Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NYT Wednesday 5/6/09 - Key Stoned

All solvers should be sure to watch Dinner: Impossible tonight at 10pm EST on the Food Network. This is the episode that was filmed at this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Magdalen and I sat at the table right next to where the crew filmed the puzzling dishes chef Robert had cooked up, but doubt we'll be in any of the audience shots - we'll see.

This crossword with a "keyword" theme was superficially straightforward, but Magdalen and I wondered what to make of the drug-related answers. My argument is it's so hard to make a themed grid like this that hemp, dopes, stoned and Up in Smoke were probably accidental: if you go looking for such connections in a grid, you can usually find them.
Solving time: 10 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 9d cupboard {China's place}
Theme

Phrases ending with keys on a PC keyboard, hinted at by 35a keyword {Google search need ... or a hint to the ends of 20- and 49-Across and 11- and 28-Down}.
20a running a tab {Not paying immediately at the bar}
49a lose control {Go ballistic}
11d fire escape {Apartment building feature}
28d do not enter {Road sign warning}
Solution

Michael Callaway Barnhart
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersMichael Callaway Barnhart / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares49 (25.9%)
Scrabble points299 (average 1.58)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

area codes17a area codes {307 for Wyoming and 907 for Alaska}. I quote this clue because I got the wrong end of the stick about the numbers, probably because I had in mind postal zip codes, not telephone area codes and thought that Alaska's large area meant it had way more codes than any other state. It looks like just twelve states are privileged to have a single area code for the whole state.

26a Mr. Deeds {2002 Adam Sandler title role}. In Mr. Deeds, a remake of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, the eponymous pizzeria owner comes into a fortune and outwits big city swindlers.



BPOE41a BPOE {Fraternal letters}. It was a good thing I knew the downs here, as the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks meant zilch to me. I used to think the ELK stickers on cars round here showed that the owners belonged to the fraternity - no it just means they've parked in the Elk Mountain Ski Resort car park.

56a Up in Smoke {1978 Cheech & Chong movie}; 5d stoned {Like Cheech & Chong, typically}. I somehow got through the seventies without encountering Cheech and Chong - maybe it means I was there? They were apparently famous for their stand-up routines and Up in Smoke is considered something of a cult classic.



AMBER Alert21d AMBER {___ Alert (abduction bulletin)}. I had a feeling this was another eponym: AMBER Alerts were named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman who was kidnapped and murdered in Arlington, TX. They have retrofitted the acronym "America's Missing: Broadcasting Emergency Response".

33d She's {"___ All That" (Freddie Prinze Jr. film)}. She's All That is a 1999 rom-com based on Pygmalion starring Freddie Prinze Jr and Rachael Leigh Cook. Are all prom nights like this one?



46d Diana {Paul Anka #1 hit}. Paul Anka's song was inspired by a high school friend and written in 1957 (well before the more famous Diana was born and celebrated by other artists).



Noteworthy

9a cuffs {Places for links}; 9d cupboard {China's place}. A couple of nicely deceptive clues. I marginally prefer the second one because the initial capital misleads you into thinking of the country.

hemp14a hemp {Rope material}; 47a dopes {Deduces, with "out"}. Not knowing Cheech & Chong, I missed the associations here until Magdalen pointed them out. Whether these answers were deliberate or accidental, the cluing did its best to hide the drug culture links?

Holy Moly Rd58a Moly {"Holy ___!"}. A familiar idiom, presumably euphemistic for "Holy Moses!", but how did it become popular? Probably from comicbook heros like Captain Marvel, who couldn't say anything stronger in the 1940s. Amazingly (or not ... this is America) there's a Holy-Moly Rd in Irasburg, VT.

Ruscombe Church44d eponym {Penn, to Pennsylvania}. After a few examples of eponyms, here's a whole clue about them. In one of those strange coincidences, my last house in England was within walking distance of Ruscombe, where Penn lived out his finals days from 1710 to 1718.

The Rest

1a CPAs {No. crunchers}; 5a slop {Haute cuisine it's not}; 15a tone {Audiophile's concern}; 16a utile {Of service}; 19a Peron {El Líder of Argentina}; 22a est. {100 or so, e.g.: Abbr.}; 23a kneel {Use a prie-dieu}; 24a Moses {Adoptee in Genesis}; 29a I-bars {Building beams}; 30a good {Through the uprights}; 31a overacts {Hams it up}; 34a man {"Whew!"}; 38a ahh {Satisfied sound}; 39a tropical {Like drinks with umbrellas}; 42a tenor {Sax type}; 43a De Beers {"A diamond is forever" sloganeer}; 46a deign {Lower oneself}; 48a tin {Pewter component}; 54a Satie {"Socrate" composer Erik}; 57a an era {"It's the end of ___"}; 59a axis {Line of rotation}; 60a rarer {Less typical}; 61a stem {Morel morsel}; 62a nyet {Duma dissent}.

1d char {Burn on the grill}; 2d Peru {Machu Picchu's land}; 3d amen {"You said it!"}; 4d spanked {Punished with a wooden spoon, say}; 6d lodges {41-Across meeting places}; 7d O'Neal {Center Shaq}; 8d pest {Annoying type}; 10d Ute {Beehive State native}; 12d floss {Dental hygienist's advice}; 13d sent {In the mail}; 18d ciné {Cannes film}; 25d Sra. {Majorca Mrs.}; 26d mgmt. {Those in charge: Abbr.}; 27d roar {Crowd sound}; 29d Ivo {1961 Literature Nobelist Andric}; 31d owl {Harry Potter's pet Hedwig, e.g.}; 32d Thor {Hammer-wielding god}; 35d King Lear {Cordelia's father}; 36d econo- {Low-budget prefix}; 37d Yar {Yevtushenko's "Babi ___"}; 40d Pei {Louvre pyramid architect}; 41d best man {Reception toast giver}; 43d docile {Easily managed}; 45d Ben's {Uncle ___ rice}; 47d depot {Greyhound stop}; 48d tsar {Autocrat until 1917}; 50d sums {Bottom lines}; 51d Roxy {Classic Manhattan theater}; 52d Okie {Dust Bowl migrant}; 53d lest {For fear that}; 55d ire {Ill temper}.

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