Saturday, May 2, 2009

NYT Sunday 5/3/09 - Affairs of State

I solved this Sunday New York Times crossword on my own in a vain attempt to get it done faster ... trying to clear the decks before I leave for a forestry course at the crack of dawn on Sunday. In reality, it took me nearly an hour to fill the grid and I'm now confident that collaborative solving with Magdalen is much faster for a puzzle of this size.

The theme involved hiding the names of flowers in long answers. Specifically state flowers, though knowing that the flowers were associated with specific states was no help at all and didn't add much to the solving experience.

I'm enjoying learning the state nicknames, but don't get too worked up about the state animals, flowers, birds etc. How much significance can you find behind this roster for my state (I made one up ... can you tell which?):
State animal: whitetail deer
State bird: ruffed grouse
State dog: great dane
State fish: brook trout
State flower: mountain laurel
State reptile: bog turtle
State insect: firefly
State tree: hemlock
State fossil: Phacops rana
Solving time: 55 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 40d Ivory soap {Bar since 1879}

Theme

State flowers which are hidden in sequence in the long across answers:
23a violin concertos {Five works of Mozart [Rhode Island]}
29a agree to disagree {Not completely settle an argument [New York]}
48a Alvin Ailey {"Revelations" choreographer [Utah]}
58a expert testimony {Trial hearing? [Indiana]}
68a cash transaction {It's never made with plastic [Ohio]}
82a Clint Black {Country singer with the #1 album and single "Killin' Time" [New Hampshire]}
95a Laurence Olivier {He played a Nazi in "Marathon Man" and a Nazi hunter in "The Boys From Brazil" [Connecticut]}
108a Put on a Happy Face {"Bye Bye Birdie" tune [California]}
Solution

Caleb Madison
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersCaleb Madison / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.35)
Theme squares110 (29.8%)
Scrabble points578 (average 1.57)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

79a Omar {___ Little, "The Wire" gangster}. Omar Little is a stick-up man with principles in this drama series based in Baltimore. He was killed in the fifth and final season. Omar was played by Michael K. Williams.



79d Ole {___ Anderson, Hemingway character}. Ole Anderson, aka "the Swede", is the victim in the short story, The Killers. Burt Lancaster played Ole Anderson in the first of several movie versions. There is a wrestler who uses the stage name Ole Anderson, presumably inspired by the fictional character.



Topps hockey cards92d Topps {Big name in cards}. I gather Topps started out as chewing gum manufacturers, but when they started producing baseball cards to help increase sales, that line of business took off dramatically.

Noteworthy

boxer and punchbag55a box {Produce some combinations, say}. A combination is a coordinated sequence of punches in boxing. I didn't fully appreciate what this meant until doing the rhythm boxing activity in Wii Fit. It's surprising how much of a sweat you can get up without actually hitting anything.

James Ensor85a Ensor {"Carnaval sur la plage" artist}. I was glad to have learned James Ensor (1860–1949) back in March in ... the previous puzzle by Caleb Madison! Ensor was a Belgian painter, a founding member of Les XX.

112a plough {Accompanier of a harrow, in Harrow}. This clue was unintentionally comical for me: a plough is about the last thing you'd expect to see in a completely urbanized suburb of London like Harrow.

Ivory Soap40d Ivory soap {Bar since 1879}. Ok, I was really taken in by this one, assuming a bar serving alcohol was being called for. Ivory soap is a Procter & Gamble brand, famous for floating in water (although newer varieties are less floaty than before due to changed ingredients).

Sami52d Sámi {Northern Scandinavian}. The Sámi people are indigenous to the northern areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula. Don't lapse by calling them Lapps - it's considered a derogatory term.

