Tuesday, June 9, 2009

NYT Wednesday 6/10/09 - 44 Recurring

Studying Chemistry to degree level is sometimes an advantage. In this Wednesday New York Times crossword, I got ruthenium from just the R. Realizing this is way down the periodic table, I knew the president at 35-Across had to be very recent, in fact the current one. Hence the thematic answers fell out easily enough and allowed access to all areas of the grid.

So after a bit of a gap, we get another puzzle that looks to have been inspired by the election and inauguration of Barack Obama, and I assume was held over to give us a bit of a break after the frenzy of ideas earlier in the year based on the 44th prez.
Solving time: 11 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 9d nth {Nonacademic degree}
Theme

Things numbered 55a forty-four:
18a ruthenium {Element number 44}
23a Hank Aaron {Atlanta Brave who wore the number 44}
35a Barack Obama {President number 44}
49a Super Bowl {Feb. 7, 2010, the date of this event's number 44}
Solution

Richard Silvestri
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersRichard Silvestri / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.00)
Theme squares47 (25.4%)
Scrabble points281 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Louis Jolliet59a Erie {Lake ___, discovery of Louis Jolliet}. Know the lake, of course, but wasn't aware of Louis Jolliet's role in its "discovery". Louis sighted Lake Erie in 1669, it being the last to be explored, since the Iroquois were protective of the area. Plans to visit Niagara Falls and Toronto in July are now afoot and I hope we'll get to see something of Lake Erie en route.

24d Kara {"American Idol" judge DioGuardi}. American Idol is compulsory viewing for Magdalen, so I've seen Kara DioGuardi many times, without registering the name. As a fourth judge, she's apparently brought a bit more sanity to the show.



43d Daly {Tony winner Tyne}. I kinda hoped Tyne Daly had won for On The Town as I have a great recording of the musical with her as Hildy the taxi driver. Actually she got the Tony in 1990 for her portrayal of Rose in Gypsy.

Earthrise45d Borman {Apollo astronaut Frank}. The Apollo missions were headline news when I was a kid of 8 to 10, and I remember keeping a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. So I'd have known Frank Borman then, but he's since faded from view. Frank was commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the moon and the one that captured the iconic Earthrise for the first time. He's now retired and in his 80s, but still enjoys flying airplanes from World War II and the Korean era.

Uno58d Uno {Game with Skip cards}. I can't remember ever having played Uno, which is a game in the Crazy Eights family that debuted in 1971.

Noteworthy

Eton College6a Eton {Locale of famous playing fields}. Famous because the Duke of Wellington supposedly said "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton", but Etonian George Orwell put this into perspective:
Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.
From
The Lion and the Unicorn by George Orwell
16a Ahab {Obsessed mariner}. Could only be the monomaniacal pursuer of Moby Dick.



Geo Tracker20a Geo {Bygone compact}. Alas (melodramatic cry), I suspect we'll get "bygone" more and more with GM brands. Geos were a make of small cars and SUVs, marketed by Chevrolet dealerships between 1988 and 1997.

roseate30a roseate {Promising}. roseate is one of my fav words, whether used figuratively (as in the clue) or literally, eg describing the delicate pink of dawn and dusk that's so hard to capture on film.

41a encode {Turn "this" into "_ .... .. ...," e.g.}. Inventive use of Morse code in the clue, which literally equates to T H I S. The Inspector Morse detective series was fun to read and watch for several reasons: not only was it set in my home city of Oxford, the author Colin Dexter is also an expert crossword compiler and cryptic clue writer. I was delighted to work as the proofreader for a collection of Colin's work, Morse Crosswords.

Bull7d tauro- {Bullish beginning?}. I know now that "beginning" in a clue usually means the answer is a prefix. So the answer was clear to me, but I had trouble recalling words that start with the prefix: Chambers dictionary came to the rescue.
tauro- combining form denoting a bull.
taurobolium n the sacrifice of a bull, eg as in the ancient Phrygian cult of Cybele; an artistic representation of this.
tauromachy n bullfighting; a bullfight.
tauromorphous adj bull-shaped.
From The Chambers Dictionary
9d nth {Nonacademic degree}. The compiler really had me here, as I said to Magdalen "what kind of a degree is an NTH?". But this was just a reference to to the nth degree, hence "nonacademic" in the clue.

55d Fed {Ness, for one}. For me, Ness had to be the loch or the monster. Fooled again - it can also be Eliot Ness, leader of The Untouchables.



The Rest

1a stuff {This and that}; 10a MCCI {Start of the 13th century}; 14a line A {Top of some forms}; 15a raft {Whole lot}; 17a index {Encyclopedia volume}; 21a pore {Go carefully (over)}; 22a lint {Dryer remains}; 26a slain {Done in}; 28a treats {Halloween candy}; 29a reason {Justification}; 34a -ene {Chemical suffix}; 38a boa {It's a wrap}; 40a guanaco {Cousin of a camel}; 44a tea-bag {Earl Grey holder}; 48a tetra- {Prefix with -hedron}; 52a meal {Group of courses}; 53a eves {Times in want ads}; 54a RNA {Cell material}; 57a humid {Steamy}; 60a rule {Lord over}; 61a inane {Senseless}; 62a dead {Absolutely}; 63a alas {Melodramatic cry}; 64a tongs {Fireplace tool}.

1d slight {Snub}; 2d tin ear {Musical liability}; 3d undone {Brought to ruin}; 4d fee {Charge}; 5d fax {Transmit electronically}; 6d error {Calculator message}; 8d often {A lot}; 10d Manila {Capital founded by Spanish invaders, 1571}; 11d China Sea {Sight from Taiwan}; 12d caution {Admonishment}; 13d IBM {ThinkPad developer}; 19d else {If not}; 21d passage {Music section}; 25d -ator {Suffix with liquid}; 27d NNE {Santa Fe-to-Colo. Spr. direction}; 29d rebates {Sale sweeteners}; 31d ecu {Euro predecessor}; 32d aka {Abbr. on a blotter}; 33d ton {Truck scale unit}; 35d bacteria {Study of Louis Pasteur}; 36d acer {Stellar server}; 37d Moab {Old Dead Sea kingdom}; 38d bet {Red or black, at a gaming table}; 39d one more {Bar request}; 42d orated {Held the floor}; 46d awning {Deck cover}; 47d glades {Forest clearings}; 49d Seoul {1988 Olympics host}; 50d uvula {Palate part}; 51d Peres {Shimon of Israel}; 56d fra {Term of address in a monastery}; 57d hit {Any of the Billboard Top 40}.

2 comments:

Daniel Myers said...

What his grace, the Duke of Wellington, DID, indisputably, aver was: "Our army is composed of the scum of the earth - the mere scum of the earth."

Sorry but, as a former Winchester lad, that Eton quote has always rankled a bit.

Crossword Man said...

Thanks for that insight! According to "They never said it", Eton didn't have any playing fields - or organized sports - when Wellington was a (not very distinguished) student there.