Friday, June 12, 2009

NYT Saturday 6/13/09 - The Round Earth's Imagin'd Corners

It was great to finish the week coming in under 40 minutes with this Saturday New York Times crossword - am I getting better, or are the puzzles getting easier? The next target is to get through a whole week at under 30 minutes.

For me, the way into this one was the "equator" of the grid, which coincidentally had equator at the end of it. I extended from that in every direction, eventually getting the magnetic part, which helped with the SW corner (which on the globe would have to be South America).

Wiener schnitzel is a lovely answer, but held out for a long time. North America (paradoxically having Lithuania in it) was tough, given I hadn't heard of Peach Bowl, but I got there in the end.
Solving time: 35 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 50a arena {Fan setting}

Barry C. Silk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersBarry C. Silk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers70 (average length 5.57)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points325 (average 1.67)
New To Me

Peach Bowl1a Peach Bowl {Louisiana State won the first one in 1968}. Bowl was predictable, but I had difficulties guessing the first word, considering it might be Playa or even have one of the absent letters of the alphabet (J or X). The more prosaic Peach Bowl (now the Chick-fil-A Bowl) is an annual college football game between an SEC team and an ACC team.

Mondavi18a Gallo {Mondavi competitor}. Another answer I had to guess, though I was on shakier ground not knowing one of the crossings (11d Alana) either. It turns out I did know Gallo, which has a strong brand-presence in the UK, but this is my first taste of rival Robert Mondavi. Mondavi is based in the Napa Valley in California; Gallo just to the west in Sonoma County.

Wilt Chamberneezy33a Shaq {Wilt Chamberneezy, more familiarly}. Compilers are having to get inventive to think up new clues for the most popular hoopster in crosswords. I gather Kobe Bryant gave Shaq the nickname Wilt Chamberneezy, alluding to a freakishly big player of a previous generation.

Ato Boldon34a Ato {Olympic sprinter ___ Boldon}. Fill-in-the-blank clue not good enough, huh? A to Boldon might even be the first volume of a sports encyclopedia? Actually Ato Boldon is a Trinidadian who won 100m and 200m medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

52a niece {Splinter, to Woody Woodpecker}. Tough huh? Woody Woodpecker's niece is Splinter and his nephew is Knothead, both voiced by June Foray.

Eileen Collins2d Eileen {Astronaut Collins}. I must have heard of Eileen Collins before, but didn't remember her achievements: she was the first female pilot and first female commander of the Space Shuttle, flying four missions in all.

Lae9d Lae {Papuan port in W.W. II fighting}. Makes a change from another Iwo reference: Lae is the second largest city in Papua New Guinea, nicknamed "Pothole City" for the dire state of its roads. Lae became a major Japanese base in the war, but fell to the Allies on September 16, 1943 after weeks of fierce fighting (the Salamaua-Lae campaign).

11d Alana {"Law & Order" actress ___ de la Garza}. I've watched this many times, but always with my eyes closed, so didn't remember Alana de la Garza's name. Does anyone else find the doink doink sound (aka "the Dick Wolf Cash Register Sound") REALLY IRRITATING, or is it just me?

57d his'n {Dogpatch possessive}. I must try to remember that Dogpatch is the home of Li'l Abner and family, as this is clearly going to come up a million times in my life as a crossword solver. his'n and her'n are presumably dialect rendering of his and hers?


seams19a seam {Fashionable meeting place?}. Ok, the pieces made into garments do meet at seams, but this clue "seams" just to have got a little strained in the attempt to be deceptive.

Abyssinian22a mew {Abyssinian language?}. I knew right away this Abyssinian was not from Ethiopia. But purr didn't fit, nor miaow in any of its spellings. Finally got there with mew.

Angkor23a Khmer {Like the Angkor ruins}. I thought this might refer to the Khmer Rouge Regime, but in fact the term Khmer has a wider significance than that: the Khmer empire flourished from approximately the 9th century to the 15th century A.D., with the Angkor temple complex its crowning achievement.

