Wednesday, July 1, 2009

NYT Thursday 7/2/09 - Everything's Coming up Roses

Portrait of Gertrude Stein by Pablo PicassoI found this Thursday New York Times quite a struggle after the easy start to the week. I stumbled on the rebus aspect when solving 24-Down, which I knew to be Ambrose: seeing this crossed the central across answer, I realized ROSE would have to go in one square - the only question was how many rebus squares there would be.

The real difficulties didn't come from the thematic aspects, but a couple of areas with tougher cluing: the block around Rose Red held me up for a couple of minutes, but the intersection of do-re-mi and Marci was the real killer, which I pondered over for at least five minutes at the end.

The Gertrude Stein quote is better known than understood, but I guess that was rather the poet's intention. According to Evelyn Waugh, Gertrude Stein wrote absolute gibberish and was responsible for turning James Joyce to the bad. Looking at the text of Sacred Emily (from which 34-Across derives) I can see where he's coming from.
Solving time: 25 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 38a PR men {Spinners?}

A rebus with ROSE occupying a single square wherever it occurs in 34a "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" {Famous quote by 20-Across}. The two other theme answers relate to this in different ways:
20a Gertrude Stein {Pittsburgh-born poet who was the subject of a Picasso portrait}
50a floral display {Colorful decoration hinted at by 34-Across}

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

CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers72 (average length 5.19)
Theme squares39 (20.9%)
Scrabble points285 (average 1.52)
New To Me

poker chips57a Hi-Lo {Kind of poker}. This makes a change from cluing the Hawaiian port. I barely understand conventional poker, let alone variants such as this. Hi-Lo relates to the way the pot is distributed: traditionally this goes to the highest hand, but in Hi-Lo games, it is split 50/50 between the highest and lowest hand. The lowball variation exclusively rewards the poorest hand.

59a Marci {"___ X" (2003 Lisa Kudrow film)}. This one caused difficulties given 53-Down could be DSCs or DSOs (actually, I see now that DSCs are awarded in the USA, but not DSOs - it might have helped to know this). So I considered Marci X versus Ma Roi X as possible titles, eventually opting for the former as more likely. Marci X (2003) is a romcom starring Lisa Kudrow as a "Jewish-American Princess" who takes control of a hip-hop record label and tries to control the antics of its rapper "Dr. S".

21d Reagan {Subject of the 1999 best seller "Dutch"}. If I ever knew Reagan was nicknamed "Dutch", I'd forgotten when it came time to solve this clue. The nickname didn't derive from his movie career, but was given by his father due to young Ronald's "fat little Dutchman"-like appearance, and his "Dutchboy" haircut. My impression of the 40th pres came mostly from the British satirical show Spitting Image, in which Dutch was portrayed as a bumbling idiot obsessed with nukes - that can't have been right, can it?

Snow White and Rose Red34d Rose Red {Snow White's sister}. In my ignorance, I tried to pin Rosebud on the lady, which held things up for a bit. I thought Rose Red must have appeared in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but it seems the movie's story bears no relation to the Grimm tale referred to in the clue.


I Love PR38a PR men {Spinners?}. Nicely misleading, but a tough answer to get because of the unexpected triple consonant at the beginning: I had the __men part a long time before the PR came into my head, not helped by ignorance of Rose Red and forgetfulness about wave functions in quantum mechanics.

41a DST {"Spring ahead" hrs.}. The several possibilities for this didn't help with the tough 41-Down: I thought the answer was probably DST, but also considered EST, CST, MST and PST as possibilities.

55a shoe fetish {Carrie Bradshaw had one in "Sex and the City"}. I saw the Sex and the City movie and occasionally watched the series back in the UK so this bizarre answer didn't come as too much of a surprise. Why is it that women need a closet full of shoes, but men can get by with just two pairs?

1d lieges {Subjects studied by medieval scholars?}. The question mark suggested something unusual was going on. And indeed the "subjects" here are the vassals owing allegiance to a feudal superior.

5d Lulu {Berg opera}. A gimme for me, as I've listened to this challenging opera many times, but never seen it live (it isn't often performed) - I must put in a plug here for Christine Schäfer's remarkable Glyndebourne performance. Lulu is based on plays by Frank Wedekind and was left incomplete when Alban Berg died in 1935; his widow's wishes were a barrier to completion of the work from the composer's outline, and a full version didn't appear until 1979.

9d syntax {Twisted this clue's is}. A neatly self-referential clue, calling to mind Yoda's mode of speech.

do-re-mi41d do-re-mi {Cabbage}. Both slang terms for money - it took a long time to realize this, so I kept tinkering with alternatives for 41-Across and 59-Across, trying to find some kind of cabbage that would fit. Partridge reckons do-re-mi in this sense originated in Canada in the 1930s.

46d Eeyore {Character in "Piglet's Big Movie," 2003}. A complicated way of cluing the mo-rose A.A.Milne character. Cue the trailer ...

The Rest

1a list {Not stay fully upright}; 5a lotus {Flower in Chinese embroidery}; 10a DCCI {Year the Chinese poet Li Po was born}; 14a Inca {People conquered by the Spanish}; 15a unify {Fuse}; 16a rout {10 to 1, e.g.}; 17a Educ. {Cabinet dept.}; 18a lemon tarts {Tangy teatime treats}; 22a eerie {Like some coincidences}; 23a Aeneas {Virgil hero}; 26a spycam {Surveillance device}; 28a wax {Denture maker's need}; 30a elms {Raw materials for shipbuilding}; 31a go bad {Spoil}; 33a bribe {Payola, e.g.}; 39a Camus {Who wrote "Can one be a saint if God does not exist?"}; 40a sent {Let fly}; 42a potpie {Baked comfort food}; 47a I do too {"Likewise"}; 49a no-one {"___ will ever guess!"}; 58a a moi {Mine, to Manet}; 60a Asir {Province of Saudi Arabia}; 61a Köln {German cathedral city}; 62a id est {That is}; 63a thee {"America" pronoun}.

2d in deep {Seriously committed}; 3d scurry {Rush}; 4d tactic {Part of a war plan}; 6d one-D {Linear}; 7d time {It may be on your side}; 8d UFOs {They're involved in some reported abductions}; 10d drainers {Sink accessories}; 11d Cornelia {Wife of Julius Caesar}; 12d cut {Rib or short loin}; 13d it's {"___ alive!"}; 19d tee {Informal top}; 24d Ambrose {Writer Bierce}; 25d SSE {157.5 degrees from N}; 27d morose {Gloomy}; 28d was at {Attended}; 29d Adam {Smith of note}; 32d Bics {Inexpensive pens}; 33d Bisons {Buffalo's Triple-A baseball team}; 35d I'm no fool {"Don't play me for a dummy"}; 36d settle in {Get comfy}; 37d rose up {Was revolting}; 38d psi {Wave function symbol in physics}; 43d top-hat {Tails partner}; 44d Polish {Like Chopin}; 45d in a lie {Embarrassing way to be caught}; 48d oof {Response to a stomach punch}; 51d a tad {Slightly}; 52d lire {Money replaced by the euro}; 53d DSCs {Mil. awards}; 54d I hit {"___ the jackpot!"}; 55d Sak {Bag, in brand names}; 56d HMO {Med. group}.


Joan said...

Shakespeare wrote Julius Ceasar's wife's name was Calpurnia. I am confused.

Crossword Man said...

Yes, it is a bit confusing ... Cornelia was Caesar's first wife and he was on to his third and final wife Calpurnia at the time Shakespeare's play was set. The middle one Pompeia is the one referred to in the quote "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion" - he divorced her merely on suspicion of adultery.