Friday, May 22, 2009

NYT Saturday 5/23/09 - The Three Amigos

We have Hub 1.0 visiting us for the holiday weekend, so three people collaborated on solving this Saturday New York Times crossword and we really raced through it. Our skills are complementary: I'm now very attuned to US-style deception in definitions, Hub 1.0 has the widest range of general knowledge and Magdalen is ace at TV, movie and music references such as Abe Vigoda.

When solving, I was struck by a couple of repeated answers: hang ten from four days ago and one moment please from March. Seeing them again relatively soon reduced the fun of solving this puzzle, but such coincidences are hard to avoid and doing the blog perhaps makes me more attuned to memorable answers like this.
Solving time: 17 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 7d boo {Starting word}

Dave Tuller
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDave Tuller / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 29 (12.9%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.76)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points304 (average 1.55)
New To Me

Squidward1a SpongeBob {Squidward's neighbor on Nickelodeon}. SpongeBob SquarePants has been difficult to avoid, but Squidward has somehow escaped my attention - he's the octopus on the show. The other characters you may need to know some day are Krusty Krab and Patrick the star fish.

16a Abe Vigoda {Sal Tessio's portrayer in "The Godfather"}. What a great answer Abe Vigoda makes! Magdalen had luckily heard of the guy, whose role as the betrayer of Vito Corleone in The Godfather (1972) is still his best-known.

Khasi man32a Khasi {Language spoken in Assam, India}. As is common, Khasi is both the name of the language and the people who speak it. The name is perilously close to one of the spellings of a British slang term for lavatory, khazi.

56a Samoa Time {Setting in Pago Pago}. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, which uses Samoa Time, GMT minus 11 hours.

57a N.Mex. {Its motto in Eng. is "It grows as it goes"}. The proper Latin motto of New Mexico is Crescit eundo. Some of the state mottoes are really odd - I think the prize for weirdness goes to Oregon with "she flies with her own wings".

Holy Ark10d shul {Holy Ark's location}. I don't think I've ever been in shul, so the terminology is unfamiliar: it's the everyday Yiddish word for a synagogue, in which the Holy Ark contains the Torah scrolls.

11d Tossin' and Turnin' {1961 #1 hit for Bobby Lewis}. Bobby Lewis's hit song was later featured in the soundtrack for the movie Animal House (1978).

45d Elwes {"The Cat's Meow" actor, 2001}. We had Cary Elwes back in April, referencing his role in Twister. In The Cat's Meow, he plays Thomas H. Ince, the silent film director whose death remains a mystery.


10a stag {Do before I do's}. I soon learned the importance of I do in American crosswords - it's a very common three-letter answer. It's less common to call a "stag party" just a stag, but that's what the clue implies here.

17a lusts {Is concupiscent}; 5d grin {Use one's zygomatic muscles}. Concupiscent and zygomatic are words I sort-of-vaguely know, but couldn't define to save my life. That's why we have short words - to save us having to remember highfalutin ones.

two pronunciations of 'international' in IPA24a IPA {Pronunciation guide std.}. I have to confess to never getting to grips with the International Phonetic Alphabet: partly laziness, because learning those special symbols is hard work; partly because the dictionary I use most (The Chambers Dictionary) has a more old-fashioned method of expressing the pronunciations, so I haven't needed to learn IPA.

33a hang ten {Approach the shore on board?}; 3d one moment please {Old company telephone line}. I was rather disappointed by the repeated answers in this puzzle: hang ten stuck out more, perhaps, because I'd singled out its clue last Tuesday; the last one moment please was in a March puzzle, but being a 15-letter answer, was the more memorable.

iguanodon hand spike37a Iguanodon {Dinosaur with large thumb spikes}. Scientists speculate that the thumb spikes may have been used for foraging or for defense, iguanodons being herbivorous. In early reconstructions of skeletons, the spikes were placed on the nose - was that a mistake!

7d boo {Starting word}. My favorite clue - shouting "boo" is liable to make someone start.

13d gestation {An elephant has a long one}. Neat to make everyone think of trunk - elephants have the longest gestation period of any land animal at 22 months.

Archie Bunker31d racialism {Bunker mentality?}. It took a few seconds for this alien to recognize the reference to Archie Bunker.

49d et al {Name-dropper's abbr.?}; 50d ta-ta {Pre-takeoff cry?}. A lovely pair of misleading clues.

54d am I {End of many riddles}. This seems to refer to "what am I?" riddles, for example:
No legs have I to dance,
No lungs have I to breathe,
No life have I to live or die
And yet I do all three.

What am I?
The Rest

14a honor roll {Academic goal, for some}; 15a shone {Did really well}; 18a Romano {Parmesan alternative}; 19a cools it {Chills}; 21a exo- {Skeletal opening?}; 22a ankle {Thing you don't want to twist}; 25a Manitoba {Home of Riding Mountain National Park}; 29a on at {Go ___ some length}; 30a crenelate {Furnish with battlements, as a castle}; 34a ate into {Corroded}; 36a ictus {Recurring metrical beat}; 39a pips {Trey trio}; 40a empty out {Drain}; 41a pal {See 8-Down}; 42a sepoy {Indian employed as a British soldier}; 43a use {It may be fair}; 46a Electra {Wife of Pylades}; 48a petrel {Antarctic dweller}; 51a diary {It's often kept under lock and key}; 52a start anew {What you might do after failing}; 55a issue {Give out}; 58a exit lanes {Things that turn people off?}.

1d share {Market purchase}; 2d POBox {Numbered rental}; 4d nova {Cured and smoked salmon}; 6d ergo {It follows that}; 8d old {With 41-Across, one you go way back with}; 9d Black Beauty {Classic novel with a chapter titled "My Breaking In"}; 12d antipasto {First Italian course?}; 15d sloe {Astringent fruit}; 20d ola {Rio "hello"}; 22d at an impasse {Stuck}; 23d not {Kidder's cry}; 26d Angus {MacGyver's first name on "MacGyver"}; 27d nets {Safety equipment}; 28d Île {Terre dans l'eau}; 29d Ohio U {Athens sch.}; 30d chipped in {Helped out}; 32d keno {Game played with a sack called a goose}; 35d Tay {Scotland's longest river}; 38d GPO {Ltr. center}; 40d -e'er {Ending with what, in verse}; 42d stye {Problem with a sebaceous gland}; 44d see me {Words written on some test papers}; 47d crux {Core}; 48d Prot. {Like Luther: Abbr.}; 53d tax {Good thing to be sheltered from}.


Anonymous said...

That HANG TEN clue bothered me. *Any* surfing action has one approaching the shore, no? But hanging ten is a specific trick and seems to me to be very vaguely clued.

Magdalen said...

Hey Jon, we just finished watching "WordPlay" with Henry as our guest. He thinks he might know you from a dedicated blog on the London Times online daily puzzle. I'll nudge him in the morning to comment here -- he says that he tried once and Blogger wouldn't recognize his moniker. Hmmmph. A likely story!