Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NYT Wednesday 4/15/09 - Fork Lift

This Wednesday New York Times crossword caught me off my guard: I managed to guess the central three long answers with no crossings at all. But it took me ages to realize that the 15-letter answers were also thematic and provided the knife and fork to go with that spoon.

I wasn't aware that Americans used cutlery differently until I met Magdalen: in Britain, the fork never leaves your left hand; in America the fork has no particular allegiance and goes wherever is convenient. After three years in the USA, my fork etiquette seems about 75% migrated to the American style.
Solving time: 18 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 67a lint {It may be caught in a trap}
Theme

Items of cutlery:
17a go under the knife {Have surgery}
24a,37a,50a born with a silver spoon in one's mouth {Privileged}
60a fork it over buddy! {"Gimme!"}
Solution

Michael Vuolo
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersMichael Vuolo / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares61 (32.6%)
Scrabble points305 (average 1.63)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

1a MG's {Booker T.'s bandmates in '60s R&B}. Booker T. & the M.G.'s was one of the first racially-integrated bands of the rock era. They are perhaps still best known for their 1962 instrumental hit Green Onions.



21a Teri {Actress Polo of "Meet the Parents"}. Teri Polo plays the girlfriend with the unfortunate parents in Meet the Parents and its sequel Meet the Fockers.



45a PAC {D.C. influence wielder}. I skated on thin ice not knowing this and having to guess Phyllis Coates at 47-down. I see that Political Action Committees are the way contributions from interest groups are regulated and publicized in the USA. PACs apparently account for less than 30% of total contributions in congressional races and even less in presidential races.

11d Frist {Bill passed many times on the Hill, formerly}. The subterfuge was obvious here, but it fell a bit flat (for me) because there was no chance I'd know Bill Frist, the retired senator from Tennessee. When first elected, he promised to serve no more than two terms and, amazingly, kept that promise.

39d o No {"Vas ___ Vas" (former derivative Spanish-language game show)}. Getting away from Mrs Lennon here was innovative, though I'm not sure the Spanish-language version of Deal or No Deal was such a bonus.



47d Coates {Actress Phyllis of "I Was a Teenage Frankenstein"}. I had to guess at the first letter, as I didn't know PACs. Coates was the only fill that looked sane to me and I trusted the compiler not to be cute with me. Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane on TV in the first 26 episodes of Adventures of Superman and starred with Whit Bissell and Gary Conway in the referenced movie.



54d Tevye {Milkman of musical fame}. Tevye the dairyman's fame hadn't reached my ears, but I guess that's my bad: he's the protagonist of the Sholem Aleichem stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof. Both Zero Mostel and Chaim Topol played the role on stage, but the latter got the part in the movie.



Noteworthy

oboe in bits15a oboist {"Peter and the Wolf" musician}. Peter and the Wolf is well-chosen because of the prominent role the oboe has representing the Duck (including some quacking after being eaten by the Wolf). I tried to play the oboe as a kid and it's impossible.

blue ice26a blue-ice {Colorful glacier layer}. I saw blue ice in Alaska last fall and can attest to the deep blue color. Pure ice naturally has that color - most of the ice we see has a lot of air bubbles, which makes it seem white.

Greek Alphabet66a eta {Seventh in a series of 24}. This clue had me wondering until the answer emerged from crossings and I saw the series was the Greek Alphabet - a good thing to know by heart if you're into crosswords.

67a lint {It may be caught in a trap}. A wonderfully deceptive clue - I'd never have thought of this answer without help from the downs.

69a Roy {Rogers who was elected twice to the Country Music Hall of Fame}. I had to check that this refers to Roy Rogers the singing cowboy, as there's another Roy Rogers who plays slide guitar.



9d sterna {Chest protectors}. This seems to me a rather ugly answer, largely because the Latin plural is so obscure. Does anyone really say sterna rather than sternums? I think I'd have opted for sterns and sir for 29-across.

13d Teena {Pop/R&B singer ___ Marie}. Teena Marie, nicknamed "Lady T", has been a successful white singer of R&B since 1976. Here's her 1984 hit Lovergirl:



27d inv. {Accts. payable receipt}; 28d Cie. {French bus. firm}; 32d CST {Winter Minn. hrs.}. This sequence of abbrs. is a little unfortunate, but liable to happen with all those three-letter downs sandwiched in the middle. Cie. for Compagnie is the only slightly obscure one.

The Rest

4a pandas {San Diego Zoo attractions}; 10a pfft {[fizzle]}; 14a ELO {"Can't Get It Out of My Head" grp.}; 16a Erie {View from Buffalo}; 20a blast {Great time}; 22a stn. {RR stop}; 23a Camp {___ David}; 29a air {Bubble contents}; 30a sis {Family girl}; 31a niece {Family girl}; 34a ass {Dolt}; 41a MCI {Co. acquired by Verizon in 2006}; 42a stone {Sturdy building material}; 43a DAs {Court figs.}; 48a concept {Designer's starting point}; 55a hope {"Keep ___ alive!"}; 56a fan {Geisha's accessory}; 57a Babe {Diamond legend, with "the"}; 58a Moore {"Bowling for Columbine" documentarian}; 64a a moi {Mine, in Marseille}; 65a Elysée {___ Palace, French presidential residence}; 68a steady {Sure}.

1d Meg {Sister in "Little Women"}; 2d globalism {Doctrine that de-emphasizes regional interests}; 3d soul music {Barry White's genre}; 4d pods {Some marine herds}; 5d abet {Help in a bad way}; 6d nor {___'easter}; 7d ditto {"Likewise"}; 8d Asher {One of the 12 tribes of Israel}; 10d pen {Slammer}; 12d Fifth {It may be taken in court, with "the"}; 18d nape {Kitty's pickup point}; 19d kiwi {Fuzzy fruit}; 23d CBS {"Numb3rs" network}; 24d beers {They may come in a round}; 25d Iran {Modern locale of ancient Persepolis}; 33d epoch {Pleistocene, e.g.}; 35d side order {Fries, often}; 36d snapped to {Began paying attention}; 38d lips {They may be licked or smacked}; 40d oen- {Wine: Prefix}; 44d Ste. {Geneviève, e.g.: Abbr.}; 46d ambi- {Prefix with dextrous}; 49d Chou {Comrade of Mao}; 50d offal {Butcher's discards}; 51d Naomi {Feminist Wolf who wrote "The Beauty Myth"}; 52d Enron {Bankrupt company in 2002 headlines}; 53d U bolt {Curved fastener}; 58d Mr Ed {Talking horse of old TV}; 59d obey {Mind}; 61d kit {Hobbyist's purchase}; 62d esa {Spanish "that"}; 63d yay {"That's great news!"}.

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