Sunday, June 28, 2009

NYT Monday 6/29/09 - Couéism

Paula Gamache is a constructor who I came to associate with more difficult crosswords - I remember vividly the Friday puzzles she presented us with earlier in the year. This Monday New York Times crossword was easier, but still with clues that entertained and intrigued.

One trait of this puzzle was alternative answers that are different by one letter. I can see at least three: 47-Across can be DUI or DWI, 8-Down can be ret. or rtd., and 60-Across can be Igor or Ygor. This sort of thing doesn't give me trouble on a Monday, but can be the stuff of nightmares later in the week!
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 4d old habits {Things that die hard}
Theme

Good, better, best. Things keep improving as you go down the grid, perhaps echoing Coué's mantra "Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better".
17a good night's sleep {Seven or eight hours, typically}
35a better mousetrap {Inventor's goal}
52a best-kept secrets {They rarely see the light of day}
Solution

Paula Gamache
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersPaula Gamache / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 32 (14.2%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.22)
Theme squares45 (23.3%)
Scrabble points284 (average 1.47)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

DUI47a DWI {Drunk motorist's offense, briefly}. I was confident this was going to be DUI, as I've seen enough "DUI - you can't afford it" signs to last a lifetime. It seems that the offense is driving under the influence (DUI) in some states and driving while intoxicated (DWI) in others. A good thing 42-Down resolved the issue.

Vail61a skis {Equipment at Vail}. One thing that surprised me about the area we live in is the number of ski resorts within easy reach. From the name, I suspected Vail was in the Alps, but I gather Vail is a Colorado ski resort, the second largest in North America after Whistler Blackcomb.

10d Nolte {Nick of "48 HRS."}. I know of Nick Nolte, but couldn't have told you whether 48 Hrs. was a TV series or a film. Turns out to be an action comedy from 1982, in which Nick plays cop Jack Cates who joins forces with parolee Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy in his film debut) to track down Reggie's criminal associates.



Noteworthy

46a Mott {Rock's ___ the Hoople}. Mott the Hoople are a band even I've heard of, thanks to their anthem All the Young Dudes resounding through school corridors in the 1970s. The band's eccentric title was thrust upon them by producer Guy Stevens who'd read a Willard Manus book of that name.



60a asst. {Igor, to Dr. Frankenstein: Abbr.}. Such clues are definitely blogger-bait, as I just have to research whether Igor was in the original Mary Shelley book. It turns out not (also Shelley's Victor Frankenstein wasn't a "Dr."). Igor, the ubiquitous lab assistant in horror movies, started with an unnamed dwarf in Metropolis; the assistant in the first Frankenstein film (1931) was identifiably an Igor, but called "Fritz". Last year's animated movie Igor further cemented the name in this context into the public's imagination.



4d old habits {Things that die hard}. I really liked this clue: I first took it at face value, wondering what died hard; then realized the clue referred to an idiom, but couldn't recall it easily.

Toyota Prius23d Prius {Fuel-efficient Toyota}. We were lucky enough to enjoy a ride in a Prius on our recent Virginia trip. What actually impressed me most was the camera that gives you a rear view display when you are reversing - that looks to be very handy.

Ore-Ida28d Ore-Ida {Frozen potato brand}. Had encountered this before in crosswords, but still not tried it. It's easy for me to confuse this with one-letter-different Oneida, the tribe name that's also a nearby city and county.

The Rest

1a limo {Prom night transportation}; 5a Paar {Jack who once hosted "The Tonight Show"}; 9a incur {Bring upon oneself}; 14a ecol. {"Green" sci.}; 15a once {"___ upon a time ..."}; 16a souse {Drunkard}; 20a on the sly {Furtively}; 21a tut {When repeated, sound of disapproval}; 22a Agee {James who wrote "A Death in the Family"}; 23a preemie {Early delivery in the delivery room}; 27a not bad {"Hey, way to go!"}; 30a Kris {Kristofferson of music}; 31a Oct. {Columbus Day mo.}; 32a orbit {Moon's path}; 33a snip {Salon sound}; 34a suey {Chop ___}; 38a Uies {180-degree turns, in slang}; 39a oils {Removes a squeak from}; 40a range {Where 43-Across run free}; 41a TDs {Super Bowl stats}; 42a loll {Do nothing and like it}; 43a horses {Mustangs, e.g.}; 44a sat home {Did nothing}; 48a geniuses {Brainy bunch}; 56a olive {Martini garnish}; 57a do as {"___ I say, not ..."}; 58a neut. {Neither fem. nor masc.}; 59a tipsy {A little drunk}.

1d Lego {Plastic block brand}; 2d icon {Pic you can click}; 3d moot {Not worth debating, as a point}; 5d poised {Self-confident, as a pageant contestant}; 6d angle {Journalistic slant}; 7d achy {Sore all over}; 8d ret. {Like Gen. Colin Powell: Abbr.}; 9d issues {Topics of debate}; 11d cue {Pool player's stick}; 12d use {Take advantage of}; 13d Rep. {Dem.'s opponent}; 18d negate {Make null and void}; 19d strips {Prepares to streak}; 24d mourns {Expresses great sorrow}; 25d ice age {Freezing period}; 26d E-Types {Classic Jaguars}; 27d no buts! {"Forget the excuses!"}; 29d TB test {Diagnostic that entails sticking the forearm with a needle}; 30d knoll {Small, rounded hill}; 33d smile {"Say cheese!"}; 34d star-turns {Bravura performances}; 36d roomie {Dormmate}; 37d erotic {X-rated}; 42d low-key {Hardly ostentatious}; 43d honest {"Really and truly"}; 45d HDTVs {Modern viewing options, for short}; 46d mesas {Flat-topped Southwestern hills}; 48d GTOs {Old Pontiac muscle cars}; 49d seek {Hide-and-___}; 50d étui {Decorative needle case}; 51d SSTs {Former fast fliers}; 52d bot {Automaton, for short}; 53d Eli {Yeller in the Yale Bowl}; 54d sip {Not guzzle}; 55d PDA {BlackBerry or iPhone, briefly}.

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