Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NYT Wednesday 6/17/09 - Tree Diagram

My first thought on seeing all the circles in this New York Times crossword was that some sort of roadkill was being represented. I tried in vain to get 46-Across early on, but found it a struggle, eventually getting tree from all the limbs and roots that magically appeared. Once I'd done this, I filled every circle in sight to get the advantage of some "given" letters.

I've seen many cryptic crosswords over the years that tried to represent curved features using squares and inevitably the end-result disappoints. The "pixels" of a crossword grid are just too coarse to make a satisfying picture. I've done my best to show what was intended in the image below, lightening the blocks to give the tree more prominence.
Solving time: 8 mins (no cheating)
Clue of the puzz: 70a A-test {Blast from the past}

The circled letters form a tree shape, consisting of a trunk (31-Down), roots (59-Down and two on diagonals) and limbs (7-Down and three on diagonals). Two clues relate to the theme:
46a tree {Thing depicted by this puzzle's circled letters}
73a nests {Items in a 46-Across, often}

Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy

CompilersPeter A. Collins and Joe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares45 (24.1%)
Scrabble points263 (average 1.41)
New To Me

9d sci {Poli ___}. I got this one easily enough from crossings, so didn't realize until putting down my pencil that I had no good explanation. It dawned on me, eventually, that poli sci must be short for political science, though it's not one I'm familiar with. Where I went to university, embryo pols all studied the equally enigmatic shortening PPE.

Miagao Church, Iloilo10d Iloilo {Philippine seaport}. Iloilo is a province in the Philippines with its capital Iloilo City. The inhabitants are called Ilonggos - hopefully we don't need to remember that! Iloilo was an important province during the Spanish Colonial Era, and is widely known for its beautiful old world architecture similar to that of Latin American Countries.


16a Clara {Bow, the "It Girl"}. I've heard Clara Bow (1905-1965) alluded to several times, but never seen her in action or found out much about her. She was a New Yorker who won Motion Picture Magazine's "Fame and Fortune" contest in 1921, the grand prize being a part in a movie - she must have been the American Idol of her time. She became tremendously popular, personifying the flapper generation, but found the pressures of the high life took their toll - she retired in 1933. Here's Clara is at the height of her fame in It (1927), on a date at Coney Island.

17a Tikki {"Rikki-___-Tavi"}. I remember enjoying The Jungle Book as a kid and reading about the mongoose who protects an English family from snakes. I also love the Disney version, although there's no part for a mongoose in that.

Henley Regatta58a oar {Tool at Henley}. I had home advantage in spades here, as I lived very close to Henley for the 15 years or so before I emigrated to the US. I didn't have much interest in the rowing activities there, but enjoyed visiting the small town with its bookshops, antique stores and world-famous teddy bear shop Asquiths.

65a nor {Here-there link}. Instead of the obvious and, we get a reference to "neither here, nor there", also the title of a book by my fav travel writer, Bill Bryson.

70a A-test {Blast from the past}. Cute way of cluing an overused answer: that wording isn't original, but no matter - I'd rather see that than "Bikini event".

7d limb {Life's partner}; 31d trunk {Magician's prop}; 59d root {Cheer (for)}. These are the three answers that coincide with parts of the tree picture and I like the way they're clued in a completely different context.

Ross and tea11d eats at {Bothers no end}. I've gotten used to "eat (at)" meaning worry/annoy etc from cryptic crosswords and now US ones; but based on Sarah's comment, I should explain when the equivalence of clue and answer isn't obvious. Here you might say "the difficulty of getting a decent pot of tea bothers (him) no end" = "the difficulty of getting a decent pot of tea eats at (him)" ... it's difficult to come up with something that doesn't introduce a pronoun.

29d TDs {One might pass for these, briefly}; 30d rat {One down in the dumps?}. A couple of neatly misleading clues right next to each other. I think I'll pass on illustrating rats in the dumps.

Daisy Mae35d Abner {Daisy Mae's guy}. Li'l Abner is suddenly getting a lot of attention in the squares of the NYT crossword. I'm starting to get the main characters straight in my head at last.

45d Cleo {'63 Liz Taylor role}. Cleopatra (1963) of course, lovingly parodied in Carry On Cleo (1964):

64d o'er {Key contraction}. I puzzled over this clue for several minutes after filling the grid before finally realizing who the Key was. My initial reaction was that the clue was wildly indirect, but I can see that's just my outsider's perspective and that long familiarity with The Star-Spangled Banner would make it blindingly obvious.

The Rest

1a act as {Sub for}; 6a alp {Jungfrau or Eiger}; 9a siege {Campaign against Troy, e.g.}; 14a shalt {Word after "thou"}; 15a Bic {Lighter maker}; 18a CML {Mid 10th-century year}; 19a iotas {Tiny bits}; 20a one arm {Feature of a Las Vegas "bandit"}; 22a bam {April 1 cigar sound}; 24a isn't {George Harrison's "___ It a Pity"}; 25a climb {Do a Sherpa's work}; 27a ballade {24-line verse form}; 29a train set {Toy on a layout}; 32a rioter {Water cannon target}; 33a darn {Patch up}; 34a grams {Nutrition label units}; 36a steer {Branded beast}; 38a tub {Lard holder}; 39a pipes {Kiltie's instrument}; 44a UConn {Huskies' sch.}; 47a Wiesel {"Night" novelist}; 51a kerosene {Jet fuel component}; 54a end user {Software buyer, usually}; 56a renal {Kidney-related}; 57a then {"That was ___ ..."}; 60a old age {It beats the alternative, in a saying}; 63a tango {Radio letter after sierra}; 67a oaten {Like porridge}; 68a elite {Like SEALs}; 69a boo! {"That's not fair!"}; 71a decor {Architectural Digest topic}; 72a YTD {Pay stub abbr.}.

1d as to {Concerning}; 2d chin {Place for a Vandyke}; 3d take care {"Bye, now"}; 4d alkaline {High-pH}; 5d stir in {Add while cooking}; 6d ABC {Multiple-choice choices}; 8d PC Lab {Place for a programming class, perhaps}; 12d grande {Starbucks size}; 13d easter {Egg roll time}; 21d mms. {Ruler divs.}; 23d marm {Old-time schoolteacher}; 26d beg to {"I ___ differ"}; 28d lisp {Daffy Duck trademark}; 37d rues {Wishes undone}; 40d it's A date {"Meet you then!"}; 41d prelates {Church dignitaries}; 42d een {Dark time, to a bard}; 43d see {Drop in on}; 47d wetted {Licked, e.g.}; 48d inhale {Yoga instructor's direction}; 49d Edenic {Like paradise}; 50d sung to {Serenaded}; 52d Reo {Flying Cloud automaker}; 53d on loan {Like the art in some exhibits}; 55d ran by {Told in order to get a quick opinion}; 61d gest {Heroic deed}; 62d ENTs {Docs who might treat sinusitis}; 66d rod {Axle, e.g.}.


Susan said...

I don't understand 11d at all! "Bothers no end"="eats at"? What?

Anonymous said...

I don't count the NESTS as thematic. More of a quirk of fill that got tied in perforce to the clue. It's not as if there are any nests on that tree.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Sarah. Your query came in time for me to comment on the clue - I hope that helps.

Crossword Man said...

Hi Jon. Yes, I was maybe a bit generous over the nests ...

Susan said...

Thanks for that-- I always see "bothers (him to) no end" so just "bothers no end" made no sense to me until you explained it.