Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NYT Thursday 6/18/09 - Coda Words

After a fairly easy start to the week, things got a lot tougher with this Thursday New York Times crossword. I normally start in the NW corner, but didn't get enough answers there to pin down the theme. delivery data helped establish what was going on, reinforced by Rubik's Cuba.

I thought there was some great cluing, though when the constructor pushes the envelope a bit, there are usually one or two clues where the wording gets a little too strained in the attempt to beguile, mislead or entertain. I thought that happened here with the étude clue, because there's no reason to assume a pianist will use a bench as opposed to a stool or ordinary chair.
Solving time: 14 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 58d rob {Take the wrong way?}
Theme

Phrases with a final E turned into an A, making a pun:
17a Nurse's Aida {Hospital employee's role as an opera girl?} ... Aide
26a Name That Tuna {What Starkist decided to do for "Charlie"?} ... Tune
43a delivery data {A girl, born 8:48 a.m., weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces, e.g.?} ... date
58a Rubik's Cuba {Where a Hungarian toy inventor vacations in the Caribbean?} ... Cube
Solution

Patrick Blindauer
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersPatrick Blindauer / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares44 (23.3%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.55)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

heckelphone15a oboe {Cousin of a heckelphone}. What the heck is a heckelphone? Turns out to be a supersized oboe, the baritone of the reed section. It's about four feet long and heavy, so rests on the floor. Wilhelm Heckel and sons introduced it in 1904, and heckelphones were used sporadically by composers such as Richard Strauss (it is called for his early operas Salome and Elektra).

35a sis {Boom preceder}. A reference to a cheer never heard in the UK: "sis boom bah". This apparently started out as the "Locomotive" cheer at a Princeton game in the 1880s, simulating a steam engine getting under way:
Hip, hip!
Rah, rah, rah!
Tiger, tiger, tiger!
Siss, siss, siss!
Boom, boom, boom! Bah!
Ah! Princeton! Princeton! Princeton!

Princeton's Locomotive Cheer
Thom McAn60a Thom {McAn of footwear}. Thom McAn seemingly was a major shoe retailer throughout the USA, but its stores were gradually closed in the 1990s and it is now just a shoe brand sold at Kmart. The brand was originally named for a Scottish golfer Thomas McCann, about whom I can find out very little. This all makes me wonder if there aren't better Thoms to reference, in light of the retailer's contraction.

64a Beth {1976 top 10 hit for Kiss}. Beth, originally released on their 1976 album Destroyer, is the highest-charting single for Kiss.



G. Gordon Liddy65a Liddy {Talk radio's G. Gordon __}. The name rang a bell for reasons other than talk radio and it seems the G. Gordon Liddy that served time for his role in the Watergate break-ins is indeed now one of the offerings on our XM Satellite Radio (specifically channel 166, if you want to know what to avoid).

3d Aaron {Singer Neville}. I couldn't have told you if this was Neville Aaron or Aaron Neville. The latter it seems - Aaron is a soul and R&B man who debuted in 1966 with "Tell It Like It Is".



49d Gould {Creator of "Dick Tracy"}. Dick Tracy started out as a comic strip created by cartoonist Chester Gould in 1931. Gould produced the strip until 1977, but the character lives on in other media. The latest movie starred Warren Beatty in 1990.



52d Pete {Black ___, archnemesis of Mickey Mouse}. I'd doubtless seen Black Pete many times, but didn't remember the name. In fact, Disney used various appellations for the character, including Mighty Pete, Peg-Leg Pete, Bad Pete, Big Pete, Big Bad Pete, Black Pete and Peter Pete. Here he is as Peg-Leg Pete in 1929:



Noteworthy

16a Mira {Oscar winner Sorvino}. As a Woody Allen fan, I naturally think of Mira Sorvino as Linda Ash in Mighty Aphrodite (1995), for which she won her Best Supporting Actress Oscar.



36a amen {Grace period?}. amen appears a lot as an answer, but fortunately has plenty of scope for variety in cluing.

safe47a umps {You might be safe with them}. I'm starting to get wise to these baseball references now.

