Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NYT Thursday 8/20/09 - Join the Dots

Our experiences of this Thursday New York Times crossword were odd: normally Magdalen struggles this late in the week and loses interest, but today she would have finished ahead of me had the Isl. and erose crossing not stumped her. I managed that but struggled with several areas of the grid, especially the NW and SE corners; it didn't help that it took 11 minutes to get the first rebus square.

We take issue with the definition of onesie {Toddler's attire}, as we think of onesies as being for really small babies. A toddler might still wear a one-piece outfit, but we're not sure it would be called a onesie. We were also a tiny bit bothered by the 5 square not being strictly in line between the 1 and 4 squares, but are prepared to forgive this by analogy with "connect the dots" pictures, which often have dots very close together that should really be superimposed.

My immigrant status doesn't normally impact day-to-day life much, but today it did as I had to present myself at the Syracuse, NY field office of USCIS (some 110 miles away) to have fingerprints and pictures taken again. This is apparently an essential step in getting my green card made unconditional. I can understand the need to establish my marriage to Magdalen as genuine, but I'm not quite sure why I need to be fingerprinted and photographed after just two years have gone by - have my dabs and appearance changed that much?

Anyway, that's why my post is a little later than usual today. Hopefully, I'll be approved for my new green card before too long. The next milestone in the immigration process will then be in September 2010 when I become eligible to (but am not required to - Hub 1.0 hasn't been tempted) apply for naturalization as a US citizen. I still can't be president though, as I will never be a natural born citizen.
Solving time: 23 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 62a ice-skaters {Eight producers?}

Five rebus squares contain the digits 1 thru 5. Joining these in the style of a "connect the dots" puzzle creates a simple drawing, as indicated by 36a parallelogram {What's revealed by connecting the special squares in this puzzle in order}.
20a onesie {Toddler's attire}
15d drone {Be an utter bore?}

21a age two {Time for potty training, maybe}
13d Eastwood {Best Director of 1992 and 2004}

53a big three {G.M., Ford and Chrysler}
55d three Rs {School basics}

51a four-day {Nice kind of workweek}
41d in fourths {How mini-pizzas are usually cut}

22a takes five {Rests}
24d five-fold {Like the symmetry of a starfish}

Elizabeth C. Gorski
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

CompilersElizabeth C. Gorski / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.11)
Theme squares52 (27.5%)
Scrabble points269 (average 1.42)
New To Me

1a Wesson {Big name in oil}. Thinking of a different kind of oil, I optimistically penciled in Sunoco, it being the only six-letter oil company I could think of. I gather Wesson is actually a brand of vegetable oil, and that are famed for using Florence Henderson (Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch) in their adverts.

39a A Mind {Start of the United Negro College Fund slogan}. New to me, although I managed to guess the answer with very few crossings, possibly because I've seen similar slogans for different organizations (even in the UK maybe). The UNCF slogan is apparently one of the most widely recognized in advertising history.

6d Ned {Washington in the Songwriters Hall of Fame}. Halls of Fame seem to be a peculiarly American phenomenon. Unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame which I visited recently, the Songwriters Hall of Fame doesn't actually exist physically (yet), but 345 individuals and 3 bands have been inducted into the virtual HOF, including the cited lyricist Ned Washington (1901–1976). His best-known songs are probably the ones for which he won Oscars, "When You Wish upon a Star" in Pinocchio and "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" in High Noon.

11d Langella {Tony-winning "Frost/Nixon" actor}. I'd had a slightly better chance of knowing the David Frost portrayer Michael Sheen, as I remember his Tony Blair impersonation as being right on the money. Frank Langella of course played Richard Nixon in the movie Frost/Nixon (2008), tho I guess the Tony was for Frank's performances in the play on The Great White Way.

35d Go-Go's {"Beauty and the Beat" band}. I thought this might have to do with the Disney movie, but it seems Beauty and the Beat is coincidentally also the name of the debut album for this all-female new wave band. Here's the hit single from the album, "We Got the Beat".

44d Volare {1958 #1 song with the lyric "Let's fly way up to the clouds"}. The cited lyric is of course a huge hint to the name of the song, Volare being "to fly" in Italian. It was the signature song for Domenico Modugno (19281994), who took it to the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest, coming third.


14a antecedent {The fool in "A fool and his money are soon parted"}. Very clever ... antecedent here is being used in the grammatical sense, ie the word which "his" refers back to.

25a tra {Chorus line opener}. A clue I had great difficulties with, but justified in the end. This chorus is singing the universal refrain tra-la-la in lieu of the (forgotten?) words.

Royal Albert Hall28a Srs. {Promgoers, e.g.: Abbr.}. In the UK, "promgoer" has a specific and quite different meaning, viz someone who frequents the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts - an eight week festival of classical music concerts held mainly at the Royal Albert Hall in London. I was an occasional promgoer, but several of my crossword friends were diehards, being season-ticket holders, meeting their spouses in line etc. Knowing all this was a bit distracting and it took me ages to realize seniors at High School were required here.

erose leaves34a erose {Jagged}. I mention erose because Magdalen was unfamiliar with this crosswordy word, which means "irregularly notched as if bitten" and might be applied to plant leaves for example. Etymologically, it has the same root as eroded.

