Sunday, July 19, 2009

NYT Monday 7/20/09 - Beating About The Bushwa

This is an abbreviated form of my usual blog, as I'm currently in vacation mode. Although Henry and Magdalen were available to help with this Monday New York Times crossword, our theory is that solving it together would probably take a lot longer, as the scribe got bombarded with answers thick and fast.

One clue we were all nonplussed by was 54a my eye! {"Oh, bushwa!"} as none of us had encountered "bushwa" before. So I was surprised to find it was actually in my American dictionary, as a euphemism equivalent to B.S.. It may be that the word is only in regional use: an authority on US slang says bushwa derives from "a cowboy corruption of the French bois-de-vache ('dried cow dung').

This wouldn't have mattered too much, except that it crossed with 46d Hoya {Georgetown athlete}. Magdalen knew that the Hoyas are the Georgetown University athletes, but the Brits in the party weren't so lucky. Some people say the nickname derives from a Greek & Latin tag "Hoya Saxa", literally "What Rocks!", though others say this is just bushwa and no one really knows how Hoya came about.

Talking of bushwa, Henry (who knows nearly everything) points out that modern historians are skeptical of Marco Polo's claims and might dispute 65a Asia {Marco Polo crossed it}. How odd is it that the explorer claimed to cross China but didn't describe the Great Wall?
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 45d gymnast {One who mounts and dismounts a horse}

Phrases beginning with parts of a plant, hinted at by 57a plant managers {Factory supervisors ... or a hint to the starts of 20-, 36- and 42-Across}.
20a root of all evil {What the love of money is, they say}
36a stem the tide {Stop a prevailing trend}
42a leaf through {Quickly turn the pages of}

Pancho Harrison
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersPancho Harrison / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.92)
Theme squares48 (25.7%)
Scrabble points294 (average 1.57)
Other Clues

1a Tom's {"Uncle ___ Cabin"}; 5a warts {Witches' faces have them}; 10a deja {___ vu}; 14a in it {"Put a sock ___!"}; 15a Eliot {Writer T. S. or George}; 16a exam {Midterm, e.g.}; 17a Etna {Sicilian spewer}; 18a Blair {Former British P.M. Tony}; 19a spry {Surprisingly lively for one's age}; 23a prune {Lop off, as branches}; 24a sta. {RR depot}; 25a orc {"The Lord of the Rings" enemy}; 28a see ya {"So long!"}; 31a closer {Ninth-inning pitcher}; 33a rat {Squealer}; 38a Atra {Gillette razor}; 40a a no {"I'll take that as ___"}; 41a TV ad {30-second spot, e.g.}; 47a eso {That: Sp.}; 48a Pancho {Mexican revolutionary ___ Villa}; 49a try on {Check the fit of, as a dress}; 51a HMS {"___ Pinafore"}; 52a ERs {Hospital trauma ctrs.}; 54a my eye! {"Oh, bushwa!"}; 62a shoe {Old woman's home in a nursery rhyme}; 64a Erica {"Fear of Flying" writer Jong}; 65a Asia {Marco Polo crossed it}; 66a ease {Simplicity}; 67a terms {Contract conditions}; 68a teed {Sore, with "off"}; 69a trek {Arduous journey}; 70a sweet {Like Georgia Brown of song}; 71a Esso {"Put a tiger in your tank" brand}.

1d tier {It may hang out in a sports stadium}; 2d on top {First in the rankings}; 3d minor {17-year-old, legally}; 4d status {Condition of affairs}; 5d webfeet {Duck features}; 6d alla {___ breve (2/2 time in music)}; 7d rial {Iranian money}; 8d toils {Works long and hard}; 9d stretch {Seventh-inning ritual}; 10d Desi {Arnaz of "I Love Lucy"}; 11d explosive {Nitroglycerin or dynamite}; 12d jar {Cookie holder}; 13d Amy {"The Joy Luck Club" writer Tan}; 21d ones {George Washingtons}; 22d vale {Low-lying area}; 26d red as {___ a beet}; 27d credo {Belief}; 29d year {Vintage designation}; 30d am not {"I ___ amused!"}; 32d Ott {Hall-of-Famer Mel}; 33d Ralph {Alice's mate on "The Honeymooners"}; 34d A team {First string}; 35d transpose {Make lemons into melons, e.g.?}; 37d tour {Go from gig to gig}; 39d AFC {Steelers' grp.}; 43d the A {Ellington's "Take ___ Train"}; 44d hornets {Big stingers}; 45d gymnast {One who mounts and dismounts a horse}; 46d Hoya {Georgetown athlete}; 50d negate {Nullify}; 53d strew {Spread, as seed}; 55d yeses {Go-aheads}; 56d Eries {Great Lakes Indians}; 58d leek {Cousin of an onion}; 59d mire {Bog}; 60d acme {Summit}; 61d sado- {Lead-in to masochism}; 62d set {Filming site}; 63d har {Part of 33-Down's laugh}.

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