Thursday, June 4, 2009

NYT Friday 6/5/09 - Cheering Up

I've previously expressed doubts about non-thematic grids with 15-letter entries, but this one with just four of them incorporates a nicely varied range of answer lengths and resulted in a puzzle that was really fun to solve.

The perfect symmetry looks beautiful and the size of the open area in the center is well-balanced with those at the corners. Of course it's great that the average answer length is comfortably over 6.

I'm still reckoning with a nasty cold, which is now into day 8. Magdalen's mother always said colds were "three days coming, three days there, three days going". By rights I should only have one more day to go before I'm in the pink again. We're going to see Up in 3-D today in the hope that it'll (1) elevate my mood; (2) save me losing time on a day when I'm feeling 100%.
Solving time: 36 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 42a salt {It's often pinched}

Martin Ashwood-Smith
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersMartin Ashwood-Smith / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 24 (10.7%) black squares
Answers66 (average length 6.09)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points280 (average 1.39)
New To Me

19a he'd {"___ sow't with nettle-seed": Shak.}. From Act II Scene 1 of The Tempest, in which Antonio and Sebastian pooh-pooh Gonzalo's well-meaning suggestions for the development of the enchanted island.
GONZALO. Had I plantation of this isle, my lord-
ANTONIO. He'd sow 't with nettle-seed.
SEBASTIAN. Or docks, or mallows.
GONZALO. And were the king on't, what would I do?
SEBASTIAN. Scape being drunk for want of wine.
GONZALO. I' th' commonwealth I would by contraries
Execute all things
From The Tempest Act II Scene 1

Erich Fromm23a Erich {Psychoanalyst Fromm}. Erich Fromm (1900–1980) was a German-born American psychoanalyst and social philosopher. He postulated that man has five basic needs:
Relatedness (relationships with others, care, respect, knowledge)
Transcendence (creativity, develop a loving and interesting life)
Rootedness (feeling of belonging)
Sense of Identity (see ourselves as a unique person and part of a social group)
A frame of orientation (the need to understand the world and our place in it)
45a Criss {Street magician ___ Angel}. Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos, better known as Criss Angel, stars in his own TV show Criss Angel Mindfreak. Walking on broken glass and getting run over by a steamroller is all in a day's work for this man.

Cosette58a in exile {Like Victor Hugo when he finished "Les Misérables"}. The perfect way to clue the answer. Victor Hugo was forced into exile during the reign of Napoleon III, winding up on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands, where Les Misérables was completed. This was one of the most difficult answers for me, because I wasn't sure if I was dealing with: (1) a single word or a phrase; (2) a French word or an English word.

27d rassler {Part of a backwoods mix-up}. This caused me about as much trouble as "Backwoods pro?" for fer in a recent puzzle. It seems any time "backwoods" appears in a clue, we should be looking for a dialect or nonstandard spelling, in this case, of wrestler. Country folk don't wrestle, they rassle.

34d Eda {___ Reiss Merin, babysitter player in "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead"}. The compiler has to scrape the barrel a bit to find a thespian Eda. Eda Reiss Merin plays the disciplinarian (but all-too-mortal) Mrs. Sturak who comes to babysit a teenage family in the 1991 comedy.

Winnie Mae39d aviator {Post, for one}. I couldn't figure out who the famous flying Post was and had to look him up: Wiley Post (1898–1935) was the first pilot to fly solo around the world, which he did in the Winnie Mae in July 1933.

46d Sonia {"Peter and the Wolf" duck}. Last time the Peter and the Wolf duck made an appearance it was an oboe. I didn't think the animals had names and it seems I was right up to the point they were Disneyfied: in the animated short, the bird, duck and cat are named "Sasha", "Sonia" and "Ivan".

Bad Axe55d Axe {Bad ___, Mich. (seat of Huron County)}. This was one of the last answers I got, and I found myself running through the letters of the alphabet in A?E to see what might make a reasonable place name. Of course, when I reached Axe, 58-Across immediately made sense as in exile, so I was happy I'd found the place I was looking for. Bad Axe is named after the much-used and badly damaged electric guitar chopper that was found when the area was settled.


15a One Love {Bob Marley classic}. A song is indeed a classic if I can remember it: One Love was first recorded in 1965 on the album The Wailing Wailers.

pinch of salt42a salt {It's often pinched}. Not someone's behind, but salt - beautifully worded clue!

47a RST {Character lineup}. I'm not a fan of these letter-sequence answers, unless there's some situation where they occur in everyday life (for example, TUV appears over 8 on a telephone keypad). RST gets the thumbs-down because it's just an arbitrary sequence from the alphabet (or at least, the clue doesn't attempt to associate it with anything more familiar).

5d torch {What an unrequited lover carries}. Another delightful clue: an unrequited lover "carries a torch" for somebody.

8d definite article {Billy the Kid used one for his nickname}. Could've been anyone with "the" in the middle. Q: what do Billy the Kid and Winnie the Pooh have in common? A: same middle name.

10d Beast {Half of a Disney duo, with "the"}. I unfortunately guessed Tramp, as in Lady and The Tramp. That held me up a bit, but I was willing to be flexible and go with Beauty and the Beast (1991).

21d north-east {One between two cardinals?}. I know from long experience of cryptic crosswords that "cardinal" has several unfamiliar meanings, including each of the four chief points of the compass.

48d anent {Regarding}. An ent is a walking tree, but anent is an archaic, primarily Scottish, equivalent of "regarding", "concerning", "in re" etc. While not classic crosswordese, it seems a bit out of place in an NYT grid these days.

57d pee {Peruvian capital?}. If it's Monday, it must be Lima. On a Wednesday, it might just be sol. But as it's Friday, the answer is the capital letter of "Peruvian", ie P spelled pee.

The Rest

1a minster {Important church}; 8a debated {Like controversial issues}; 16a eye-hole {It lets you see who's calling}; 17a theorem {Something to prove}; 18a Frasier {Fictional psychiatrist}; 20a cronies {Gang members}; 22a LVI {Year in Nero's reign}; 25a von {From, in some European names}; 26a tread {It may be worn on a sneaker}; 28a riel {Phnom Penh cash}; 29a eerie {Like many an omen}; 31a arte {Works in the Uffizi}; 32a straw mattresses {Poorhouse bedding}; 35a railheads {Termini}; 36a as gentle as a lamb {Totally benign}; 43a stare {Act rudely, in a way}; 44a evil {Foul}; 48a arise {Proceed (from)}; 49a EDT {Regional setting for almost eight months per yr.}; 50a oration {It may begin with an exordium}; 53a ate {Got into a pickle?}; 54a Titanic {1912 headline name}; 56a crept up {Got high gradually}; 59a lane one {Pole position or pool position}; 60a cereals {Some like them hot}; 61a entered {Registered for}.

1d mothers {They deliver}; 2d inherit {Be a willing participant?}; 3d needier {Requiring more support}; 4d slo {Brief warning}; 6d ever {Loving leader?}; 7d remove all traces {30-Down thoroughly}; 9d Eyre {Jane Rochester's maiden name}; 11d ahs {They often mean "I see"}; 12d toilers {Slaves}; 13d elevate {Up}; 14d derides {Pooh-poohs}; 24d clarets {Red choices}; 29d emits {Lets off}; 30d erase {See 7-Down}; 33d wan {Not sanguine}; 36d ascetic {Like some monks}; 37d sardine {Subway rider during rush hour, metaphorically}; 38d glitter {Striking brilliance}; 40d mistune {Make a B instead of an A?}; 41d bleeped {Like some profanity}; 51d rill {Moon marking}; 52d Oran {North African harbor site}.

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