Saturday, May 30, 2009

NYT Sunday 5/31/09 - Reusing Leftovers

We liked the "odd one out" idea used in this Sunday New York Times crossword, but guessed nuts over well before working out the unmatched letters from the long answers. As usual, I solved this in a collaborative effort with Magdalen, who is also a wizard at making leftovers into something new and appetizing.

The choice of nuts over dictated eight long theme entries, all of 15 letters. This seems to have constrained the grid more than usual, as there were several answers that had both of us bemused rather than amused.

The problems were at their worst in the crossing of 59a Dalles and 34d Poncas, neither of which we knew. I was for Poncus/Dulles, while Magdalen favored Ponces/Delles. In typical committee fashion, we settled on our common second choices, which amazingly turned out to be right.
Solving time: 40 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 33a antiperspirants {You raise your arms for these}
Theme

"Odd One Out". One letter in each asterisked clue answer is used only once. These eight unmatched letters can be jumbled to make the central across entries 68a nuts, 70a over {Some people are ___ crosswords}.
23a Unitarian Church {Religious affiliation of John Adams and William Howard Taft}
33a antiperspirants {You raise your arms for these}
49a Hippocratic oath {Physician's promise}
86a goes underground {Hides out}
102a insufficiencies {Deficits}
116a tattered and torn {Ragged}
3d private practice {Not firm work?}
46d strenuous effort {Real work}
Solution

Kelsey Blakley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersKelsey Blakley / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 71 (16.1%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares128 (34.6%)
Scrabble points527 (average 1.42)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

STL46a St. L {Busch Stadium locale: Abbr.}. The first I'd heard of this rather extreme abbreviation for St. Louis, MO. It now occurs to me that the reference to Busch Stadium means we should be thinking of the TLA as it appears in sports results tickers, ie the answer should be rendered STL?

59a Dalles {Oregon city, with "The"}. Here's where we got lucky with our guessed answers: a city that Magdalen hasn't heard of must be obscure indeed. The Dalles has a strange claim to fame as the location of the first bioterrorism attack in the US: the Rajneeshee cult attempted to gain control of local government there by means of salmonella poisoning.

Edred60a Edred {King of England, 946-55}. And a king of England I haven't heard of is pretty obscure too; though, to be fair, those reigning before 1066 were unremarkable except for the ones with funny names - Ethelred the Unready and Harold Harefoot, eg.

113a Effie {___ White, one of the girls in "Dreamgirls"}. We saw Dreamgirls on first release, but I didn't recall that Effie White was the character for which Jennifer Hudson won the 2007 Best Supporting Actress Oscar.



125a Swee {___' Pea}. Swee'Pea is something of a Get Out Of Jail Free card for compilers: swee is a dictionary word, but only has obscure meanings like "the horizontal iron bar which could be swung over an old fireplace, on which cooking vessels were hung" - nobody wants to be faced with that on a Sunday morning. We had Popeye creator Elzie Crisler Segar (18941938) only yesterday and here is another of his characters.



1d tours {Hitches}. Hitch in the sense of "term of service or imprisonment" seems to be peculiar to North America - I can't think of an equivalent British slang term, so they'd do well to adopt "hitch".

6d Anita {Hill of Hill hearings}. Magdalen knew all about Anita Hill, but the associated controversy hadn't reached my ears. Hill's allegations of sexual harassment didn't stop Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court being confirmed by the Senate.

7d Utahns {The Osmonds, e.g.}. We knew we were dealing with the Beehive State here, but couldn't quite believe the spelling of the answer, imagining there should be a second A. It seems both spellings are valid. What was it about the 70s that made these folk so wildly successful?



34d Poncas {Plains Indians}. I'm getting pretty good on three- and four-letter Native American tribes, but the Ponca hadn't come to my attention. Part of the problem with this clue was not knowing whether the answer was in the plural or not - Poncu for example was an unlikely singular, but there could have been a Poncus tribe for all we knew. If the clue had been explicit that the answer was in the plural, that would have made it easier to guess the right answer.

Adriano Banchieri56d Adriano {Italian Renaissance composer Banchieri}. Banchieri (1568–1634) is again pretty obscure and seems an odd choice for Adriano. But then I look down the list of possibilities and don't see one that's better known. Banchieri it has to be then.

95d Eudora {Author Welty}. Eudora Welty (1909–2001) wrote about the American South and won a Pulitzer in 1973 for her novel, The Optimist's Daughter.

Noteworthy

40a CDE {Do, re, mi}. The first three notes just happen to be (in the key of C major) C D E. I'd have preferred some indication that the answer assumed a specific key was involved.



112a erat {Quod ___ faciendum}. It was easy to misread this as quod erat demonstrandum, but if you did you'd have got the right answer anyway. Q.E.F. means "which was to have been done."

16d Snert {Comics canine}. Snert and Snerd have made the transition from impossible answers to gimmes in a matter of months. This is the third outing for Hägar the Horrible's dog this year and I could shout out the answer based on clue and length alone. I wonder if we'll ever see his duck Kvack?

sea lily25d crinoid {Sea lily, e.g.}. Crinoid is one of those words that one doesn't normally see in NYT crosswords. I knew it from years of solving difficult cryptics, but its obscurity and lack of potential for lively clueing make it unwelcome. Crinoids can be very beautiful, but crosswords aren't really the medium to express that.

