Saturday, July 11, 2009

NYT Saturday 7/11/09 - Night Shift

Magdalen and I solved this Saturday New York Times crossword after getting home at about 1:30 in the morning. We'd made the trek over to Peekskill, NY to see the great Aimee Mann in concert: she's been my fav popular musician for quite a while, so it was a dream come true to see her perform live, even if it took five hours of driving to do it.

One reason I wanted to solve this in collaboration with Magdalen was that I knew it would cut the solving time in two and get us to bed that much earlier. My prediction turned out correct, as she got long answers like John Larroquette*, Susquehanna* and In Her Shoes well before I would have done: with that backbone, we were able to make good progress in most parts of the grid. Only the SW corner put up much resistance - it's clear from the many erasings in that area that we made heavy weather of it. *Incidentally, isn't it great that two of the longest answers in the puzzle cross at a Q? - that's a significant constraint!
Solving time: 23 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 37d umpire {Home ruler?}

Karen M. Tracey
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersKaren M. Tracey / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 30 (13.3%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.74)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points321 (average 1.65)
New To Me

14a Alar {Trade name of daminozide}. Hadn't heard of daminozide before, but knowing how often Alar comes up, thought that was likely. Alar is more commonly clued as {Banned [orchard|apple] spray}.

arhat16a arhat {Nirvana attainer}. I can't recall coming across arhat before and we thought it a very unlikely word. But we put our faith in all the crossing answers and it turns out an arhat (a Sanskrit word) is a spiritual practitioner in the sramanic traditions who has "laid down the burden", reaching the culmination of the spiritual life. I'll have to try the word on my yoga teacher.

Kate Spade shop window17a Kate Spade {Big name in bags}. One of several answers which Magdalen could get right away, and we were very thankful for that. Kate Spade is an American fashion designer who has around 100 boutiques around the world. Her company originally specialized in handbags, but now sells a variety of other items for the home.

36a John Larroquette {Winner of four consecutive Emmys for his sitcom role as a prosecutor}. Another gimme for Magdalen, which helps explain how I can solve end-of-week puzzles with her in about half the time it takes me to do them solo. John Larroquette plays the lecherous prosecutor Dan Fielding on Night Court - an NBC sitcom set during the night shift of a Manhattan courthouse.

Green sea turtle39a Hanauma Bay {Snorkeling spot near Honolulu}. A reference neither of us got, so we just had to trust crossings (except for the Bay bit). Hanauma Bay (a tautology: Hana means "bay" and uma means "shelter") is a bay formed from a volcanic cone on the Island of Oʻahu - it's one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island, being known for its abundance of Green sea turtles.

4d freestone {Peach variety}. Didn't know it, but the answer seemed plausible enough: cultivated peaches are divided into clingstones and freestones, depending on whether the flesh sticks to the stone or not.

7d Arden {Shakespeare's mother's maiden name}. With a sneaky clue like this, you suspect the answer is going to be better known for other reasons. Shakespeare's mother was born Mary Arden, her family coming from the area originally known as the Forest of Arden in which As You Like It is set.

El paseo por Andalucía25d majas {Goya subjects}. Magdalen was skeptical that Francisco Goya had painted multiple majas, but in fact he did: majos (masc.) and majas (fem.) were terms for colorfully dressed folk from the lower classes in Spanish society, and they were a favorite subject for Goya. The accompanying picture depicts them.


30a nip {Edge}. A little tough to see that these are synonyms. I guess they are in the sense of "intensity": you could say there's a "nip in the air" on a cold day or that the "air has an edge to it". Hmm, all a bit tenuous, so I may have the wrong end of the stick.

38a -adee {"Zip" follower}. A clue that boggled the mind, but the answer ended up being fairly prosaic, being a reference to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. This song was first sung by James Baskett in the 1946 live action and animated movie Song of the South.

40a ser. {Weekly msg.}. No txt this, but the dreaded sermon.

Nelson Mandela54a Xhosa {Zulu relative}. Lucky to know this via Chambers Dictionary and the more difficult cryptic crosswords in the UK. The Xhosa people hail from southeastern South Africa, Nelson Mandela being a notable example.

