Sunday, June 14, 2009

NYT Sunday 6/14/09 - In Deed

We had out final outing to the Cider Mill Playhouse last night and hence didn't get around to this Sunday crossword till the morning. I thought 1776 The Musical was one of the best shows of the Cider Mill season and was glad to see there were lots of jokes at the expense of the proto-Americans as well as the British: John Adams being "obnoxious and disliked", the New York delegate repeatedly abstaining, "courteously", etc ... great fun!

So Magdalen and I were hoping for a straightforward puzzle and were a bit concerned when we saw the Brendan Emmett Quigley byline. The thematic aspects turned out to be straightforward and fun, once we'd stopped expecting to have heard of the grid entries. I think the cluing was a tad tougher than we're used to on a Sunday, but we managed to finish the grid in just over the average time.

The only pun that struck us as a little strained was Amityville hoarder/horror - a shame as this was the central and longest answer. We wonder if the O sounds are closer in Boston (BEQ's home town) and couldn't help recalling Liane Hansen's quip on the NPR Sunday Puzzle segment that Bostonians are "wicked smaht".
Solving time: 50 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 95d seller {Bear, say}
Theme

D-Plus: nine phrases with a D sound inserted making a pun:
23a do pendants {Make necklace baubles?} "do penance"
25a cool breeds {Hip lineages?} "cool breeze"
39a sidekick energy {Tonto's pep?} "psychic energy"
50a passed mustard {Gave Grey Poupon to the head of the table?} "passed muster"
66a Amityville hoarder {Greediest person in a Long Island locality?} "Amityville Horror"
85a leopard colony {Spotted feline's home?} "leper colony"
94a house-addressed {Like residential mail?} "house arrest"
114a Boulder hat {Certain Colorado headgear?} "bowler hat"
116a snow Dwight {Bamboozle Eisenhower?} "Snow White"
Solution

Brendan Emmett Quigley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersBrendan Emmett Quigley / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 74 (16.8%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.24)
Theme squares111 (30.2%)
Scrabble points561 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Nara imperial palace site21a Nara {Japan's first capital}. A tough one, as we didn't know Maotai either. It turns out Nara was the capital only from 710 to 784 AD and seems to have been called Heijō-kyō then. What remains of the imperial palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

90a Leo {Jerry's uncle on "Seinfeld"}. Eccentric Uncle Leo (played by Len Lesser) has appeared in 15 episodes of the sitcom and always greets Jerry with the catchphrase "Jerry! Hello!" - the stuff of nightmares.



Us Weekly126a issue {One of Us?}. That initial capital on the "Us" was very suspicious: could there be a magazine called Us? Yes, a celebrity gossip magazine variously known as Us Magazine and Us Weekly.

Maotai11d Maotai {Strong Chinese liquor}. This was a shot in the dark, as we weren't sure of the second letter from crossings. I wondered if there might be a brand called Mao Tai, being a Chinese version of the Mai Tai cocktail invented circa 1944? No, Maotai (also spelled Moutai) has a longer pedigree, being invented in the Qing Dynasty - it's named after the town where the liquor originated.

17d Erde {One of the Planeten}. We got this through crossings and had to do a little research to twig that Planeten is German for Planets. Once you know that, the answer makes sense, being German for Earth ... as in Das Lied von der Erde - just a shame I'd never seen a German version of Holst's The Planets.

Kaka41d Kaká {One-named Brazilian soccer star in the 2008 Time 100}. Not Pelé, and with two Ks, Kaká isn't going to be that popular as far as crosswords are concerned.

A&W Root Beer70d A and W {Dad's rival}. Great clue that had me foxed: I gather from Magdalen that we're talking root beers here.

Noteworthy

27a spec {Small detail?}. We weren't completely satisfied with this clue, perhaps because we got sidetracked into thinking of speck? The "Small" looks to be indicating the shortening of specification, but are detail and specification equivalent? Ah, maybe spec is the verb (as in to spec out) ... (to) detail and (to) specify mean much the same ... that must be it.

83a narthex {Way to the nave}. A narthex is an entrance lobby of a church, typically at the western end of the building. A good place to leave umbrellas etc before heading into the nave.

102a dele {Remove, as text}. Originally, the proofreader's sign indicating stuff to be deleted, the noun has been verbified (to dele, inflections deled and deleing).

7d xenons {Some gas atoms}. I'm rather agin plurals of elements, as they are not common in speech or writing - most dictionaries indicate the names of elements as "mass nouns" lacking plurals. Ok, you might say that around 0.000009% of the atoms in air are xenons, but this is a stretch, and crosswords usually reflect normal usage.

Dots and Boxes40d Dots {Classic pencil-and-paper game}. A game Magdalen tried to teach me in a restaurant once, on a rare occasion when we didn't have a crossword to work on. The game involves boxing off squares, hence its usual name Dots and Boxes.

63d ETs {Hangar 18 contents, supposedly}. I thought this might be a reference to the place where the ark is stored at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. So we mistakenly had ark for a while. Conspiracy theorists believe evidence from the Roswell UFO incident is stored in hangar 18 at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. A UFO movie called Hangar 18 was released in 1980.



