Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NYT Thursday 4/23/09 - What Can Brown Do For You?

With this Thursday New York Times crossword, we're back to the classic "reverse" theme where the long answers all clue (hopefully in interestingly varied ways) a specific word. I was really slow to get the critical answer brown: I tried hard to break the SW corner first, but couldn't do it.

Even after getting Godfather of Soul and FedEx competitor, I wasn't completely convinced that brown was right; I don't associate it with UPS, as the "What Can Brown Do For You?" campaign didn't air in the UK and I wasn't aware of James Brown's appellation before. So my solving time is embarrassingly bad for this stage of the week.
Solving time: 35 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 16a autos {They need their bearings}
Theme

71a brown {Shade that defines 17-, 27-, 49- and 65-Across} is a four-way definition to:
17a Godfather of Soul
27a FedEx competitor
49a Cleveland player
65a Ivy League school
Solution

Steve Dobis
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersSteve Dobis / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares65 (34.4%)
Scrabble points321 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

GRE48a GRE {E.T.S. offering}. The Graduate Record Examination seems to come up about once a week so I'm trying hard to make it second nature. This reference to the Educational Testing Service is a new one on me - but hey! - GRE-ETS makes an easy mnemonic to help recall both.

69a On Me {Def Leppard hit "Pour Some Sugar ___"}. Pour Some Sugar on Me was a hugely successful song from the hard rock band's 1987 album Hysteria. It became their signature song.



ash {Word with mountain or fly}. I'm familiar with the mountain ash or rowan tree, but don't often come across fly ash - it refers to the fine particles of ash released when fossil fuels are burned in power stations. Fly ash is used in brickmaking and as a partial substitute for cement in concrete.



28d Errol {Documentarian Morris}. Errol Morris is the Oscar-winning director of films such as A Brief History of Time (about Stephen Hawking, who is an alumnus of University College, Oxford, where I studied Chemistry) and The Fog of War (about Robert McNamara).



51d Linc {"The Mod Squad" role}. The Mod Squad was a police drama that ran from 1968 to 1973. Clarence Williams III played the character of Linc (short for Lincoln) Hayes. There was a film adaptation in 1999 in which Linc was played by Omar Epps.



Noteworthy

geocache16a autos {They need their bearings}. A neat misleading definition - although cars literally need bearings to work, the driver needs a good sense of direction too and a GPS helps with that. We just tried the latest craze of geocaching, where you use a handheld GPS system to find hidden "caches". We located two fairly easy-to-find caches at the Minisink Battleground and then a really well-hidden one at the eagle observation area at Minisink Ford.

22a Erse {European tongue}. I never expected the answer to be this obscure: Erse (etymologically a variant of Irish) is the name sometimes used by Lowland Scots for the Gaelic dialect of the Western Highlands. It is an obsolete term and I think derogatory.

Navaho Code Talker Memorial37a Navaho {Language that contains no adjectives}. Navaho may be deficient in adjectives, but proved useful during World War II as a means of sending secret messages by means of code talkers, particularly in the Pacific Theater.

55d Gibb {1970s-'80s singer Andy}. Andy Gibb was the younger brother to the three Bee Gees. I wasn't a big fan of the Bee Gees, idiosyncratically preferring the Hee Bee Gee Bees, formed by three comedians who did awesome parodies of the prevailing pop groups of the 1980s. You have to hear this. No really, you have to hear this.



The Rest

1a lead {Starring role}; 5a path {Way to go}; 9a Omani {Certain sultan's subject}; 14a once {"There was a time ..."}; 15a OSHA {It's headed by a deputy asst. secy. of labor}; 16a autos {They need their bearings}; 20a escape {Romance fiction or horror films, e.g.}; 21a MDL {Midcentury year}; 23a cent {Small change}; 25a USS {Letters at sea}; 35a RRR {Basic education, familiarly}; 36a yea {House support?}; 38a aroma {Redolence}; 41a dye {Do colorful work}; 43a ten am {Coffee break time, maybe}; 44a no-name {Generic}; 46a a no {"I'll take that as ___"}; 53a sir {"Yes, ___!"}; 54a spin {Alternative to "roll the dice"}; 55a gigs {Band lineup}; 59a zap {Microwave}; 61a on call {Available}; 68a borer {Drill}; 70a OKed {Approved}; 72a NYPD {Title grp. in an ABC drama}; 73a ribs {Barbecue order}.

1d loge {High-priced ticket option}; 2d Enos {Great-great-great-grandfather of Methuselah}; 3d AC-DC {Electrical letters}; 4d deface {Scrawl graffiti on, e.g.}; 5d potency {Strength}; 6d 7d them {Not us}; 8d hard-up {Indigent}; 9d oaf {Klutz}; 10d muse {Inspiration}; 11d -ator {Decor finish?}; 12d nous {Us, abroad}; 13d isle {Bikini, e.g.}; 18d apex {Culminating point}; 19d Olsen {Merlin of football and TV}; 24d toed {Pointy-___}; 26d stat {Rebounds, e.g.}; 27d franc {Swiss capital}; 29d drone {Queen's attendant}; 30d Mayan {Like some pyramids}; 31d I've {"___ got you"}; 32d tangy {Having a bite}; 33d O'Hare {Almost 80 million people visit it yearly}; 34d Romer {Former Colorado governor Roy}; 39d Mav {Dallas hoopster, briefly}; 40d Ames {Where the Iowa Straw Poll is done}; 42d ends {Goals}; 45d Eliza {"My Fair Lady" lady}; 47d opposed {Fought against}; 50d Aragon {One of Isabella I's kingdoms}; 52d anchor {Mainstay}; 56d Ivor {Songwriter Novello}; 57d gyro {Urban sidewalk vendor's offering}; 58d slew {Boatload}; 60d puny {Pint-size}; 62d Aoki {Golfer Isao ___}; 63d Loeb {Financial writer Marshall}; 64d LLDs {Attorneys' degs.}; 66d ern {Coastal flier}; 67d emp. {Great Brit., e.g., in years past}.

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