Saturday, June 6, 2009

NYT Sunday 6/7/09 - Use the Manual

The title of this Sunday New York Times crossword was perhaps too much of a giveaway: Magdalen and I took one look at it (and the pattern of circles) and suspected that the gears of a shift stick transmission would be involved in some way. Solving some of the answers crossing the circles confirmed what was going on. After that, the puzzle turned out to be straightforward.

I'm not sure why, but automatic gearboxes are the norm in America and "manual" gearboxes are typical in the UK (except perhaps for hire cars). Switching to automatics when I arrived in the USA didn't cause me any trouble - it's one less thing to worry about. Doing things the other way round is much harder, and Magdalen finds it tough trying to negotiate the myriad roundabouts (aka traffic circles) in the UK, at the same time as manually changing gear.
Solving time: 40 mins (no cheating, collaborative effort)
Clue of the puzz: 126a hymnal {It's bound to be used in a service}
Theme

stick shift patternA rebus puzzle in which the names of the gears of a stick shift car are squeezed into a single square. These squares appear in an approximately correct arrangement.
33a who's first {Teacher's question at the start of show-and-tell}
5d seen
first hand {Witnessed}

98a
this second {At once}
67d
thirty second spot {TV advertising staple}

35a go to third base {Anticipate heading home}
10d come
third {Finish last on "Jeopardy!"}

67a
takes a neutral stance {Doesn't care either way}
48d
odor neutralizer {It freshens the air}

101a
July fourth BBQs {Some summer feasts in the U.S.}
102d
fourth rate {Hardly commendable}

38a fifth acts {Endings for Shakespeare}
15d Saks
Fifth Avenue {It opened in Manhattan in 1924}

103a reverse side {Where to sign a credit card, e.g.}
84d run a
reverse play {Trick the defensive line, maybe}
Solution

Jeremy Newton
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersJeremy Newton / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 66 (15.0%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.36)
Theme squares102 (27.2%)
Scrabble points603 (average 1.61)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
FeaturePangrammatic
New To Me

54a Badd {Color Me ___, 1990s R&B group}. Color Me Badd are from Oklahoma City and had five hits from their debut album C.M.B. including this one, I Wanna Sex You Up:



Crisco oil64a Crisco {Oil bigwig?}. Crisco started out as a type of shortening, a brand of Procter & Gamble. They introduced a vegetable oil in 1960. I wasn't sure about this clue, as I've always thought of a "bigwig" as a person, not an abstract entity - maybe that's why there's a question mark at the end?

12d Mae {Oda ___ Brown (Oscar-winning role)}. Oda Mae Brown is Whoopi Goldberg's role in Ghost (1990). She is the psychic who helps the murder victim Sam (Patrick Swayze) communicate from beyond the grave with his wife Molly (Demi Moore).



18d Trent {Rock singer Reznor}. The influential musician Trent Reznor operates under the studio name of Nine Inch Nails and has done so many things, he's hard to classify. Here's Only from the album With Teeth.



tacos41d Ortega {Old El Paso competitor}. I parsed this as Old "El Paso" competitor to start with ... wrong! Ortega is a current Mexican food brand, therefore a rival to Old El Paso.

50d Carr {Baker v. ___, landmark 1962 Supreme Court case}. A "landmark" case so obscure even Magdalen the Lawyer didn't know about it. The results of the Supreme Court case enabled federal courts to intervene in and decide reapportionment cases (reapportionment being the redrawing of boundaries to provide for electoral districts of approximately equal population) - such cases not being deemed "political" questions.

72d Tami {Suspense novelist ___ Hoag}. Tami Hoag is the best-selling author of romance and suspense novels. Along with Eileen Dreyer, Elizabeth Grayson and Kimberly Cates, she's one of the self-appointed "Divas". Her latest thriller is The Alibi Man.

105d Donna {Title girl in a Ritchie Valens hit}. Ritchie Valens (1941–1959) made Donna a hit in 1958, but its "B" side was much more famous ... ... La Bamba!



109d Lena {Actress Olin}. Lena Olin is the Swedish actress whose played Irina Derevko in the TV series Alias.



115d OSS {Org. in the 1946 film "Cloak and Dagger"}. The Office of Strategic Services was America's intelligence agency in World War II, being the forerunner of the CIA.

Noteworthy

Oneida Indian Nation42a Oneidas {New York tribe}. We had local advantage here, as many of the tribes in this area survive as place names and we keep hearing those in the news and weather forecasts. The Oneida Indian Nation does more than survive, having a population in excess of 100,000 and significant business interests in upstate New York.

hymnal126a hymnal {It's bound to be used in a service}; 97d IQ test {Brightness detector}. Two beautifully misleading clues, which wouldn't be out of place as tongue-in-cheek definitions in a cryptic crossword.

