Sunday, May 10, 2009

NYT Monday 5/11/09 - Altered Perspectives

The theme of today's New York Times crossword reminds me of a quotation about altered perspectives that I have vague memories of: something like "I'm a freedom fighter, you're a terrorist". The sentiments expressed by the song titles are apparently random, but you wonder if there's a joke in there if you can just order them the right way.

As usual, this Monday puzzle presented few difficulties, although there were the usual odd things I didn't know and had to work around. Today it was Abba Eben, Stephen Vincent Benét, Elly May Clampett and Keene, NH - all hopefully added to the memory banks for the next time they appear.
Solving time: 6 mins (no cheating)

Four hit songs that start with a personal pronoun:
17a She's a Lady {1971 Tom Jones hit}
30a You're So Vain {1972 Carly Simon hit}
48a I'm A Believer {1966 Monkees hit}
66a He's a Rebel {1962 Crystals hit}

Fred Piscop
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersFred Piscop / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares40 (21.6%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.58)
New To Me

69a Elly {___ May Clampett of "The Beverly Hillbillies"}. Elly May Clampett was the hillbilly family's daughter, played by Donna Douglas. I'm sure The Beverly Hillbillies made it to the UK in their day, but I don't think I'd have understood much based on this episode.

71a Benét {Poet Stephen Vincent ___}. Stephen Vincent Benét (1898–1943) is known for such works as the narrative poem John Brown's Body; also the short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, about attorney Daniel Webster's defense of a New Hampshire farmer against "Mr. Scratch".

3d Keene {New Hampshire college town}. Staying in The Granite State, we have the home of Keene State College, whose 6,400 students form approximately a quarter of the population of Keene. The only difficulty here was avoiding spelling it like one of Magdalen's favorite groups.

Abba Eban6d Eban {Abba of Israel}. This one really had me thinking: is there an ABBA tribute band in Israel? Or was it to do with Abba, meaning "father" in Semitic languages. The latter is closer, but I would never have guessed the answer was a surname. Abba Eban (1915-2002) was an Israeli politician who rose to become Deputy Prime Minister. He seems to have been prominent before I became much aware of politics in the Middle East.

battle flag of the C.S.A57d R E Lee {C.S.A. general}. The abbreviation in the clue pointed to abbreviation in the answer, rationalizing the unusual form of one of the most famous generals in US history. I hadn't come across C.S.A. before: it's short for Confederate States Army, which existed from 1861 to 1865.


40a Snerd {Bergen dummy Mortimer}. Magdalen explained Edgar Bergen and Mortimer Snerd to me last fall, when we were solving the NYT puzzles informally. The idea of a ventriloquist on the radio seemed rather ludicrous and I didn't think I'd get to see a clip, but here is one from a Thanksgiving special sponsored by Coca-Cola in 1950.

golf shoe54d cleat {Golf shoe gripper}. Although cleat in this context is technically in the language, in Britain "stud" is much more common. Magdalen and I are mourning Tiger's poor final round in The Players' Championship - nothing to do with his cleats I hope.

The Rest

1a Lake {Africa's ___ Victoria}; 5a hemp {Rope material}; 9a gamma {Letter after beta}; 14a ides {___ of March}; 15a Obie {Theater award}; 16a avian {Bird-related}; 19a zesty {Appealingly piquant}; 20a toner {Photocopier cartridge contents}; 21a Niobe {Weeper of Greek myth}; 23a scents {Perfumery emanations}; 25a Tabasco {Hot sauce brand}; 33a caps {Items on which baseball insignia appear}; 37a pre- {Opposite of post-}; 38a salts {Seasons or deices}; 39a an in {Have ___ (be connected)}; 43a I see {Words of understanding}; 44a visor {Windshield flip-down}; 46a vee {Geese formation shape}; 47a last {Finishing 11th out of 11, e.g.}; 52a lensmen {Photographers, informally}; 53a rector {Parish leader}; 58a nacho {___ chip, which might be topped with 19-Across 27-Down dip}; 61a alive {Still kicking}; 62a Jabba {___ the Hutt of "Star Wars"}; 68a alien {Martian or Venusian}; 70a -aire {Suffix with concession}; 72a sloe {Gin flavoring}; 73a Tate {London art gallery}.

1d lists {Rosters}; 2d ad hoc {Kind of committee}; 4d Essen {Krupp Works city}; 5d hol. {Christmas or Thanksgiving: Abbr.}; 7d midi {Longish skirt}; 8d peyote {Mescaline-yielding cactus}; 9d gazebos {Garden pavilions}; 10d Ave. {N.Y.C.'s Park or Lex}; 11d mis- {Prefix with place or print}; 12d mat {Yoga class surface}; 13d any {"___ takers?"}; 18d arty {Pseudo-stylish}; 22d BAs {English majors' degs.}; 24d sops {Absorbs, with "up"}; 26d avail {Be of use}; 27d salsa {Tex-Mex preparation}; 28d cites {Uses as a reference}; 29d onset {Beginning stage}; 31d urn {Makeshift vote receptacle}; 32d Reeve {Superman portrayer Christopher}; 33d cavil {Be nitpicky}; 34d anime {Japanese cartoon art}; 35d Pisan {Native of the Leaning Tower city}; 36d snobs {Nose-in-the-air sorts}; 41d rev {Minister's nickname}; 42d deer {Animal that may be caught in the headlights}; 45d remnant {Carpet leftover}; 49d lea {Meadow}; 50d inches {Rainfall units}; 51d rear {Derrière}; 55d tibia {Fibula's neighbor}; 56d overt {Plain to see}; 59d hell {Satan's domain}; 60d Oslo {Norway's capital}; 62d jab {Sharp left or right, in the ring}; 63d ale {Ginger ___}; 64d bin {Bargain basement container}; 65d bee {Quilting party}; 67d aye {Sailor's assent}.

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