1d Baku {Transcaucasian capital}; 2d Ulan {Half an Asian capital?}. If you are going to put these together, you may as well emphasize the connection: Baku (etymologically "Wind-pounded city") is the capital of Azerbaijan and Ulan Bator (etymologically "red hero") is the capital of Mongolia.

5d Captain Ahab {To whom Stubb and Flask answered, in literature}. Nice to have some answers that you recognize instantly. Stubb and Flask are second and third mates (respectively) on the Pequod in Moby Dick, Starbuck being the chief mate.

Three Mile Island24d Susquehanna {Three Mile Island is in it}. AT LAST! A river we know!! We live a few miles from the mature Susquehanna River, which does a U turn to practically enclose our county (Susquehanna County). We've seen it at its source in Cooperstown, NY and various places along its course to Wilkes-Barre, PA, but not as far down river as Three Mile Island. TMI, as I saw it referred to in another crossword, is famous as the location of the worst civilian nuclear accident in United States history in March 1979.

27d In Her Shoes {Jennifer Weiner best seller made into a 2005 film}. Another clue that has strong personal associations for us, which was helpful: Magdalen loves the book and we've both seen the 2005 film adaptation. The movie includes a scene where Maggie (Cameron Diaz) reads an e e cummings poem to her sister Rose (Toni Collette) at Rose's wedding - an expression of their reconciliation and sororal love. Magdalen movingly read the same poem to me at our British wedding. Unforunately, the only Cameron Diaz reading I can find on YouTube is dubbed into German, so here's just the trailer as usual.

37d umpire {Home ruler?}. Nicely misleading - for once, I got a baseball reference before Magdalen did!

41d groans {Sounds like an old floorboard}. Rather a mean clue, as everybody will have thought of creaks first, won't they? And the two alternatives have three letters in common. I suppose it's fair game, as "creaks and groans" is an oft-used idiom.

The Rest

1a buff {Like a hunk}; 5a crag {Perch for a bighorn}; 9a pawns {Puppets}; 15a aero {Saab model}; 19a troll {Internet forum menace}; 20a unsettles {Shakes}; 21a cacao {Major Côte d'Ivoire export}; 22a spa {Where to get rubbed the right way?}; 23a Nashua {Second-largest city in New Hampshire}; 25a Mai Tais {They're often garnished with orchids}; 29a buy {Act like a bull?}; 33a announcers {They may call the shots}; 35a Dior {Early Saint-Laurent employer}; 41a gap {Break}; 42a depress {Get down}; 43a sorbet {Refresher between courses}; 46a his {Matching pair marking}; 47a ethno- {Race beginning?}; 49a separable {Not too tight?}; 55a open-ended {Like some questions}; 56a preen {Get smart}; 57a fern {Pteridologist's specimen}; 58a tray {Waiting aid}; 59a ousts {Cashiers}; 60a FEMA {Org. created by Carter in 1979}; 61a amps {Gear to help you hear}.

3d fats {Some nutrients}; 6d real {Unlike fairies}; 8d goes abroad {Takes a continental tour, e.g.}; 9d patchy {Inconsistent}; 10d Arrau {He recorded all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas in the 1960s}; 11d who can it be? {Response to a ding-dong?}; 12d Nala {Simba's mate}; 13d St Lo {The Vire River flows through it}; 18d St Paul {Minnesota twin?}; 26d anode {Cell part}; 28d scrapes off {Removes, as paint}; 31d iotas {Crumbs}; 32d preys {Is rapacious}; 34d ern {Rapacious flier}; 35d Dear Santa {Words followed by a wish list}; 44d onset {Nascence}; 45d tepee {Fox home}; 47d expo {Fair}; 48d thru {Street sign word}; 50d perm {It can make waves}; 51d bdrm. {Apt. part}; 52d leap {Act precipitately}; 53d Edy's {One of its flavors is Dulce de Leche}.


fmcgmccllc said...

Had to use you to cheat today, had off handed and creaky and just could not get it. Thanks for the posting.

Crossword Man said...

We fell for creaks at 41-Down, in common with most solvers I suspect. More details anon.