Friday, May 1, 2009

NYT Saturday 5/2/09 - Crown Derby

I didn't see a lot of horse racing back home, perhaps just watching the famous race for steeplechasers - the Grand National - once a year. I don't think that form of horse racing exists in the US, but then you have trotting races to make up for that.

This puzzle is obviously timed to tie in with the 2009 Kentucky Derby and I'll try to watch coverage of that and see the blanket of roses, which was the subject of a crossword clue earlier this year.

My ignorance of the Triple Crown definitely slowed me down, but experience of thematic cryptics led me to try the diagonals first in searching for where the third race might be hidden.
Solving time: 35 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 10a Bic {Pen name}
Theme

23a triple crown {It comprises the 10-Down, 34-Across and a third part found elsewhere in the grid}. The third part is the Kentucky Derby, hidden along the main diagonal of the grid. The other thematic answers are:
34a Preakness {Part of the 23-Across}
48a The favorite {One that bets are on}
10d Belmont {Part of the 23-Across}
39d breeder {One with a stake in 48-Across, say}
The constituent races of the Triple Crown are presumably obvious to Americans, but I had to work them out the hard way. The Preakness (named for a winning colt on the day the Pimlico Race Course opened) was the only name I actually hadn't heard of: it didn't seem like a word, so I had grave doubts over its accuracy.

Solution

Peter A. Collins
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersPeter A. Collins / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares53 (28.3%)
Scrabble points290 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Ena15a Ena {Spain's Victoria Eugenia, familiarly}. Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg (1887-1969) was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and grandmother to the current King of Spain. The name Ena was an accident: her parents had intended the Gaelic name Eua, but this was misread at the christening.

28a Rainer {Best Actress winner for "The Great Ziegfeld," 1936}. The German film actress Luise Rainer played Anna Held in the musical.



John Elway40a Elway {QB who was the Super Bowl XXXIII M.V.P.}. John Elway was notable as the oldest player to be named Super Bowl MVP, in what was the final game of his career.

SigEp6d SigEp {Popular fraternity, familiarly}. This gave me difficulties in the top middle section, where I had trouble with 4-across. It seems SigEp is short for Sigma Phi Epsilon, the largest social fraternity in terms of undergraduate membership. Greek letter societies seem to be peculiar to North America (and to an outsider like me, very peculiar).

7d Hamel {Actress Veronica of "Hill Street Blues"}. Magdalen asked me to show Veronica Hamel from the Hill Street Blues days, when she was at her most beautiful. Couldn't find a good clip with her from that series, so the Cannonball (1976) trailer will have to suffice:



21d or I {"Withhold no atom's atom ___ die": Keats}. Easy enough to guess, but which poem is this from? It's from the sonnet To Fanny, ie Fanny Brawne, with whom Keats had a whirlwind romance.
I cry your mercy—pity—love!—aye, love!
Merciful love that tantalizes not,
One-thoughted, never-wandering, guileless love,
Unmasked, and being seen—without a blot!
O! let me have thee whole,—all—all—be mine!
That shape, that fairness, that sweet minor zest
Of love, your kiss,—those hands, those eyes divine,
That warm, white, lucent, million-pleasured breast,—
Yourself—your soul—in pity give me all,
Withhold no atom's atom or I die,
Or living on, perhaps, your wretched thrall,
Forget, in the mist of idle misery,
Life's purposes,—the palate of my mind
Losing its gust, and my ambition blind!
To Fanny by John Keats
Saint Theresa23d Theresa {The Little Flower of Jesus}. Saint Theresa (1873-1897) was a Carmelite nun who died young of tuberculosis. She became famous for her posthumously published memoir L'histoire d'une âme ("Story of a Soul"). She was canonized in 1925.

44d Rosses {Family in Upton Sinclair's "Oil!"}. I definitely saw There Will be Blood, based on the referenced book, but didn't remember the Rosses. I see that's not unreasonable, as Ross became Plainview in the movie.