Obi56a obi {Band from Japan}. Neat clue, misleading you into thinking of musicians or maybe Samurai. This band is a waist band.

1d ranis {Indian royalty}. A bit of a mean clue, because you can't tell if the answer's in the singular or plural. I had rajah, then ranee until finally seeing what the answer must be.

2d étude {Exercise performed on a bench}. If I've understood the clue right, I'm not too happy with it: bench misleads you into thinking of gymnastics, but in reality is a piano bench. That would be OK, but piano players don't necessarily have a bench - they might have a stool. The clue could have done with a question mark at the end? Anyway, here's a young player who definitely does perform on a bench:



cherry cobbler11d piecrusts {Cobbler bottoms}. It was easy to get as far as piec____ with this and think it had to start piece___. Based on my dictionaries, cobblers have a thick crust covering the fruit as well as (or even instead of) forming a base.

13d Sara {Title sister played by Shirley MacLaine, 1970}. A movie with a memorable title, although I'm not sure I've ever seen it. Two Mules for Sister Sara is set during the French intervention in Mexico and stars Clint Eastwood as a cowboy who saves a nun who's not quite as she seems (Shirley MacLaine) from rape.



29d nine {Almost perfect?}. Nothing to do with perfect numbers, this relates to sports such as gymnastics in which 10 points are awarded for a perfect performance.

33d Lex Luthor {Villain from DC}. The DC of DC Comics, creators of Superman, not the District of Columbia.

55d abet {Support when one shouldn't}; 58d rob {Take the wrong way?}. These two wonderful clues sit together nicely, both referring to criminal activities.

The Rest

1a reads {Examines a passage}; 6a cays {Low islands}; 10a IPOs {Some Morgan Stanley announcements, for short}; 14a Atari {Maker of Gauntlet and Area 51}; 19a peer {Lord, e.g.}; 20a I do {Swear words?}; 21a Serta {Mattress brand}; 22a cocoa {Tiramisu topper}; 23a senates {Locales for some orators}; 25a Barr {Attorney general before Reno}; 31a halos {Circles overhead?}; 34a ions {Carbonium and others}; 37a tapes {Hard-to-refute evidence in court}; 39a stns. {Boarding zones: Abbr.}; 40a nix {Veto}; 41a mops {Does some floor work}; 42a upset {In turmoil}; 48a emerged {Came out}; 52a paths {Trajectories}; 54a salon {Where some dye for a living}; 57a echo {Hollow response}; 61a ores {Valuable deposits}; 62a idler {Goof-off}; 63a Eyre {Orphan of literature}.

4d Drs. {Vets, e.g.: Abbr.}; 5d siestas {Shop-closing occasions}; 6d coarse {Not cultured}; 7d a bit {Slightly}; 8d Yoda {His planet of exile is Dagobah}; 9d sea {Last word of "America the Beautiful"}; 10d import {BMW, e.g.}; 12d Oreo {Three-layer snack}; 18d seem {"... bad as they ___"}; 22d cats {Burmese and others}; 24d anon {Not long from now}; 25d bans {Most of the Ten Commandments, basically}; 27d tipsy {A little stiff?}; 28d hoe {Furrow maker}; 30d asst. {Number two: Abbr.}; 31d hand {Full house, e.g.}; 32d amie {Gérard's girlfriend}; 37d toes {Pirouette points}; 38d Apr. {Shower time: Abbr.}; 39d spar {Train in a ring}; 41d MVPs {Court stars, maybe, in brief}; 42d utensil {Knife, e.g.}; 44d I'm home! {Returnee's "hello!"}; 45d delish! {"Yum!"}; 46d amok {Every which way}; 50d ebbed {Fell back}; 51d diary {Holder of secrets, often}; 53d achy {Sore}; 54d sure {"You betcha!"}; 59d CDI {Year Saint Innocent I became pope}.

1 comment:

Magdalen said...

I hesitate to suggest this, but I have a feeling I'm a better baker than either Will Shortz or Patrick Blindauer, and I've never heard of a cobbler having a bottom crust. Check it out, guys: if it had a pie crust at the bottom, it would be a PIE!