Saturday, August 15, 2009

NYT Sunday 8/16/09 - You've Got Me There

puppy dog cakeMagdalen and I are now on our own again after our guests for the week returned home to Beantown. As well as the happy memories of our time together, we have a delicious reminder in the form of a puppy dog cake made by the little beans (although that is disappearing fast).

We struggled a bit with this Sunday New York Times crossword - I think because there was much less predictive value than usual in discovering what the theme was about. We needed a lot of crossings to get each theme answer, and the constraints of the cluing format (every one had to be {"X me"}) sometimes made it hard to figure out the intended pun. I'm still not sure if the mass in 29-Across is meant to be the religious Mass or the mass of people.
Solving time: 45 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 97a nape {Pickup place for pets}

"Let's talk about me": ten answers are phrases that punningly suggest the clue - a statement, instruction or question ending "me".
23a error message {"Pardon me"}
29a mass appeal {"Save me"}
38a counter plea {"Feed me"}
54a receiving line {"For me?"}
75a film direction {"Shoot me"}
92a tender offer {"Lean on me"}
101a cross words {"Make me"}
107a pecking order {"Kiss me"}
16d free response {"It's on me"}
60d book proposal {"Write me"}

Randolph Ross
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersRandolph Ross / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 63 (14.3%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.48)
Theme squares114 (30.2%)
Scrabble points549 (average 1.45)
New To Me

28a THI {Summer comfort stat}. THI in this context stands for Temperature-Humidity Index: a measure of the degree of (dis)comfort experienced in warm weather (its original name was the "discomfort index"). It's based on the air temperature and humidity. Most people are comfortable with readings below 70 and uncomfortable above 80. The highest daily THI values in the USA occur in southern California and southwestern Arizona.

73a One Ls {Scott Turow's first book was about them}. Magdalen the Lawyer was the ideal collaborator for solving this clue. Scott Turow is a practicing lawyer who is known for his legal thrillers; but his first book, One L, is the autobiographical account of Turow's experiences as a first-year student at Harvard Law School.

85a Rams {Fearsome Foursome team}. This was the first I'd heard of the Fearsome Foursome in relation to American football. I thought this must refer to the four top teams, but I gather it relates to the four players forming the defensive line and was particularly used of the Los Angeles Rams of the 1960s and 1970s.

99a Ron Ely {Former Miss America host}. Magdalen wouldn't explain this one to me and said just to look him up. I gather Ron Ely has the distinction of playing Tarzan in the 1966 NBC series Tarzan. Later in his career he hosted Face the Music and the 1980 and 1981 Miss America Pageants.

114a Rialto {Theater area}. This clue mystified both of us. Rialto is a common name for theaters, but in what city is it a theater area? It turns out that the Rialto is just another nickname for the Broadway district of New York City, used in expressions such as "along the Rialto".

Lake Itasca13d Itasca {Lake ___, source of the Mississippi}. A gimme for Magdalen, as she'd actually been there as part of the project she had with Hub 1.0 to see all fifty states of the USA before they reached the age of 50 ... an ambition they got remarkably close to achieving. Lake Itasca is in northwestern Minnesota and is defined - for convenience - as the Mississippi's source, even though there are several small streams that feed the lake.


The Big Three16a FDR {One of the Big Three, for short}. For once, those mindless hours in school history lessons pay off: the Big Three was a nickname for the leaders of the Allies in World War II - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.

nape97a nape {Pickup place for pets}. A neat clue, although my mother used to say that picking a moggy up by the scruff of its neck was OK for kittens, but bad for adult cats.

2d aerostat {Balloon or blimp}. A word I just about remembered from The Chambers Dictionary: aerostat is the general term for any lighter-than-air object that can stay stationary in the air, so it embraces balloons (free and moored) as well as airships.

49d viaduct {Word that led to the "Why a duck?" routine by the Marx brothers}. As a committed Marxiste, tendance Groucho, I had no difficulties with this reference to a routine from The Cocoanuts (1925–1926). Magdalen knows it pretty well too by now, as it has to be performed every time we pass the local vy-a-ducks.

