Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NYT Wednesday 7/15/09 - Take-out Box

This Wednesday New York Times crossword seemed harder than usual for midweek. I stalled on quite a few references I was excusably ignorant of (Blanda, Morse, Kuhn, East Lyme and fungo), but I also made the stupid choice of Nym for "Friend of Falstaff" (much less likely than Hal) and should really have remembered that cos(2 pi) is 1!

The other notable thing about this crossword is the cute cluing: lots of misleading definitions, often signaled by a question mark at the end, and innovative ideas such as eg in the clue to 11a mum.
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 11d mental note {Internal memo?}

Things liable to be "taken out", in various ways, indicated by 38a it may be taken out {Statement about 17-, 24-, 49- and 59-Across}.
17a frustration {Feeling of nonfulfillment}
24a mortgage {Frequent home acquisition}
49a fast food {Burgers and fries, often}
59a library book {Item that may have a date stamp}

Joon Pahk
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersJoon Pahk / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 34 (15.1%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 5.03)
Theme squares53 (27.7%)
Scrabble points326 (average 1.71)
New To Me

George Blanda42a Blanda {Hall-of-Fame QB/kicker George}. I wonder if George Blanda realizes he's being honored in today's puzzle. George is a former quarterback and placekicker with the distinction of having played more seasons than any other player: 26 in all. He's nicknamed "The Fossil" for reasons that aren't clear to me.

58a Nia {"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" actress Vardalos}. I'm now used to Nia Peeples but forgot about Nia Vardalos. Peeples made all the early running in the crossword stakes, but Vardalos came up fast along the inside. At this point they seem to be neck-and-neck. The only other runner is Nia Long, but she's been left far behind.

13d Morse {Robert who won a Tony for "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying"}. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a Frank Loesser musical which won seven Tony awards and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. One of the Tonys went to Robert Morse for his portrayal of the window cleaner with ambitions to climb the business ladder. There was a movie version in 1967.

36d Kuhn {Former baseball commissioner Bowie}. This clue and answer may be old hat to Americans, but I like to do my research in the hope of remembering something for the next time. Bowie Kuhn (1926–2007) was the lawyer who served as legal counsel for baseball owners for nearly 20 years before becoming the fifth commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1984.

49d fungo {Bat used for fielding practice}. This caused me a lot of grief in the SW corner. I gather coaches wield a fungo bat to direct balls accurately towards fielders. It's lighter and longer than a conventional baseball bat. The word sounds like a modern trade name, but I gather the use of fungo goes back to the nineteenth century and has unknown origins.

The House Without a Key57d a Key {"The House Without ___" (first Charlie Chan mystery)}. An answer like this isn't particularly desirable, so it's good to find a nice use of it as part of a title. The House Without a Key is set in Hawaii in the 1920s and is the first of six Charlie Chan novels written by Earl Derr Biggers.


6a local {Not express}. This puzzle is full of beautiful misleading clues: I was taken in by this one for a long time, which betrays how long it is since I was a commuter.

11a mum {"The word"}. The quotation marks suggest something unusual is going on: in this case, a reference to the phrase "mum's the word". The idiom seems to come from "to keep mum", in which mum onomatopoeically suggests someone trying to speak with closed lips.

23a hex {Case of bad spelling?}. Another great clue: to hex someone is to cast a spell on them.

43a The, 45d X-Files {"Trust No One" series}. I was addicted to The X-Files in the 1990s and loved the interplay of the rational Scully with the more intuitive Mulder on the show. Maybe it's time to watch the two movies (1998 and 2008) for old times sake.

46a Mrs {"___ Dalloway"}. A gimme for me, as I'm familiar with the Virginia Woolf novel and saw Eileen Atkins's movie adaptation, as well as The Hours, which reworks the book's themes.

65a one {Cosine of 2 pi}. A nasty mean clue, but cute in retrospect. Like tripping up on a banana skin - if you survive unhurt, maybe you can see the funny side of it.

11d mental note {Internal memo?}. Very neat - I think the pick of this puzzle's bountiful crop.

39d Anita {"Clear Light of Day" author Desai}. I knew of Anita Desai, though Clear Light of Day was not a title I recognized. It's her most autobiographical book, being set in Delhi where Anita was educated.

The Rest

1a banjo {It may be hand-picked}; 14a ocean {Deep blue}; 15a ochre {Earthy tone}; 16a Eno {Brian who produced or co-produced seven U2 albums}; 19a NPR {"Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" network}; 20a fetched {Went for, at an auction}; 21a agates {Playing marbles}; 26a act as {Fill in for}; 29a Sur {Big ___}; 30a Hal {Friend of Falstaff}; 31a Moe {Szyslak of Springfield}; 32a let's go {"Come on, pack your stuff ...!"}; 35a inks {Signs}; 41a ESPN {"Baseball Tonight" network}; 44a tix {Fandango offerings, slangily}; 47a stent {Arterial implant}; 52a str. {Orch. section}; 53a unfair {Aggrieved person's cry, maybe}; 54a Melinda {Bill & ___ Gates Foundation}; 62a got {Comprehended}; 63a ebony {Like 36 piano keys}; 64a maize {Original Thanksgiving fare}; 66a Sinai {Where Moses received the Law}; 67a El Rey {Kingly title in Spanish}.

1d boff {Big Broadway hit}; 2d acre {It might be a lot}; 3d neut. {Neither masc. nor fem.}; 4d Jascha {Violinist Heifetz}; 5d on the sly {Surreptitiously}; 6d load {Whites or darks, say}; 7d Oct. {Mo. of Indigenous Peoples Day}; 8d chi {Christogram part}; 9d aroar {Bellowing}; 10d length {Extent}; 12d unpeg {Let off the hook?}; 18d rex {Kingly title in Latin}; 22d again {Another time}; 24d mustard {Colonel suspected of murder}; 25d organs {Hearts, e.g.}; 26d amie {French girlfriend}; 27d cots {Barracks lineup}; 28d tempts fate {Maybe takes one risk too many}; 29d St. Elmo {Sailor's patron}; 33d ebb {Recede}; 34d OK'd {Rubber-stamped}; 37d stet {"Leave it in" mark}; 40d East Lyme {Town near New London, Conn.}; 48d tribal {Like "Survivor" councils}; 50d anion {Chloride or carbonate}; 51d oribi {Graceful African antelope}; 52d ser. {Homily: Abbr.}; 54d may I {Polite request for permission}; 55d noir {Hard-boiled, in a way}; 56d doze {Nod off}; 60d bon {___ mot}; 61d RNA {Uracil-containing macromolecule}.

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