Friday, May 15, 2009

NYT Saturday 5/16/09 - On the Jazz Again

Wow! After some easier end-of-week puzzles in the last couple of days, we're presented with this really-tough-but-fair Saturday crossword - the sort of thing you want to do in several sessions. But needing to get a post out, I had to finish Friday night.

I made reasonable progress on the right hand side of the grid, completing the whole NE corner and the majority of the SE corner. The West was largely terra incognita - I suspect those lucky enough to know jazz hands had an easier time, because those initial letters are enormously helpful in building the left hand side.

Once I got stuck after 45 minutes or so, I was totally ready to call in Magdalen's help and she got the ball rolling again with critical answers like jazz hands, Ned Beatty, Nebraska and Terwilliger. Even so, it was still quite a struggle to finish.
Solving time: 60 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 12d ringtone {Bars for a cell?}

Tyler Hinman and Byron Walden
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersTyler Hinman and Byron Walden / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 25 (11.1%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.88)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points330 (average 1.65)
New To Me

1a jazz hands {Exuberant gesture with splayed fingers}. A great answer to start off the puzzle. I'd have felt even better about it if I'd known the expression, because it was key to starting off the left hand side of the puzzle. The jazz hands gesture was prominent in The Jazz Singer (1927 - the first "talking picture") but its origins were probably earlier than that.

55a Ariel {Red-haired Disney princess}. One Disney princess is much like another to me, but Magdalen knows this stuff "in depth" ... Ariel is the title character in The Little Mermaid (1989).

Susans23d Susans {Preakness flowers, familiarly}. I learned from crosswords that the Kentucky Derby winner gets a blanket of roses, but stupidly forgot to find out the other Triple Crown associations when it came up earlier this month. The Preakness is the "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" because the winner is blanketed in the colorful blooms. If you came to our garden at the right time you'd be able to make a dozen horse blankets, as Rudbeckia is rife in places. P.S. the Belmont Stakes is the "Run for the Carnations" - bound to come up sooner or later.

Minnie Minoso29d Miñoso {Baseball player known as Mr. White Sox}. Minnie Miñoso was a left fielder, famous as the first black player to wear a White Sox uniform. He's also the only player to have played professionally in seven different decades (1940s through to the 2000s).

39d Carrere {"Wayne's World" actress}. Tia Carrere is a Hawaiian-born actress of Filipino descent. She played rocker Cassandra in the Wayne's World movies. Excellent!

45d editor {White, in fiction, or Brown, in real life}; 53d Kent {Frequent phone booth user}. I got editor through "Brown" which I assume is Tina Brown. Sad to say, I had to look up the fictional editor - Perry White, boss to the "frequent phone booth user" appearing at 53-Down.

Nick Saban49d Saban {Nick of college football who was twice A.P. Coach of the Year}. Nick Saban was Coach of the Year in 2003 while heading the Fightin' Tigers and in 2008 while heading his current team, the Alabama Crimson Tide.


19a put {Phrase}. The equivalence of clue and answer aren't immediately obvious: presumably put in the sense of express in words, as in "that's not how I'd put it"?

47a she {One going steady?}. I had to look up previous she clues in the NYT to see that this relates to the nautical command "steady as she goes".

Raven's Ait54a ait {Island in the Thames}. Nice to have home advantage occasionally: ait (also spelled eyot) is a small island pronounced like "eight". Also look out for inch - a word used for small islands in Scotland. And yes there are several aits in the Thames.

9d sexier {Closer to 10?}. Another horribly deceptive clue, since 10 could refer to either peril or palls. This time 10 is the movie that did wonders for the sales of Boléro.

11d Eloi {"My God," in Aramaic}. I know when I get a clue like this that the answer will be from a well-known expression or quote. In this case, you need to think of "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?" ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?") - the last words of Jesus as reported in St Matthew's gospel. These words also notably occur in Bach's St Matthew Passion, with Eloi in the alternative spelling Eli.

12d ringtone {Bars for a cell?}. A lovely clue: once I realized a mobile was involved, my first thought was the bars indicating signal strength but I eventually got there.

tired feet52d feet {"Dogs"}. A reference to an expression Magdalen uses a lot more than I do: "my dogs are barking".

The Rest

10a peril {Snake in the grass}; 15a as you were {Captain's command}; 16a A-line {Coat cut}; 17a strong-box {Safe}; 18a long A {Something gays and straights have in common?}; 20a Terwilliger {Sideshow Bob's last name on "The Simpsons"}; 22a êtes {"Vous ___ ici" (French map indication)}; 24a easels {Studio props}; 25a TNN {Onetime Nascar outlet}; 26a recut {Like some gems and old movies}; 28a Sera {Corriere della ___, Italy's top-selling newspaper}; 29a moue {Vexed look}; 30a soaks {Registers, with "in"}; 32a Mainer {Longfellow or Millay, by birth}; 34a catalpa {Tree with heart-shaped leaves}; 37a harness {Tack item}; 38a Amanda {Mrs. Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie"}; 39a Casio {Maker of the first electric compact calculator}; 40a tpks. {Rtes. with plazas}; 41a char {More than brown}; 43a as per {In accordance with}; 48a chords {They may be fingered}; 50a olde {___-tyme}; 51a coffee break {Work stoppage?}; 56a Ned Beatty {"Deliverance" actor}; 58a navel {Central point}; 59a organ stop {Something pulled out in church}; 60a see to {Handle}; 61a been there {"I sympathize"}.

1d jasper {Traditional March birthstone}; 2d astute {Sharp}; 3d Zyrtec {Antiallergy brand}; 4d zoo {Common field trip destination}; 5d hunt {Kind of club}; 6d aw gee {"You shouldn't have"}; 7d Nebraska {Location of the 44-Down}; 8d drowses {Suffers through a boring meeting, maybe}; 10d palls {Shrouds}; 13d ingénues {Wide-eyed ones}; 14d learners {Picker-uppers?}; 21d llamas {Foals : horses :: crias : ___}; 27d told {All ___}; 31d apache {Extra in "Broken Arrow," 1950}; 33d aria {"Votre toast," for one}; 34d CAT scans {Radiodensity indicators}; 35d amphorae {Early containers}; 36d take five {Rest}; 37d Hard-edge {Like a style of painting with sharply delineated forms}; 42d hobnob {Chat}; 44d Platte {River facetiously described as "a mile wide at the mouth, but only six inches deep"}; 46d retype {Enter again}; 48d cello {Item with a pegbox}; 57d ash {Powdery evidence}.

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