Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NYT Thursday 5/14/09 - Working Parties

The thematic aspects of this New York Times crossword are a real tour de force: the compiler didn't just need to come up with eight viable mutual anagrams, but ones that intersect at the corners. The chosen set only shows a little strain with a priest (nicely worked around with reference to an Ogden Nash poem) and ear tips (hardly a household phrase, but passable).

My solving time was really good for a Thursday puzzle: I guessed anagrams were involved early on, after solving 8-across and 14-down. I realized the edge answers were the weak point and went looking for other anagrammed pairs in the remaining corners. I was amazed to discover that all the edge answers were mutual anagrams and didn't take long working them out. This helped break into all areas of the grid except the middle, which proved only a little stubborn at the end.
Solving time: 13 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 10d rinds {Orange coats}
Theme

The eight answers around the edge are all anagrams of each other, this being indicated by 37a perimeter and 21d scrambles {What all the answers on this puzzle's 37-Across are to each other}:
1a parties {Shindigs}
8a ear tips {Elf costume add-ons, maybe}
69a traipse {Trudge}
70a piaster {Foreign currency unit}
1d pirates {1979 World Series champs}
14d sea trip {Cruise, say}
40d a priest {"The one-l lama," to Ogden Nash}
47d pastier {More sallow}
The one-L lama, he's a priest40-down references Ogden Nash's ode to the llama:
The one-L lama, he's a priest
The two-L llama, he's a beast
And I would bet a silk pyjama
There isn't any three-L lllama
The Lama by Ogden Nash
Solution

David J. Kahn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDavid J. Kahn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.22)
Theme squares69 (35.8%)
Scrabble points282 (average 1.46)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

wood anemones2d anemone {Literally, "daughter of the wind"}. "wind" in the clue offered a bit of help if you managed to think of anemometer. Both etymologically derive from the Greek for wind, anemos. Anemones are so-called because it was thought the flowers only open when the wind blows.

bicep curl24d drop set {Weight training unit}. I'm not much of a gym-goer, hoping that all the forestry, cycling and yoga keeps the weight off and the cholesterol levels in good order. A drop set isn't an exercise machine, but a technique in which you continue an exercise with lighter weights when you can't lift the heavier ones.

Noteworthy

serow34a serow {Asian goatlike animal}. My misspent years solving difficult cryptic crosswords means I know more five-letter goatlike animals than I've actually seen: the izard, goral, takin and of course serow. The latter hangs out in central and eastern Asia.

pome48a pome {Apple, e.g.}. I'm used to clues like this referring to the computer company. For once an apple is just an apple, pome being the term in botany for any fruit consisting of an enlarged fleshy receptacle around a core formed from the carpels.

orange coat10d rinds {Orange coats}. I like this clue because it's so easy to read "orange" as the color, making you wonder where you've seen orange coats and what they might be called.

31d idea {Head light?}; 42d amnesia {Result of butting heads?}. I thought these clues were stretched a little too far - the compiler trying a little too hard to be deceptive? There are some wonderful definitions of amnesia, but I've forgotten what they are.

The Rest

15a in a romp {Overwhelmingly}; 16a alienee {Property receiver}; 17a retinol {Vitamin A}; 18a canasta {Game with four jokers}; 19a amt. {Qty.}; 20a stashed {Like loot, often}; 22a ant {Caste member}; 23a told {Spilled the beans}; 25a etc {Abbr. often repeated redundantly}; 26a sonar {Detection device}; 28a Enero {Monterrey month}; 30a rig {Big truck}; 33a semi {Big truck}; 35a jade {Official gemstone of Alaska}; 36a prep {___ school}; 40a amas {Latin lesson word}; 43a ABBA {"___ Gold," 1992 album that has sold 28 million copies worldwide}; 44a led up {Preceded, with "to"}; 49a gel {Set}; 50a Myrna {Loy of old Hollywood}; 51a runts {Weak ones}; 53a ego {Self-esteem}; 56a sons {End of many company names}; 57a Ire. {Cork's home: Abbr.}; 58a the same {Unchanged}; 62a vet {Boxer's handler?}; 63a ensured {Made safe}; 65a Salieri {Composer Antonio}; 67a seizing {Sequestering, legally speaking}; 68a unbrave {Cowardly}.

3d rattler {Mojave Desert sight}; 4d tri- {Prefix on many chemical compound names}; 5d ions {Plus and minus items}; 6d emote {Make a big scene?}; 7d splat {Comic book sound}; 8d each {A pop}; 9d alae {Wings, zoologically}; 11d tea {Leaves with a caddy?}; 12d insaner {More cracked}; 13d pet name {Sweets, e.g.}; 27d ospreys {Fish-eating raptors}; 29d owe {"You ___ me!"}; 32d get {Pick up}; 35d jibe {Be in sync}; 38d rag {Not the most authoritative journalism source}; 39d elm {Slippery ___}; 41d mourner {Funeral attendee}; 45d drove at {Intended to convey}; 46d unnerve {Upset}; 52d strip {Word with club or mine}; 54d gas up {Fill the tank}; 55d Omani {Rial spender}; 59d hens {Layers}; 60d edge {Sharpness}; 61d Elba {Island in the Arcipelago Toscano}; 64d Uzi {Weapon first designed in 1950}; 66d IRS {Destination of many filings, for short}.

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