Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NYT Thursday 4/2/09 - In Jeopardy!

This was the crossword whose clues were questions on the previous night's Jeopardy!. We decided to record the program and watch it after solving, so we wouldn't have any advantage. A clip is already up on YouTube if you didn't catch the show:



Knowing some of the answers in advance wouldn't have helped me much, because the one that gave trouble - Gary Gygax - wasn't featured on the show. That was probably considered too difficult for the competitors, but not for us poor solvers. It was fun to see Will Shortz among his famous book collection - he really needs another tome or two to fill the shelves before those slanting ones get permanently skewed.
Solving time: 30 mins (no cheating, two wrong answers)
Clue of the puzz: 58d tome [It may need a big jacket]
Theme

Seven answers beginning G and ending X.
17a Gary Gygax [Co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons]
*30a Grand Prix [French auto race]
*39a Gore-Tex [Trademarked brand of waterproof fabric]
*47a gag reflex [Palate-raising response]
*61a Gummo Marx [Vaudeville brother born Milton]
*11d gasoline tax [Levy at a BP or 69-Across station]
24d Generation X [Thirtysomethings]
Gary GygaxI didn't know Gary Gygax and, ignorant of CGBG, guessed Gary Aygax. For once, I don't feel like an idiot for getting this wrong: I realize Gary Gygax is a lovely answer to get into the puzzle, but reckon it called for very straightforward crossing answers and clues, which wasn't the case here.

The five starred thematic clues were questions on the previous night's Jeopardy!. This connection was referenced in two further clues:
59a I lost [Weird Al Yankovic's "___ on Jeopardy"]
56d Alex ["I'll take 'The New York Times Crossword Puzzle' for $200, ___"]
Solution

Brendan Emmett Quigley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 44 (19.6%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.64)
Theme squares63 (34.8%)
Scrabble points361 (average 1.99)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Jason Kidd19a Jason [N.B.A. star point guard Kidd]. Jason Kidd currently plays for the Dallas Mavericks. Based on my limited experience, baseball and (American) football seem the most popular sports in crosswords; followed by basketball; (ice) hockey trails way back, rescued from oblivion by the likes of Bobby Orr.

45a Yates ["Revolutionary Road" novelist Richard]. Revolutionary Road was Richard Yates's first novel. Time critics chose it as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. A movie adaptation was released last December.



67a Akeem [Eddie Murphy's role in "Coming to America"]. Eddie Murphy plays Prince Akeem Joffer, who comes to America in search of a marriageable woman.



CBGB4d CBGB [Old N.Y.C. club said to be the birthplace of punk]. Not knowing the CBGB (short for Country, Blue Grass and Blues) club was my undoing in this puzzle. It was open from 1973 to 2006 and diverged from the musical styles of its name to become a forum for punk bands. OMFUG on the awning is part of the club's full name and stands or "Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandizers".

34d Agarn ["F Troop" corporal]. F Troop looks to be something akin to the BBC's Dad's Army. Corporal Agarn acts as the dimwitted sidekick in his Sergeant's illicit businesses.



49d end-men [Minstrel show figures]. Minstrel shows seem to have had a language all of their own, which lingers as historical entries in dictionaries, helpful to explain passages like this one from Wodehouse:
For the past few minutes this young man had been sitting bolt upright on a chair with his hands on his knees, so exactly in the manner of an end-man at a minstrel show that one would hardly have been surprised had he burst into song or asked a conundrum.
From Piccadilly Jim by P.G.Wodehouse
65d XXX [Turkey, to a bowler]. It seems a "turkey" is the nickname for three consecutive strikes in ten-pin bowling, rendered as XXX on the scoresheet. A perfect game of 12 consecutive strikes is a "Thanksgiving Turkey".



Noteworthy

Marylebone Station15a B and O [Railroad between Illinois and Atlantic avenues]. I saw this in a previous puzzle, so got it OK. But it made me realize I need to learn the standard American Monopoly board, as crossword editors must assume that's common knowledge. The standard British board is based on London and has railway stations (King's Cross, Marylebone, Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street), rather than railroads.

43a ter [Rx specification]. Presumably part of ter in die - usually abbreviated to t.i.d. - meaning "three times a day".

sawbuck52a ten [Sawbuck]. The nickname may have derived from older versions of the bill that included the Roman numeral X (which resembles a sawbuck).

55d give [Say "Uncle!"]. It seems this call for truce is a tradition only among American schoolchildren. In my school in Southern England, we used pax, though fains (and the variants fainites and fains I) is also in dictionaries.

It may need a big jacket58d tome [It may need a big jacket]. A great clue - difficult to solve, but once worked out, making perfect sense.

uke62d uke [HI-strung instrument?]. A peculiar-looking clue until you notice that the first two letters are Hawaii's abbreviation, suggesting a short form as well as an instrument from that locale. Ukulele literally means "jumping flea" in Hawaiian.

The Rest

1a Jew [Yeshiva student]; 4a chirp [Happy sound]; 9a wiggy [Crazy excited]; 14a UVA [The Cavaliers of the N.C.A.A.]; 16a snare [Bag]; 20a Obie [Award since 1956]; 21a nogs [Holiday servings]; 22a cagy [Sly]; 25a naps [Is off guard]; 28a eel [Fish whose skin is sometimes used for leather]; 29a oleo [Spread selection]; 33a Mensa [Its gatherings are smart things to attend]; 35a tiro [Beginner: Var.]; 36a NYM [N.L. team, on scoreboards]; 38a eke [Squeeze (out)]; 42a ELO [Grp. with the 1979 hit "Don't Bring Me Down"]; 44a anil [Indigo dye source]; 51a bane [Scourge]; 53a fang [Snake's bioweapon]; 54a exes [Splitsville parties]; 55a gait [Walk, e.g.]; 57a data [Raw material?]; 66a Venti [Starbucks size]; 68a pix [Fotos]; 69a Exxon [BP competitor]; 70a tense [Ex-lax?]; 71a box [Cuff].

1d jug [Water holder]; 2d Eva [Actress Mendes]; 3d War [Drug ___]; 5d haying [Harvesting for fodder]; 6d in gear [Ready to roll]; 7d RDA [Vitamin abbr.]; 8d pox [Chicken ___]; 9d WSJ [Financial daily, in brief]; 10d inaner [More ridiculous]; 12d grog [Part of an old Royal Navy ration]; 13d yens [Urges]; 18d yo-yos [Dingbats]; 22d comet [Streaker seen at night]; 23d ale keg [Pub container]; 26d patella [Femur neighbor]; 27d snit [Lather]; 28d epoxy [Sticker?]; 31d Dre ["Forgot About ___" (2000 Grammy-winning rap song)]; 32d xylene [Compound used in aviation fuel]; 37d Moses [Michelangelo sculpture on a biblical subject]; 40d one [Billy Martin, for the Yankees]; 41d riff [Musical phrase]; 46d abeam [Crosswise to a ship's keel]; 48d gets to [Irritates]; 50d X Games [Annual event that includes motocross]; 60d tin [Word before ear or horn]; 61d gat [Bit of "hardware"]; 63d APB [Police radio message: Abbr.]; 64d Rio ["Road to ___" (1947 flick)].

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