Monday, July 27, 2009

NYT Tuesday 7/28/09 - Give Me Your Answer Do

This Tuesday New York Times crossword turned out a lot easier than Monday's. But as my eight minutes is now about my average for a Tuesday, it was yesterday's strangely troublesome puzzle that was odd.

It definitely helped that today's long answers were straightforward, and once you saw what the pattern was going to be, you had effectively two ways to reach the answer: via the clue and by gauging where in the progression from "yes" to "no", the answer had to fit.

Getting five 15-letter answers into a puzzle is quite an achievement, but distorts other parts of the grid as a consequence: apart from ski suit, all the non-thematic answers are six letters or fewer; 50 of the 76 answers are the three- and four-letter ones we are thoroughly familiar with.
Solving time: 8 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 57d I do {Words said after "... so help you God?"}
Theme

Five colloquial responses, ranging from "yes" to "no":
17a without question {"Sure thing"}
28a in all likelihood {"Chances are good"}
35a maybe yes, maybe no {"It could go either way"}
43a not looking so hot {"Doubtful"}
56a ain't gonna happen {"Forget it!"}
Solution

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

Crucimetrics
CompilersTony Orbach / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 42 (18.7%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.82)
Theme squares75 (41.0%)
Scrabble points296 (average 1.62)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

14a Fonda {Jane of "Monster-in-Law"}. Knew the Jane we were talking about, but not the specific movie. Monster-in-Law is a 2005 romcom also starring J.Lo. Fonda plays a mother-in-law-from-hell, her first movie role after a 15 year absence. Popping The Question 101: never propose in front of your future mother-in-law.



33a I am I {"___ Said" (Neil Diamond hit)}. I am I is a great letter sequence for filling around, but without this Neil Diamond song, you'd be hard-pressed to find a context in which it is used. I Am...I Said was released in 1971 and took four months to write - seemed like a long time, until I thought about the number of times I've spent that long constructing a crossword.



Kenny45d Kenny {"South Park" boy}. I obviously haven't seen enough of this show, as I only discovered recently that (despite appearances) South Park isn't a program for kids. Kenny McCormick is the boy that's so enveloped by his parka that his speech is largely unintelligible.

46d On Up {"Movin' ___" ("The Jeffersons" theme)}. I had no idea what the Jeffersons might be, so the clue was no help at all. Turns out The Jeffersons is yet another sitcom, this one running from 1975 to 1985. It was a spin-off of All in the Family, in which the African-American Jeffersons had been neighbors of the Bunkers. The Jeffersons is the longest running series with a predominantly African-American cast in the history of American television.



dojo54d chop {Dojo blow}. I must have come across dojo before, as I recognized it as having something to do with martial arts. It seems a dojo (literally "place of the way") is a training area, originally one attached to a temple.

Noteworthy

4a ASAP {"Stat!"}; 7d PDQ {"Stat!"}; 60d now {"Stat!"}. The first time I've seen the same clue serve for three different answers. A shame stat wasn't an answer, but could you then have come up with a fifth synonym to clue them all with?

3d Mothra {Insect monster of Japanese film}. Until I started solving American crosswords, I only knew of one Japanese film monster: Godzilla. Now I can add Mothra, whom I suspect I first met in the pages of Cranium-Crushing Crosswords. Mothra made her film debut in 1961 and has since appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films.



12d Son {Sequel title starter, sometimes}. As in Son of Dracula, for example - nice inventive cluing.



19d Earl {Banjoist Scruggs}. Surprisingly, I had come across Earl Scruggs before - Magdalen and I both love the bluegrass music of Alison Krauss & Union Station and Scruggs has often been cited as a major influence. Here he is with the versatile Steve Martin.



31d idyls {Pastoral poems}. I thought it so unlikely that idylls would be spelled with one L that I penciled in the answer as idyll - this didn't work out, so I reluctantly concluded the one-L idyl is another idiosyncrasy of American orthography. Yes, if we look at Noah Webster's first (1828) edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, idyl is the only spelling given - a stance that later lexicographers have backtracked from, listing idyll as more common.

The Rest

1a mum {Tight-lipped}; 8a games {Seven-up and crazy eights}; 13a Ono {Lennon's second wife}; 16a a gogo {Disco-era suffix}; 20a G-sharp {Note in an E major scale}; 21a rap {Word before sheet or music}; 22a Lori {Loughlin of "90210"}; 23a tsar {Bygone despot}; 25a arm {Outfielder's asset}; 34a Dalai {___ Lama}; 41a sweet {Like dessert wines}; 42a util. {Water co., e.g.}; 50a lit {Turned on}; 51a sets {Studio constructions}; 52a nigh {Close by}; 53a USN {Gitmo mil. branch}; 54a couple {Counselor's clients, perhaps}; 62a ideal {Perfect}; 63a yo-yos {Fluctuates wildly}; 64a ire {Ill temper}; 65a moody {Apt to pout}; 66a wept {Had a bawl}; 67a est. {Ballpark fig.}.

1d Mowgli {"The Jungle Book" hero}; 2d unison {Oneness}; 4d A for {Get an ___ effort}; 5d soup {Borscht, e.g.}; 6d ant {Amazon ___ (aggressive insect)}; 8d gasp {Shocked reaction}; 9d agt. {F.B.I. worker: Abbr.}; 10d moi? {"You don't mean ME?!"}; 11d ego {Self-esteem}; 15d aurae {Surrounding glows}; 18d hail {Precipitation that may be the size of golf balls}; 23d time {The so-called fourth dimension}; 24d ski suit {Attire on the slopes}; 25d Ahab {Melville's obsessed captain}; 26d role {Thing to play}; 27d moan {Haunted house sound}; 29d lie to {More than deceive}; 30d lay {Put down}; 32d Dio {God, in Roma}; 35d MSN {AOL alternative}; 36d AWOL {Whom an M.P. hunts}; 37d yeti {Hulking Himalayan of legend}; 38d belt {Asteroid area, e.g.}; 39d mtns. {Range units: Abbr.}; 40d AIG {Bailed-out co. in the news}; 44d osso {___ buco}; 47d hippie {Cheech or Chong persona}; 48d oglers {Gawking sorts}; 49d the Net {Where one might see "OMG" or "TTYL"}; 53d ugly {Hideous}; 55d oast {Brewery dryer}; 56d aim {Deadeye's skill}; 57d I do {Words said after "... so help you God?"}; 58d Neo {Keanu's "The Matrix" role}; 59d tad {Wee bit}; 61d aye {Floor vote}.

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