Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NYT Wednesday 4/29/09 - Aprrill Carroll

Barry C. Silk has been featured six times so far this year and I normally associate him with the tougher end-of-week puzzles. This one seemed about right for a Wednesday: knowing that a word ladder was involved didn't help as much as I hoped - the puzzle was almost done by the time I got 38-across and so realized what the two ends of the ladder were.

Lewis Carroll had a huge influence on English language wordplay and came up with the word ladder form. I had fun unpicking a couple of other connections he has with the puzzle (see Theme below). When introducing doublets in March 1879, Carroll gave readers three challenges (drag the mouse over the line below to see the official solution):
1. Drive PIG into STY
2. Raise FOUR to FIVE
3. Make WHEAT into BREAD
Solving time: 18 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 68a ones {Change components, often}


How to get from nine to five (38a standard workday) in 9 easy steps:
1a nine {Start of a 38-Across}
15a tine {Small part of a spork}
18a tone {Musical quality}
22a tore {Made tracks}
35a sore {Teed off}
44a sort {Put into piles}
56a fort {Locale in a western}
64a fore {It may precede a stroke}
67a fire {Ax}
71a five {End of a 38-Across}
sporkA spork (sometimes called a "runcible spoon", a Lewis Carroll coinage) is a combined spoon and a fork. Lewis Carroll also gave us the term "portmanteau word" for such hybrids of two existing words. And he invented the word ladder form exemplified in the puzzle, which he called "doublets".

I was a little surprised that 64-across suggests fore precedes a stroke - maybe by the pessimistic golfer?


Barry C. Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersBarry C. Silk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares55 (29.4%)
Scrabble points278 (average 1.49)
New To Me

5a O-Lan {"The Good Earth" heroine}. The Good Earth (published in 1931) is the first novel in a trilogy by Pearl S. Buck about family life in a Chinese village. O-Lan is the slave girl who marries the hero of the book. There was a movie adaptation in 1937.

65a Dino {Rat Pack nickname}. I had to confirm the details here: Dino was Dean Martin's nickname - interestingly, he was born Dino ... Dino Paul Crocetti. You'd better know the lyrics of this song, as fazool and the like are often referenced in crossword clues.

Orkin victim9d pest {Orkin victim}. I first thought this must be another Mork & Mindy reference, but Mork is Orkan. No Orkin is a pest-control company, presumably a rival to Ehrlich, which we use.

36d Eds {Wynn and Harris}. These two Eds are American actors of different generations: Ed Wynn (1886-1966) started in radio and later had a successful movie career; Ed Harris is a movie actor who played John Glenn in The Right Stuff.

Illini49d Illini {"Fighting" athletes}. Not a reference to the Fightin' Tigers, whose myriad crossword references put them at the top of The Crucy League. The Fighting Illini have a cool name, but don't come up very often; the name Illini derives from an alternative name for the Illinois Confederation of Native American tribes.


27a Ira {Good name for an investment adviser?}. Difficult to know whether to list this as Ira or IRA - the clue seems to allude to both Individual Retirement Accounts and the forename.

barnacles29a sessile {Permanently attached, in zoology}. I word whose meaning hadn't sunk in very well: sessile (from the Latin word for "seated") in zoology means fixed to a particular spot, like a barnacle.

Napster32a Napster {Early MP3-sharing Web site}. Considering its influence, it is amazing that the Napster file sharing service operated just over two years: from June 1999 to July 2001. It was shut down to comply with a court injunction and now exists only as a pay service, a subsidiary of Best Buy. The Napster name came from founder Shawn Fanning's hairstyle-based nickname.

8d Neeson {"Kinsey" star, 2004}. Last Friday's Barry C. Silk puzzle also referenced Alfred Kinsey in defining zoology. Although Kinsey (1894–1956) was a professor of entomology and zoology, he's much better known for his pioneering research into human sexuality.

The Rest

9a passé {So last year}; 14a on or {___ about}; 16a empty {Recyclable item}; 17a lama {Prayer wheel user}; 19a smite {Strike down}; 20a ETAs {Cockpit announcements, briefly}; 21a onus {Millstone}; 23a sinew {Strength}; 25a log {Cord unit}; 37a latest {Up-to-date}; 43a period {"... and that's final!"}; 45a isthmus {Canal site, maybe}; 47a peevish {Showing irritation}; 52a nth {Last in a series}; 53a PCB {Toxic pollutant, for short}; 55a dolce {Sweet, in Italy}; 59a orbs {Many Christmas ornaments}; 62a ilex {Holly}; 63a cluer {Crossword maker or editor, at times}; 66a oeste {Dirección sailed by Columbus}; 68a ones {Change components, often}; 69a Swede {Dag Hammarskjöld, for one}; 70a SLRs {Some cameras, for short}.

1d no less {At minimum}; 2d in a tie {How baseball games rarely end}; 3d no-man's {Kind of land}; 4d erases {Undoes}; 5d Otto {Camp Swampy dog}; 6d lion {Symbol of courage}; 7d annul {Undo}; 10d ammo {Survivalist's stockpile}; 11d spirited {Full of energy}; 12d St Teresa {"The Way of Perfection" writer}; 13d eye {Word after red or dead}; 24d wisdom {Solomon's asset}; 26d galore {In profusion}; 28d arty {Pseudo-cultured}; 30d load up {Stockpile}; 31d err {Muff one}; 33d parted {Like some men's hair}; 34d stk. {Nasdaq buy: Abbr.}; 38d spin {Quick drive}; 39d test-flew {Tried out at an Air Force base}; 40d art house {Theater for niche audiences}; 41d NIH {Medical research org.}; 42d wop {Doo-___}; 46d scoffs {Shows scorn}; 48d void of {Lacking}; 50d Scene V {Part of an act, perhaps}; 51d hexose {Simple sugar}; 54d broil {Range setting}; 57d retd. {On Soc. Sec., say}; 58d tree {Trap, in a way}; 60d brrr {Winter exclamation}; 61d sees {Goes with}; 63d Cos. {Orgs. with "Inc." in their names}.

1 comment:

Magdalen said...

Definitely IRA, not the man's name.