Sunday, August 2, 2009

NYT Monday 8/3/09 - Maize Mazes

maize mazeAnother Monday New York Times crossword and I again take 6 minutes. It's getting so that I wonder if the faster solvers (and there are many) use a different technique from me: perhaps doing all the acrosses in sequence, then running through any downs where there are gaps. I'll have to try that next week.

I suspected this puzzle would have what Patrick Berry calls a "reverse thinking" theme from the off. Apparently it's a tradition with these types of crossword that one-word theme clues are in CAPS - perhaps so you can pick them out more easily among the other clues? But that does rather give away what kind of theme is afoot.

However, the thematic clues weren't gimmes by any means, and I needed a lot of crossings to recognize baseballer Willie Mays. The other two were easier: incidentally, I believe maize mazes are popular this time of year - I wonder if they inspired this idea!
Solving time: 6 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 67a cadet {West Pointer, e.g.}
Theme

A "reverse" theme with the answers being clues that suggest three sound-alike words:
20a slugger Willie {MAYS}
36a pale yellow color {MAIZE}
57a lab rat's milieu {MAZE}
Solution

Janet R. Bender
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersJanet R. Bender / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers76 (average length 4.97)
Theme squares41 (21.7%)
Scrabble points273 (average 1.44)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

33a Peele {English dramatist George}. I'm English, I should know this - wrong! George Peele (15561596) was a lesser-known contemporary of Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe and is thought by some to have contributed to, or written all of, "Shakespeare's" Titus Andronicus. His poem The Old Wive's Tale was one of those set to music in Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony.
Whenas the rye reach to the chin,
And chop-cherry, chop-cherry ripe within,
Straw berries swimming in the cream,
And schoolboys playing in the stream;
Then, O, then, O then, O, my true love said,
Till that time come again
She could not live a maid.

From The Old Wive's Tale by George Peele
58d Arie {Singer India.___}. I found it hard to believe the dot was for real and not a typo. It seems India.Arie does indeed have a dot in her name - she added it to make her stand out, and the idea seems to have worked, doesn't it? India is a versatile musician, winning a Grammy in 2003 for the R&B album Voyage to India.



Noteworthy

Over The Ramparts We Watch48a o'er {"___ the ramparts we watched ..."}. These words seemed a little familiar ... yes, they're some famous Key words.

geode55a geode {Rock with a crystal inside}. I think everyone has probably seen these, but they're so beautiful, I can't resist searching out an example for the blog. Geodes are common in some states of the USA, such as Iowa, which has designated the geode its official state rock. The world's largest geode is in Ohio and known as Crystal Cave - it's open as a tourist attraction in the summer.

26d Dino {Flintstones' pet}. Alley Oop's dinosaur was Dinny, but Fred Flintstone's is Dino, even though it has all the characteristics of a dog.



IJsselmeer30d Zee {Zuider ___ (former inlet in the Netherlands)}. Why a "former inlet"? Because the majority of the Zuiderzee has been closed off from the North Sea with dikes, turning this inlet of the sea into a freshwater lake called the IJsselmeer.

32d Elon {North Carolina university}. The Crucy League really helped take the mystery out of clues like this one.

45d tablet {One of two for the Ten Commandments}. Why were there two tablets and how were the Commandments disposed on them? Experts are split down the middle on this one ... some saying the tablets were two identical copies, some that each tablet had five on. Anyway, here's a great Ten Commandments joke we came across the other day:
A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."
en pointe49d pointe {Ballerina's position}. Pointe is a ballet position in which the body is balanced on the extreme tip of the toe. Dancers must usually be in their teens before attempting it, as undeveloped feet can be injured very easily. The skill can take several years to learn, as dancers must develop very strong ankles - and special techniques - to master it.

The Rest

1a chat {What some people do in an online "room"}; 5a sole {Shoe bottom}; 9a rapid {Swift}; 14a halo {Circle of light around the sun or moon}; 15a Avon {Bard of ___ (Shakespeare)}; 16a ameba {Microscopic creature}; 17a amen {"So be it"}; 18a feed {Nourish}; 19a Godot {Beckett's "Waiting for ___"}; 23a metal {Zinc or zirconium}; 24a Kenya {Home of Barack Obama's father}; 25a SDS {Radical 1960s org.}; 28a Sts. {1st to 220th, in Manhattan: Abbr.}; 29a Uzi {Israeli-made gun}; 31a genetic {Like hereditary factors}; 35a lana {Actress Turner}; 42a Ural {___ Mountains (Asia/Europe separator)}; 43a spoon {What the dish ran away with, in "Hey Diddle Diddle"}; 44a pull-tab {Soda can feature}; 49a pat {Butter serving}; 52a at a {One step ___ time}; 53a areas {Zones}; 60a snarl {Tangle}; 62a true! {"Honest to God!"}; 63a inst. {Place of research: Abbr.}; 64a Ernie {With 34-Down, golf's U.S. Open champion of 1994 and 1997}; 65a Lima {Peru's capital}; 66a Otto {"Beetle Bailey" dog}; 67a cadet {West Pointer, e.g.}; 68a east {Toward the rising sun}; 69a teen {First-year college student, usually}.

1d chasms {Gorges}; 2d hamlet {Small village}; 3d Aleuts {Native Alaskans}; 4d Tonga {South Pacific kingdom}; 5d safe {Official's call with outspread arms}. I've gotten used to seeing this baseball reference; 6d overkill {Excess}; 7d Loewe {Frederick ___, "My Fair Lady" composer}; 8d ending {Part of a whodunit that reveals who done it}; 9d raglan {Overcoat sleeve}; 10d à moi {Mine: Fr.}; 11d pedestal {Statue's support}; 12d Ibo {Nigerian native}; 13d dat {"Gimme ___!" (rude order)}; 21d gluey {Viscous}; 22d lye {Soapmaker's supply}; 27d scar {Surgery souvenir}; 33d pell {___-mell}; 34d Els {See 64-Across}; 36d pupa {Larva successor}; 37d a rut {In ___ (stuck in the same old same old)}; 38d la-la land {Dreamy place}; 39d opossums {Arboreal animals with pouches}; 40d woe {Anguish}; 41d corgi {Welsh dog}; 46d arr. {Departure's opposite: Abbr.}; 47d Beatle {Any of the Fab Four}; 50d Adeste {"___ Fideles"}; 51d Teuton {German}; 54d atria {Courtyards}; 56d Eliot {Writer T. S.}; 59d meat {Vegetarian's no-no}; 60d sec {Dry, as wine}; 61d NRA {Gun lobbyists' org.}.

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