Monday, July 13, 2009

NYT Tuesday 7/14/09 - Le jour de gloire est arrivé

Viva la France! I don't normally remember Bastille Day, so the theme came as a surprise. For once, all the long answers were among the very first to go in: A Tale of Two Cities showed what we were dealing with and the other thematics seemed obvious. Incidentally, the grid is unusual in being 16 letters wide, which clearly suits the theme much better.

Probably to compensate for the easier than usual long answers, much of the remaining cluing seemed harder for this early in the week. I struggled with the SW corner in particular, where the 109 reference was lost on me - now I'll always remember it.

It's funny to read the history and be reminded that the French Revolution occurred after the American one. It's a reminder of just how much the Founding Fathers were sticking their necks out (quite literally) by declaring independence in 1776. Their doings are in my mind at the moment as I'm enjoying listening to a recording of 1776 the Musical.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 52d even {Tied up}

A Bastille Day theme for July 14:
18a A Tale of Two Cities {Dickens novel with the 56-Across as its backdrop}
27a let them eat cake {Declaration attributed to Marie Antoinette just before the 56-Across}
43a La Marseillaise {Song of the 56-Across}
56a French Revolution {Event that began in 1789}

Donna S. Levin
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDonna S. Levin / Will Shortz
Grid15x16 with 40 (16.7%) black squares
Answers79 (average length 5.06)
Theme squares60 (30.0%)
Scrabble points323 (average 1.62)
New To Me

21a req. {Not an elective: Abbr.}. I nearly came to grief over this one as the terminology is unfamiliar. I gather from Magdalen that an elective is an optional course in a curriculum, in contrast to a required (course). The clue implies that "required" is a noun in this sense, although I haven't found it as such in dictionaries (but that's nothing new).

Abie's Irish Rose37a Abie's {"___ Irish Rose"}. Abie's Irish Rose was a hit comedy in the 1920s, having the longest run in a Broadway theater at the time. It's about an Irish girl who marries a Jewish man, to the objection of both families. The play inspired an NBC radio program and two movie adaptations.

Reza Pahlevi40a Reza {___ Pahlevi, last shah of Iran}. I can never be sure how Elisa/Eliza is going to be spelled, so not knowing Reza Pahlevi either gave me some concerns. I leaned towards the Z spellings because I knew a Reza back in England, and that worked out well for me.

JFK aboard PT-10948a PT boat {109, famously}. I now worry whenever I see "famously" in a clue, as the chances are I'll have never heard of what it qualifies. This was certainly true of Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109, which was the vessel John F. Kennedy commanded in World War II. PT-109 was run down by an enemy destroyer during a night attack. JFK's actions in saving the surviving crew after the boat's sinking made him a war hero, helping his later political career.

7d Arte {Johnson of "Laugh-In"}. I know I saw this show in the UK ages ago, because I still remember being nonplussed by Henry Gibson reading poems as "Henrik Ibsen". I guess some comedy doesn't travel well and I imagine most Americans are bemused by Monty Python for example. Arte Johnson did a number of characters, including Tyrone F. Horneigh (pronounced "hor-NIGH").

39d Stardust {Hoagy Carmichael classic}. Stardust was written in 1927 as a jazz instrumental, but it wasn't until lyrics were written by Mitchell Parish that the song really took off. Here's the Bing Crosby version released in 1931.


6a Garp {John Irving title character}. A title like The World According to Garp does rather stick in the mind, although I don't think I've yet read that novel. It was made into a movie starring Robin Williams in 1982.

17a Halle {Oscar winner Berry}. I know of Halle Berry, but couldn't recall the role she got the Oscar for. It was for playing Leticia Musgrove in Monster's Ball, and Halle remains the only woman of African American descent to have won the Best Actress award.

The Walrus and the Carpenter33a walrus {Oyster eater in a Lewis Carroll verse}. The Walrus and the Carpenter is recited by Tweedledee in Through the Looking-Glass. This is the poem that has the well-known lines:
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."
48d PFCs {Gomer Pyle and platoonmates, by rank: Abbr.}. Gomer Pyle I now recognize as the TV character who started out on The Andy Griffith Show and then got his own show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Private First Class was a guess for me, but I thought any higher rank unlikely!

Tropicana49d Trop {Classic Vegas hotel, with "the"}. This was another guess, but I thought The Trop was a reasonable shortening of The Tropicana.

52d even {Tied up}. Nicely misleading: the more crossing letters I added, the more this answer looked like even, but still I couldn't see how. Eventually I got it that the clue refers to tied (up) games.

The Rest

1a crime {Partner of punishment}; 10a chaff {Leftovers from threshing}; 15a harem {Dwelling section whose name comes from the Arabic for "forbidden place"}; 16a oral {Kind of exam}; 22a rare {Like hen's teeth}; 23a arêtes {Features of the Sierras}; 24a site {Venue}; 25a Dora {Nickelodeon explorer}; 34a Elks {Fraternal group}; 35a lire {Stale Italian bread?}; 38a espy {Catch sight of}; 39a Silas {Miserly Marner}; 41a wash {Launder}; 42a at cost {Without profit}; 46a pats {Butter slices}; 47a Agra {Indian tourist mecca}; 52a egad {"Yikes!"}; 53a fro {To's opposite}; 60a coach {Play caller}; 61a Oreo {"Milk's favorite cookie," in commercials}; 62a salve {Unguent}; 63a spree {Binge}; 64a Tenn {Volunteer State: Abbr.}; 65a trees {Grove constituents}.

1d char {Scorch}; 2d rate {Assign stars to, say}; 3d Iraq {With 33-Down, topic in the 2008 presidential campaign}; 4d Mel {___ B or ___ C of the Spice Girls}; 5d emeritus {Retired}; 6d go free {Get out of jail}; 8d raw {Unprocessed}; 9d PLO {Negotiating partner of Isr.}; 10d Chirac {Sarkozy's presidential predecessor}; 11d hate {Loathe}; 12d alit {Landed}; 13d flee {Leave, as out of fear}; 14d fess {Admit, with "up"}; 19d oaths {Solemn promises}; 20d carts {Vehicles on the links}; 24d stream {Dam site}; 25d Delphi {Oracle site}; 26d oaky {Like some chardonnays}; 27d label {Arista or Motown}; 28d Eliza {"My Fair Lady" role}; 29d messes {Tinkers (with)}; 30d Alicia {Singer Keys}; 31d kilos {Drug units}; 32d erase {Wipe out}; 33d war {See 3-Down}; 36d -est {Superlative suffix}; 38d East {Big ___ Conference}; 41d wrath {Anger}; 42d algal {Like some pond life}; 44d Apache {Geronimo, e.g.}; 45d lagoon {Middle of an atoll}; 50d bear {Winnie-the-Pooh, for one}; 51d once {On a single occasion}; 53d file {Manicurist's tool}; 54d rove {Wander}; 55d ones {Change for a five}; 57d rot {Spoil}; 58d ere {"Able was I ___ I saw Elba"}; 59d tar {La Brea goo}.


Judy said...

Interesting! Stumbled across that crossword by chance, yesterday, and across your blog, this morning - on googling 'Dwelling section whose name comes from the Arabic for "forbidden place"' (wanted to make sure my solution "harem" was right... Never thought I would find an article about that crossword.

Crossword Man said...

Glad to help out. That style of clue seems to be in vogue at the moment - it makes you think you need to know Arabic, but that's not the case!