Friday, July 17, 2009

NYT Saturday 7/18/09 - The Gang of Three

Three of us ganged up on this Saturday New York Times crossword: Magdalen's first husband Henry is visiting prior to a road trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto (the last part being in doubt because of a strike resulting in closed tourist attractions and garbage going uncollected).

With Henry and me shouting out answers as quickly as we could, Magdalen sometimes had a hard time writing them in fast enough ... and was kept busy erasing red herrings like evens out at 29-Down and tiered at 12-Across.

My duties as host for a house party today delayed a full write-up till Saturday evening. I think realistically I now need to go back into holiday mode and make abbreviated posts until we return from our trip. Normal service will be resumed in a few days.
Solving time: 15 mins (with Magdalen and Henry, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 27d ego trips {Star treks?}

Joe Krozel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersJoe Krozel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 35 (15.6%) black squares
Answers58 (average length 6.55)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points271 (average 1.43)
New To Me

6a Scalia {Jurist who wrote "A Matter of Interpretation," 1997}. Solving the puzzle with a couple of lawyers made it unlikely I would get this answer first. I gather Antonin Scalia is an associate justice of the US Supreme Court and is considered a core member of the conservative wing of the court, having been appointed in Reagan's time. In A Matter of Interpretation, he expresses his views on how statutes and the Constitution should be interpreted; the book also contains responses to his analysis by various legal scholars.

18a Caesar {Writer of "Commentarii de Bello Gallico"}. I didn't recognize the title, but Henry seemed to: Commentaries on the Gallic War is Julius Caesar's firsthand account of the Gallic Wars. This is apparently the book in which he penned the famous words:
Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres
Gaul as a whole is divided into three parts

From De Bello Gallico
43a Herman {Bandleader with the #1 hit "Blues in the Night"}. Someone none of us were familiar with: Blues in the Night was written by Harold Arlen, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, for a 1941 movie that would eventually be titled after that notable musical number. Woody Herman released his version in 1942.

El Toro45a El Toro {Baseballer Fernando Valenzuela's nickname}. I felt guilty not knowing this, as I suspected El Toro had been in a previous puzzle this year. I shouldn't have done, as searching this blog for his real name and nickname comes up with nothing. El Toro is a former left-handed pitcher who played for six different teams during his Major League Baseball career. The outstanding start to his career at the Los Angeles Dodgers led to "Fernandomania" and his colorful nickname.

37d Barnet {Charlie of swing}. Charlie Barnet (19131991) was a jazz saxophonist and bandleader. Here's his composition "Skyliner" that was a big hit in 1944.


Duff Beer1a duffs {Rears}. It seems that duff as slang for the buttocks is not US-specific, though I don't recall it used much in Britain compared to the alternatives. I've always wondered whether Duff beer in The Simpsons derived its name from duff meaning "buttocks" or duff meaning "no good" - perhaps both?

13d Søren {Theologian Kierkegaard}. Interesting that by convention, it's OK to cross Ø with O, even though for Danes like Søren Kierkegaard, they constitute different letters (ie Ø is not considered an accented O).

27d ego trips {Star treks?}. We all thought this clue funny (ha-ha), even though "treks" indicates the trips part of the answer literally and not in the sense the idiom is used. Somehow this hybrid of a clue still seems fair and is a delightful "penny-dropper".

The Rest

12a in rows {Like theater seating}; 14a spouting {Delivering a tirade}; 16a stereo {Coming from both sides}; 17a prostate {Kind of gland}; 19a lets in on {Makes privy to}; 20a up late {Watching Letterman or Conan, say}; 21a inhalant {Medical inspiration?}; 22a spoken {Not merely thought}; 23a Nastase {The Bucharest Buffoon of the court}; 24a sever {Partition}; 25a get a {___ clue}; 26a denser {Grasping things more slowly}; 28a Ayesha {Muhammad's favorite wife}; 33a gall {Boldness to a fault}; 35a chaps {Western wear}; 37a bar code {It's machine-readable}; 41a Thorpe {Breaker of the 400-meter freestyle world record at the 2000 Olympics}; 42a have at it {"Dig in!"}; 44a erasures {Indications that things have changed?}; 46a enticing {Like a pleasant aroma}; 47a moaner {Crybaby}; 48a lead up to {Precede}; 49a engine {It turns over before it runs}; 50a stress {Job woe}; 51a sects {They branch off}.

1d discuss {Get into}; 2d untapped {Potential}; 3d free love {1960s catchphrase}; 4d forsaken {Like a foundling}; 5d sweaters {They're often packed away for the summer}; 6d soothsay {Prophesy}; 7d cuss at {Verbally run down}; 8d Attila {King who infamously demanded half of Rome's Western Empire as a dowry}; 9d lianas {Rain forest flora}; 10d intone {Cantillate}; 11d agent {One may act for an actor}; 14d spline {Long, thin strip}; 15d prenatal {Before coming out?}; 25d gradient {Inclination}; 29d echelons {Levels}; 30d shortage {Supply-and-demand problem}; 31d harmonic {Consonant}; 32d apparent {Ostensible}; 34d let's go {"On your feet!"}; 36d Señores {Serape sporters}; 38d avatar {Embodiment}; 39d reside {Stay}; 40d caucus {Party get-together}; 41d theme {Writer's development}; 42d heels {They're tough to run in}.


Dan said...

Got this NPR Puzzle pretty quickly, but my wife & I also came up with 3 pretty funny, though not correct answers, that you and your audience may enjoy. Let me know when appropriate to transmit. Do you have Magdalene's email address?

Magdalen said...

Dan -- you can email me at Magdalen[at]CrosswordMan[.]com;

I'll put your funny answers -- attributed to you and your wife, of course! -- in the Thursday answer post.