Sunday, June 14, 2009

NYT Monday 6/15/09 - Spin City

I wondered what was going on with this Monday New York Times crossword, as it seemed to take ages to get started. I normally work along the downs starting in the top row and it wasn't till I got to the NE corner that I started filling in with any confidence.

Luckily there were easier areas elsewhere in the grid and I pretty soon worked out what the theme was, with 38-Across providing an unnecessary (but elegant in terms of the construction) explanation of the idea.
Solving time: 9 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 32a euros {Italian and French bread?}
Theme

People with initials P.R., suggested by 38a PR men {Promoters ... or a description of 17-, 23-, 46- and 57-Across?}.
17a Philip Roth {"Portnoy's Complaint" author}
23a Pat Robertson {Founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network}
46a Pierre Renoir {"Le Déjeuner des Canotiers" painter}
57a Paul Revere {He didn't really cry "The British are coming!"}
Solution

John Dunn
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersJohn Dunn / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares49 (25.9%)
Scrabble points276 (average 1.46)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

6a Jean {Actress Stapleton of "All in the Family"}. Jean Stapleton is the actress who played Edith Baines Bunker, wife of the bigoted Archie Bunker on the said sitcom. I discovered recently that All in the Family was based on the British show Till Death Us Do Part - I'd always assumed it was the other way round.



Berlin Wall16a Simi {___ Valley, Calif.}. I didn't realize from the clue that Simi Valley is a city as well as a geographical feature. The city's claim to fame is that it's home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library - the largest of the 12 federally funded presidential libraries. As well as books, the library houses a Boeing 707 aircraft used as Reagan's Air Force One and a piece of the Berlin Wall.

Econo Lodge7d Econo {Commercial prefix with Lodge}. Econo Lodge appears to be a two-word name now, so the "prefix" in the clue might not have been completely necessary. Econo Lodge is an economy (surprise, surprise) chain that started in 1969 and now has 823 locations across the US and Canada.

49d Niles {"Frasier" character}. Niles Crane, also a psychiatrist, is Frasier's fastidious younger brother. He's portrayed by David Hyde Pierce.



Noteworthy

32a euros {Italian and French bread?}. Interesting that both "dough" and "bread" can mean money. Eric Partridge, my preferred authority on slang thinks there's no connection, "bread" being a shortening of the rhyming slang "bread and honey" and ultimately of British origin, "dough" originating in the US.

Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat LEXINGTON52a Ives {Currier's partner in lithography}. I happily learned of Currier and Ives through a previous crossword. The "Awful Conflagration of the Steam Boat Lexington" from 1840 is a good example of their dramatic work.

Nehi2d Nehi {Classic soft drink}. Another answer that would have been paradoxical to me six months ago, but now is easy enough. Nehi started in 1924; it's now a brand of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, but I have yet to see or try any of their classic range of fruit flavors.

53d veni {Start of Caesar's boast}. I wonder if Julius Caesar guessed when he wrote veni, vidi, vici what a gift they would be to crossword constructors: three four-letter answers not clueable in any other way. Apparently, Caesar used those three words as his entire speech to the senate following some victory or other - if only all speeches were that concise!

The Rest

1a snare {Trap}; 10a afar {Way off}; 14a Aesop {"The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs" writer}; 15a UCLA {The Bruins of the N.C.A.A.}; 19a snip {Quick cut}; 20a site {Word after Web or camp}; 21a eon {Geological stretch}; 22a beige {Hosiery hue}; 27a spills {What oil cleanups clean up}; 30a abash {Make ashamed}; 31a metal {Silver or platinum}; 34a lam {Escape}; 37a easy {"Duck soup!"}; 39a dike {It may hold back the sea}; 40a eta {Flight info}; 41a warps {Twists out of shape}; 42a Lenin {Russian revolutionary with a goatee}; 43a steno {Old office note taker}; 45a depend {Bank (on)}; 50a emcee {Billy Crystal or Whoopi Goldberg for the Oscars, often}; 51a lie {Perjure oneself}; 56a darn {"Phooey!"}; 60a aged {Matured}; 61a ride {Ferris wheel or bumper cars}; 62a genie {Three wishes granter}; 63a lets {Tennis do-overs}; 64a odes {Poetical tributes}; 65a osier {Willow for wicker}.

1d saps {Drains}; 3d as it {With 41-Down, seemingly}; 4d role-play {Be a wizard or an elf, say, in Dungeons & Dragons}; 5d epi- {Prefix with center}; 6d juror {One of 12 at a trial}; 8d Alt {Computer key abbr.}; 9d nah {"I'll pass"}; 10d assets {Stock, bank deposits, real estate, etc.}; 11d finish line {Where winners are often photographed}; 12d amigo {Friend in a sombrero}; 13d ripen {Mature}; 18d pets {No ___ Allowed (motel sign)}; 22d bras {They're worn under blouses}; 24d all {The works}; 25d bares {Reveals}; 26d ebon {Deep black}; 27d smee {"Peter Pan" pirate}; 28d peat {Mulching matter}; 29d it's a secret {"Mum's the word!"}; 32d error {Misplay, e.g.}; 33d ump {Official behind a catcher}; 35d akin {Related (to)}; 36d mend {Repair}; 38d pane {Window section}; 39d deprives {Takes away from, with "of"}; 41d were {See 3-Down}; 42d lei {Luau gift}; 44d trends {Stock analysts study them}; 45d doer {Activist}; 46d pedal {Piano part}; 47d image {Concern of 38-Across}; 48d elude {Escape from}; 54d Erie {Buffalo's county}; 55d seer {Clairvoyant}; 57d pro {Golf lesson provider}; 58d aid {Relief}; 59d ego {Kind of trip for the conceited}.

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