Monday, May 18, 2009

NYT Tuesday 5/19/09 - Squaring the Circle

The thematic answers in this Tuesday New York Times crossword weren't too distinctive as a group, so I'd solved at least half of them before I realized which they were and what was going on; only then could I use a knowledge of the word chain to complete some of the missing links.

Ultimately, this was one of those puzzles where the cluing is so easy that the theme is barely noticeable and you only appreciate the elegance of it with hindsight. From having constructed a cryptic crossword like this, I know some of the difficulties; in particular, it's very hard to
incorporate any long answers - nine-letter words are about the limit.

Gloucester, MAToday's our last day in the Boston area: it was beautifully sunny, so we headed out to the North Shore, visiting the ports of Gloucester and Manchester - it's funny to see the names of big British cities translated into small fishing communities. There were a few yachts and power boats to be seen, but no-one was prepared to "hang ten" for me.
Solving time: 7 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 36d toes {The "ten" in "hang ten"}

Six across answers form an endless chain in which the second part of one word is the first part of the next:
19a cocktail {Tom Collins or Rob Roy}
24a tail-pipe {End of an exhaust system}
32a pipe-dream {Unrealistic idea}
45a Dream Team {1992 U.S. Olympic hoopsters, with "the"}
51a team game {Basketball or baseball}
58a gamecock {Fighting rooster}

Damon J. Gulczynski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDamon J. Gulczynski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares50 (26.7%)
Scrabble points298 (average 1.59)
New To Me

18a O-Lan {"The Good Earth" heroine}. Since we had this identical clue and answer back in April, this shouldn't have been New To Me, but I had forgotten all about O-Lan - how I wish I had the retention I did when younger! Let's see if I remember it this time: The Good Earth (published in 1931) is the first novel in a trilogy by Pearl S. Buck about family life in a Chinese village. O-Lan is the slave girl who marries the hero of the book. There was a movie adaptation in 1937.

paddle31a rear {Paddler's target}. I couldn't make sense of this clue and had to enlist Dino_Burger's help. Paddling is the same as spanking, a usage that my British dictionary lists as specifically American. It's mainly employed as a method of punishment in schools, being still allowed in 21 states. The instrument favored in British schools is the cane.

66a A Man {Tom Wolfe novel "___ in Full"}. A Man in Full (1998) is centered on the owner of a real-estate empire in Atlanta. It's Tom Wolfe's second novel, published 11 years after the phenomenally successful The Bonfire of the Vanities.

2d zero {Total loser}. I've heard "cipher" used for a worthless person, but never its literal equivalent "zero". It sounds perfectly plausible, so it must just be ignorance on my part.

hanging ten36d toes {The "ten" in "hang ten"}. This could have been anything, as far as I was concerned. But once I looked it up, the expression made perfect sense: to hang ten is to surf at the front of a surfboard with all ten toes curled over the nose of the board. As if that wasn't difficult enough, it's also associated with doing celebratory "high fives" in the air. This polar bear doesn't seem to have quite mastered it.

62d knee {"Trick" body part}. How whimsical. It seems a "trick knee" is one that is liable to give way unexpectedly, presumably due to injury. Sounds like a good party trick, provided it's not too painful when it happens.


Alec Waugh3d Alec {Guinness or Waugh}. Presumably the actor I much admire and the brother of the author I much admire. Alec Waugh (18981981) was the older of the two brothers and had already made a name for himself when Evelyn started writing; with the passage of time, Alec's writings have faded into insignificance, while Evelyn's are considered the classic satirical novels of their time.

blogger14d readers {Blogger's audience}. It's great to see that the New York Times is up-to-the-minute with cultural references such as this one. Funny that "audience" should be used for what is essentially a visual medium.

54d egads {"Zounds!"}. This looked completely wrong to me when I solved the puzzle: surely egad on its own is equivalent to zounds? Further research shows that some dictionaries have egads as a variant of the interjection, so I'll grudgingly concede the compiler that one.

The Rest

1a czar {Industry honcho}; 5a math {"Do the ___!"}; 9a -fest {Suffix with beer or fun}; 13a relo {Move, in Realtor lingo}; 14a Radio {XM ___}; 15a once {In the old days}; 16a Oreo {Lunchbox dessert item}; 17a exult {Jump for joy}; 21a Tatars {Turkic people}; 23a sod {Grass bought in rolls}; 26a Ute {Beehive State athlete}; 29a Les {Guitar pioneer Paul}; 35a sit on {Hold back, as a news story}; 39a snip {Salon sound}; 40a slyly {In a foxy fashion}; 42a nope {"Uh-uh"}; 43a yacht {Regatta entry}; 47a euro {Peseta's replacement}; 49a tra- {La-la lead-in}; 50a slo {___-mo}; 55a DDE {Ike's monogram}; 57a immesh {Tangle in a net: Var.}; 63a Nair {Hair removal brand}; 64a reave {Take forcibly, old-style}; 67a giga- {Bigger than mega-}; 68a Arden {Elizabeth of cosmetics}; 69a robe {After-beach wear}; 70a El Al {Supersecure airline}; 71a Hess {Name on toy fuel trucks}; 72a dose {Two caplets, say}.

1d croc {Swamp menace, for short}; 4d rooks {Corner pieces, in chess}; 5d maxi {Calf-length dress}; 6d adult {X-rated}; 7d til {Up to, in ads}; 8d hottie {Real babe}; 9d footprint {Evidence washed away by the tide}; 10d En-Lai {China's Zhou ___}; 11d scarp {Bluff formed by a fault}; 12d tense {In need of a rubdown}; 20d told {Ratted (on)}; 22d alas {"Sad to say ..."}; 25d armlet {Decorative band}; 26d upsy {"___-daisy!"}; 27d Tina {Fey of "30 Rock"}; 28d epic {Huge in scope}; 30d seldom {Only now and then}; 33d ephemeral {Short-lived}; 34d Ayr {Firth of Clyde town}; 37d opal {Stone for many Libras}; 38d Nemo {Nautilus skipper}; 41d yardmen {Landscaper's crew}; 44d tugs {Harbor workhorses}; 46d made {Showed up in time for}; 48d rah-rah {Gung-ho}; 51d tinge {Trace of color}; 52d email {Messages that may contain emoticons}; 53d Amiga {Old computer}; 56d E-card {Paperless birthday greeting}; 59d aves {Birds, collectively}; 60d Omoo {1847 Melville work}; 61d cabs {Some urban rides}; 65d ere {Before, to a bard}.


Anonymous said...

Before I realized what the theme was, on the basis of the first two long(ish) Across answers, I thought we were doing a really edgy "first part of each answer" theme, and I was wondering where we'd go after COCKtail and TAILpipe.

And for the record, a MAXI is an ankle-length dress. Calf-length is midi.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Meant to include: PIPEdream did nothing to disabuse my theme theory. (Hmm ... maybe I should avoid words like "disabuse" here.)

Crossword Man said...

Honi soit qui mal y pense: does the NYT ever do edgy - it's all seemed rather clean fun up to now?

Yes, we agree about dress lengths: we saw our first maxi summer dress today and it was practically scraping the pavement (oops, sidewalk).

Susan said...

I really love your blog! My local paper does the NYT puzzle a month or so later, so I can find the answers here rather than wait for the next days paper! Also, the research makes it that much more educational. THANKS!

Crossword Man said...

You're welcome Susan. We have a lot of fun writing the posts, but it's good to know there are avid readers out there!