Monday, May 11, 2009

NYT Tuesday 5/12/09 - Dissolving

This Tuesday New York Times crossword had a familiar theme based on adding letters to phrases, but for once didn't result in puns: "DISsing" a phrase changes its meaning in surprising ways, most notably with Miss America (which becomes dismiss America).

Unfortunately, it took me a very long time to work out what was going on: I had maybe three quarters of the grid done before seeing the thematic pattern, by which time adding the remaining DISses made little difference.
Solving time: 8 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 62d ant {Tiny colonist}

Four fanciful phrases made by adding dis to the front of real ones:
17a disarm and hammer {"Beat swords into plowshares"}
27a dismiss America {"Ignore the red, white and blue"}
45a disbar and grill {"Oust from practice, then interrogate"}
61a disband on the run {"Scatter while fleeing"}

Wayne and P. K. King
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersWayne and P. K. King / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares58 (31.0%)
Scrabble points270 (average 1.44)
New To Me

25a Ron {Silver of the silver screen}. Ron Silver, who died in March this year, was an actor in film and television. I associate him most with the movie Reversal of Fortune, in which Ron played the defense attorney Alan Dershowitz.

66a Amy {Etiquette guru Vanderbilt}. Amy Vanderbilt (1908-1974) wrote an authoritative book on etiquette in the 1950s. It is still popular enough that it is regularly updated. I doubt I need a book on etiquette: any peculiarities in my behavior are put down to the eccentricities of my English upbringing.

Utah6d Utah {Six-sided state}. This really made me rack my brain: is there a hexagonal state of the USA? Utah is approximately square, but has a corner taken out of it by Wyoming. It is one of only three states (with Colorado and Wyoming) whose borders are defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude.

Home Run Apple63d HRs. {Four-baggers: Abbr.}. Magdalen suspected I wouldn't understand this clue and she was right: a "four-bagger" is a home run in baseball (even though there isn't a bag at the home plate).


8d Todd {Rocker Rundgren}. I knew the name Todd Rundgren without being very clear what he was famous for: that's perhaps because he has done so many things in his career as composer, musician and producer. Here's the classic Hello It's Me recorded in 1973.

John Hancock28d inked {Put one's John Hancock on}. The origin of John Hancock as a nickname for signature was known to me even in the UK. However, that didn't help much with solving this clue which calls for the less familiar "to ink" as slang for "to sign" a contract or the like.

29d Stoli {Vodka brand, informally}. I can't let an association with a fav TV show from the UK go by: a Boddy Stoli (a cocktail of Bollinger champagne and Stolichnaya vodka) is the preferred tipple of Edina and Patsy on Absolutely Fabulous. I hope this has been shown on BBC America as it's a classic and one of the shows I miss seeing repeats of.

ant colony62d ant {Tiny colonist}. A nice clue calling to mind Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in the Americas - I learned of her first from an NYT puzzle last month. The colonist called for here is even smaller than Virginia.

The Rest

1a tan {Get some sun}; 4a erupt {Blow one's stack}; 9a Babar {Kid-lit pachyderm}; 14a as a {Naked ___ jaybird}; 15a ratio {Sine, cosine or tangent}; 16a Aruba {Tourist mecca off the coast of Venezuela}; 20a afar {Way off}; 21a shade {Parasol's offering}; 22a apse {Cathedral area}; 23a ate {Grazed, say}; 35a antic {Marx Brothers-like}; 36a moose {Meat favored by Sarah Palin}; 37a Ave {With 44-Across, a traditional Catholic prayer}; 39a TKOs {Ring decisions, for short}; 40a Berry {Chuck who sang "Maybellene"}; 41a spat {Petty quarrel}; 42a eel {Moray, for one}; 43a neato! {"Peachy keen!"}; 44a Maria {See 37-Across}; 48a act {Take steps}; 49a Art {The "A" in MoMA}; 50a imam {Shi'ite leader}; 53a oater {Typical John Wayne film}; 57a rile {Stir up}; 64a ocean {Neptune's realm}; 65a inner {Word before city or tube}; 67a least {Smallest possible}; 68a needs {Has to have}; 69a spa {Masseur's place}.

1d tada {Bit of verbal trumpeting}; 2d as if {"A likely story"}; 3d NASA {Shuttle org.}; 4d err {Pull a boner}; 5d Ramses {Any of several Egyptian kings}; 7d piña {___ colada}; 9d baa {Ovine sound}; 10d Armani {Giorgio of fashion}; 11d bump {Fist ___ (modern greeting)}; 12d Abes {Lincoln and others}; 13d rare {Like proverbial hen's teeth}; 18d Aramis {A Musketeer}; 19d heresy {Rejection of church dogma}; 24d tic {Behavioral quirk}; 26d ore {Rich rock}; 27d date {Palm fruit}; 30d smear {Makeup mishap}; 31d aorta {Main artery}; 32d moron {Mental midget}; 33d Capri {Blue Grotto's isle}; 34d avail {To no ___}; 38d et al {List-ending abbr.}; 40d beat on {Bang, as a drum}; 41d Sartre {"No Exit" dramatist}; 43d NBC {"30 Rock" network}; 44d mgr. {Dugout V.I.P.: Abbr.}; 46d sambas {Rio dances}; 47d darted {Moved like a hummingbird}; 50d idol {Miley Cyrus, to teens}; 51d mice {Owls' prey}; 52d a-sea {Where pirates go}; 54d ad in {Score after deuce}; 55d tone {Mute, with "down"}; 56d -enne {Feminine suffix}; 58d IRAs {Portfolio holdings, briefly}; 59d lump {Sugar unit}; 60d Enya {One-named New Age singer}.

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