Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NYT Thursday 6/4/09 - Rose Diamond

The overt parts of this baseball-themed crossword caused me less trouble than the subsidiary ones. Once I'd seen the pattern of the circled "things", I made reasonable progress, although having doubled backwards at one time held me up considerably in the NE corner.

Pete Rose seemed unambiguous, but I was considered about my guess of Luis Tiant and didn't even get that Tris Speaker was baseball player (OK, "diamond" in the clue should have been a giveaway ... my bad). Where these collided with acrosses I wasn't sure of, I just had to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

An aside on my more recreational solving: I managed to finish all 70 puzzles in Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies, which got pretty tough towards the end. I'm now halfway through Will Shortz's Funniest Crossword Puzzles (for Funniest, read Punniest), which I'm getting done at the rate of 5 or so a day - good fun and great practice for learning those shorty words.
Solving time: 25 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 40d aileron {Bank controller}

34a Pete, 35a Rose {One who has done the circled things, combined, more often than any other major-league player} and his 45d record {34 & 35-Across's 4,256 career hits, e.g.}. The types of hits appear as circled letters, all being seven letters long (how convenient is that!): SINGLED, DOUBLED, TRIPLED, HOMERED.


Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersPeter A. Collins and Joe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 31 (13.8%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.39)
Theme squares41 (21.1%)
Scrabble points260 (average 1.34)
New To Me

Abbie21a Abbie {Old Al Capp strip "___ an' Slats"}. Abbie an' Slats was drawn by Raeburn van Buren and ran from 1937 to 1971. Reversing the scenario of Li'l Abner, orphaned townie Slats comes to the small town of Crabtree Corners to live with cousin Abbie.

23a FSLIC {Former org. protecting depositors}. I'm not sure if it's worth trying to remember this: it seems to be the first (and hopefully last) time the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation has appeared in an NYT crossword. The FSLIC was merged into the FDIC in 1989.

39a Moreland {Georgia birthplace of Erskine Caldwell}. I didn't even recognize the person, let alone the place: so Erskine Caldwell (1903–1987) was the novelist who wrote Tobacco Road (1932), inspiration for a record-breaking Broadway adaptation and subsequent John Ford movie.

pipet51a pipet {Lab tube}. Well I knew what a pipette ("little pipe" in French) was, but not this spelling. Not knowing Tris Speaker, I just had to cross fingers and hope for the best that pipet was the American rendering of the measuring tube.

54a I Get A {"Can ___ Witness" (Marvin Gaye hit)}. This fill-in-the-blank wasn't so easy as I tried I Have and You Be before finally getting it right. Can I Get A Witness was a Motown hit in 1963.

El Tiante4d Luis {Baseball All-Star Tiant}. The various ancillary references to baseball fit in neatly with the theme: Luis Tiant is the former right-handed starting pitcher who launched a brand of cigars bearing his nickname El Tiante.

Tris Speaker52d Tris {Speaker of the diamond}. Always neat to hide a proper name at the start of the clue, though not knowing Tris Speaker (1888-1958) spoiled the effect a little for me - I didn't realize what was going on until Magdalen explained. Another apt baseball reference to one of the best center fielders in history.


1a Hamlet {Source of the line "Frailty, thy name is woman!"}. Ross's First Law of Crosswords is that all quotations are from Shakespeare. Its corollary is that all Shakespeare quotes are from Hamlet. This one comes from the Act I Scene 2 soliloquy in which the prince is irate at his mother's precipitate marriage to Claudius.
Heaven and earth,
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on, and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on't—Frailty, thy name is woman!—
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father's body
Like Niobe, all tears
From Hamlet Act I Scene 2
Sloan's Liniment62a Sloan's {Classic brand of liniment}. I've no idea how I knew this one, but I'm thankful I did. Earl Sloan started out selling a liniment for horses, but at some point it was found efficacious for humans too, hence the advertising slogan "good for man and beast".

