Sunday, August 30, 2009

NYT Monday 8/31/09 - A Cause for Celebration

Iffley RoadThis New York Times crossword seemed really easy even by Monday standards. Maybe it helped that 17-Across was a gimme for me: is Roger Bannister as well-known in the US? After that, the theme seemed relatively straightforward and nothing really held me up at all.

Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile at the Iffley Road Track in Oxford, England - a venue I went to once in my undergraduate days there: not to run, but to take my final exams. There being insufficient space to house all the exam takers in the historical Examination Schools buildings, the Sports Centre was turned over to the purpose for a few days.

Another advantage to that locale is that the large crowds there to celebrate the end of exams with their friends can pop champagne corks, spray the assembled mass with bubbly and otherwise have a great time without interrupting the flow of traffic in The High.
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 49a alien {Visitor in "District 9"}

Phrases starting with different spellings of the "for" sound:
17a four-minute miler {Roger Bannister was the first}
35a for old time's sake {How something may be done, nostalgically}
54a fore-and-aft sails {Features of yawls or ketches}

Fred Piscop
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersFred Piscop / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares45 (23.8%)
Scrabble points292 (average 1.54)
New To Me

49a alien {Visitor in "District 9"}. An alarmingly (but pleasingly) up-to-date reference, since the clued movie District 9 was only released this month. In it, members of an alien species land on earth and must be moved from one government refugee camp to another by our hero Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley).

Marine One9d One {Marine ___ (presidential helicopter)}. I knew about Air Force One, but I hadn't appreciated there is a special name for the helicopter carrying the pres. Of course these are not single aircraft: two Boeing 747-200B aircraft are equipped to be "Air Force One" and presumably many more helicopters are in use as Marine Ones.


14a O'Hara {Tara's Scarlett}. The names betray the Irish origins of the founder of the plantation at the center of Gone with the Wind. Tara is named for the hill of Tara, once the capital of the High King of ancient Ireland.

TWA39a TWA {Old competitor of Pan Am}. The old quip among disgruntled transatlantic passengers was that TWA stood for "Try Walking Across". Now Pan Am has gone ... and TWA too, merged into American Airlines in 2001.

Orlon60a Orlon {Fabric introduced by DuPont}. Orlon is the trademarked name for the first acrylic fiber, created in 1941.

Raul Castro3d Raúl {Fidel Castro's brother}. Raúl Castro temporarily assumed the duties of President of Cuba when Fidel became seriously ill in July 2006. He's now formally elected President, after Fidel decided not to stand for election in 2008.

45d Dafoe {Willem of Spider-Man movies}. Willem Dafoe plays Norman Osborn alias the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man franchise.

The Rest

1a screw {Fastener that may have a Phillips head}; 6a also {"One more thing ..."}; 10a spew {Eject, as 16-Across}; 15a noon {Factory whistle time}; 16a lava {Material from a volcano}; 20a AOL {"You've got mail" co.}; 21a plod {Trudge (along)}; 22a ovine {Sheeplike}; 23a duly {In the proper manner}; 24a clients {Agents' customers}; 26a harems {Women's quarters, in sultans' homes}; 29a whirr {Fan sound}; 30a evac. {Emergency removal of people, for short}; 31a shine {"Rise and ___!"}; 32a bag {"Paper or plastic?" item}; 40a arose {Heeded the alarm}; 41a prim {___ and proper}; 42a smart {Mensa-eligible}; 43a plains {Area west of the Mississippi}; 45a despite {Regardless of}; 48a ream {500 sheets}; 50a peas {Little vegetables that roll}; 51a psi {Pitchfork-shaped Greek letter}; 58a op-ed {Essayist's newspaper piece}; 59a -aire {Suffix with billion}; 61a e'ens {Poetic nights}; 62a peer {Use a spyglass}; 63a skeet {Sport with shotguns}.

1d sofa {Couch}; 2d choo {Part of a sneeze after "ah-ah-ah ..."}; 4d err {"To ___ is human ..."}; 5d wampum {Indian beads used as money}; 6d annoy {Really bother}; 7d loud {Ear-busting}; 8d sot {Drunkard}; 10d sliver {Tiny slice of pie}; 11d Palin {Politico Sarah}; 12d event {Long jump or 100-meter dash}; 13d wares {Peddlers peddle them}; 18d ills {Woes}; 19d moires {Fabrics with wavy patterns}; 23d Deco {Art ___ (1920s-'30s style)}; 24d chime {Doorbell}; 25d line {Queue}; 26d heft {Test the weight of}; 27d avow {Swear to}; 28d rara {___ avis}; 29d whist {Predecessor of bridge}; 31d store {Part of a mall}; 32d Bari {Italian port on the Adriatic}; 33d akin {Closely related}; 34d gems {Rubies, emeralds, etc.}; 36d lamina {Thin layer}; 37d drat! {"Dang!"}; 38d spam {E-mail often caught in filters}; 42d speeds {Risks being caught in a radar trap}; 43d peat {Bog fuel}; 44d lassos {Rodeo ropes}; 46d elope {Run off to the justice of the peace}; 47d siren {Patrol car wailer}; 48d refer {Direct, as for information}; 50d pare {Whittle down}; 51d pile {Heap}; 52d sloe {___ gin fizz}; 53d isn't {"Money ___ everything!"}; 55d nap {40 winks}; 56d die {Expire}; 57d ark {Noah's vessel}.

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