43a Nev. {36th of 50: Abbr.}. For me this was a toss-up between Neb and Nev, the NE at the beginning being ultra-friendly to crossword fillers. In fact, they were admitted consecutively, Nebraska being the37th state.

50a arena {Fan setting}. What do they call the setting on electric fans that makes them turn from side to side: sweep ... swing? That was my train of thought when solving this clue. Of course I should have been thinking of several fans of a different type - a clue that fools me for so long must be a great clue.

59a Ezio Pinza {1950 Tony winner for Best Actor in a Musical}. Ezio Pinza won for his performances as Emile De Becque in South Pacific.

4d chem. {Bond analysts' field?: Abbr.}. This took me in for quite a while and had me thinking of Quants, but the bonds in question are chemical, not financial.

5d Hur {Family name in a Lew Wallace novel}. The family name turns out to be thoroughly "familiar" in the end, being the Hurs of Ben-Hur - a historical novel first published in 1880.

6d batch {Baker's dozen, say}. My first thought was prime - 13 is a prime number, right? The actual answer was much more commonplace.

27d Ayn {First name in objectivism}. I'd heard of Ayn Rand, but with a name like that, feel she should be a sci-fi writer, not a pioneer of Objectivism. Her first major success was The Fountainhead made into a movie in 1949.

Manassas35d Manassas {Civil War battlefield}. Past researches into American history paid off here, as I had actually remembered Manassas as having American Civil War associations. It had a strategic railroad junction and was fought over in 1861 and 1862. Despite falling to the Confederacy in both battles, Manassas was in Union hands for most of the war.

39d ADA {Org. concerned with decay}. Another one that fooled me: nothing to do with restaurant inspections ... the American Dental Association is concerned with decay of a different kind.

The Rest

10a maims {Kneecaps, e.g.}; 15a Lithuania {Neighbor of Kaliningrad}; 16a Allah {Recipient of much praise}; 17a alder tree {Source of charcoal wood}; 20a can {Sack}; 21a inter- {Facial or racial preceder}; 25a carat {A little over three grains}; 26a Annan {2001 Nobel Peace Prize recipient}; 28a profs {Indy Jones and others}; 30a elf {Dungeons & Dragons player option}; 31a yep {"I reckon so"}; 35a magnetic equator {Line on which a dip needle is horizontal}; 40a APO {Where private messages are sent?: Abbr.}; 41a such {Word before and after "and"}; 42a sad {Needing buoying}; 44a lions {Ones with stalking feet?}; 46a Rambo {Macho stereotype}; 54a err {Go off}; 55a strop {Tonsorial accessory}; 56a Tao {"The ___ of Physics" (1975 best seller)}; 57a Haag {City name part that's Dutch for "hedge"}; 58a sunup {Crowing cue}; 61a arose {Loomed}; 62a recession {Slump}; 63a serer {More desertlike}; 64a alertness {Opposite of torpor}.

1d plasma {High-definition video display}; 3d at dawn {When 58-Across occurs}; 7d on-ramp {Traveler's connection}; 8d Wiener schnitzel {Dish akin to cotoletta alla milanese}; 10d magic square {Recreational mathematics construct}; 12d ill-treat {"This one's on me"}; 13d male alto {Countertenor}; 14d short for {A contraction of}; 23d knee-slapper {Good one}; 24d Rohe {Architect Ludwig Mies van der ___}; 29d FAQs {Newbies are often directed to them}; 32d ptui {Spittoon sound}; 36d aperture {Crack}; 37d governor {Person in a mansion}; 38d icon {Recycle bin, for one}; 45d sea ice {Nautical hazard}; 47d meanie {Stinker}; 48d Brazos {River to the Gulf of Mexico}; 49d organs {Much-needed donations}; 51d no use {"It's fruitless"}; 53d cooer {Pigeon or dove}; 59d Era {Bush ___}; 60d PST {It's periodically observed in Hollywood: Abbr.}.

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