Mount Bearmore95d seller {Bear, say}. It took us a while to get this, as we were sidetracked by stuffy - this is perhaps just our pet name for a stuffed animal, so maybe not such a great choice as the answer. The bear in question is not a teddy bear, but a seller of stock.

exedra96d exedra {Curved high-back bench}. Exedra is one of those things I know from the dictionary, but don't have a clear picture of - I've never seen one. Actually, the normally meaning seems to be the curved room or recess housing the bench, rather than the bench itself. But it's also used for memorials with a bench incorporated into them as in this picture taken at Valley Forge.

The Rest

1a G Spot {1982 best seller subtitled "And Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality," with "The"}; 6a oxen {Team components}; 10a umps {Diamond experts}; 14a wises {Smartens (up)}; 19a Alana {Singer/songwriter Davis}; 20a me me {Repetitive cry while waving a hand}; 22a Acura {Japanese import since 1986}; 28a Eno {Brian of experimental rock}; 29a Scott {"Great ___!"}; 31a orates {Is a keynoter, e.g.}; 32a roofing {Shingles, say}; 35a irae {"Dies ___"}; 36a leg {Race segment}; 37a saluki {Tall, slender hound}; 45a ivories {Many keys}; 47a nor {Its natl. anthem is "Ja, vi elsker dette landet"}; 48a tar {Black top}; 49a era {Stat for Gooden or Maddux}; 54a Kool-Aid {Drink made from a mix}; 57a esse {De bene ___}; 58a onus {Weight}; 59a iota {Tiniest bit}; 61a pared {Cut down}; 62a deke {Hockey player's deceptive move}; 64a Otto {___ the Orange (Syracuse University mascot)}; 65a cetera {Et ___}; 71a tap-ins {Putts that might be conceded}; 73a Edie {"Desperate Housewives" role}; 74a fats {Trans ___}; 75a Elena {Mrs. Ceausescu of Romania}; 76a anon {Shortly}; 77a Alan {Mathematician Turing}; 79a Arod {Three-time A.L. M.V.P., informally}; 89a TMC {HBO competitor}; 92a lex {Latin law}; 93a war game {Military strategist's plan}; 100a needed {Like fourth-down yardage}; 101a exp. {Food pkg. abbr.}; 103a raptors {Atlantic Division cagers}; 105a addles {Confounds}; 108a shine {Perform superbly}; 110a Moe {Rapper Kool ___ Dee}; 111a Hite {"Sexual Honesty" compiler}; 119a ulcer {Cause of a stomachache}; 120a A-one {Five-star}; 121a pine {Cone holder}; 122a is not {Playground retort}; 123a tetra {Aquarium fish}; 124a megs {Digital camera units}; 125a NLer {Red or Brave, for short}.

1d gads {Proceeds here and there}; 2d slop {Undesirable serving}; 3d paper loss {Unrealized hit taken on an investment}; 4d one-course {Short, as a meal}; 5d tan {Like many lifeguards}; 6d Omani {Certain Bedouin}; 8d EMT {911 responder}; 9d Ness {1987 Costner role}; 10d uncork {Pop open?}; 12d protect {Ride shotgun for}; 13d Sal {"The best pal that I ever had" of song}; 14d warren {Rabbit's home}; 15d ice age {When the Great Lakes were formed}; 16d suet {Tallow source}; 18d sass {Lip}; 24d defied {Challenged}; 26d bolero {Slow dance with quick turns}; 30d Ciera {Old Olds}; 33d Okie {Arkie neighbor}; 34d Ginsu {Infomercial cutter}; 37d Sipe {Ex-Cleveland QB Brian}; 38d Avas {Actress Gardner and others}; 42d rearer {Parent or guardian}; 43d Grier {Actress Pam}; 44d yadda {When tripled, and so on}; 46d smoky {Having a low throaty quality}; 51d uneven {Irregular}; 52d rite {Initiation, e.g.}; 53d doth {Obsolete auxiliary}; 55d op-eds {Paul Krugman pieces}; 56d late {After midnight, say}; 60d too far {How cringe-making humor might go}; 62d Dinah {1970s talk show}; 64d olé {Hooray, in Juárez}; 65d CRT {Monitor inits.}; 66d aperçu {Quick look}; 67d mint {One making lots of money}; 68d idol {Revered figure}; 69d line {Unemployment office sight}; 71d tenth {Tithe amount}; 72d Alamo {National rival}; 76d axed {Canned}; 77d apes {Big lugs}; 78d laxer {Less strict}; 79d Alger Hiss {Suspected spy in a celebrated 1949 trial}; 80d road signs {They often start with "No"}; 81d on me {"My treat"}; 82d dyed {Like some wool}; 84d elapse {Go by}; 86d Olsen {O. Henry-winning author Tillie}; 87d canted {Aslope}; 88d Oreo {McFlurry flavor}; 91d odd shoe {Useless item in a closet}; 97d rehang {Move, as a picture}; 98d elites {Chosen groups}; 99d Damone {Vic who sang "On the Street Where You Live"}; 104d power {Motor-driven}; 105d abut {Push up against}; 106d dole {Hand (out)}; 107d duct {Tube}; 109d ESPN {"Around the Horn" channel}; 112d thou {Big chunk of moola}; 113d -ette {Cousin of -ule}; 115d ram {Hit headfirst}; 117d nil {Zero}; 118d Wii {Nintendo debut of 2006}.

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