Monday, June 8, 2009

NYT Tuesday 6/9/09 - Shortlist

Thinking that it could be critical to solving the puzzle, I made an effort to locate the clue that explained what the asterisks meant, ie 39-Across. The crossing clues for this were real easy, so I got short right away.

I tried to keep this in mind when solving the rest of the puzzle, but in truth, I don't think it was that critical to fast solving of the puzzle: the theme clues were straightforward except for 64-Across (I'm no line dancer!) and I just did a mental check of the "short" association as I solved each theme clue.
Solving time: 8 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 12d dese {Dis and dis}

Short things: the first part of eight answers can be preceded by "short", as indicated in the clue to 39a short {Word that can precede the starts of the answers to the eight starred clues}.
17a Hairspray {Movie starring a cross-dressing John Travolta} - shorthair
21a term paper {Big writing assignment} - short-term
58a cakewalks {Very easy tasks} - shortcake
64a line dance {Electric Slide, for one} - short line
4d straw poll {Nonbinding vote} - short straw
9d stop-gap {Like a band-aid solution} - short-stop
37d handstand {Heels-over-head feat} - shorthand
44d outwits {Defeats mentally} - short out
The Electric Slide is a "four wall" line dance that was created in 1976 and became a craze when the associated song Electric Boogie was re-released in 1989. Cowboy hats optional, but recommended ...


Steve Dobis
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersSteve Dobis / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares69 (36.5%)
Scrabble points302 (average 1.60)
New To Me

42a Amys {Lowell and Tan}. I like this type of clue better when the people work in the same field, in this case writing. I knew American novelist Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club) but not American poet Amy Lowell (18741925):
All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.
My firm is a very ancient house,
The entries on my books would rouse
Your wonder, perhaps incredulity.
I inherited from an ancestry
Stretching remotely back and far,
This business, and my clients are
As were those of my grandfather's days,
Writers of books, and poems, and plays.
Sword Blades and Poppy Seed by Amy Lowell
on deck45a goes next {Is on deck}. I can often intuit a baseball clue, even if I've not come across the terminology before. The player "on deck" is next in the batting order and usually stands conveniently close to the home plate - in contrast to cricket, where it can take five minutes or so for a new batsman to find his way out of the pavilion and into the center of the playing field.

Li'l Abner55d Abner {One of the Yokums}. Li'l Abner and friends have featured a lot recently, but this is the first reference I've seen to his surname, which is an apt combination of yokel with hokum.

Victorian house in Cape May58d Cape {New Jersey's ___ May}. Magdalen, a sucker for Victorian architecture, says Cape May, a city, as well as a peninsula, is replete with well-maintained houses built in the 19th century when the area was considered one of the finest resorts in America.


Space Shuttle5a AFBs {Andrews and Edwards, for two: Abbr.}. Generous of the compiler to choose two internationally known Air Force Bases: Andrews AFB because it's the home of "Air Force One" and Edwards AFB because the Space Shuttles are redirected there when they can't fly straight home to Florida.

Bazooka Joe and His Gang23a chewed {Enjoyed Bazooka, e.g.}. I'd pretty much worked this out from crossings before remembering that Bazooka is a brand of chewing gum - something I discovered fairly early on when solving American crosswords. Putting Bazooka at the start of the clue has more potential to mislead, but that's too mean a thing to do early in the week.

25a dongs {Carillon sounds}. The popularity of carillons in churches in this part of the world was a surprise to me: I remember waiting in some small town and hearing an eerie mechanical tune start up on the hour and wondering what it could be before realizing where it was coming from. Of course, carillons originally were hand-played and I may be wrong to think the automated chimes I hear are called the same thing.

8d Styron {"Sophie's Choice" author}. The Movie adaptation of Sophie's Choice had a disproportionate effect on me because of the age I saw it: it would have been in the summer of 1982, my last year as an undergraduate at University College in Oxford. I still remembered some of the scenes, like Kevin Kline as Nathan swinging on the cables of the Brooklyn Bridge, when I finally got to Brooklyn for the 2009 ACPT.

12d dese {Dis and dis}. A fun clue where the form of the clue sets the pattern for the answer.

24d Do Is {The Everly Brothers' "All I Have to ___ Dream"}. The epitome of a gimme - fill-in-the-blank with one of the most famous songs of all time.

Five-lined Skink53d skink {Long-bodied lizard}. Skinks are unusual in having small or nonexistent legs, and often like to burrow in sand. In Scotland, no known for its lizards, skink means a shin of beef, or soup made from it (Cullen Skink).

The Rest

1a aces {Breezes through}; 9a studs {Wall supports}; 14a dolt {Blockhead}; 15a moat {Zoo barrier}; 16a tutee {One getting one-on-one help}; 19a obese {Having a lot to lose?}; 20a octal {In base 8}; 26a peon {Lowly worker}; 28a no a {"... ___ thousand times ..."}; 29a DSL {Step up from dial-up}; 32a in motion {Not at rest}; 36a photo {Driver's license feature}; 38a vial {Lab container}; 43a Anglo {The "A" in WASP}; 47a nos. {Most apts. have them}; 48a ump {Strike caller}; 51a wand {Wizard's stick}; 52a sties {Places to serve slop}; 54a resale {Flea market deal, perhaps}; 62a at bay {Unable to retreat, as an animal}; 63a Amati {Fine fiddle}; 66a pilot {Introductory TV episode}; 67a Enid {Author Bagnold}; 68a ne'er {Not e'en once}; 69a Edens {Idyllic places}; 70a tkts. {B'way booth in Times Square}; 71a drys {Temperance supporters}.

1d ad hoc {Like some committees}; 2d coach {Alternative to first-class}; 3d elite {Cream of the crop}; 5d amp {Sound booster at a concert}; 6d fort {Siege site}; 7d baaed {Called to a lamb, say}; 10d tubas {Instruments in military bands}; 11d UTEP {Lone Star State sch.}; 13d seer {Palm reader, e.g.}; 18d sleet {Winter driving hazard}; 22d MNO {6 on a telephone}; 27d noh {Japanese drama}; 29d dome {Capitol feature}; 30d Styx {River of Hades}; 31d lost {Not grasping the material, say}; 32d Ivan {Lendl of tennis}; 33d nino {Padre's boy}; 34d mags {Rack purchases, briefly}; 35d nog {Yuletide quaff}; 40d row {Column crosser}; 41d tear {Sign of sorrow}; 46d Snead {Golf's Slammin' Sammy}; 49d Mia {Actress Farrow}; 50d pellet {Bit of shotgun shot}; 52d set on {Determined to achieve}; 56d Lacey {Cagney's TV partner}; 57d eyers {Close watchers}; 59d amid {In the thick of}; 60d kale {Curly cabbage}; 61d snit {Fit of pique}; 65d eds. {Publishers' hirees: Abbr.}.

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