57d Sal {___ the Stockbroker on "The Howard Stern Show"}. This could have spelled trouble as I know neither the character nor the show. Salvatore Governale made a name for himself by making prank calls while working for brokerage firms, but joined the show officially in 2004. In this prank, all the callers are strangely in agreement with each other:



Noteworthy

Bic chandelier10a Bic {Pen name}. A nicely deceptive definition - I had aka for a while. The name Bic is a shortening of Michael Bich, co-founder of the French company which makes a variety of disposable products.

Melville21a Omoo {1847 novel involving a mutiny}. This clue had an Omoo-flavor, so I risked writing it in even before I had any crossings. Definitely crosswordese, but it's hard to object to references to as fine a novelist as Melville.

56a ald. {Certain council member: Abbr.}. In Britain, the term alderman was used for certain local government officers until reforms in the 1970s. "Boards of aldermen" are an alternative term for city councils in some jurisdictions in the US, though the politically correct Wisconsin prefers the term Alderperson. Etymologically, the term derives from the Old English ealdorman ("elder man").

cat's-eye marble25d cat's-eye {Certain shooter}. Marbles seems to crop up quite frequently, so it's worth learning some of the terminology. Cat's eye marbles are what you'd expect from the name: they have eye-shaped colored cores.

38d Ophelia {"O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!" speaker, in Shakespeare}. Some sort of instinct led me to guess this was Ophelia speaking of the barmy Hamlet.
O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, sword,
Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th' observ'd of all observers- quite, quite down!
From Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Rest

1a sty {Grunt site}; 4a sashes {Pageant attire}; 13a okra {Vegetable sometimes grown as a flower}; 14a umiaks {Walrus-skin boats}; 16a pier {Seafood restaurant locale}; 17a bagmen {Mafia runners}; 18a LPN {I.C.U. figure}; 19a T-man {Bad bill collector?}; 20a a tee {Perfectly, after "to"}; 22a ips {Tape speed abbr.}; 26a moo shu {Kind of pork}; 29a Annie {Musical with the song "It's the Hard-Knock Life"}; 30a coast {Proceed effortlessly}; 33a try {Sample}; 37a cob {Bit of autumn decoration}; 41a eager {Itchy}; 45a uprise {Revolt}; 47a dynamo {Ball of fire}; 52a MPs {AWOL catchers}; 53a Rees {Roger of stage and screen}; 54a dear {Sugar}; 55a rels. {Genealogical listings: Abbr.}; 57a stigma {Black mark}; 59a oboe {Kind of reed}; 60a tie {Standoff}; 61a Assisi {Birthplace of St. Clare}; 62a toys {Chest contents}; 63a ear {Tarsus : foot :: incus : ___}; 64a lets on {Admits}; 65a sys {___ admin}.

1d skimp on {Not provide fully}; 2d treason {Subject of Article III Section 3 of the Constitution}; 3d yarn {Ball material}; 4d Subaru {One of two cars besides a Cadillac named in Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac"}; 5d Amati {The Brothers ___ (violinmakers)}; 8d eke {Barely make, with "out"}; 9d SSN {Job application info: Abbr.}; 11d in power {Ruling}; 12d canonry {Church office}; 13d optima {Perfect conditions}; 24d Erse {Manx relative}; 27d sip {Sample, in a way}; 30d caw {Quote the raven?}; 31d Oka {River to the Volga}; 32d any {"___ questions?"}; 35d elev. {Map abbr.}; 36d San {___ Juan}; 37d cut-rate {Marked down}; 42d Game Boy {Nintendo product}; 43d employs {Has working}; 46d ifs {Conditions}; 47d D Train {Public transportation to New York's Yankee Stadium}; 49d odist {Wordsworth, e.g.}; 50d Regis {Denver's ___ University}; 51d I am so {Response to a disbeliever}; 55d rots {Spoils}; 58d TSE {Literary inits.}.

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