Thursday, June 18, 2009

NYT Friday 6/19/09 - In The Slow Lane

This Friday New York Times crossword turned out to be a real nightmare. I was hoping to break the 30 minute barrier soon, but no way was it going to be with this one: in the end, I was just glad to finish at all, because at times I thought I'd need outside help.

Every part of the grid had its challenges, but the SE corner was my nemesis, with all three long acrosses offering no hope of solution. For a long time, I just had the help of one down answer - Roys - and was grateful for that; I think it was tenable that finally unlocked things for me, but a clue like "Sound" doesn't offer much to go on, so it took a while ...
Solving time: 50 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 59d lap {Provider of PC support}

David Levinson Wilk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDavid Levinson Wilk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.54)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points319 (average 1.64)
New To Me

15a Isak Dinesen {"Babette's Feast" author, 1950}. Isak Dinesen was the pen name of Danish authoress Karen Blixen (18851962). Perhaps better known for Out of Africa (1985), her earlier book Babette's Feast was also made into a movie, which won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 1987.

Jason and Medea29a Jason {Husband of a sorceress, in myth}. It didn't surprise me when Jason turned up as the answer, although I couldn't recall who he was married to. Researches confirm Medea was the bride and there are some great pre-Raphaelite paintings of the pair, such as this one by John William Waterhouse.

43a Ellen {First name of two first ladies}. Ellen ... hmm ... now who could they be? Prizes for anyone knowing Ellen Arthur (1837–1880) and Ellen Louise Wilson (1860–1914).

James Dean48a James Dean {Actor who said "Only the gentle are ever really strong"}. I suspected this would be a quote from one of James Dean's movies, but I gather these are his own words. Only problem is I can't find out the context in which he said them. If you know, please tell me!

57a All About Eve {1950 movie on which the musical "Applause" is based}. All About Eve is a well-known movie title and I think I saw this recently with Magdalen. However, I didn't know that it was the inspiration for Applause (which opened in 1970) and that's what counted here. All this made the SE corner a bit of a nightmare for me.

61a nei {Verdi's "___ giardin del bello"}. I had much the same problem as in the previous clue: I know the opera Don Carlos fairly well, but couldn't reel off the arias in it. In Nei giardin del bello aka The Veil Song, Princess Eboli sings about a king with the seven-year itch who courts a mysterious veiled lady who, when the veil is lifted, turns out to be his wife. Here's the lovely Elīna Garanča to sing it.

Asa Philip Randolph9d Asa {Civil-rights leader ___ Philip Randolph}. Asa Philip Randolph (18891979) founded the March on Washington Movement and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, significant steps in achieving civil rights for African-Americans.

24d Lyin' Eyes {What "you can't hide" per a 1975 Eagles hit}. Lyin' Eyes was the second single from the One of These Nights album and was the only country music hit for the Eagles till How Long in 2007-2008.

44d Lamarr {Strange woman player in "The Strange Woman," 1946}. The Strange Woman (1946) is too obscure to have a Wikipedia page, so here we are linking to IMDB. It's a vehicle for its star Hedy Lamarr, who portrays a scheming woman that plays with the lives of three men in Bangor, ME. I can't see Hedy Lamarr now without thinking of Hedley Lamarr from Blazing Saddles.

Norman Mineta46d Mineta {2001-06 secretary of transportation}. Asian American Norman Mineta is unusual in being the only Democrat to serve in George W. Bush's cabinet.


1a hasta mañana {South-of-the-border sign-off}. I knew hasta mañana (until tomorrow) from somewhere and found it very helpful in breaking open the NW corner. I have vague recollections of an ABBA number.

28a Tey {"Miss Pym Disposes" mystery novelist}. Elizabeth Mackintosh (1896–1952) was wise in her choice of pseudonym, if appearing in crosswords was the aim: she comes up two or three times a year in the NYT. The one book I've read of hers is The Franchise Affair based on a historical case of Elizabeth Canning, who pretended to have been kidnapped.