46a non- {Partisan leader?}. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I don't like this clue, which I assume references nonpartisan. Perhaps it seems weak because there are just so many non- words around and when a prefix is indicated in this way, it's normally one that's tightly associated with the word that's used the clue?

56a Nile {Setting for an Agatha Christie novel}. I toyed with Nice, which may just have worked for The Mystery of the Blue Train. But a title word trumps a mere setting and Death on the Nile of course has a memorable film adaptation.

30d isl. {Part of some chains: Abbr.}. "chains" in crossword clues cover a lot of ground, but in this case are chains of islands.

36d parodies {P.D.Q. Bach's "Sanka Cantata" and such}. I've always thought P. D. Q. Bach one of the most inspired pseudonyms of all time, but in reality haven't listened to many of Peter Schickele's recordings. This write-up has inspired me to get hold of more (so thanks Elizabeth and/or Will). The Sanka Cantata is a nod to Bach's Coffee Cantata (Sanka being a brand of decaffeinated coffee).

48d Abbie {Old comic strip "___ an' Slats"}. How come I know this? Struck by all the comic strip references in puzzles, I've acquired a wonderful book on the subj - The Comics Since 1945 - which discusses Abbie an' Slats under the heading "Romance".

The Rest

7a lis {Easter flower, in Is-sur-Tille}; 10a alae {Butterfly wings, e.g.}; 16a rasa {Tabula ___}; 17a I don't drive {Excuse given for asking for a ride}; 18a ents {Humanoid trees in Tolkien}; 19a secs {Ticks, say: Abbr.}; 27a Ero {Handel cantata "___ e Leandro"}; 29a afire {Burning}; 32a solid {Not shaky}; 35a gaols {Clinks overseas}; 40a legit {Kosher}; 41a Irena {___ Szewinska, Olympic sprinting gold medalist of 1964, 1968 and 1976}; 42a ask of {Want from}; 43a ovo {Ab ___ (from the top)}; 47a cap {Tube top}; 49a stupor {Daze}; 57a time {Proctor's call}; 58a be original {Advice for essay writers}; 61a Heep {Dickens creep}; 62a ice-skaters {Eight producers?}; 63a SSNs {Payroll dept. figs.}; 64a EEs {Wiring experts: Abbr.}; 65a Elysée {Paris palace}.

1d waists {Middles that are often too big}; 2d endear {Ingratiate}; 3d stocks {Has on hand}; 4d sense {Intuit}; 5d Oct. {When Canada celebrates Thanksgiving: Abbr.}; 7d leis {Hawaiian strings?}; 8d invite {You might get one before a party}; 9d steer {Direct}; 10d area {Neck of the woods}; 12d asterism {Constellation}; 23d Saranac {Beer from upstate New York}; 26d as a gift {Free of charge}; 31d reels {Walks unsteadily}; 33d Oort {___ cloud (region of comets far beyond Pluto)}; 34d Erin {Celtic land}; 37d amen, amen {Final words of Numbers 5:22}; 38d lek {Albanian coin}; 42d apiece {Each}; 43d opines {Sounds off}; 45d or else {Bully's warning}; 50d unity {Concord}; 52d yeps {O.K.'s from the O.K. Corral?}; 54d goes {Exits}; 59d Ike {Presidential nickname}; 60d gal {Square dance partner}.


SWeeP said...

This puzzle nearly made me abandon my new found interest in crossword puzzles. I spent the evening riding home on the BART train from work growing gradually more frustrated and cantankerous with each missed clue.
I actually work at an immigration law firm and am continually contacting clients to inform them of their biometrics appointments. It does seem as though USCIS has been issuing a slew of new appointment notices lately. (Maybe trying to justify their budget?) Anyway, enjoyed your blog. Best of luck with the immigration process. Remember to take regular pictures with your wife at various events so that when you finally get called in for the interview you will have plenty of evidence of the bona fide nature of your marriage. Cheers, S

Magdalen said...

SWeeP -- Funny story about that. As you may not know (unless you're a regular reader of the blog, that is), this is actually my *second* "Green Card Marriage." Yes, that's right -- I was previously married to a cryptic crossword-solving Brit. (Of course Hub 1.0 is TOTALLY different from Ross: Cambridge, not Oxford.) What can I say? I have a type.

At the time I married Hub 1.0, I was an associate at a large Philadelphia firm, which had a rudimentary immigrations section (primarily to help corporate clients deal with H1B visas for their employees). At that point, all I knew was the movie Green Card, and since there was no way in hell Hub 1.0 would ever notice what sort of shampoo I used, I asked about the likelihood of a Stokes interview.

In the end, of course, it was a non-issue. The (then-)INS officer had to be forced to look at our wedding pictures!

Ross and I did have photos of us doing things together, like playing bridge. Now, that's got to be pretty dispositive: who plays bridge with their spouse unless they are REALLY married?!