Saturday, July 11, 2009

NYT Sunday 7/12/09 - Making History

Magdalen and I found this Sunday New York Times crossword very easy: it helped that the long answers were essentially cryptic clues. Once we worked out middle of nowhere, we could guess most of the long answers with little or no crossings - that's unusual for us.

It's interesting that three of the cryptic devices (first, middle and last letters) are used twice each, leaving an odd one out: the second in command sticks out as different, but this was seemingly unavoidable - Sunday grids tend to have that middle row answer, resulting in an odd number of thematic clues.
Solving time: 35 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 18d astern {Back on board}
Theme

Links to the past: the seven long across answers cryptically indicate the letters H,I,S,T,O,R,Y:
H: 23a middle of nowhere {Boondocks}
I: 34a medical center {Ambulance destination}
S: 50a spiritual leader {Imam or priest}
T: 69a beginning of time {When the heavens and earth were created}
O: 87a second in command {Deputy}
R: 103a end of December {Week after Christmas}
Y: 118a Broadway closing {Lights out in New York City}
Solution

Alan Arbesfeld
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersAlan Arbesfeld / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 68 (15.4%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.33)
Theme squares101 (27.1%)
Scrabble points573 (average 1.54)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Lost Horizon1a lama {Figure in "Lost Horizon"}. I'm glad I chose to comment on this, as I never before realized this book from 1933 was the origin of Shangri-La - a fictional lamasery in Tibet. A film adaptation with Ronald Colman was made in 1937; there was also a rather disastrous musical version in 1973.

48a raps {Emulates AZ or T.I.}. For some reason the clue suggested rappers immediately, even though I'd never heard of these two before. AZ and T.I. are the stages name of Anthony Cruz and Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr..

Bobby Rahal54a Rahal {1986 Indy winner Bobby}. Magdalen says it's time I learned the NASCAR and Indy 500 drivers. Hmm ... that'll be tough. Bobby Rahal has now moved into team ownership and also won the 2004 Indy as owner.

76a Afton {"Sweet" stream in a Burns poem}. The reference is to Sweet Afton, a poem Robert Burns wrote and set to music. Nickel Creek made a memorable version in 2000.



Imre Nagy38d Imre {1950s Hungarian premier ___ Nagy}. Imre Nagy was Hungarian Communist leader whose desire for a measure of independence from Russian control led to his downfall. His second term of government ended after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and he was executed on charges of treason two years later. He was given a hero's burial in 1989 after the fall of Communism.

102d oleo {Promise, for one}. The misleading "Promise" here is a bit of a magnet for clue writers, so I'll try to remember Promise the "heart healthy" spreads.

121d Ley {Science writer Willy}. Willy Ley (1906-1969) was a German-American science writer who helped popularize spaceflight. The Ley crater on the far side of the Moon is named in honor of him.

Noteworthy

5a Virgo {Intelligent, creative sort, supposedly}. We liked this clue a lot: a zodiac sign was certainly not what we were expecting. Famous Virgos include Fiona Apple, Beyonce Knowles and Michael Jackson.

18d astern {Back on board}. Another super clue: really simple wording that somehow was still deceptive for us.

46d redundant {Pleonastic}. A pleonasm is a redundancy in expression: usually regarded as an error, it is occasionally sometimes done for deliberate effect. Legal wording is often pleonastic, as in "null and void". Here are some examples from The Bard, who Can Do No Wrong.
Th' inaudible and noiseless foot of Time
All's Well That Ends Well
When that I was and a little tiny boy
Twelfth Night
I saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes
Romeo and Juliet
60d Clio {Sister of Erato}. The sisterhood concerned is the Nine Muses, Clio being in charge of history and Erato of lyric poetry.

98d anomie {Breakdown of social norms}. A word I've heard of but never had much call to use: anomie is a sociological term attributed to Émile Durkheim and relates to the mismatch of an individual's actions with society's norms. Anomie can occur either when norms are too rigid, or when they are too loose.