31a Imus {Big name in radio}. I came across Don Imus in a previous puzzle and was glad to remember the surname: it's not one you'd have thought existed. His current show Imus in the Morning started in 1971 and appears to have courted controversy.

14d grossest {Least refined}. I wrongly guessed crassest to begin with, which proved a major stumbling block in the NE corner.

37d Eva Marie {Saint of acting}. The one role I can remember Eva Marie Saint playing, and it's a great one, is Eve Kendall in North by Northwest.

50d slugs {Not-always-taken tokens}. I had to ask Magdalen's opinion on this one: our conclusion is this refers to cheating slot machines of various kinds by using "slugs" - fake coins or tokens - that may or may not fool the technology inside.

59d lap {Provider of PC support}. A great clue which held me up for ages. Again, it might have been better with a question mark at the end, since not all PCs are laptops ... and not all laptops are supported on a lap. I still haven't quite got my head around the definition-by-example idiom in American puzzles - when is it OK to leave out the question mark and when not??

The Rest

12a mpg {Consumption meas.}; 16a err {Cause an interception, e.g.}; 17a rant and rave {Carry on}; 18a zoo {Where the wild things are?}; 19a est {Round number, maybe: Abbr.}; 20a mere {Piddling}; 21a gluts {Market surpluses}; 23a reels {Cassette components}; 25a eulogizes {Speaks about gravely?}; 30a page {Calendar unit}; 33a slashes {They may go forward or backward}; 35a open it {Present day demand?}; 38a outset {Origin}; 39a lived to {Reached the age of}; 41a taxi {See 56-Across}; 42a dray {Horse-pulled vehicle}; 45a cmd. {Mil. authority}; 50a skirt {Get around}; 52a Ecash {Direct deposits, e.g.}; 53a marl {Earthy deposit}; 55a NIH {Fed. agency with an annual almanac}; 56a air {With 41-Across, it makes short hops}; 62a Pearly Gates {Setting of many New Yorker cartoons}; 63a SSE {Jacksonville-to-Daytona Beach dir.}; 64a express lane {Something to pass in}.

1d hirer {Engaging sort}; 2d as a set {How dishes are often sold}; 3d Santee {South Carolina river to the Atlantic}; 4d tkt {Conductor's request: Abbr.}; 5d Adams {___ apple}; 6d mine {Elevator locale}; 7d Andreas {Two-time Greek P.M. Papandreou}; 8d Nereus {Mythical Aegean Sea dweller}; 10d Nev. {Home of the Black Rock Desert: Abbr.}; 11d an egg {Lay ___}; 12d mezuzahs {Jewish parchment scrolls put on doorposts}; 13d protégée {She has a personal trainer}; 22d lipstick {Contents of a cylindrical case}; 26d Los {L.A.P.D. division?}; 27d on loan {Out, in a way}; 29d jutted {Stuck (out)}; 32d mid {Morning or night lead-in}; 34d aux {Dumas's "La Dame ___ Camélias"}; 35d old jeans {They may be patched}; 36d piracies {Crimes on the high seas}; 40d olé {Shout to someone in danger of getting stuck}; 41d tenable {Sound}; 47d driven {Motivated}; 49d shape {Straighten (up)}; 51d These {1995 Bon Jovi album "___ Days"}; 54d Roys {Artist Lichtenstein and others}; 58d Lex {Big Apple ave.}; 60d tal {"Qué ___?" (José's "How's it going?")}.


Daniel Myers said...

I did a search in 4 different biographies on Amazon for the James Dean quote. It remains unverified. Could it be, just possibly, that he never even bleeding said it????

Crossword Man said...

That seems possible, but I have some faith that Will and his checkers are actually looking up these things in something other than Google. The reliable UK reference has always been the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. What's the US equivalent? Bartlett, last updated 2002??