Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NYT Wednesday 5/20/09 - Years of Study

I had plotted out the sequence of college years after a puzzle back in January, but the names still don't come naturally. It must have been frustrating for Dino_Burger, watching over my shoulder as I solved the puzzle, to see me struggling with what's obvious to him.

I gather that a community at College Station sprang up as a result of railroad building, but the city didn't get its current name until the 1870s when it was chosen as the site of Texas A&M University. The other theme answers were well-chosen, especially sophomore jinx, which gave me a lot of trouble.
Solving time: 15 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 16a verse {Frost lines}

Phrases starting with the names for college years, inspired by 36a College Station {Texas city ... and a hint to the starts of 21-, 27-, 45- and 56-Across}.
21a freshman senator {Barack Obama, 2005-08, e.g.}
27a sophomore jinx {Rookie's superstition}
45a junior partner {Subsidiary member of a firm}
56a senior discounts {Some restaurant and pharmacy lures}

Ashish Vengsarkar
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersAshish Vengsarkar / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 42 (17.5%) black squares
Answers77 (average length 5.14)
Theme squares65 (32.8%)
Scrabble points301 (average 1.52)
New To Me

1a Armand {Actor Assante}. Armand Assante's looks have made him a good choice for playing foreigners and gangsters. He won an Emmy for portraying mafia boss John Gotti.

Mamie Eisenhower25a Mamie {1950s White House resident}. This sort of clue is really tough for me and I even feared the resident might one of the presidential pets. Dino_Burger confirmed Mamie was Mrs Eisenhower, first lady from 1953 to 1961.

52a Bai {Actress ___ Ling of "The Crow"}. I was lucky that 48-down was guessable as I had no idea what the first letter would be here. Bai Ling is the Chinese-born American actress who played Myca in the action-thriller movie The Crow (1994).

Académie Française63a The Immortals {French Academy's 40 members}. L'Académie française is the official authority on French, and publishes the authoritative dictionary on the language. It's currently working on the third volume of the ninth edition, having released the first volume (A to Enzyme) in 1992, and the second (Éocène to Mappemonde) in 2000. The academy members are paradoxically known as les immortels because of the motto on Cardinal Richelieu's charter, À l'immortalité.

Subway Series8d Mets {Subway Series participant}. I'm guessing only a foreigner would have difficulties with this one: I knew of the Mets of course, but not that there's a special name for the games played with their arch-rivals. I managed to guess that name "subway" derives from the transportation system and not the sandwich franchise.

9d Bree {"Desperate Housewives" role}. Bree Hodge is the character played by Marcia Cross, supposedly based on creator Marc Cherry's mother.

Ctrl+Alt+Del32d Scout Sign {Half-salute}. I was in the scouts as a kid and don't remember the salute being called this; why should it even be called a "half-salute". I see now that the Scout Sign is less than a full salute because the hand is only lifted as far as the shoulder, not because only three fingers are used. The most common three-finger salute I do these days is Ctrl+Alt+Del.

Hank Aaron48d RBI men {Ones who drive people home?}. Not knowing the crossing Bai Ling meant this was a complete guess. Luckily I had come already come across Ribbies, so I thought it likely the answer involved those. I gather Hank Aaron is the greatest RBI man of all time, with 2,297 runs batted in.


Robert Frost16a verse {Frost lines}. This clue uses the device that I never tire of seeing - disguising a proper name at the start of the clue. As usual, I was taken in at first and only realized Frost was the poet when the answer could only be verse.

The Rest

7a embar {Imprison}; 12a Pfc. {Mil. rank}; 15a Beaver {Oregonian}; 17a AOL {Netscape acquirer}; 18a aptitude test {Entrance requirement, maybe}; 20a lux {Meter-candle}; 23a toy {Part of Santa's bagful}; 24a USS {___ Enterprise}; 32a snow {Skier's wish}; 34a urn {Archaeological find}; 35a not! {"Just kidding!"}; 42a doo {___-wop}; 43a rap {Bum ___}; 44a esse {To be, to Brutus}; 51a stent {Blockage remover}; 53a sap {Fool}; 62a ail {Feel awful}; 64a MGs {Classic British two-seaters}; 65a inane {Vapid}; 66a leer at {Ogle}; 67a in E {Like Dvorák's "Serenade for Strings"}; 68a Søren {Philosopher Kierkegaard}; 69a assess {Gauge}.

1d abaft {Toward the stern}; 2d repro {Not an original}; 3d matey {"Ahoy, ___!"}; 4d Avis {Company with the stock symbol CAR}; 5d Neth. {Belg. neighbor}; 6d drum up {Solicit, as business}; 7d even so {Still}; 10d Assn. {Part of P.T.A.: Abbr.}; 11d retame {Bring back to domestication}; 12d palominos {Gold-colored horses}; 13d four-in-one {Multipurpose, somehow}; 14d CLX {160, to Caesar}; 19d dash {Place for a gauge, informally}; 22d taj {Persian for "crown"}; 26d ext. {Bus. card info}; 27d sol {Tijuana tanner}; 28d Owl {Pooh pal}; 29d Mus. {High school dept.}; 30d ort {Little bit}; 31d RNA {Messenger ___}; 33d no one else {Only you}; 37d err {Make a clanger}; 38d GAP {Clothing retailer since 1969}; 39d EPA {Air monitor, for short}; 40d tee {Shirt to wear with shorts}; 41d Isr. {Mideast land: Abbr.}; 42d DJs {CD players}; 46d Inn {Days ___}; 47d otitis {Ear inflammation}; 49d Tasm. {Australian island: Abbr.}; 50d Nicola {San ___, Christmas figure in Italy}; 53d snare {Entrap}; 54d atlas {World record?}; 55d pssts {Attention getters}; 57d Oh no {[Gasp!]}; 58d rear {Tail end}; 59d dine {Sup}; 60d ores {Tram loads}; 61d Utes {Shoshone speakers}; 62d ami {Ennemi's opposite}.


Joan said...

Seemed to me that it was possible that 7a could have been "attitude test." Something of the kind seems to be a bit more common these days. That also seemed to me that 2d could be "retro" as that isn't original either.

Crossword Man said...

Yes, I like those thoughts - employers, the military etc, are looking for the right attitude in applicants. If I'd come across "attitude tests" before solving the puzzle (and they do exist), I'd have been in the same dilemma you presumably were.