Thursday, July 23, 2009

NYT Friday 7/24/09 - Ess-ential

Drake Hotel, TorontoThis is an abbreviated form of my usual blog, as I'm currently on vacation in Toronto. We're staying in the "Art and Design District" at the delightful Drake Hotel - an imaginatively restored railway hotel where we're really too unhip to stay (but they've been polite enough to tolerate us). It's quirky, but well done quirky, not ugly quirky.

Henry was still struggling to solve his daily ration of London Times puzzles when this New York Times crossword became available. So I solved it on my own and found it one of the easiest Friday puzzles for quite a while. The S-shaped grid is very striking, but I haven't found any specific reason for it.

It's quite a coincidence that this is a Patrick Berry puzzle, as we are currently absorbed in his recent collection Puzzle Masterpieces. These suit us well, as the crosswords use standard American cluing (which advantages Magdalen), but unusual grid constructions typical of the thematic cryptics that Henry and I are used to - all three of us have something to contribute.
Solving time: 24 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 19a peke {Toy from China}

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

CompilersPatrick Berry / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers62 (average length 6.10)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points293 (average 1.55)
Other Clues

1a no such thing {It doesn't exist}; 12a complain about {Find fault with}; 14a government issue {A soldier's gear, for example}; 16a Amelia {Bloomer after whom bloomers are named}; 17a d'etre {Raison ___}; 18a relet {Rent to another}; 19a peke {Toy from China}; 23a Dan'l {"Young ___ Boone" (short-lived 1970s TV series)}; 24a butt {You might grind it out}; 25a line drives {Fast hits}; 27a spy {With 5-Down, snooping aid}; 28a hashed over {Discussed at length}; 29a cantabile {Musical direction that means "lyrical" in Italian}; 30a Brandon Lee {Actor who debuted in "Kung Fu: The Movie"}; 32a tap {Snooping aid}; 35a slam dances {Activities at punk rock concerts}; 36a ta-ta {"Gotta run!"}; 37a yelp {High bark}; 38a user {End ___}; 39a barmy {Foolish, in British slang}; 40a melon {Fruit salad ingredient}; 42a Paxton {Folk singer Tom with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award}; 43a spiral staircase {It gets you up and around}; 48a see you in court {Words from one who won't settle}; 49a descendants {People in a line}.

1d novelty {Whim-wham}; 2d omelet {It might contain a filling}; 3d sprit {Diagonally set spar}; 4d ulna {Bone involved in pronation}; 5d cam {See 27-Across}; 6d hie {Move quickly}; 7d TNN {Spike's former name}; 8d hat {Ring contents, maybe}; 9d ibid {Bibliog. equivalent of "ditto"}; 10d nose-dive {Calamitous decline}; 11d Gustave {French painter Courbet}; 12d come up {Arise}; 13d Turner {Pulitzer-winning historian Frederick Jackson ___}; 14d garbs {Outfits}; 15d eels {Fish that can move equally well forward and backward}; 19d pistons {Team whose home arena is the Palace of Auburn Hills}; 20d enhance {Better}; 21d Keebler {Company with a tree in its logo}; 22d eddies {Fluid dynamics phenomena}; 25d landau {Convertible carriage}; 26d role {It's assumed}; 28d hand {Bit of assistance}; 29d camporee {Local or regional Boy Scout gathering}; 30d bleeps {Nullifies, as an oath?}; 31d rallied {Made a comeback}; 32d tartars {Medieval conquerors}; 33d at most {Maximally}; 34d Payne {Max of video game fame}; 35d Syms {"___ by Sinatra" (1982 collaborative jazz album)}; 36d taxcut {Reaganomics recommendation}; 39d baron {One addressed as "lord"}; 41d nays {Parliamentary faction}; 42d pica {1/6 of an inch}; 44d loc {Ad ___ (at the place: Abbr.)}; 45d Sue {Good name for a trial lawyer}; 46d tin {Ingredient in Delftware glazing}; 47d and? {"What next?"}.

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