Saturday, May 23, 2009

NYT Sunday 5/24/09 - Everyone's a Wynner

We solved this Sunday New York Times crossword as a threesome again, but the combined brains failed to make much of a dent in the usual solving time. How do solvers like Dan Feyer manage to finish in less than five minutes - it's unbelievable?!

"Perpetual Motion" recalled the accompanying recent Listener Crossword: plotting out its infinity sign was a whole lot more difficult - the letters of sign for infinity weren't circled and they weren't in any particular order!

The theme also presented technical challenges for the blog that I'm not really used to: normally Sympathy Crossword Construction can create the whole grid image, but here I had to add the infinity sign afterwards with a graphics program. The freehand curves are a bit wobbly and don't satisfy my sense of aesthetic, but I'll have to live with that.

114-Across in this puzzle prompts a question I have for readers: what became of the "Wynner Awards" for crossword compiling? These seem similar to the "Ascot Gold Cup" award for the best Listener Crossword (voted on annually by the all-correct solvers for a calendar year). But apart from some tantalizing references in Trip Payne's Wikipedia page, I can't find out anything about the Wynner Awards.
Solving time: 40 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 81d insanest {Most ready for commitment?}

The infinity sign, invented by John Wallis (29-Down) and depicted by connecting the circled letters, which spell out symbol of infinity. The answers to the five asterisked clues hint at the theme:
21a World Without End {2007 Ken Follett novel}
25a Diamonds Are Forever {Bond film that's a real gem?}
100a hope springs eternal {Alexander Pope phrase appropriate to the start of a sports season}
104a Everlasting Love {1974 Carl Carlton hit}
47d Always Mine {Song by Tejano singer Selena}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 79 (17.9%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.17)
Theme squares102 (28.2%)
Scrabble points603 (average 1.67)
New To Me

inflamed knee91a knee {Gonitis locale}. Hunh? This one was new to the whole triumvirate and is too obscure even for Wikipedia, which just reckons Gonitis is a genus of moths of the Noctuidae family. Further researches show gonitis is the medical term for inflammation of the knee: it's in Webster's New International, but not the OED ... hmm.

halvas14d halvas {Turkish sweets}. In Britain, sweets could mean either candies, or desserts. Halva is candy, but not as we know it, being based on unfamiliar ingredients like semolina or tahini.


Ollie24a Ollie {North of Virginia}. What's north of Virginia? Must be the Old Line State or, paradoxically, West Virginia? No, we should remember that the first word may be a proper name, and think of Oliver North. Neat clue!

67a à clef {Roman ___}. Another beautiful clue: fill-in-the-blanks are usually the easiest type, right? Not this time, as you've got to stop thinking of Rome and realize that Roman is "novel" in French. A roman à clef is a factual story disguised as fiction: you need a key to unlock its mysteries. Citizen Kane is a famous example:

82a Mr. T {Clubber Lang portrayer in "Rocky III"}. Always nice to see a reference to Mr. T, as The A-Team was one of my fav shows of the 1980s ... required watching at tea time on Saturdays. I most identified with the character who was always winding B.A. up, viz "Howling Mad" Murdock.

114a Wynne {Arthur ___, inventor of the crossword puzzle}. Britain and America can both lay claim to Arthur Wynne (1862-1945), who was born in Liverpool, but worked for the New York World when he came up with the first crossword puzzle in 1913. Here is the historic first crossword.

opera fan?26d opera fan {Met regular, e.g.}. Hey, a clue about us! Our next operas are Traviata and Cinders at Glimmerglass in August, when it can be hot enough that you need an opera fan of a different kind (no air conditioning!).

81d insanest {Most ready for commitment?}. Another great piece of misdirection, unless you happen to think getting married is an act of lunacy.
noose n a snare or bond generally, esp (joc) marriage
From The Chambers Dictionary
The Rest

