Sunday, May 31, 2009

NYT Monday 6/1/09 - Changing of the Guard

This New York Times crossword neatly ties in with the historic arrival of a new host on The Tonight Show. Unfamiliarity with the first two theme names meant I solved this a little slower than some Monday puzzles, but at least I knew the last three. Here's Conan O'Brien talking about the upcoming "changing of the guard" back in February.

The compiler had great luck (or is a genius at spotting opportunities) with the names: three of the hosts have the same length first and last name. Conan O'Brien is anomalous, but could be paired up with Tonight Show. The could go opposite Jay, leaving only Leno on the loose (for which host comes to the rescue).
Solving time: 8 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 22d lea {Good place to have a cow?}

58a The, 59a Tonight Show {TV home for this puzzle's five featured TV personalities}. Every 53a host {Desk job at 58 & 59-Across?} in the show's history appears in the grid:
1a Steve, 66a Allen {First in a series of five TV personalities (1954-57)}
6a Jack, 65a Paar {Second in a series of five TV personalities (1957-62)}
34a Johnny, 35a Carson {Third in a series of five TV personalities (1962-92)}
19a Jay, 22a Leno {Fourth in a series of five TV personalities (1992-2009)}
17a Conan O'Brien {Fifth in a series of five TV personalities (starting June 1, 2009)}

John Farmer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersJohn Farmer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 41 (18.2%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.72)
Theme squares66 (35.9%)
Scrabble points284 (average 1.54)
New To Me

29d Ince {Early film director Thomas H. ___}. Thomas H. Ince (18821924) did pretty much everything there was to do in silent films: acting, directing, producing and writing. His mysterious death on board William Randolph Hearst's luxury yacht became the subject of The Cat's Meow in 2001.

43d Ashton {Actor Kutcher}. Ashton Kutcher is the TV and film actor best known for portraying Michael Kelso in That '70s Show. He's married to Demi Moore.

45d Olsens {Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley}. The Olsen twins are identical, which helped them get work from a ridiculously young age: child labor laws could be gotten around by swapping one for the other when they played Michelle on Full House.

54d Rona {Jaffe or Barrett}. Rona Jaffe (19312005) was an American novelist, famous for a controversial novel about the dangers of Dungeons & Dragons, Mazes and Monsters. Rona Barrett is a retired Hollywood expert. In one of those nice coincidences, I found a clip of her with Jack Paar (but not on The Tonight Show) from 1973.

57d Owen {Wilson of "Zoolander"}. I hadn't heard of Zoolander before, knowing Owen Wilson mostly for his performance in Wedding Crashers. Owen and Ben Stiller play male models Hansel and Derek.


ern24a aesir {Norse race of gods}; 3d erns {Sea eagles}. Answers like these make me think we wouldn't have seen this puzzle on a Monday, were it not for the tie-in. I only know these words from crosswords: aesir because its singular as makes a helpful fragment in advanced cryptic cluing; and ern(e)s because it's a common answer in every type of puzzle where it's deemed acceptable.

Mimi25a Mimi {"La Bohème" heroine}. No difficulties here, as our dog Mimi is named after the character in one of Puccini's finest. It's now just over a year since Mimi chose us at the dog shelter. Here she is in the back of her car, where she'd spend all day if there was someone willing to keep chauffeuring her around.

42a Deneuve {French actress Catherine}. The performance I most associate Catherine Deneuve with is her portrayal of the theater director's wife in Le Dernier métro (1980).

Bart Cow22d lea {Good place to have a cow?}. I like this clue, though the answer is again a bit obscure. Did the expression "to have a cow" start with Bart Simpson, or did he just popularize it? Wikipedia thinks don't have a cow predates Bart and is possibly of British origin (which I doubt as I never heard it before The Simpsons came on the scene).

STL60d STL {Letters on a Cardinals cap}. Coincidentally, I chose an STL hat as an image in yesterday's blog. So it shouldn't be difficult to find it again.

The Rest

10a IBM {"Think" sloganeer}; 13a errors {Dropped flies and bad throws, in baseball}; 15a alee {Sheltered from the wind}; 16a NEA {Teachers' org.}; 20a TDs {Football six-pointers, for short}; 21a in ages {Since way back when}; 23a lesson {Teacher's teaching}; 28a intimates {Closest friends}; 30a at peace {Free from worry}; 33a one {Two halved}; 40a tam {Scot's cap}; 43a abominate {Despise}; 48a snag {Minor hang-up}; 49a solos {Unaccompanied performances}; 50a gibe at {Taunt}; 54a reduce {Decrease}; 55a pro {Con's opposite}; 61a -oon {Suffix with ball}; 62a ante {Opening stake}; 63a on time {Prompt}; 64a nos {Telephone book info: Abbr.}.

1d sect {Religious offshoot}; 2d trod {Trampled}; 4d VOA {U.S. broadcaster overseas}; 5d Ernie {Bert's "Sesame Street" pal}; 6d jargon {Tech talk, e.g.}; 7d alien to {Not consistent with, as a way of thinking}; 8d cees {Middling grades}; 9d Ken {Author Follett}; 10d in jest {How quips are delivered}; 11d beanie {Close-fitting cap}; 12d mayors {City hall leaders}; 14d sons {Daughters' counterparts}; 18d Basie {Bandleader Count ___}; 23d lien {Property claim}; 24d a mean {"He doesn't have ___ bone in his body"}; 25d Maj. {Not minor: Abbr.}; 26d I to {"How was ___ know?"}; 27d mph {Speed limit abbr.}; 31d antis {"Nay" sayers}; 32d cyan {Shade of blue}; 36d rest {Observe the Sabbath}; 37d sun {The Sabbath, to Christians: Abbr.}; 38d ova {Eggs in a lab}; 39d neg. {Less than zero: Abbr.}; 41d magenta {Purplish tint}; 42d debug {Clear of defects, as software}; 44d boohoo {[Sob!]}; 46d mot {Bon ___ (clever remark)}; 47d tidier {Neater}; 51d echo {Bounce back, as sound}; 52d Aetna {Insurance provider since 1850}; 55d Phil {Grammy-winning Collins}; 56d Rome {All roads lead to this, they say}; 59d tap {Strike lightly}.


Daniel Myers said...

Ragarding "lea", it may be simply because I read English at University, but the first thing that came to mind was the first stanza of Thomas Gray's famous "Elegy Wriiten in A County Church-Yard":

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Crossword Man said...

I was going by Magdalen's reaction - Lea is so ubiquitous in British place names that I think people have a sense of what it is. It seems less common in the US. I love the poem, the full text of which is available here.