Wednesday, July 8, 2009

NYT Thursday 7/9/09 - That Can Be Arranged

Dealing with the theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword was second nature to someone brought up on cryptics. I realized anagramming was required after four minutes or so and hence had trot, heart, first, stage and shoe immediately; but it in some cases it took a lot of work to see what word would need to follow these.

Perhaps to offset the fairly easy theme, some of the other cluing was really tough and I found the center of the grid a particular challenge. It was nice to discover a subsidiary theme of colds, with sneeze (cold response?), red nose (cold shower?) and then the outrageous cashew (Snack item whose name suggests a sneeze)!
Solving time: 18 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 22d toast {Clink preceder}
Theme

A "reverse" theme, in which the answer suggests the word in the clue (in each case via anagramming):
19a tort reform {TROT?}
21a heart transplant {HATER?}
36a First Amendment {RIFTS?}
52a stage adaptation {GATES?}
56a shoe repair {HOSE?}
Solution

Ashish Vengsarkar
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersAshish Vengsarkar / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 36 (15.0%) black squares
Answers77 (average length 5.30)
Theme squares61 (29.9%)
Scrabble points312 (average 1.53)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

6a Paget {Debra of "The Ten Commandments"}. Debra Paget plays the water girl Lilia in The Ten Commandments (1956) - the last film that Cecil DeMille directed and a classic epic movie of the period. Here's an epic of a trailer for it:



Puerto Rico39a Rican {San Juan native, slangily}. Easy enough to guess, but I really wasn't sure if this referred to Puerto Ricans or Costa Ricans, or perhaps both. The former must be what was intended, since San Juan is Puerto Rico's capital.

59a Zorro {Two-time Banderas role}. Antonio Banderas plays the swashbuckler in The Mask of Zorro (1998) and The Legend of Zorro (2005).



Jake Garn and Karol Bobko8d Garn {First senator in space}. No gimme for me - I had to ferret this answer out from crossings. Jake Garn is a former Republican senator for Utah who flew in a space shuttle in April 1985.

20d ela {She, in Brasília}. OMG - it looks like we need to learn Portuguese now!

53d a pop {Each}; 55d a pip {"You're ___, ya know that?": Archie Bunker}. Is a pop and a pip within two clues of each other a bug or a feature? It didn't bother me - just set me wondering whether you could crown it with a pup somewhere.

Noteworthy

1a camps {Taps may be heard in them}. A nice clue, though I saw the required sense of Taps immediately. Here's a fascinating clip on the origins of the bugle call:



11a LAPD {Joe Friday's employer, for short}. The ambiguity of Friday is a magnet for clue writers, so I learned about Jack Webb (1920–1982) and Dragnet very soon after starting to solve American crosswords.



24a oof {Gut reaction?}. Traditionally the sound you make when you're hit in the stomach.

31a May {"Rough winds do shake the darling buds of ___": Shak.}. A line that famously (in the UK at least) inspired an H.E.Bates novel. It comes from sonnet XVIII, short enough to quote in full:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimm'd:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
60a Isaac {Stern, for one}. This neat concealment of a proper name had me fooled for a long time. Strange considering how many Isaac Stern (1920–2001) recordings I own. Here he is playing the Introduction and Rondo capriccioso of 48d Saens {Composer Camille Saint-___}.



clink22d toast {Clink preceder}. I love this: clink made me think of prisons and what might come before a jail term, but the real answer has much nicer associations.

30d tennis pros {Racket makers?}. They might show you how to use one, but do tennis pros really make rackets?? I'm skeptical, but not an expert on this subj.

NRA32d NRA {Colt fans, for short?}. The National Rifle Association seems to come up at least once a week.

44d Mai Tai {Drink at Trader Vic's}. We did get Trader Vic's back in February and I'll never forget my first taste of Mai Tais on a business trip to the West Coast in the late 80s. So I was able to put two and two together, which is more than can be said for my abilities after a couple of Mai Tais!

The Rest

15a adiós {"See you later, alligator"}; 16a Alamo {National alternative}; 17a osos {Bogotá bears}; 18a shrug {[I don't care]}; 23a ergs {Bursts of energy?}; 25a oaters {Westerns}; 27a wee {Teensy}; 28a Bal {___ Harbour, Fla.}; 29a ctr. {N.F.L. position: Abbr.}; 32a no-score {Love all, say}; 34a on air {Broadcasting}; 40a red-nose {Cold shower?}; 41a ENE {Sioux Falls-to-St. Paul dir.}; 42a SSN {1040 ID}; 43a ink {Tattoo, in slang}; 44a Mam {Mother, in British dialect}; 47a Nissan {Z producer}; 50a FSU {Tallahassee sch.}; 51a sale {Tent event}; 57a paths {Walks}; 58a CERN {World's largest particle physics lab}; 61a isms {Beliefs}; 62a épées {Some blades}; 63a phish {Attempt some Internet fraud}.

1d cashew {Snack item whose name suggests a 42-Down?}; 2d adhere {Stick}; 3d mirage {Las Vegas attraction, with "The"}; 4d pours {Serves, say}; 5d SSgt {Army NCO}; 6d patrol cars {Cruisers}; 7d a loaf {"Half ___ is better ..."}; 9d EMTs {CPR experts}; 10d torpor {Lethargy}; 11d lo-fat {Lite}; 12d as one man {In unison}; 13d portrait {Many a White House artwork}; 14d DSM {Mil. honor}; 26d Syr. {Neighbor of Turk.}; 28d bos'n {Cap'n's underling}; 29d cred {Street ___}; 33d omen {Augury}; 34d Omsk {Stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway}; 35d née {Originally}; 36d finishes {Paint and shellac, for example}; 37d ice storm {Power outage cause}; 38d donut {Coffee mate?}; 39d Ren {Rapper MC ___}; 42d sneeze {Cold response?}; 45d alohas {Hello and goodbye}; 46d mensch {Good guy}; 49d Agr. {U.S.D.A. part: Abbr.}; 50d faire {Renaissance ___}; 51d stash {Store that's hard to find}; 54d dare {Truth alternative}; 56d sci. {58-Across subj.}.

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