Friday, August 28, 2009

NYT Saturday 8/29/09 - Dig Doug

I found this Saturday New York Times crossword easier on the right hand side, making reasonable progress at both the top and bottom. Unfortunately, getting crossing answers from the ends of words is a whole lot more difficult than when you have their beginnings. It was largely a repeat of yesterday's experience of getting bogged down after a great start.

After about half an hour, I only had the NW corner to go, eventually cracking it after negotiating the red herring cills at 4-Down (no American-born would even think of that). I also had an (I think viable) alternative at 25-Down with meter, but once I got 7-Down as atomized (or just conceivably atomised) things had to change there too.
Solving time: 35 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 30d map-maker {Creator of the stuff of legends?}

Doug Peterson
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersDoug Peterson / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 23 (10.2%) black squares
Answers68 (average length 5.94)
Theme squares0 (0.0%)
Scrabble points339 (average 1.68)
New To Me

Mike Mussina1a Mussina {2001-08 Yankees pitcher with seven Gold Gloves}. Mike Mussina aka "Moose" is too recent a retiree to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so my recent visit there didn't help any. I gather there's some debate about whether he is quite in that class, as Mike was a consistently great player, but other pitchers had stronger peaks of performance.

23a Chan {"Keeper of the Keys" was the last novel he was featured in}. Somehow I guessed Charlie Chan on very little evidence, and certainly not knowing this title. Earl Derr Biggers (18841933) only wrote six novels in the Charlie Chan series: Biggers' untimely death from a heart attack meant this 1932 novel is the last.

9d Apted {"Nell" director Michael}. Fellow-Brit Michael Apted is familiar to me from other movies, but I didn't recognize him from Nell (1994) as I haven't seen this strange movie about a young woman (played by Jodie Foster) having to cope with the real world after being brought up in isolation. Co-starring are Liam Neeson and the late Natasha Richardson, who married the year the film was released.

27d Jules {Pulitzer-winning cartoonist Feiffer}. Jules Feiffer won the Pulitzer in 1986 for his work in The Village Voice. He's also an author of children's books and screenplays such as that to Popeye (1980).

32d Plutarch {"On the Malice of Herodotus" author}. I got two similar names confused here and tried Petrarch (1304–1374) to start with. Problems in the center caused a rethink and I had more success with Plutarch (c. AD 46–120).


J'accuse8a J'accuse {Headline during the Dreyfus Affair}. I got this after a few crossings, but wasn't sure whether "headline" was meant literally or figuratively. It seems the former, since Zola's famous letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism made the front page of L'Aurore with this answer as the headline.

33a gaoler {Worker in a big house near Big Ben}. I tried hard to think what the "big house" might be, but didn't guess a prison until I saw what the answer had to be from cross-checkings. A problem with this clue is there's no prison anywhere near Big Ben these days - I may have been the only solver to have worried about that. Of course, historically, there were many prisons in central London: e.g. Millbank (demolished 1890) may have perhaps been in sight of Big Ben (built circa 1859).

41a sette {Otto follows it}. Lovely deceptive clue: nothing to do with Beetle Bailey this time ... you needed to be counting in Italian.
1 = uno
= due
= tre
= quattro
= cinque
= sei
= sette
= otto
= nove
= dieci
43a sal {Seasoning cristales}. This clue calling for a translation of salt into Spanish was rather more straightforward.

44a Sasha {"Peter and the Wolf" bird}, 45a Sonia {"Peter and the Wolf" duck}. The last time Sonia came up, I had a premonition that the other characters would get used some day. Today was that day.

28d prone {Back up?}. I don't think of someone lying prone as necessarily being face down, but i guess that's the most common usage ... especially as being prone suggests vulnerability and you're much more vulnerable face down. Researches suggest the anatomical meaning of prone is downward facing, the opposite of supine.

30d map-maker {Creator of the stuff of legends?}. My favorite piece of deception in the puzzle: the legends called for here are the keys to the map symbols.

Albert Sabin41d Sabin {___ vaccine}. The vaccine developed by Albert Sabin (1906–1993) is one of two approaches to combat poliomyelitis, the other being due to Jonas Salk (1914–1995). I must have had the (orally administered) Sabin vaccine, as I remember taking it in a sugar lump. The depredations of the disease were evident in several of my school teachers, so I am very glad my generation is free of that legacy and look forward to the global eradication of the disease.

48d -Doo {Ending with Sea or Ski}. Ski-Doos are a familiar sight round these parts, but not so much their sister products Sea-Doos, as the many lakes in the vicinity are a bit small for motorized craft.

The Rest

15a intimate apparel {Revealing pieces}; 17a cellphone towers {Some coverage providers}; 18a mauls {Heavy hitters}; 19a mages {Conjurers}; 20a tri- {City or state lead-in}; 21a asks {Puts it to}; 22a mimed {Acted out}; 24a cee {Artichoke heart?}; 25a dozer {Inattentive type}; 26a Erato {Classical lyre holder}; 27a jewel {Particularly prized possession}; 28a planer {Carpentry machine}; 29a imputed {Credited}; 32a precede {Appear before}; 34a clock {What an antsy person might watch}; 35a upper {Boot part}; 36a daunt {Cow}; 37a pew {Hymnbook holder}; 40a emus {Some farm stock}; 42a bale {Straw unit}; 46a skateboard trick {Something shown off on a half-pipe}; 49a Security Council {Russia, China and France are in it}; 50a oregano {Greek salad ingredient}; 51a honesty {It can be brutal}.

1d Micmac {Algonquian language}; 2d unease {Butterflies, say}; 3d St Luke {He wrote of the prodigal son}; 4d sills {Sash supporters}; 5d imps {Hell-raisers}; 6d nah {"Ixnay"}; 7d atomized {Like turbojet fuel}; 8d jaeger {Bullying seabird}; 10d CPOs {Coast Guard noncoms}; 11d caw {Field call}; 12d urethane {Bowling ball material}; 13d serrated {Like many leaves}; 14d Elsinore {"To be, or not to be" soliloquy setting}; 16d enamel {Coat in one's mouth}; 22d mower {It may be pushed or ridden}; 23d crack {Figure out}; 25d deter {Check}; 26d elect {Awaiting induction}; 29d I guess so {"Um ... all right"}; 31d populace {Hoi polloi}; 34d Cathay {Old Silk Road destination}; 36d De Soto {Studebaker alternative}; 37d panics {Loses it}; 38d elicit {Summon up}; 39d weakly {Without conviction}; 42d borne {Shouldered}; 44d sera {Clinic supplies}; 45d stun {Overwhelm}; 47d tug {Harbor pusher}.


Aviatrix said...

No you're not the only one to think about the paucity of prisons in downtown London. "Big house" is pretty standard American slang for prison, and when someone is looking across the Atlantic from New York, the whole of the United Kingdom is "near" Big Ben.

Crossword Man said...

I guess so. Such distance vision always puts us in mind of the famous Saul Steinberg cover of the New Yorker. Seeing the September 2 theme was another reminder!