Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NYT Thursday 8/27/09 - Pattern Recognition

The theme of this Thursday New York Times crossword was a mystery for a long while, and I hoped to find an explanation of the circled letters that never came. Eventually, I guessed that there was a relationship between the letters in the rows and made sense of it all by writing the circled words alongside the grid.

Once I'd done that, those mysterious "Nth row" clues started to make sense and finishing the puzzle with all this extra help was a cinch.

Note that the words can be transformed into each other simply by a deletion and no jumbling is required. Making the Alphabet Dance: Recreational Wordplay has several longer chains of this type: the neatest IMHO is this one, where all the words are commonplace and letters are removed only from the start or end:

sheathed
sheathe
sheath
heath
heat
eat
at
a
Solving time: 14 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 12d pedestal {Support for the arts?}
Theme

The circled letters in the grid make a triangle of words formed by deleting one letter at a time from the first row word PATTERN. Each word in the triangle is indicated by a specially-clued answer in the puzzle (43-Down doing double-duty):
52a design {First row} => PATTERN
51d spiel {Second row} => PATTER
43d dad {Third or sixth row} => PATER
64a head {Fourth row} => PATE
4d dab {Fifth row} => PAT
43d dad {Third or sixth row} => PA
61d one {Seventh row} => A
Solution

Derek Bowman
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDerek Bowman / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.74)
Theme squares50 (27.0%)
Scrabble points254 (average 1.37)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Pratt Institute29a Pratt {New York's ___ Institute (art school)}. I thought we might have come across the Pratt Institute already this year, but couldn't find it in the blog, so it must be new. The art school was founded by oil industry pioneer Charles Pratt (1830–1891) and has campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Utica. Its motto is "be true to your work, and your work will be true to you".

60a Vero {___ Beach, Fla.}. Vero Beach seemed an unlikely name, but I trusted the crossings and assumed it was OK. It's a city of some 17,000 inhabitants on the east coast of Florida. Until last year Vero Beach housed the spring training camp of the Los Angeles Dodgers and so was dubbed Dodgertown - looks like they're going to need a new nickname.

68a Raye {Comedic star Martha}. Martha Raye (1916–1994) was a comedienne and singer with a career in movies and early TV.



7d Ito {Japanese butler in "Auntie Mame"}. I don't feel so bad for my ignorance here, as Ito (played by Yuki Shimoda) is way down the cast list. Auntie Mame is a book, movie and musical about an orphaned boy Patrick who is looked after by the eponymous madcap aunt.



Helsinki Central Railway Station40d Eliel {Architect Saarinen}. Aaargh! I thought the architect was Eero Saarinen (1910–1961). Correct, but our Eero's calling was no accident: his father Eliel Saarinen (18731950) was also an architect, famous for his art nouveau buildings of the early 20th century. He designed Helsinki's central railway station, which has these rather witty lantern designs.

53d Irene {Classic Broadway musical with the song "Alice Blue Gown"}. Sorry, it may be a classic, but that's not a song I've heard of. Irene had music by Harry Tierney and opened in 1919. Here's the number as it appears in the 1940 movie adaptation.



Noteworthy

TNT37a TNT {C7H5N3O6}. I assume that this is rendered with subscript in the paper, which is of necessity lost in translation to Across Lite's PUZ format. Once I'd disentangled the formula as a CH3 group and three NO2 groups on a benzene ring, I recognized the compound as trinitrotoluene ... you see my Chemistry degree wasn't completely wasted.

65a Eden {Paradise lost}, 12d pedestal {Support for the arts?}. A couple of neat misleading clues.

The Rest

1a bead {Moccasin adornment}; 5a slip {Faux pas}; 9a a dip {Took ___ (went swimming)}; 13a LPGA {With 14-Across, Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam have each won this several times}; 14a title {See 13-Across}; 16a René {Russo who co-starred in "The Thomas Crown Affair"}; 17a Ahab {Literary lead role for Gregory Peck in 1956}; 18a afoul {Run ___ of}; 19a iced {Clinched}; 20a NOP {Alphabet trio}; 21a Alt {Keyboard key}; 22a toe {Boot feature}; 24a Rae {Singer Corinne Bailey ___}; 25a create {Bring into being}; 27a openers {Intros}; 32a errant {Straying}; 33a Astaires {Brother-and-sister dancing duo}; 36a a-sea {Out on the water}; 38a prattle {Foolish chatter}; 41a ESL {Educ. course in which grammar and idioms are taught}; 42a IDed {Verified, in a way}; 44a cruelest {Most merciless}; 46a preamp {Stereo component}; 49a antis {Those against}; 50a solders {Joins}; 56a OMG {Online gasp}; 57a top {"You're the ___" (Cole Porter classic)}; 58a AOL {Popular ISP}; 59a Rio {Brazilian hot spot}; 62a sinew {Muscle connector}; 66a yearn {Have a hankering}; 67a -enne {Suffix akin to -trix}; 69a Leos {Many August babies}; 70a pets {Guinea pigs, maybe}.

1d Blanc {Mont ___}; 2d ephor {Ancient Spartan magistrate}; 3d agape {Wide open}; 5d stale air {Result of poor ventilation}; 6d lift {Boost}; 8d Pluto {Mickey Mouse's puppy pal}; 9d Ari {Shipping magnate Onassis}; 10d decreases {Shrinks}; 11d in earnest {Passionately}; 15d elope {Act without the parents' blessings, say}; 21d a trap {"Don't go in there! It's ___!"}; 23d e'er {Always, poetically}; 26d apt {Fitting}; 28d NRA {Lobby in a D.C. building?}; 30d Trac {___ II razor}; 31d tetra {Neon ___}; 33d Andromeda {Gene Roddenberry-inspired sci-fi series}; 34d steel-grey {Metallic shade, in Sheffield}; 35d stun {Knock out}; 37d tips over {Upsets}; 39d let-downs {Disappointments}; 45d -ess {Suffix akin to -trix}; 47d met {Intersected}; 48d prosy {Like plain text}; 54d giant {Bigger than big}; 55d nodes {Intersecting points}; 58d aero {Aviation-related}; 63d nae {Edinburgh refusal}; 64d hep {Up on things, daddy-o}.

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