ref [Zebra]. This wasn't difficult, as I had met this slang term for (American) football referee somewhere before. It alludes to the striped uniforms. Which reminds me of a funny line in a Pink Panther movie, where Clouseau berates two police sergeants disguised as a zebra thus: "One more outburst like that, and I'll have your stripes".

37d recreant [Cowardly]. This word doesn't cross my lips often, but I dragged it up from somewhere.
recreant adj surrendering; cowardly; false; apostate.
n a person who yields in combat; a coward; a mean-spirited wretch; an apostate; a renegade.
From The Chambers Dictionary
110d needle [Eye site]. Given the theme is based on puns, it's neat to work in a few more in the normal clues - like this one.

The Rest

1a caper [Certain fraternity activity]; 6a more [Gourmand's request]; 10a laming [Injuring]; 16a gable [Kind of window]; 21a orate [Speak for the Congressional Record, say]; 22a axel [Skater's feat]; 23a adagio [Faster than larghetto]; 24a Elton [John who was knighted]; 29a Este [Noble Lombard family name]; 30a mad [Crackbrained]; 31a eco- [Green: Prefix]; 33a Loa [Mauna ___]; 34a nooses [Slipknot loops]; 35a den [Place for trophies]; 36a Nader [Green candidate for president, 1996]; 38a Alger [Writer Horatio]; 40a ATM [Card taker, for short]; 41a Every ["___ Day's a Holiday" (Mae West film)]; 50a sprees [Jags]; 52a scream [Sound on a roller coaster]; 53a esa [That: Sp.]; 54a alar [Winglike]; 55a cased [Surveyed surreptitiously]; 56a Arte [Comic Johnson]; 57a Mali [Timbuktu's home]; 59a Ruhr [Mülheim an der ___, Germany]; 66a tub [Butter holder]; 67a as is [Warts and all]; 68a Elias [Inventor Howe]; 69a Evans [Zager & ___, 1960s pop duo]; 70a where [Journalist's query]; 72a pep [Zip]; 73a cairn [Stone heap]; 74a Ural [Russian river]; 75a arouse [Incite]; 81a coarse [Ill-bred]; 83a Opie [Mayberry boy]; 84a onion [St. Basil's dome shape]; 88a Paulo [São ___]; 89a Edwin [Booth or Drood]; 91a all at [___ once]; 93a est. [Round fig.]; 98a Indo- [___-European]; 99a tile [Square in a public square, maybe]; 101a Nagy [Hungarian patriot Imre ___]; 102a anew [From scratch]; 103a jaded [No longer excited]; 104a anal [___-retentive]; 106a Estees [Lauder and namesakes]; 108a pantry [Kitchen adjunct]; 113a faker [Fraud]; 114a eel [Moray, e.g.]; 115a Macon [City NNW of Robins Air Force Base]; 116a shave [Hair-razing experience?]; 118a aha! ["Now I see!"]; 121a airier [Having a higher ceiling and more light]; 125a rob [Stick up]; 126a GSA [Fed. construction overseer]; 128a owe [Be short]; 129a Eden [Place of bliss]; 136a Until [Fats Waller's "___ the Real Thing Comes Along"]; 137a avenue [Fifth, e.g.]; 138a Erie [County in New York, Ohio or Pennsylvania]; 139a Arnie [Golf's "army" leader]; 140a tease [Razz]; 141a resend [E-mailing option]; 142a seed [Bye holder]; 143a lager [Hearty draft].