1a chic {Smart}; 5a ahems {Attention getters}; 10a och {Scot's exclamation}; 13a shad {The fish in John McPhee's "The Founding Fish"}; 17a am so {"I ___ sorry!"}; 18a I do too {"Same here"}; 19a via {By way of}; 20a we are {"Here ___!"}; 27a enjoys {Relishes}; 30a visage {Kisser, so to speak}; 31a upscale {Affluent}; 32a lion {Literary ___}; 33a pec {Bench presser's muscle, briefly}; 34a Arnetts {Newsman Peter and others}; 36a in heaven {Where "thy will" will be done, partly}; 39a manta {Big ray}; 42a roo {Down Under critter}; 43a zen {Buddhist school}; 44a tin {Cookie store}; 45a James I {England's first Stuart king}; 46a afraid {Craven}; 50a aswarm {Teeming}; 52a yecch {"That's disgusting!"}; 53a nuff {"___ said!"}; 55a LBO {Wall St. deal}; 56a ABA {Legal org.}; 57a fess {Own (up)}; 58a I, Tina {Turner autobiography}; 60a I win {"Victory!"}; 61a halo {Overhead light?}; 63a Hals {Descartes portraitist}; 64a rein {Carriage driver's need}; 65a oast {Kiln for hops}; 66a Oslo {Knesset : Jerusalem :: Storting : ___}; 69a yest. {24 hrs. ago}; 70a any {Whatever}; 71a Pei {Mile High Center designer}; 72a Cleo {Jazzy Laine}; 73a asset {Plus}; 75a in esse {Real}; 78a itself {In and of ___}; 80a wishes {They often come in threes}; 83a mid {Term opener?}; 84a xis {Greek consonants}; 85a enter {A.T.M. button}; 86a blessing {Grace, basically}; 88a pentads {Fivesomes}; 90a fax {___ number}; 92a trigger {Set off}; 94a Amatis {Classic Cremona family}; 98a I guess {"Perhaps ..."}; 103a exist {Be alive}; 108a Mineo {"Exodus" actor}; 109a SAS {An original Star Alliance airline}; 110a oriels {Victorian home features}; 111a ecce {"Behold!," to Pilate}; 112a EEGs {Brain tests, for short}; 113a TNT {Volatile stuff}; 115a dark {Chocolate choice}.

1d caw {Cornfield sound}; 2d HMO {Med. care option}; 3d Isr. {Country whose national anthem's title means "The Hope": Abbr.}; 4d cold one {Brewski}; 5d a dim {Take ___ view of}; 6d hot oven {Baking need}; 7d ethnic {Like some food}; 8d moods {They can swing}; 9d Sousa {The March King}; 10d overeats {Has thirds or fourths, say}; 11d cine {Cannes subject}; 12d had fun {Lived it up}; 13d selector {Computer switch}; 15d Ariel {Sylvia Plath's last book of poetry}; 16d Deere {Caterpillar rival}; 18d I was {"___ framed!"}; 20d worst off {Most in need of help}; 22d DIY {Handyman's letters}; 23d tag {Price point?}; 27d Eliza {"My Fair Lady" lady}; 28d nines {Good "Dancing With the Stars" scores}; 29d John Wallis {See note}; 33d pen {Corral}; 35d rainiest {Wettest}; 37d Atra {Razor brand}; 38d vim {Energy}; 39d Macs {OS X users}; 40d AMC {Film buff's channel}; 41d Nehi {Certain pop}; 45d Jesse {James or Jackson}; 48d ibis {Cousin of a stork}; 49d don't {"Cut it out!"}; 51d -aboo {Peek-___}; 52d yellowed {Noticeably old, as paper}; 54d unit {Platoon, e.g.}; 57d face {Makeup target}; 59d trees {Nursery sights}; 60d Ione {Actress Skye}; 61d Hopi {Southwest tribe}; 62d a set {"Win ___ of ..." (contest come-on)}; 63d half-step {C to C#, e.g.}; 68d fast {Cut off all intake}; 69d Yser {River of Flanders}; 70d ants {Tiny scurriers}; 72d clings to {Won't let go of}; 74d She {"Ain't ___ Sweet"}; 75d ire {Temper}; 76d sines {Trig ratios}; 77d edges {Lips}; 79d exegeses {Biblical interpretations}; 82d MLX {Six years before the Battle of Hastings}; 86d base ten {Common thing to count in}; 87d skulled {Thick-___}; 88d piping {Slipcover trim}; 89d arrest {Stop}; 90d fits-in {Conforms (with)}; 92d theme {Composer's creation}; 93d Roxie {"Chicago" song}; 95d mgr. {Boss: Abbr.}; 96d a slow {Do ___ burn}; 97d teary {About to cry}; 98d inns {Quaint stopovers}; 99d gag {[Awful!]}; 101d Ivan {Tolstoy's "The Death of ___ Ilyich"}; 102d rile {Vex}; 105d oca {South American tuber}; 106d VCR {Clicker target}; 107d eek {Animator's shriek}.

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