82d enticer {Siren}; 87d desirers {Those with yens}. I don't much like agent nouns as answers, and their plurals are worse still. These wouldn't normally be so noticeable, but they lie alongside each other in the grid and have consecutive clues.

The Rest

1a tape {End of a footrace}; 5a Baum {Creator of Princess Ozma}; 9a NASA {Satellite org.}; 13a Hesse {State below Lower Saxony}; 18a Orr's {"The Pearl of ___ Island" (Stowe novel)}; 19a anti {Opposing}; 20a iMacs {Technological debuts of 1998}; 22a Mauna {Mountain, in Hawaiian}; 26a order {Cry from the bench}; 27a rival {Foe}; 28a Thur. {Ascension Day, e.g.: Abbr.}; 29a steel {Sword material}; 31a warn {Serve notice}; 32a SEATO {Manila pact grp., 1954}; 36a tend {Cultivate}; 38a Señores {Men of La Mancha}; 39a Lex {Big Apple subway line, with "the"}; 42a sea {Sailor's realm}; 44a son {Business partner, sometimes}; 45a vis {French word before and after "à"}; 55a Patri {"Gloria ___" (hymn)}; 57a aero- {Prefix with -naut}; 58a old {Primeval}; 61a PSAT {Challenge for H.S. juniors}; 62a Reds {Film that lost the Best Picture Oscar to "Chariots of Fire"}; 64a seer {Hogwarts professor Trelawney, e.g.}; 65a Crees {Montana Indians}; 66a echo {Pilot's E}; 72a tint {Paint choice}; 73a Alton {Illinois city}; 74a peal {Ring}; 76a enol {Form of acetylacetone}; 78a aura {Corona}; 80a toile {Scenic fabric}; 81a striae {Narrow furrows}; 83a cat {Maine coon, e.g.}; 84a noun {You name it}; 85a rices {Reduces to bits}; 89a ale {Schooner's contents}; 90a eat {Pack away}; 92a rte. {Travel plan: Abbr.}; 93a sou {Trifling amount}; 94a sky {Ocean's reflection}; 95a elm {Boston's Liberty Tree, e.g.}; 96a atheism {Lack of faith}; 100a vise {Jaw site}; 107a no fat {Jack Sprat's dietary restriction}; 110a mild {Not too spicy}; 111a molts {Comes out of one's skin}; 114a axiom {Given}; 119a genre {Class}; 120a a slew {Bunches}; 121a role {Something to play}; 122a ires {Raises the hackles of}; 123a Edgar {Impressionist Degas}; 124a sere {Scorched}; 126a etre {Peut-___ (maybe, in Marseille)}.

2d Arnie {Golf's Palmer, to friends}; 4d estate {Dead giveaway?}; 5d bar {Honky-tonk}; 8d minutest {Least}; 9d NIH {Fed. med. research agency}; 10d amuser {Jester, e.g.}; 11d Sartre {Refuser of a 1964 Nobel Prize}; 12d access {Tap into}; 13d HMO {Managed care grp.}; 14d earwax {Swab's target}; 15d Sudan {Nubian Desert locale}; 17d earns {Pulls in}; 21d Shep {Common name for a working dog}; 24d Alonso {Explorer ___ Álvarez de Pineda, first European to see the Mississippi}; 30d Lili {"___ Marlene" (W.W. II love song)}; 35d respect {1967 #1 hit whose lyrics begin "What you want / Baby, I got it"}; 37d decor {Style of furnishing}; 40d chap {Fellow}; 41d diesel oil {Semi fill-up}; 43d Arlen {Democrat Specter}; 45d VHS {Beta blocker?}; 47d tree-trunk {It may be tapped}; 48d lids {Toppers}; 50d pothole {Driving hazard}; 51d add up to {Total}; 52d oleo {Nondairy product in the dairy section}; 53d Aleve {Popular pain reliever}; 54d Terence {Ancient playwright who originated the phrase "While there's life, there's hope"}; 63d stere {Firewood unit}; 67d oneself {Personal identity}; 69d sais {Je ne ___ quoi}; 71d roars {Laughs one's head off}; 73d Atra {Razor brand}; 75d Lauren {Supermodel Hutton}; 77d Lt Gov {State V.I.P.: Abbr.}; 79d Andy {Tennis's Roddick}; 81d Sgt. {Towser, e.g., in "Catch-22": Abbr.}; 88d ruined {Shot}; 91d AM-FM {___ radio}; 96d A-Class {Mercedes-Benz model}; 97d tittle {Whit}; 98d Hester {Prynne of "The Scarlet Letter"}; 99d meadow {Lark's home}; 101d softie {Pushover}; 102d image {Persona}; 103d nixed {Canceled}; 104d sling {Primitive weapon}; 105d iota {Whit}; 106d stale {Banal}; 108d airer {Telecaster}; 109d tense {Cliff-hanging}; 115d mer {French 42-Across}; 117d ewe {She can be polled}; 118d née {Born overseas}.

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