Sunday, July 5, 2009

NYT Sunday 7/5/09 - Mike's Papa

Magdalen and I started to solve this jumbo New York Times crossword at the BMets game, but were interrupted by the arrival of a jumbo Stars and Stripes on the field and two trumpeters to play The Star-Spangled Banner. We were lucky to see some decent batting from the local team, who beat the Erie SeaWolves (which we really think should be called the Erie Ghosts) 4-0.

So we finished the puzzle on the car trip home and reckon it was easier than average. The theme was a fairly routine pun-based one, but took a while to figure out, as the title M N O P was more cryptic than usual. We eventually decided it should be parsed as"M? No, P", but "M to P" has just occurred to me as another possibility - take your pick. There were some great puns in the long answers and we particularly enjoyed stud puffin.
Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 4d bald eagle {Quarter back}
Theme

"M? No, P" - change "M to P" in a phrase, making a pun:
23a spell the Roses {Give Axl and Pete a break?} "smell"
33a portal danger {Tripping over a threshold, perhaps?} "mortal"
45a The Pod Squad {Pea farmers?} "Mod"
51a boiling pad {Summer apartment with no air-conditioning?} "mad"
69a Full Petal Jacket {Floral Technicolor dreamcoat?} "Metal"
91a stud puffin {Strutting bird on an ice floe?} "muffin"
94a New York pets {Residents at a Manhattan A.S.P.C.A.?} "Mets"
105a pan about town {Move a movie camera around a community?} "man"
122a pass confusion {Explanation for an interception?} "mass"
Solution

Tony Orbach and Amy Reynaldo
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersTony Orbach and Amy Reynaldo / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.27)
Theme squares107 (29.0%)
Scrabble points561 (average 1.52)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

87a I Lost {Pauline Kael's "___ It at the Movies"}. After getting used to Roger Ebert, I suppose I'd better learn another American film critic: Pauline Kael (1919–2001) wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. The titles of her collected reviews are deliberately suggestive, reflecting the sensual relationship the authoress perceived as having with cinema.

101a Isis {DC Comics superheroine}. It seems there are as many comic book characters, heros etc that I don't know as stars in the sky. Isis, that colorful name for the Thames in my alma mater, is also a superhero whose powers include flight, etc, requiring a chant such as "Oh zephyr winds that blow on high, lift me now so I can fly!" for activation. She appeared in the TV show The Secrets of Isis and was played by Joanna Cameron.



113a aper {Little or Short}. The sort of answer you work out from crossings and then rationalize afterwards (in my case, with Magdalen's help). These apers are the impressionists Rich Little and Martin Short - both born in Ontario, strangely enough.



6d GST {Prime meridian std.}. You'd have thought this would be Greenwich Mean Time. The clued standard has to do with celestial rather than mundane time-keeping: astronomers use Greenwich Sidereal Time to make their calculations simple, avoiding the unnecessary complications of basing time on earth's orbit round the sun. A solar day is nearly 4 minutes longer than a sidereal day.

92d Doreen {One of the original Mouseketeers}. I don't know how Magdalen remembers this stuff, but she did. The Mouseketeers were the cast members of The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s, Doreen Tracey being one of them. Here she is being interviewed by Jodie Carn:



warping pina fibers93d piña {___ cloth (lingerie fabric)}. You wouldn't have thought pineapple leaves would make a good basis for lingerie, but it seems fabric made from piña fibers are lightweight, easy to care for and similar to linen in appearance. The fabric is principally associated with the Philippines, as you can see from this article.

IRT120d IRT {N.Y.C. subway line}. I happened across this in a cranium-crushing crossword, so it's time I found out the details: IRT stands for Interborough Rapid Transit Company, originally a private operator, but now subsumed into the New York City Subway. IRT lines are the ones numbered 1 thru 7, plus the 42nd Street Shuttle.

Noteworthy

67a ran late {Went long}. Rather a mean clue: "went long" suggested financial strategies to me and quarterback strategies to Magdalen (there's a clue about our respective interests). The answer is possibly sports-related, however: TV programs often go long (run late) if overtime or a tie-breaker is called for.

quarter back4d bald eagle {Quarter back}. Aspects of the US coinage seem to crop up quite a lot in NYT cluing. I came close to running over a bald eagle on I-88, as it went on a kamikaze mission to pick up some roadkill in front of the car - I think it flew away a tad balder than it started.

15d -ula {Suffix with form}. Constructors can seemingly be a bit liberal about what constitutes a suffix. I had to check the etymologies of form and formula to convince myself that this clue is justifiable: both derive from the Latin forma (shape); -ulum, -ule, and -ula are all Latin-derived suffixes meaning "little".

77d info {Poop}. A bit daring for the NYT, especially as the meaning referred to is a comparatively recent innovation in the language. "the poop", meaning "inside information", apparently derives from army and student slang in which "poop sheet" means a set of instructions.

