Sunday, August 16, 2009

NYT Monday 8/17/09 - A Pack of Jokers

This Monday New York Times crossword took me slightly longer than usual, probably because I was a little unfamiliar with the thematic subject, so most of the long answers had to be winkled out with a lot of help from crossings.

I must have seen Cesar Romero as The Joker on British television when I was a kid, because the "Na na na na Na na na na BATMAN!" theme music left an indelible imprint on my mind. Of course, I didn't much care about who played what in those days.
Solving time: 7 mins (solo, no solving aids)

Three actors who have portrayed The Joker, clued by the year of the relevant movie release. This was indicated by 26a Batman, 51a Jokers {Roles for 17-, 38- and 62-Across}.
17a Cesar Romero {1966} Batman

38a Jack Nicholson {1989} Batman

62a Heath Ledger {2008} The Dark Knight


Mike Buckley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersMike Buckley / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 38 (16.9%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.79)
Theme squares47 (25.1%)
Scrabble points316 (average 1.69)
New To Me

carob dog treat9d carob {Chocolate substitute}. Carob trees are native to the Mediterranean region and cultivated for their edible seed pods, aka carob beans. In the form of powder or chips, they can be used in cakes and cookies as a substitute for chocolate. I was interested to read that carob is also used as a chocolate substitute in dog treats, as it doesn't have the theobromine that is so unhealthy to dogs.

39d ILO {Nobel Prize-winning U.N. workers' grp.}. Until this clue came along, I didn't realize Nobel Prizes could go to organizations. Indeed, Nobel's will specifically says the five prizes should each go to a "person" - clearly this is relaxed with many of the prizes, to allow up to three collaborators. The International Labor Organization is the United Nations agency that's concerned with labor issues - the organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

55d Reddy {Helen who sang "I Am Woman"}. Helen Reddy is an Australian-born American singer-songwriter and actress. She was one of the most successful female singers of the early 1970s, when she wrote the song referenced in the clue, which became an anthem for the women's liberation movement.


Tyr19a Tyr {Norse war god}. I'd always thought Odin was the war god and assumed Tyr was responsible for some other department. Actually Odin is associated with war, but as the chief god of a warlike race, that's not unreasonable. Tyr is specifically the god of battle and our "Tuesday" comes from Tyr's Day. He's portrayed as having no right hand, because legend says it was bitten off by the wolf Fenrir.

Tim Geithner20a Tim {Treasury secretary Geithner}. I'm rather better at political appointees currently in the news, like Tim Geithner, than retired ones (however famous). I wonder how long it will be before Sonia Sotomayor to make it into a puzzle? ... time to get that spelling straight.

tea rose53a tea rose {Chinese blossom}. I've happily lived my life without knowing quite what tea roses are, or how they differ from other roses. It turns out that tea roses are so-called because their scent resembles that of Chinese black tea; they derive from a Chinese cultivar Rosa x odorata, hence the clue.

Rin-Tin-Tin61a Rin {___ Tin Tin}. A name I knew, though it was interesting to read more of the history of the various German Shepherds named Rin Tin Tin. The first was found suffering from shellshock by an American serviceman in World War I, who brought him back to California. He was taught many tricks and found by a producer who thought the dog could be a replacement for the famous movie dog Strongheart. Rin Tin Tin became a legend of film and radio and is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1623 Vine St.

Nissan Altima11d Altima {Nissan sedan}. I must have seen Nissan Altimas on the road in the US, but they would have been a great rarity in the UK as they're not sold there. Altimas have been manufactured since 1992 and are built at plants in Smyrna, Tennessee and Canton, Mississippi.

The Rest

1a carafe {Container for serving wine}; 7a ABCs {Kindergarten learning}; 11a ahs {Sounds during backrubs}; 14a clever {Witty}; 15a meal {Lunch or dinner}; 16a lei {Gift at Honolulu airport}; 21a goto {___ guy (one who gets things done)}; 22a side {Flank}; 23a chalice {Drinking cup}; 28a ear {Big part of an elephant}; 29a Leah {Jacob's first wife}; 32a X-rays {Pictures at a hospital}; 33a Odessa {City on the Black Sea}; 36a Renée {Actress Zellweger}; 42a aisle {Theater walkway}; 43a issued {Came out with}; 45a flare {Solar phenomenon}; 48a odes {Laudatory poems}; 50a two {A pair}; 56a Otis {Big name in elevators}; 57a chic {Fashionable}; 60a ref {Official with a whistle}; 66a dot {"i" topper}; 67a onze {French eleven}; 68a en dash {Mark slightly longer than a hyphen}; 69a Sno {___-cone}; 70a teem {Be overrun (with)}; 71a says so {Declares emphatically}.

1d CCC {Roman 300}; 2d ale {Ginger ___}; 3d rest area {Place to pull over}; 4d avail {Be of help to}; 5d Fermi {Physicist Enrico}; 6d err {Flub}; 7d ammo {Bullets and BBs}; 8d beet {Borscht vegetable}; 10d slo {___-mo}; 12d heyday {Period of one's prime}; 13d sirens {Fire truck sounds}; 18d ogee {Double curve}; 22d stress {Emphasize}; 23d CEO {Pooh-bah hired by a board of directors}; 24d hadj {Muslim's pilgrimage}; 25d clans {Family groups}; 27d axels {Leaps in ice-skating}; 30d arced {Like parabolas}; 31d heh {When doubled, a villain's chuckle}; 34d scares {Close calls, perhaps}; 35d skier {One taking to the slopes}; 37d noise {Static, e.g.}; 40d out of gas {On empty}; 41d news {6:30 p.m. broadcast}; 44d doe {Female deer}; 45d fjords {Norwegian coastal features}; 46d lotion {Skin soother}; 47d akin to {Like}; 49d etch {Draw like Albrecht Dürer}; 52d scene {Where the action is}; 54d arena {Where the action is}; 58d Haze {Jimi Hendrix's "Purple ___"}; 59d item {See 62-Down}; 62d hot {With 59-Down, something flying off the shelves}; 63d Les {___ États-Unis}; 64d ess {Double curve}; 65d rho {Letter between pi and sigma}.


Dan said...

You are a man after my own heart, Ross. But @ 7 minutes? It is like when I do a 6-bingo ScrabbleGRAM in 28-33 seconds. At that point, can you even write all the answers out, longhand? The sheer act of writing & reading must drain you on time... I had to stop writing to get under 30 seconds, and just put check marks next to the bingos I found.

Crossword Man said...

I guess I was conscious when doing that puzzle of having more "thinking time" than usual ... I'll try and be more relaxed about it!