Wednesday, April 8, 2009

NYT Thursday 4/9/09 - Wizards of Oz

This Thursday New York Times puzzle didn't give up its thematic secrets easily. Although I could see that a lot of zees were involved, it wasn't till I'd got three or four of the long entries that I realized that removing an Oz would leave a well-known word or phrase.

Despite this, my solving time was pretty good for this time of the week - I was lucky that the answers I couldn't get were deducible from crossings. I did have difficulties seeing why aahs should be a hint to the theme - the Oz/aahs homophone works better with an American accent!

I've also finally realized, in writing this summary and the title, that the placement of Judy (clued with reference to Judy Garland) opposite to aahs wasn't mere coincidence. Compilers, I salute you.
Solving time: 17 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 37d insomnia [People with this don't go out for very long]
Theme

Phrases with oz inserted, making a pun. oz sounds a bit like 65a aahs [Contented sighs (and a homophonic hint to this puzzle's theme)].
17a Mini Mozart [Nickname for a dwarfish piano prodigy?]
19a dozing bat [Sleeping cave denizen?]
31a boozy wonder [Pickled pub quiz winner?]
40a ozone liners [Ships carrying a smelly gas?]
51a Cozy Young [Comfy kids?]
57a lion's dozen [Pride of 12?]
Solution

Patrick Blindauer and Tony Orbach
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersPatrick Blindauer and Tony Orbach / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.82)
Theme squares60 (32.8%)
Scrabble points346 (average 1.89)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Portrait of a Young Man by John Opie13a Opie [English artist John who's buried at St. Paul's Cathedral]. No, I hadn't heard of John Opie (1761-1807) either. He is best known for his portraits.

21a Rambo ["First Blood" hero John]. I hadn't escaped hearing about Rambo the character, but didn't know his (rather mild-sounding) forename; nor that First Blood was the first movie of the franchise.



26d Reno [Ashcroft's predecessor]. I was glad I worked out carom for 24-across, without which I'd have been in trouble here. Janet Reno, Attorney General under Bill Clinton, was succeeded by John Ashcroft, George W. Bush's appointee.

1d Joad [Bruce Springsteen album "The Ghost of Tom ___"]. This clue interested me as it's guessable if you know Tom Joad, the central character of The Grapes of Wrath. Springsteen's inspiration for the title track of the album came from the John Ford movie adaptation.



Noteworthy

Judy Garland Birthplace1a Judy [Garland native to Minnesota]. The neatly disguised Judy Garland had me wondering: if leis come from Hawaii, what kind of garlands come from Minnesota. I eventually saw through the clue, and now know that Judy was a Minnesotan: the house where she was born in Grand Rapids is now open to the public.

24a carom [Bank]. Both clue and answer mean to strike a ball in pool so that it rebounds (usually off a cushion).

43a dia [Domingo, for one]. "Day" and "Sunday" in Spanish - Español para los crucigramistas comes to the rescue again!

crib5d crib [Mobile home?]. I was expecting something like yurt as the answer and wasn't entirely happy with crib - an infant's bed is usually mobile, but to call it a "home" seems a bit of a stretch (even allowing for the ?). I may have just got the wrong idea here!

37d insomnia [People with this don't go out for very long]. My first thought was agoraphobia, but first thoughts are often wrong later in the week.

47d brine [It can cure many things]. Another awesome misleading definition - keep 'em coming!

53d zees [Pieces of pizza?]. Not slices of pizza, but pieces of the word "pizza", specifically the two zees in it.

tango58d dos [How many it takes to tango in Spain?]. Another inventive clue, making a virtue of a necessity: the expression is "it takes two to tango", so we're looking for the Spanish for two.

The Rest

5a clad [Not in the buff]; 9a Nova [With 46-Down, site of Cape Breton Island]; 14a rube [Potential sucker]; 15a Abel [The brother in "Am I my brother's keeper?"]; 16a atts. [Lawyers: Abbr.]; 22a dum [Musical sound before and after "da"]; 23a Noras [Comic Dunn and others]; 27a serene [Collected]; 30a ute [Adaptable truck, for short]; 36a Joni [Musical Mitchell]; 38a snide [Said with a sneer]; 39a eave [Icicle site]; 44a slicer [Deli machine]; 45a psalm [One begins "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down"]; 47a brown [Toast]; 49a arc [Parenthesis, essentially]; 50a crime [It may be organized]; 59a trot [Bring (out)]; 60a anti [Part of ABM]; 61a ooze [Move like molasses]; 62a is so [Combative retort]; 63a Mesa [___ Verde National Park]; 64a S.P.Y.S [1974 Sutherland/Gould spoof].

2d up to [___ no good]; 3d ditz [Scatterbrain]; 4d yes I do [Positive affirmation]; 6d Luna [Counterpart of Apollo]; 7d a bit [Partially]; 8d Dem. [Like 10-Down: Abbr.]; 9d Nazarene [Early Christian convert]; 10d Obama [Only president born in Hawaii]; 11d verbs [Shake, rattle and roll]; 12d alto [High in the Sierra Madre?]; 17d MGM ["2001" studio]; 18d Orono [Maine university town]; 20d numb [Unfeeling]; 23d newer [Comparatively recent]; 24d Cujo [1981 Stephen King novel]; 25d A to Z [Complete]; 27d sonic [Like some waves]; 28d e-zine [Online weekly, e.g.]; 29d Ryder [Golf's ___ Cup]; 32d Oslin [K. T. of country music]; 33d Dada [Early baby talk]; 34d evil [Devilish]; 35d ream [Chew (out)]; 41d Elwes [Actor Cary of "Twister"]; 42d spry [Not at all stiff]; 46d Scotia [See 9-Across]; 48d riots [Laugh-a-minute folks]; 49d Ayn [Writer Rand]; 50d clam [Chowder morsel]; 51d coop [Prison, slangily]; 52d Ozzy [Black Sabbath singer, to fans]; 54d Ursa [Celestial bear]; 55d nosh [Bite]; 56d GTOs [Pontiacs of old].

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