The Rest

1a gas-bag {Wind source}; 7a amps up {Escalates}; 13a gouache {Watercolor technique}; 20a Oscars {Annual event held at the Kodak Theater, with "the"}; 21a Cyrano {Hero known for his nose}; 22a enlaced {Intertwined}; 25a roaring {Like the Twenties}; 26a Hindi {Language that gave us "pajamas"}; 27a Aram {Saroyan's "My Name Is ___"}; 28a Aida {Elton John/Tim Rice musical}; 30a once {A bit more than never}; 31a Caesar's {___ Palace}; 37a Asti {Bubbly place?}; 38a stat {Carries, e.g.}; 39a PDAs {BlackBerry and others, for short}; 40a clog {Footwear that's hard to run in}; 43a anat. {Art school subj.}; 54a STL {Home of the Blues: Abbr.}; 55a turbo {Powerful engine}; 56a Ellen {Barkin of "Sea of Love"}; 57a Enid {English author Blyton}; 59a CEOs {Co. bigwigs}; 62a is it {"___ true?"}; 63a ray {Solar ___}; 64a fleecer {Swindler}; 73a El Mundo {Madrid newspaper}; 76a goulash {This-and-that preparation}; 77a Ios {Island near Naxos}; 80a ryes {Certain grains}; 81a sics {Sets (on)}; 84a sine {Fourier series function}; 85a rondo {Lively sonata movement}; 89a awe {Blow away}; 98a a toi {Yours, in Giverny}; 99a foes {Nemeses}; 100a Milo {Actor Ventimiglia of "Heroes"}; 103a RNAs {Genetic molecules}; 110a dealers {Some casino staff}; 114a teal {Greenish-blue}; 115a Aare {Interlaken's river}; 117a Lahti {Emmy-winning co-star of "Chicago Hope"}; 119a Berlioz {"Symphonie Fantastique" composer}; 125a LaVerne {One of the Andrews Sisters}; 126a ethers {Early anesthetics}; 127a ironic {Like some Swift writing}; 128a Orestes {Electra's brother}; 129a deuces {Twos}; 130a Seneca {___ Falls, N.Y.}.

1d gosh {"Yipe!"}; 2d aspic {Jellied dish}; 3d scena {Extended operatic solo}; 5d Arliss {Onetime HBO sitcom}; 7d acers {Deliverers of the unreturnable}; 8d Myra {Hess who was a dame}; 9d prompt {Cue}; 10d SAS {Airline to Stockholm}; 11d unearths {Digs up}; 12d posit {Propose}; 13d Geraldo {Mustachioed TV muckraker}; 14d Ono {Plastic ___ Band}; 16d Aaron {Perennial N.L. leader of old}; 17d CCing {Sharing a memo with}; 18d hence {For this reason}; 19d edger {Lawn gadget}; 24d Haring {1980s street artist Keith}; 29d dapple {Spot}; 32d at an {___ impasse}; 34d oat {Dobbin's nibble}; 35d Dad {"Dear old" guy}; 36d asst. {___ mgr.}; 38d stance {Batting coach's concern}; 40d CBer {One with a handle}; 41d Lola {"Damn Yankees" vamp}; 42d oily {Too suave}; 44d a peep {Without ___ (quietly)}; 46d etc {Series finale?}; 47d quilt {What a bee produces}; 48d Ursa {"Superman II" villainess}; 49d a bit {Some}; 50d dote {Favor cloyingly, with "on"}; 52d in fun {Just for laughs}; 53d diet {Many a New Year's resolution}; 58d drags {Pulls}; 60d Orca {1977 thriller co-starring Bo Derek}; 61d Saks {"The Odd Couple" director}; 65d LLDs {Some legal scholars, for short}; 66d Eloi {"The Time Machine'" race}; 68d Nehru {Co-founder of the Nonaligned Movement}; 69d fussy {Fastidious}; 70d Lois {Lane in Metropolis}; 71d juntas {Postrevolutionary councils}; 72d Aleut {Language akin to Yupik}; 73d Erin {A Walton}; 74d Lyle {Singer Lovett}; 75d meow {"What's New Pussycat?" response?}; 78d Odie {Comics canine}; 79d sons {End of some firm names}; 82d Capote {2005 Hoffman title role}; 83d Swe. {Winter Olympics powerhouse: Abbr.}; 86d off season {Summer at a ski resort, e.g.}; 88d tomb {Taj Mahal, e.g.}; 90d etiolate {Bleach}; 95d Rio {1983 Duran Duran hit}; 96d klutzes {China shop personae non gratae}; 97d SSW {Orlando-to-Ft. Myers dir.}; 102d in a sec {Shortly}; 104d allure {Attraction}; 105d Pablo {Literature Nobelist Neruda}; 106d a pear {"... in ___ tree"}; 107d nerve {Audacity}; 108d Arles {Bizet suite "The Girl From ___"}; 109d taped {Attached, in a way}; 110d dross {Chaff}; 111d Rhine {River straddled by Basel, Switzerland}; 112d stoic {Impassive}; 116d acre {Homeland plot?}; 118d Inca {Cuzco inhabitant}; 121d one {A wee hour}; 123d Shu {Moo ___ pork}; 124d fis {Hi-___}.

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