The Rest

1a scalp {Source of some bangs}; 6a hies {Beats it}; 10a din {It may be produced at a construction site}; 13a abash {Shame}; 18a Alcoa {Big name in wrapping}; 19a Al Capone {Onetime Robert De Niro role}; 21a omerta {Mario Puzo sequel}; 22a lutes {Relatives of balalaikas}; 25a snows {Tricks, in a way}; 26a eel {Word with spiny or electric}; 27a Stu {Disco ___ of "The Simpsons"}; 28a Israeli {Like kibbutzim}; 33a it's at {Where ___}; 34a Don {Onetime Robert De Niro role}; 35a Ono {Noted 1960s flower child}; 36a place {Address}; 38a sailor {Person on deck?}; 42a Brno {Chief city of Moravia}; 44a Tesla {Subject of the biography "The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century"}; 45a Sts. {Mark and Anthony: Abbr.}; 50a gee! {"Golly!"}; 51a instep {Arched part}; 53a A to Z {The whole shebang}; 54a Hsia {Chinese dynasty before the Shang}; 56a sparer {Less adorned}; 57a bor. {Bx. or Bklyn.}; 62a yippee {"Yahoo!"}; 66a xii {Duodecim}; 67a nose-in {Like some parking}; 72a GPA {Honor student's boast, for short}; 75a agorae {Public squares in ancient Greece}; 76a elk {Roar : lion :: bugle : ___}; 77a Okie {Sooner}; 80a Graeme {___ Park, colonial Pennsylvania site near Philadelphia}; 81a set {Match part};84a yip {Pound sound}; 87a amas {Part of a Latin 101 conjugation}; 88a arenas {WrestleMania locales}; 89a yeses {Go-aheads}; 90a eco- {Friendly opening?}; 91a Pia {Golden Globe winner Zadora}; 92a to get {Play hard ___}; 103a ocarina {Harmonica-like instrument}; 105a nut {Zany}; 106a Rxs {Just what the drs. ordered?}; 107a noble {Aristocrat}; 111a I lose {Flip response?}; 113a jetliner {Airbus, e.g.}; 114a avoid {Shirk}; 115a sorts {Out of ___}; 116a ans. {Ques. follower}; 117a gels {Stylist's stock}; 118a cokes {Round at a soda fountain}.

1d salsa {It might be picante}; 2d clung {Held (to)}; 3d actor {Lineman?}; 4d Loewe {"My Fair Lady" composer}; 5d passed on {Relayed}; 6d have on {Wear}; 7d I lied {Comment after "So"}; 8d E. coli {Unwanted breakout}; 9d Sal {"Do the Right Thing" role}; 10d Don't Go {"Stay!"}; 11d incur {Bring about}; 12d neo- {Prefix with noir}; 13d American Pie {1972 #1 hit that starts "A long, long time ago"}; 14d berate {Jump on}; 15d artes {They may be patronized by señors and señoras}; 16d stola {Classical wrap}; 17d has it {Is charismatic}; 20d Pisano {Italian sculptor Nicola or Giovanni}; 21d OCS {Training acad.}; 24d Niels {Physicist Bohr}; 30d Torah {It's read from right to left}; 31d Sony {"Like no other" sloganeer}; 32d épée {Foil alternative}; 37d A-lists {Groups of stars}; 38d Saab {9-3 and 9-5 car manufacturer}; 39d alto {One in a four-part harmony}; 41d Liz {___ Lemon, Tina Fey's "30 Rock" character}; 42d Blixen {Karen ___, real name of author Isak Dinesen}; 43d reap {Gain}; 44d text {Communication that might include "OMG" and "TTYL"}; 45d strongman {Sideshow attraction}; 46d teen {Almost any girl in "Gossip Girl"}; 47d spry {Nimble}; 49d I see a {"___ bad moon rising" (1969 song lyric)}; 50d got it {Fielder's call}; 55d brick {Symbol of thickness}; 59d exalt {Worship}; 60d enokis {Japanese mushrooms}; 61d son-in- {___-law}; 63d Ihre {Their, in Munich}; 64d PTA meetings {Where fund-raisers might be planned}; 65d preens {Gets ready for a date, perhaps}; 68d cagy {Cunning}; 69d agri- {Prefix with cultural}; 70d seer {Diviner, e.g.}; 71d Iola {Kansas county seat}; 73d paca {Cousin of a guinea pig}; 74d arks {30-Down holders}; 78d e-tail {Amazon business}; 81d Sosa {McGwire rival, once}; 82d c'mon! {"You know you want to!"}; 83d brainiac {Genius}; 86d selah {Biblical interjection}; 87d acetyl {___ group, in organic chemistry}; 89d yer out {Cry often heard at home}; 90d erupts {Can't take it anymore}; 91d posers {Wannabes}; 93d oculo- {Eye: Prefix}; 94d Gator {Nickname for Ron Guidry}; 96d unpen {Let out}; 97d crane {Stretch one's neck}; 98d Excel {Microsoft Office program}; 99d Volvo {Car with a name that's Latin for "I roll"}; 100d iBook {Bygone Apple product}; 101d Elsie {Elmer the Bull's mate}; 102d reeds {Orchestra section}; 104d nah {"I'll pass"}; 109d Aja {Album with the 1978 hit "Deacon Blues"}; 110d fig {Provider of Eve's leaves}.

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