The Rest

10a limo {Fancy wheels}; 14a ASPCA {Pet protector, for short}; 19a elec. {Monthly bill: Abbr.}; 20a Ulee's {"___ Gold"}; 21a Aral {___ Sea, 2,000-square-mile saltwater lake}; 22a Phils {Singer Collins and others}; 26a Perot {Former presidential candidate in the Forbes 400}; 27a on ice {Standing by}; 28a violet {Symbol of modesty}; 29a on leave {Away with an O.K.}; 31a NEA {PBS funder}; 32a NNE {Mobile-to-Birmingham dir.}; 37a biotype {Group of genetically related organisms}; 40a one at {"Buy ___ regular price, get ..."}; 41a ern {Directional suffix}; 42a palm {It's within your grasp}; 44a woe {With 51-Down, cry of sorrow}; 45a Arlen {Specter in the Senate}; 57a sites {Vacation itinerary}; 58a Heidi {Literary heroine whose best friend is a goatherd}; 59a act like {Copy}; 61a Taz {Looney Tunes nickname}; 62a Mateo {San ___, Calif.}; 65a uncoil {Straighten out}; 68a MPAA {G or R issuer: Abbr.}; 72a Alfa {Car driven by James Bond in "Octopussy," for short}; 75a resend {Forward}; 77a amp {Roadie's armful}; 80a bean-bag {Noisy but comfy chair}; 82a baste {Wallop}; 84a Estee {First name in skin care}; 86a serge {Material with a distinctive diagonal weave}; 92a a-sea {Serving in the navy}; 94a texts {Tweets, e.g.}; 95a Srs. {Grandfathers of III's}; 96a onus {Unpaid debt, e.g.}; 97a can {Let go}; 99a rigid {Strait-laced}; 101a geology {Field for a fault-finder?}; 108a sol {G, musically}; 109a pre {Lead-in to calculus}; 112a low gear {1, to a trucker}; 113a caress {Love sign}; 115a eared {Dog-___}; 117a Emils {Actor Jannings and others}; 122a bidet {Bathroom fixture}; 123a I bet! {"Yeah, right!"}; 124a issue {Children}; 125a acte {Part of a French opera}; 126a seeds {Open stars?}; 127a lids {Tops}; 128a netty {Like mesh}; 129a pear {Bartlett, e.g.}.

1d lemon {A mechanic might see it a lot}; 2d A-line {Flared dress}; 3d media blitz {Publicity push}; 4d AC-DC {Group with the 22x platinum album "Back in Black"}; 5d Vue {Saturn offering}; 6d I Love You {P.S. in a Beatles song}; 7d refi {Mortgage adjustment, for short}; 8d genome {Subject of some modern maps}; 9d O Sole {"___ Mio"}; 10d Lahti {"Chicago Hope" actress}; 11d ire {Choler}; 12d mar {Nick, say}; 13d ole ole {World Cup shout}; 14d apple-tart {Small, fruity dessert}; 15d sheen {Luster}; 16d pirate-ship {Worrisome sight on the Spanish Main}; 17d clover {Bee's target}; 24d Leno {O'Brien's predecessor}; 25d wed {Get together}; 30d N. Car. {Birthplace of James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson: Abbr.}; 33d nt. wt. {Abbr. on a cereal box}; 35d coed {Like most dorms nowadays}; 36d Anne {___ Page, woman in "The Merry Wives of Windsor"}; 39d peahens {Birds with showy mates}; 42d psst {"Hey there!"}; 43d Apia {Pacific capital}; 45d Ali {Foreman foe}; 47d Laing {"The Divided Self" author R. D. ___}; 49d Palme {Former Swedish P.M. Olof ___}; 51d is me {See 44-Across}; 52d Leone {Director Sergio}; 53d Raitt {Bonnie in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame}; 55d aka {Wanted poster letters}; 56d lea {Field of green}; 63d Agra {Indian tourist locale}; 64d Tiegs {Cover girl Cheryl}; 66d coati {Cousin of a raccoon}; 67d offense {Something to play}; 69d bangs {Forehead coverer}; 70d in-box {Desk tray}; 71d mnem- {Memory: Prefix}; 72d abs {They may be crunched}; 73d Lee {Wrangler rival}; 74d far and wide {All over}; 77d at any price {No matter the cost}; 78d menu {___ items}; 79d peds {Those hoofing it}; 81d beer fests {Events that are barrels of fun?}; 83d SDS {'60s radical grp.}; 85d smog {Eye irritant}; 88d -etic {Suffix with diet}; 89d cede {Relinquish}; 90d crosscut {Kind of saw}; 91d Oslo {Peace Prize city}; 93d Aida {Verdi's "Celeste ___"}; 97d celebs {A-listers}; 100d gerbil {Playful rodent}; 101d grease {Payola, e.g.}; 104d ogled {Gave the once-over}; 105d MCATs {Exams for future docs}; 106d bad {Uncooperative}; 107d Erwin {Field Marshal Rommel}; 110d Rent-A {___-car}; 111d edger {Lawn tool}; 114d syst. {Method: Abbr.}; 116d ASAP {"Hurry!"}; 119d RBI {Result of bringing someone home, for short}; 120d OED {Etymologist's ref.}.

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