Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NYT Thursday 8/6/09 - Bad Speaks

After yesterday's problems, I was glad to solve this New York Times crossword in about the average time for a Thursday. Sanity wasn't completely restored, however, because today's theme involved incorrect renderings of words and phrases - since these are in theory unlimited, you had to be very confident of all the down answers.

I think it's significant that the explanation in 29-Across mentions "ordinary conversation". I imagined for a while that the idea involved spelling mistakes, but it's clear this wouldn't be true of all the theme answers. For example, irregardless seems to be correctly formed as far as spelling is concerned, but it wouldn't be regarded as correct English.

Actually, I note that the New Oxford American Dictionary does list irregardless as an "informal" usage - if enough people make the same mistake, a "wrong" word can gradually become acceptable and eventually supersede the original "correct" usage.
Solving time: 18 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 2d Libra {Scales seen at night}
Theme

Seven solecisms in spoken English, as explained by 29a err {Use the answer to any of this puzzle's starred clues in ordinary conversation?}.
17a perogative {Privilege} - should be prerogative
19a irregardless {No matter} - should be regardless
31a excetera {And so forth} - should be etcetera
36a pronounciations {Ways things are said} - should be pronunciations
41a asterick {Sign to look elsewhere} - should be asterisk
54a came acrossed {Stumbled upon} - should be came across
57a supposably {As it's widely believed} - should be supposedly
Solution

Dan Naddor
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Crucimetrics
CompilersDan Naddor / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 40 (17.8%) black squares
Answers74 (average length 5.00)
Theme squares75 (40.5%)
Scrabble points273 (average 1.48)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

Margaret Cho43a Cho {Comedian Margaret}. I gather that the Korean American Margaret Cho is primarily known as an edgy comedian, but has many other strings to her bow: fashion designer, actress, author and recording artist.

62a Crue {Rock's Mötley ___}. I think the rather bizarrely spelled and accented Mötley Crüe had caught my eye at some point, but really I knew nothing about them until today. They are a hard rock band known for their hard-living lifestyles, founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx (there's a name that befits a crossword).



66a Dees {Rick with the 1976 #1 hit "Disco Duck"}. It seems Rick Dees's claims to fame are that he hosts a Top 40 Countdown show and had the cited novelty song as a hit in 1976.



33d Corey {Actor Feldman}. I could think of Marty but it was fairly soon clear this wasn't right. Corey Feldman is from a later generation of actors. Here he is in an early role, playing Teddy Duchamp in Stand by Me:



Buffalo Sabres49d Sabre {New York hockey player}. I thought this must relate to a New York City team, but my researches lead me to Buffalo, NY where the Buffalo Sabres are based. I think we may have seen their playing arena when we came back from Canada a few weeks ago.

Noteworthy

2d Libra {Scales seen at night}. Great misleading clue - you can't weigh yourself with these scales.

6d acer {One-hit wonder?}. Another neat clue, this time referring to those tennis stars selfish enough not to let the other guy get a racket to the ball.

Dean Rusk30d Rusk {Kennedy's secretary of state}. Somehow I got to Dean Rusk (1909–1994). I remember studying the Cuban missile crisis at school ... could it be that I was awake enough for some of the names involved to register?

52d Deare {"The Wreck of the Mary ___"}. A title I recalled, though I'm sure I've never read the Hammond Innes book. A British-American film adaptation was made in 1959.



The Rest

1a El Al {Commercial name that literally means "to the skies"}; 5a rahs {Shouts while shaking pompoms}; 9a lull {Break}; 13a Mila {"___ 18" (Leon Uris novel)}; 14a Ice-T {"Law & Order: S.V.U." actor}; 15a copay {Insurance figure}; 16a abet {Opposite of hinder}; 21a latte {Milch : German :: ___ : Italian}; 22a sea-calf {Common seal}; 25a Etna {Virgil described its "roar of frightful ruin"}; 28a NRA {New Deal org.}; 35a Frau {Lady of the Haus}; 40a ears {All ___}; 42a eye {Check out}; 46a teas {Some fund-raisers}; 47a Syrians {One side in Mideast talks}; 50a Mt. Ida {Peak for Zeus, in Homer}; 60a Esai {Morales of "NYPD Blue"}; 61a knits {Stocking caps, e.g.}; 63a euro {24-Down replacement}; 64a ions {Ammonium particles, e.g.}; 65a tees {Gets ready, with "up"}.

1d email {Modern letters}; 3d alert {Ready}; 4d late teens {Age range for most first-year college students}; 5d Ripa {TV host Kelly}; 7d herds {Range rovers}; 8d stolen {Hot}; 9d lotsa {Much, slangily}; 10d UPI {News inits.}; 11d lav {John}; 12d lye {Cause of some skin burns}; 15d Casca {Conspirator against Caesar}; 18d gear {Backpack fill}; 20d get to {Really irk}; 23d Le Roi {"Vive ___!"}; 24d franc {Coin with a laurel branch on the back}; 26d neu {Modern: Ger.}; 27d Arn {Son of Prince Valiant}; 31d épée {Individual and team event at the Olympics}; 32d X-rays {Imaging lab output}; 34d acá {Here, to Javier}; 35d first seed {Tournament favorite}; 37d -ist {Suffix with sex}; 38d ate {Had}; 39d te amo {Juan's words of affection}; 43d ciaos {Informal byes}; 44d hams {Unlikely Oscar nominees}; 45d one-act {Without a break}; 48d rcpts. {Sales slips: Abbr.}; 51d issue {Put out}; 53d adiós {Informal bye}; 55d clue {Object under a magnifying glass, maybe}; 56d ryes {Some whiskeys}; 57d ski {Make tracks?}; 58d uno {Formula ___ (Italian auto racing)}; 59d pin {A.T.M. need}.

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