Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYT Wednesday 5/13/09 - In Deep Water

I've had a good run of success the last few weeks, but I was out of my depth with this Wednesday New York Times crossword: a cluster of tough answers (Edna, Truro, Dr. Lao and nubby) at the western edge just didn't gel. I felt sure Magdalen would know at least three of these, so I didn't waste too much time before checking in with her and borrowing the answers I needed.

Buffalo wings intrigued me when I first came to the USA. Which part of a buffalo did they come from - it's not like the animals could fly? Only later did I discover that Buffalo wings are chicken wings named after Buffalo, NY - there are at least four theories of how the name came about.
Solving time: 18 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 45a Eur. {Where It.'s at}
Theme

Phrases whose first words can follow water, this being indicated by 58a just add water {Easy preparation instruction ... or a hint to the starts of 20-, 28- and 48-Across}.
20a Buffalo wings {Spicy bar fare} » water buffalo
28a lily-livered {Yellow} » water lily
48a table-tennis {Game to 11 points} » water table
Solution

Nancy Kavanaugh
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
Compilers Nancy Kavanaugh / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares46 (24.6%)
Scrabble points317 (average 1.70)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

USOC14a USOC {Summer Games org.}. I suspected this was to do with the Olympics, but could only get the acronym from crossings. Clearly the United States Olympic Committee is the American equivalent of the British Olympic Association.

32a Edna {Author Ferber}. The first in a cluster of answers mid-left that caused trouble: Edna Ferber (1885–1968) was an American author, several of whose works inspired well-known musical or cinematic adaptations; the most famous of these being Show Boat.



Truro, MA38a Truro {Cape Cod town}. Another answer that I just couldn't see on my own. Thinking of English towns would have served me well, as Truro is the "county town" (equivalent of county capital) of Cornwall. Next time I get stuck on an answer like this, I should just remember how many American places are named after British ones, particularly in the Northeastern US.

Comstock Lode67a lode {Comstock's find}. The answer is familiar enough, but what is a Comstock? Actually it isn't a what, it's a who. The Comstock Lode was the first major silver ore deposit to be discovered in the US under what is now Virginia City, Nevada. It was named after Henry T. P. Comstock, who may not have discovered the lode, but filed many of the earliest claims.

No Spam29d lag {Internet annoyance}. I manage to use the internet a lot without having heard of (or being particularly annoyed by) lag - perhaps I don't play enough online video games? Spam, now, is another matter.

33d Dr. Lao {1964 Tony Randall title role}. Rather a mean answer to match up with some difficult acrosses: that three-consonant sequence at the start defies expectations. The reference is to the movie 7 Faces of Dr. Lao based on the 1935 fantasy novel The Circus of Dr. Lao.



nubby yarn34d nubby {Having a rough knitted surface}. I could only think of ribby here - you have ribbing in knitting right? But I knew my knowledge of knitting lingo is nothing compared to arch-knitter Magdalen's. Nubby yarn is coarse and knobbly, but appears to get knitters very excited.

58d Joni {Mitchell who wrote and sang "Chelsea Morning"}. I was curious to find out which Chelsea featured in the song. New York City's of course. Chelsea Clinton is named for the Judy Collins version of the 1969 song. Here is Joni in a totally happening TV set:



Noteworthy

45a Eur. {Where It.'s at}. A neat clue: mimicking a popular idiom, and at the same time abbreviating Italy to indicate the abbreviated Europe.

27d Odets {"Golden Boy" playwright}. I didn't know Edna Ferber, but was oddly aware of close contemporary Clifford Odets (1906-1963). Odets was the playwright who helped found the influential Group Theatre, which was the first to popularize The Method. Several of his plays were adapted for the big screen - here's the trailer for Clash by Night.



The Rest

1a cubs {Windy City team}; 5a diva {"Me, me, me" sort}; 9a fuzzy {Like a teddy bear}; 15a emit {Radiate}; 16a Okies {Steinbeck migrants}; 17a refi {Certain mortgage, briefly}; 18a anew {All over}; 19a repel {Successfully defend}; 23a spoils {Turns, in a way}; 24a lei {It may have orchids or plumerias}; 25a I do {Ceremonial utterance}; 36a nae {Kiltie's turndown}; 37a negate {Wipe out}; 40a GMs {Baseball bigwigs, for short}; 42a nonet {Largish combo}; 43a albino {Lacking melanin}; 47a sirs {"Dear" ones}; 51a soy {Milk source}; 52a cox {Crew leader}; 53a day spa {Place for pampering}; 61a nabob {Big cheese}; 64a opal {Form of silica}; 65a cast {Group of thousands, maybe}; 66a Omani {Muscat native}; 68a hits {Scoreboard tally}; 69a digit {One, for one}; 70a spar {Sail support}; 71a Troy {2004 Brad Pitt film}.

1d curbs {Cuts back}; 2d use up {Finish off}; 3d boffo {Super, in showbiz}; 4d sci-fi {"Futurama" genre}; 5d deals in {Buys and sells}; 6d I'm no {"___ expert, but ..."}; 7d view {Op-ed's offering}; 8d at will {Freely}; 9d forgiven {Pardoned}; 10d ukes {Luau strings}; 11d zip {Mail aid}; 12d Zee {Zuider ___}; 13d YSL {Fashion monogram}; 21d All {Tide competitor}; 22d nein {Frau's "forget it"}; 25d Irani {Certain Oriental rug maker}; 26d deter {Ward off}; 30d Yemen {Red Sea land}; 31d egos {They may clash}; 32d Etats {Les ___-Unis}; 35d aril {Seed covering}; 39d one cubit {18 inches, give or take}; 41d sun {Radiation source}; 44d Otos {Siouan speakers}; 46d Riddler {"Batman" villain, with "the"}; 49d extols {Sings the praises of}; 50d saw {Go back and forth in the woods?}; 54d yacht {America's Cup entrant}; 55d stair {Flight part}; 56d pesto {Green topping}; 57d artsy {Too-too}; 59d a pop {Per unit}; 60d Dada {Jean Arp's movement}; 61d nod {Signal at Christie's}; 62d am I {"___ losing it?"}; 63d bag {Avocation, slangily}.

2 comments:

fmcgmccllc said...

thanks for the answer to the water theme, could not quite get it. my time was about the same and to me that is a master title.

You guys do help me learn about the puzzles.

Crossword Man said...

Glad to know you're still following and enjoying the posts - many thanks for the feedback.