Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NYT Thursday 7/16/09 - A Little Sum Thing

This Thursday New York Times crossword was a bit of a breeze for me: I came across the anagrams at the heart of the puzzle many years ago (I forget where) and even considered, more recently, whether they'd make the basis of a good US crossword (I decided not).

So when I got nonplused (yes, that is an acceptable alternative to nonplussed, which Blogger likes better), I knew a rebus was involved and twelve+one seemed to leap out at me, followed in short order by all the other thematics.

The only corner that really held me up at all was the NE, where I had 10-Across as rtns., then rets. when that didn't work; also -itis rather than -osis. And I opted for seedier at 28-Across. I managed to dig myself out of all these holes quickly enough and turned in a time just one minute longer than that for yesterday's crossword.
Solving time: 15 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 1a at play {Recreating}
This is true literally as well as mathematically, since the two sides of the equation are anagrams of each other. The thematic answers relate to this:
17a eleven + two {35-Across of 57-Across that equals 12-Down}
35a anagram {See 17- and 57-Across}
57a twelve + one {35-Across of 17-Across that equals 12-Down}
12d thirteen {Either 17- or 57-Across}
33d it adds up {Possible title for this puzzle}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.31)
Theme squares43 (22.5%)
Scrabble points295 (average 1.54)
New To Me

Univision7a Uni {Commercial prefix with vision}. I gather this refers to a television network, specifically the Spanish-language network with the largest Latin American audience.

29a Merle {French novelist Robert ___, upon whose work the 1973 thriller "The Day of the Dolphin" is based}. Robert Merle (1908-2004) wrote A Sentient Animal in 1967, a Cold War satire partly inspired by John Lilly's studies of dolphins. In the movie version, a marine biologist discovers dolphins are going to be used to blow up the President's yacht.

15d B+ average {3.3 in a transcript, maybe}. I was hoping Magdalen would explain this to me and now she's off on a road trip and I can't ask. I deduce this has to do with Grade Point Averages which in the US go from 0.0 to 4.0. You get a B+ in the range 3.3 to 3.49 corresponding to the 87% to 89% range. I never experienced anything quite like this in my education, and it will be hard to pick up what must be horribly familiar to Americans.

30d LGA {N.Y.C. airport}. Not knowing Merle at 29-Across, I just had to trust that the required airport was La Guardia and that it abbreviated in a sane manner. Newark (EWR - a less sane abbr.) is the only N.Y.C. airport I've been to - the others are too far east to be easily accessible.

32d Béla {Gymnastics coach Károlyi}. Confirmation of the "Béla theory" (all Hungarians in crosswords are called Béla). Béla Károlyi is the coach responsible for training the likes of Kerri Strug and Nadia Comaneci, so he seems to do a pretty good job. Béla defected with his wife to the United States in 1981 and is now based in Texas.

44d Costas {Bob at the Olympics}. I thought this would be an athlete, but no, Bob Costas is a sportscaster. He's frontlined many of the Olympics broadcasts for NBC, so is particularly associated with that. Here he is in a discussion of the state of sports journalism.


1a at play {Recreating}. Nicely misleading: somehow it's easier to think of recreation meaning "play" than recreating meaning "at play".

USS Akron14a dirigibles {Ships whose rudders don't touch water}. When dirigibles were invented, much of the terminology was borrowed from that used for ships, hence the cluing opportunity exploited here. Dirigible literally means "directable".

26a To Have {Start of a Hemingway title}. Hemingway wrote To Have and Have Not in the mid 1930s in the Bahamas. It's about the captain of a fishing boat who runs contraband between Cuba and Florida. Three film versions have been made, the first is the most famous, but moves the setting from Key West to Martinique under the Vichy regime - perhaps not surprising since it was made in the middle of World War II.

32a Bic {Signature piece?}. Misleading, but not very pleasing because "piece" seems a little too general a term in the context of a pen.

Tilsit2d Tilsit {Swiss cheese}. Tilsit is a light yellow semi-hard cheese. It was first made in a Russian town called Tilsit (modern name Sovetsk) by Prussian-Swiss settlers. The recipe was reimported to Switzerland, where most of this type of cheese is now manufactured.

Presto3d presto {Cry just before a rabbit appears?}. Had to put in a lot of work on crossings to get this one - magical cluing.

9d Isolde {Singer of the Wagner aria "Liebestod"}. Something about the wording made me do a double-take. {Singer of the "Liebestod"} was all I needed and I find it hard to think of the sublime music at the end of Tristan as being in the same category as eg La donna è mobile. I'm sure that's just my problem. Who shall we have to sing it? - Waltraud Meier should be good.

52d spelt {Like L-O-N-D-O-N}. I didn't realize until moving to the US that I spelt funny.

The Rest

10a pcts. {Election night figs.}; 16a rahs {Sounds heard in a bowl}; 18a -osis {Medical suffix}; 19a esses {Bobsled challenges}; 20a art lover {Aesthete}; 22a Pitt {The Big East's Panthers, for short}; 23a ova {They travel through tubes}; 24a drifts {Winter driving hazards}; 28a needier {Less affluent}; 31a Elea {Philosopher Zeno of ___}; 38a Ens. {Nav. rank}; 39a étui {Container for folding scissors}; 41a gavel {Something a chair may hold}; 42a lattice {Pie crust pattern}; 45a O-rings {Rubber gaskets}; 49a adreno- {Endocrinological prefix}; 50a Quo {Status follower}; 51a orcs {Tolkien villains}; 53a Damascus {Destination of Saul when he had his conversion, in the Bible}; 55a snoop {Reader of someone else's diary, say}; 56a Asti {Sparkling wine source}; 59a Suez {Mideast's Gulf of ___}; 60a at eye level {Neither high nor low}; 61a apse {Half-dome construction}; 62a SSN {Govt. ID}; 63a eldest {First arrival}.

1d a deep {"Take ___ breath"}; 4d liveth {Dwells in the past?}; 5d ages {So, so long}; 6d yin {Feminine side}; 7d ultra {Extraordinary}; 8d newt {Red-spotted ___}; 10d provide {Be a breadwinner}; 11d case file {Detective's work record}; 13d SSS {Snake's warning}; 21d ore {Lead from a mountain?}; 23d oven {Brickmaking need}; 25d Sras. {Women of Andalucía: Abbr.}; 27d AMA {Drs.' org.}; 28d nervously {With clammy hands, say}; 34d cut rates {Deep discounts}; 36d Aero {Britain's Royal ___ Club, for plane enthusiasts}; 37d MLI {1051, on a monument}; 40d itemize {Complete the I.R.S.'s Schedule A}; 43d in a {___ fog}; 46d nonplused {Puzzled}; 47d groove {Dig, with "on"}; 48d scones {Servings at teas}; 50d queen {Doyenne}; 54d cwts. {100-lb. units}; 55d sell {Bear's warning}; 56d as a {Simile center}; 58d vee {Flashed sign}.

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