The Rest

1a oddest {As weird as they come}; 7a POW camp {Where an M.I.A. might be}; 14a islets {Parts of Fiji}; 20a no idea {"Beats me"}; 21a areolae {Biological rings}; 22a Castro {1950 University of Havana grad}; 23a nested {Tightly stacked, as ice trays}; 24a scammer {Con artist}; 25a OK then {"Alrighty"}; 26a OTC {Like Tylenol PM: Abbr.}; 27a name {It might be dropped}; 29a pes {Foot, to a zoologist}; 30a urns {Crypt alternatives}; 32a -ing {Suffix with floor or roof}; 40a Thomson {___ Reuters, media giant}; 44a cave art {Some early paintings}; 47a deoxy- {Prefix with ribonucleic}; 49a novices {They're learning the ropes}; 53a anoint {Bless}; 55a face mask {"Friday the 13th" prop}; 56a rain delay {Inning stretcher, maybe}; 58a Omoo {Sequel to "Typee"}; 61a snorty {Audibly upset, as a bull}; 62a stds. {Norms: Abbr.}; 63a gar {Long-snouted swimmer}; 66a UV ray {Thing absorbed by the ozone layer, for short}; 70a Dutch {Way to go on dates}; 74a exotic {Pet store category}; 75a li'l {Not big, in a small way}; 76a bate {Diminish}; 80a italic {Leaning, in a way}; 82a A to Z {All-inclusive}; 83a alter egos {Bruce Wayne and Batman, e.g.}; 85a game room {Place for matches at home}; 87a easy {"Calm down"}; 89a augers {Drilling devices}; 90a shiatsu {Massage technique}; 91a sprit {Pole in sailing}; 93a Ernesto {Che Guevara's real first name}; 94a NY Times {Big Apple daily, in brief}; 96a rails at {Verbally assaults}; 107a tan {A bather may want one}; 108a slat {Blind part}; 110a cru {Grand ___ (wine designation)}; 111a temp {Per diem worker}; 113a COD {UPS option, briefly}; 114a on dope {Hopped up, in a way}; 116a in haste {Rashly}; 119a aliens {"Men in Black" figures}; 121a poison {Negative influence}; 122a neuters {Gets fixed}; 123a Sabine {Texas/Louisiana border river}; 124a siesta {You take it lying down}; 125a gapes at {Views wide-eyed}.

1d on now {Available for viewing}; 2d doeth {"A merry heart ___ good like a medicine": Proverbs}; 3d disco {Boogie, Bee Gees-style}; 4d EDT {D.C. summer clock setting}; 6d tada! {"Brilliant, ain't I?!"}; 7d Paseos {Bygone Toyotas}; 8d orc {Frodo foe}; 9d weaponed {Gave missiles to}; 11d alms box {Donation receptacle}; 13d peruse {Look over}; 14d icon {Clicked pic}; 16d LST {W.W. II craft for getting troops ashore}; 17d ethic {Set of moral rules}; 19d songs {Billboard listings}; 28d mgmt. {Corp. leadership}; 31d reina {Isabella II, por ejemplo}; 34d steins {Oktoberfest souvenirs}; 36d today {Currently}; 37d any {___ minute}; 39d Asimov {"Foundation" trilogy writer}; 43d docs {E.R. folk}; 44d cars {They get tired}; 45d anat. {Biol. subject}; 46d void {Empty}; 51d esta {Spanish for "are"}; 52d SKYY {Big name in vodka}; 54d bar exam {Practice requirement?}; 55d focally {As the center of attention}; 57d lake {Summer camp locale}; 59d misc. {Other: Abbr.}; 60d ost {Direction from Hannover to Berlin}; 64d Cato {Roman who declared "Carthage must be destroyed"}; 65d on it {Taking care of business}; 68d sot {Lush}; 69d clears {Unclogs}; 70d digs {Quarters, informally}; 71d Utah {Home of Rainbow Bridge National Monument}; 73d cleans {Empties, with "out"}; 76d begets {Fathers}; 77d ages {A long time}; 78d tort {Suit basis}; 79d Esso {Canadian station name}; 81d cost {Sell for}; 83d a stab {Take ___ at (attempt)}; 86d ouija {Kind of board}; 88d airbuses {Double-deckers in the sky, maybe}; 91d sel {Overseas seasoning}; 92d psych up {Energize}; 93d else {"Anything ___?"}; 95d muting {Silencing}; 98d T-tops {Features of some 'Vettes}; 99d Hanoi {Former enemy capital}; 100d indie {Sundance entry, often}; 104d ice in {Trap during winter, maybe}; 106d Edsel {Flop in a lot}; 112d mash {Reduce to a pulp}; 117d NEA {Class-based society?: Abbr.}; 118d tra- {La-la lead-in}; 120d IBM {Creator of the chess champion Deep Blue}.

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