The Rest

1a tacked {Added (on)}; 7a rifts {Schisms}; 12a bids {Says "Two 19-Across," e.g.}; 19a hearts {See 12-Across}; 20a undue {More than is required}; 21a Utah {Home of Rainbow Bridge National Monument}; 22a ree {"Riddle-me-___"}; 25a Radio Era {Late 1920s to around 1950}; 27a Boone {North Carolina town that's home to Appalachian State University}; 31a USTA {Seeding org.}; 32a it is so {Statement of fact}; 35a WACs {"My best soldiers," according to Douglas MacArthur}; 36a trim {In shape}; 37a rte. {A.A.A. recommendation: Abbr.}; 40a Niels {Physicist Bohr}; 41a bang on {Exactly right, in British lingo}; 43a sagas {"The Thorn Birds" and others}; 44a inns {Stops on the road}; 45a steering {Kind of column or committee}; 48a ban {Put the kibosh on}; 49a vise {It has strong jaws}; 51a pub {Modern trivia competition locale}; 57a Bono {Irishman who was a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2005}; 58a tubal {___ ligation}; 61a users {Ones entering rehab}; 62a eases into {Enters gradually}; 64a atolls {Snorkeling sites}; 66a end {Break off}; 67a wad {Plug}; 68a aces it {Gets no answers wrong on the test}; 69a Rio Diablo {1993 TV western starring Kenny Rogers and Travis Tritt}; 71a has up {Invites to one's apartment, say}; 74a Elko {Nevada city}; 78a Sep. {Mo. with Natl. Grandparents' Day}; 79a René {___ Dubos, humanist who said "Think globally, act locally"}; 80a -eth {Old verb suffix}; 81a tastiest {Superlative on "Top Chef"}; 87a oaten {Like some grain}; 89a lean-to {Rough shelter}; 90a UConn {N.C.A.A. women's basketball powerhouse}; 96a gam {Herd of whales}; 98a BOAC {Airline mentioned in "Back in the U.S.S.R."}; 100a firm {Al dente}; 104a Uta {Actress Hagen}; 105a Carly {Singing Simon}; 106a last call {Bartender's announcement}; 111a of a {Friend ___ friend}; 112a one a {Draft status}; 113a Alpes {Where Jean-Claude Killy practiced}; 115a gel {Lighting director's choice}; 116a TARP {Bank bailout acronym}; 117a smash {Big success}; 118a eldest {Child often having special responsibilities}.

1d the burbs {Where many commuters live, informally}; 3d carotene {Sweet potato nutrient}; 4d króna {Icelandic money}; 5d être {To be abroad}; 6d DSM {British mil. decoration}; 7d rush in {Enter quickly}; 8d insists {Won't take no for an answer}; 9d FDA {Org. overseeing trials}; 10d tug {Port pusher}; 11d seem {Come across as}; 12d bursae {Holders of body lubricating fluids}; 14d dadas {Pops in the nursery}; 15d ship {Send}; 17d derail {Go off track}; 18d realms {What kings rule}; 24d et tu {Classical rebuke}; 26d opt in {Choose to participate}; 30d awls {Cobblers' needs}; 32d ionic {Like some bonds}; 33d sea-bird {Stilt, e.g.}; 34d organs {Eyes and ears}; 38d Corelli {Arcangelo ___, Italian violin master}; 39d pang {Sign of hunger}; 40d NNE {Tonga-to-Hawaii dir.}; 42d Geraldo {Daytime talk show starting in 1987}; 44d I see a {"___ little silhouetto of a man" ("Bohemian Rhapsody" lyric)}; 46d neu {Big word in German ads}; 47d Giselle {Ballet set in the Rhineland}; 50d ins {Walk-___}; 52d until {Before}; 53d boots {Cans}; 55d venom {Nasty words}; 56d lease {Housing arrangement}; 57d biennia {Congressional terms, e.g.}; 58d tares {Scale weights}; 59d utile {Functional}; 63d scooter {Child's wheels}; 65d safes {Bank holdings?}; 67d war hero {Battle star}; 70d bin {Hamper}; 71d hitter {Batsman}; 72d PTA {Mom-and-pop org.}; 76d dead {Very, very tired}; 77d Isley {Singing brothers' surname}; 79d RMN {Presidential inits.}; 82d engirdle {Wrap around}; 83d starlets {Hollywood hopefuls}; 84d tommy-rot {Flapdoodle}; 86d a nest {"___ of robins ..."}; 87d on CD {Ready for a drive?}; 88d no nukes {Protest cry}; 90d unclog {Get moving again, in a way}; 91d carafe {Wine order}; 92d tooler {Mechanic}; 93d earlap {Cap attachment}; 94d fetish {Obsession}; 95d flan {Sweet treat}; 98d bwana {Safari leader}; 100d farad {Unit of capacitance}; 102d Scot {Resident of the Land of Cakes}; 103d spas {Places to unwind}; 105d coil {Thing to wind}; 108d elm {Hardwood source}; 109d CPA {One who knows one's liabilities}; 110d GRE {E.T.S. offering}.


Denise Sutherland said...

I've just come across the "Theatre district = RIALTO" clue in a new Dummies book I'm Tech Editor on, and couldn't figure it out, so your comment on this clue was very helpful!

Crossword Man said...

That takes me back! I remember the Rialto clue being rather a hard one to research ... glad to help out.