Mount Apo3d Mt. Apo {Highest peak in the Philippines: Abbr.}. Mount Apo comes up less frequently than I expected, mainly because APO on its own is clued as a shortening of Army Post Office. It's a potentially active volcano, but hasn't erupted in recorded memory.

tempura38d tempura {Japanese restaurant offering}. Tempura (not to be confused with painting medium tempera) is one of many things I only know from dictionaries: it's a dish of fish or vegetables, deep fried in batter.

aileron40d aileron {Bank controller}. A great misleading definition: ailerons (French for "small wings") control the roll of an aircraft, hence allowing you to bank for a turn.

50d agora {Pythagoras' square}. agora comes up so many times in cryptics that it's completely familiar; but I've not seen it clued this way, which gets away from the main definition of marketplace or place of assembly - OK that might be a square, but not necessarily. I'd have put a question mark at the end of this clue.

58d Gil {Apt name for an ichthyologist?}. This clue is still a bit of a mystery to me: if it's just saying that Gil is a name which might be appropriate for a fish expert (cos it sounds like gill), then that's fine and dandy. But I wonder is there's more to the clue than that, eg a reference to a real ichthyologist; tantalizingly there is one called Theodore Gill and this clue would be perfect for him as an answer.

The Rest

7a deists {Some believers}; 13a posture {Poor thing about a slouch}; 14a resorts {Vacation destinations}; 16a in tails {Dressed for a white-tie affair}; 17a all rise {Order in the court}; 18a co-ops {Some urban digs}; 19a taw {Shooter on the playground}; 22a Arlo {He preceded Joan at Woodstock}; 25a sump {Water collector}; 26a rea {Mens ___ (criminal intent)}; 27a alienor {One who is no longer entitled}; 29a toe {Golf club part}; 30a detonate {Set off, in a big way}; 32a legend {Bigger-than-life persona}; 36a hits at {Attempts to strike}; 43a EOE {Want ad abbr.}; 44a rarebit {Cheese dish}; 46a -ier {Hotel addition?}; 47a Adms. {U.S.N. brass: Abbr.}; 49a xenon {Photographic flash gas}; 50a alae {Latin wings}; 53a cut {Action stopper}; 55a Eduardo {___ Sánchez, co-director of "The Blair Witch Project"}; 57a ignored {Turned a blind eye toward}; 59a dernier {Last of the French?}; 60a citrons {Lemonlike fruit}; 61a sassed {Spoke rudely to}.

1d honoree {Mother, on the second Sunday in May}; 2d Astolat {Whence Elaine, in Arthurian lore}; 5d Erl {Goethe's "The ___-King"}; 6d test site {Where to take an exam}; 7d draw in {Attract}; 8d eel {Fish that may be caught in a cage}; 9d Isla {Puerto Rico, por ejemplo}; 10d sorbs {Gathers on a surface, chemically}; 11d tribute {Reason for a medley, perhaps}; 12d St Simon {Apostle called "the Zealot"}; 13d Picard {Enterprise-D captain}; 15d seeped {Permeated, with "into"}; 20d alee {On the safe side}; 23d flat tax {Political proposal from some conservatives}; 24d color in {Fill, as with a crayon}; 27d an ear {Lend ___}; 28d reset {Kind of button}; 31d ops {Special ___}; 33d gel {Breast enlargement material}; 35d robotics {Branch of technology}; 36d heaped {Like some spoonfuls}; 37d iodides {Salt add-ins}; 39d menu {Restaurant offering}; 41d neatens {Tidies}; 42d dreads {Rastafarian's do, for short}; 48d Seans {Penn and others}; 54d into {Digging}; 56d dee {Near failure}.


Amritsar News said...

Wow really you are a good player of crossword...
What steps should keep in mind while playing crossword?

Crossword Man said...

Thank you.

Step 1: solve as much as you can on your own - remember that many crossword series go from easy puzzles on Monday to impossible puzzles on Friday and Saturday.

Step 2: read blogs like this one to get help with any answers you can't work out, or clues you don't understand.

Step 3: practice, practice, practice.