Sunday, June 7, 2009

NYT Monday 6/8/09 - A Choice of Stations

This Monday New York Times crossword was quick enough to do, but had a few more obscure cultural references than I'm used to this early in the week: I got the puzzle right, but this was more by luck than judgment, since I happened to write in stas. (rather than the equally valid stns.) for 40-Down and one glance at the clue to 45-Across suggested I'd get no help there.

So although the straightforward theme is ideal for a Monday, I think some of the fill means the puzzle would have fit better into a mid-week slot, with the overall difficulty level being bumped up accordingly.
Solving time: 7 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 50d boxy {Hardly streamlined, as a car}
Theme

Four phrases starting with synonyms of "stupid":
21a dense forest {Thick growth of trees}
49a obtuse angle {It's more than 90 degrees}
3d slow cooker {Crockpot}
29d dumb waiter {Tray transporter}
Solution

Randy Sowell
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersRandy Sowell / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares42 (22.2%)
Scrabble points304 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

18a Della {Perry Mason's secretary ___ Street}; 8d Erle {Writer ___ Stanley Gardner}. Odd to have Perry Mason and his creator, and not make the connection in the cluing. I'm going to have to make the association myself then. Della Street was a well-to-do lady forced to get a job as a secretary after her family's fortune was wiped out in the crash of 1929. In the TV series, she was played by Barbara Hale.



36a Jake {Actor Gyllenhaal of "Brokeback Mountain"}. Jake Gyllenhaal plays opposite Heath Ledger as the character Jack Twist.



45a N.A.S. {1980s TV's "Emerald Point ___"}. I thought this very tough for a Monday, since 40-Down had two viable alternatives. You either needed to remember the exact title of a TV series from 25 years ago or intuit that N.A.S. stands for Naval Air Station - I'm not sure that's reasonable this early in the week.

55a Lori {Actress Loughlin of "Full House"}. We had this exact clue (pretty much) earlier this year, but being in a Sunday puzzle I solved jointly, it rather passed me by. Lori Loughlin played Becky Donaldson in the sitcom, which I now remember is the one where the Olsen twins played Box and Cox.



Gold's Gym61a gyms {Gold's and others}. I deduce from this that Gold's is a chain of gyms - I've only come across Curves, which the aficionados pronounce Curvés.

6d Owens {Country singer Buck}. Buck Owens (1929–2006) pioneered the Bakersfield sound with his band, the Buckaroos.



11d Arie {1997 Indy 500 winner ___ Luyendyk}; 13d Yost {Dennis ___ and the Classics IV (1960s-'70s group)}. This pair seem a little obscure to me and might have made the NE corner really tough, except that the acrosses are gimmes. Arie Luyendyk is the Dutch driver who twice won the Indianapolis 500. Dennis Yost was the lead singer of Classics IV, best known for the 1968 hits Spooky and Stormy.



33d Bara {Theda of early films}; 44d silent {Like 33-Down's films}. Theda Bara was one of cinema's earliest sex symbols and acquired the nickname "The Vamp".



49d Oleg {Designer Cassini}. Oleg Cassini (1913–2006) was the French-born American couturier who was chosen as Jacqueline Kennedy's designer in the 1960s.

53d Nate {___ Dogg of R&B/hip-hop}. Nate Dogg has a specific reason for the stage surname - he's cousin to Snoop (Doggy) Dogg. Here's I Got Love (2002), which features on the soundtrack of the movie The Transporter.



Noteworthy

Spot the Dog17a spot {"Out, damned ___!"}. A reference to The Scottish Play, although this might be used in other contexts, Spot being a popular name for pooches.
LADY MACBETH. Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One- two -why then 'tis
time to do't. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and
afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our
power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have
had so much blood in him?
From
Macbeth Act V Scene 1
19a bios {"Thumbnail" writings}. I wasn't sure about this clue, which seems to want "thumbnail" to do double-duty: as a means of indicating the shortening of biographies (which it does fine); and of biographies itself (which I'm not sure about ... are thumbnail sketches necessarily biographical?).

Ponce de Leon60a Leon {Explorer Ponce de ___}. Ponce de León - rather an unfortunate name ... I bet he got teased at school. In a quest for the Fountain of Perpetual Youth, Ponce discovered Florida (the consolation prize) in March 1513 and became its first governor.
JUAN PONCE DE LEON
He arrived on Easter Sunday in 1513 looking for the Fountain of Youth. He found something better, a beautiful land that he claimed for Spain, and he called it Florida.
40d stas. {Depots: Abbr.}. The clue could lead to stas. and stns. equally well. Let's hope for a straightforward across clue ... oops!

50d boxy {Hardly streamlined, as a car}. This formula for a definition is often amusing, as here.

The Rest

1a test {See 1-Down}; 5a copes {Manages}; 10a lazy {Indolent}; 14a axle {Wheel turner}; 15a aware {Cognizant}; 16a -aroo {Suffix with buck}; 20a tow {What a broken-down car may get}; 23a Escorts {Former Ford compacts}; 25a ape {Simian}; 26a onus {Burden}; 27a toreador {Bullfighter}; 32a A-bomb {W.W. II-ending weapon, for short}; 34a jewel {Diamond or sapphire}; 35a up a {Work ___ sweat}; 37a homer {Four-bagger}; 38a Amin {Despot Idi ___}; 39a ore {Bauxite or galena}; 40a soaps {Much of afternoon TV}; 41a ebbed {Subsided}; 42a baritone {Voice between tenor and bass}; 44a slew {Dispatched, as a dragon}; 46a oil lamp {Old indoor light source}; 54a III {Three on a sundial}; 56a glare {Harsh light}; 57a Etna {Sicilian peak}; 58a exit {Door to the outside}; 59a oaten {Like certain cereals}; 62a wrest {Seize (from)}; 63a or so {Words of approximation}.

1d taste {With 1-Across, Coke vs. Pepsi competition, e.g.}; 2d Expos {Montreal baseballers, 1969-2004}; 4d Tet {Asian holiday}; 5d cadets {West Point students}; 7d pals {Buddies}; 9d seafarer {Mariner}; 10d La Brea {___ tar pits}; 12d zoos {Menageries}; 21d drub {Beat badly}; 22d Opel {German-made car since 1899}; 24d on me {"This round's ___"}; 27d Tempe {Home of Arizona State University}; 28d owes {Has debts}; 30d Opie {"The Andy Griffith Show" boy}; 31d Rand {Author Ayn}; 32d a job {Do ___ on (work over)}; 34d Joan {___ of Arc}; 37d hoosegow {Lockup}; 38d Abel {Cain's victim}; 41d Elle {Women's magazine founded in France}; 43d Inuits {Eskimos}; 46d ogres {Really mean people}; 47d Minos {Mythical king of Crete}; 48d piano {Instrument for Rachmaninoff}; 51d trim {Fit}; 52d alar {Banned orchard spray}; 57d ELO {"Do Ya" group, for short}.

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