1d coped [Got by somehow]; 2d arose [Turned up]; 4d -ette [Suffix with major]; 6d malady ["But love's a ___ without a cure": Dryden]; 7d oxide [Rust, for one]; 8d REO [Automotive inits.]; 9d else ["Anything ___?"]; 10d La Jolla [California community in sight of Mount Soledad]; 11d ado [Buzz]; 12d mailer [Post office item]; 13d ignore [Overlook]; 14d Nita [Naldi of the Ziegfeld Follies]; 15d gov. [Capitol fig.]; 16d genome [Modern map subject]; 17d alto [Quartet member]; 18d BTUs [A.C. measures]; 19d lore [Stories passed from generation to generation]; 20d -enes [Chemical suffixes]; 26d Omars [Jazz drummer Hakim and others]; 28d entrain [Get on board]; 32d careen [Lurch]; 36d need ["___ a lift?"]; 39d gym [Ball room?]; 40d aisle [Grocery feature]; 42d veers [Zigs and zags]; 44d artis ["Ars gratia ___"]; 45d teams [Rangers of New York and Texas]; 46d mat [Art surrounder]; 47d elates [Tickles]; 48d nature [Word with human or Mother]; 49d tribe [Cree or Crow]; 50d scrap [Jettison]; 51d pause [Time-out]; 52d Safire [Word maven William]; 57d mtn. [High point: Abbr.]; 60d Sears [Retail giant]; 61d alike [Correspondingly]; 62d verging [On the brink]; 63d evade [Give the slip]; 64d sale [Store sign]; 65d two on [Pressure situation for a pitcher]; 71d Hun [Barbarian]; 73d carol ["Good King Wenceslas," e.g.]; 74d unpin [Remove, as from a lapel]; 75d Asian [Like the 71-Downs]; 76d riots [Goes wild]; 77d mal- [Prefix with practice]; 78d Iowa [The Big Sioux River forms part of its border]; 79d colleens [Irish girls]; 80d in-laws [Some holiday visitors]; 81d casino [Monte Carlo mainstay]; 82d outlaw [Bonnie or Clyde]; 86d adder [Abacus, e.g.]; 87d goody ["Oh, joy!"]; 88d petal [Corolla part]; 90d dry [Like some wit]; 91d apnea [Sleeper's problem]; 92d Diane [Sawyer of ABC]; 95d one-term [Like the presidencies of Taft and Hoover]; 96d navel [Focus of some gazing]; 100d Eli [Priest of Shiloh]; 103d Jake [Prizefighter La Motta]; 106d etc [End-of-sentence abbr.]; 107d slogged [Moved through mud]; 108d paves [Covers up mud, in a way]; 111d emotes [Overacts]; 112d Sabine [Ancient Italian]; 113d fawned [Was obsequious]; 117d Howie [TV host Mandel]; 119d Henie [Olympic skating champ of 1928, 1932 and 1936]; 120d anger [Tee off]; 121d abut [Neighbor]; 122d Ione [Actress Skye]; 123d rata [Pro ___]; 124d iris [Flag, horticulturally]; 125d rêve [Dream, in Dijon]; 127d ades [Juice drinks]; 129d Ezra [Author of the Books of Chronicles, by tradition]; 131d ear [Place for a ring]; 132d nun [Sister]; 134d ore [It's major for miners]; 135d -ial [Suffix with baron].

3 comments:

MaryAnn said...

I am new at this crossword stuff.How to you get it . I can't fgure out the secrets to answering all the questions or figuring out what the hints are. Ive been doing them getting nowhere and then just getting the answers from you. Most times I am not either understanding the question, or not getting any hint from the questions. Someone said that if the question is more that 9 long it is the "opposite" of what it says. I can't see that.Please help, tell me how to see clues, sources, (before the puzzles are solved) Thanks Maryann

Magdalen said...

MaryAnn -- First (and most important) word of advice: Start with Monday puzzles. Do the other days of the week if you like, but when you find Monday puzzles to be easy, you'll know you're making progress. The NYTimes deliberately picks easier puzzles for the beginning of the week, and harder puzzles for Friday and Saturday. I'm no whiz, to be sure, but I can do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and most Thursday puzzles. I think I've finished a Friday puzzle precisely once. So hang in there and work hard on the Monday & Tuesday puzzles!

Crossword Man said...

The puzzle where every clue said the opposite of what it should was a Saturday puzzle - the most difficult of the week. As Magdalen says, start with the Monday and Tuesday NYT puzzles and see how far into the week you can get. You might also find a book like How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle helpful - it's by another crossword blogger Amy Reynaldo.