Sunday, September 27, 2009

NYT Monday 9/28/09 - Failure to Appear

This Monday New York Times crossword was another very gentle start to the week and I equaled my best time I think. Getting under five minutes is going to be tough when working on paper - I definitely waste a lot of time searching for clues that would be right there if I solved on a computer. But I still like the flexibility of the old-fashioned solving method.

Although I noted the theme as expressed in the long across answers when solving, it only occurred to me that down answers might also be involved when pointing out to Magdalen that the across material was a bit skimpy. Then I noticed drug bust and flip-flop!
Solving time: 5 mins (solo, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 69a alps {High points of a European trip?}
Solution

Lynn Lempel
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

Each of five long answers ends in a slang term for a failure:
17a cold turkey {Abrupt way to quit}
40a milk dud {Chocolaty morsel munched at movies}
63a cherry bomb {Round, red firecracker}
11d drug bust {Narcs' raid}
39d flip-flop {Beach footwear}
Crucimetrics
CompilersLynn Lempel / Will Shortz
Grid15x15 with 36 (16.0%) black squares
Answers78 (average length 4.85)
Theme squares43 (22.8%)
Scrabble points325 (average 1.72)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

30a Pérez {Actress Rosie of "Do the Right Thing"}. Rosie Pérez is an American actress and made her feature film debut in the referenced Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing (1989). She plays Tina, the Latina girlfriend of Spike Lee's character Mookie.



Nathan Hale13d spy {Nathan Hale, notably}. I had a nasty feeling that I should know this guy already, but searching through my blog suggests he hasn't been referenced in the NYT recently. I gather Nathan Hale (1755–1776) was America's first spy, being captured on an intelligence-gathering trip during the American Revolutionary War and hanged by the British. Oh, he was the guy whose famous last words were "I only regret that I have but one life to give my country".

38d Edna {"Giant" writer Ferber}. A Giant reference that for once has nothing to do with sports teams. Edna Ferber (1885–1968) published the novel Giant in 1952. It was made into a successful movie (1956 - famous as James Dean's last) and there's now a musical.



Noteworthy

Ransom Eli Olds14a Eli {The "E" in 68-Across}; 68a REO {Classic car inits.}. REO is a familiar enough answer in American puzzles: the brand name for these classic cars derives from the initials of their creator Ransom Eli Olds (18641950). Interestingly, Olds' use of assembly lines for producing cars predates Henry Ford's - I'd always thought Ford was the pioneer in the technique.

craps table16a crap {Losing roll in a casino}. An interesting answer, as it sheds light on what kind of words are considered taboo in the NYT crossword. Apparently schmucks was in a puzzle once, and is now a no-no because of objections relating to its original Yiddish meaning. It looks like crap is OK if you clue it with reference to the casino game, and indeed the etymology of the game is different to that for the familiar slang usage. Craps comes from, and was originally called, crapaud (French for "toad"). One wonders if the word will offend nevertheless: crap hasn't appeared as an answer in recent times, although craps gets rolled out about once every two years on average.

alps69a alps {High points of a European trip?}. With all the generous cross-checking around, it didn't hold me up for a moment, but I still like this misleading clue.

2d Eloise {Fictional girl at the Plaza Hotel}. I think Magdalen must be an fan, as she has at least one of the Eloise books. Two made-for-TV movies have appeared, starring Sofia Vassilieva as Eloise and Julie Andrews as Nanny.



The Niagara Frontier6d War {___ of 1812}. I'd heard of the War of 1812, but wanted to look this one up to get my mind clearer about it. In the past I've only associated 1812 with a Tchaikovsky piece, but I see now that it all ties in: the 1812 Overture celebrates Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon, and the War of 1812 started over Britain's attempts to restrict trade between France and the United States. While the Napoleonic Wars were preoccupying Britain in Europe, the United States took the opportunity to declare war on Britain and proceeded to invade Canada. Much of the action took place around Niagara, where we were this summer.

35d 'tis {"___ better to have loved and lost ..."}. Words from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), completed in 1849. It is a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam.



The Rest

1a REM {Sleep stage, for short}; 4a raw egg {Nog ingredient}; 10a adds {Opposite of subtracts}; 15a azalea {Relative of a rhododendron}; 19a Rudy {Former Big Apple mayor Giuliani}; 20a oilier {More greasy}; 21a zero g {State of weightlessness, as in space}; 23a user {Consumer}; 24a -ette {Suffix with cigar}; 27a abbot {Monk's superior}; 32a oar {Boat rower}; 33a mauve {Purplish}; 34a rat on {Betray by blabbing}; 36a bats in {Brings home for a score}; 37a ref {B-ball official}; 42a TDs {N.F.L. six-pointers}; 43a ad-libs {Talks off the cuff}; 45a tunas {Bluefin and albacore}; 47a unite {Join forces}; 48a Joe {V.P. Biden}; 49a nasal {___ congestion}; 53a La Paz {Bolivian capital}; 54a opts {Chooses, with "for"}; 56a Hopi {Southwest Indian}; 57a flies {Gets around like Superman}; 59a A-lines {Flared skirts}; 61a Mali {Saharan country south of Algeria}; 66a bloc {Political coalition}; 67a resign {Quit one's job}; 70a US Open {Annual tennis championship in Queens, N.Y.}; 71a Ann {Advice columnist Landers}.

1d recoup {Get back, as lost money}; 3d Miller {Arthur who wrote "Death of a Salesman"}; 4d rate {Label G or PG, e.g.}; 5d azure {Color of a picture-postcard sky}; 7d elk {Antlered animal}; 8d geezer {Old, crotchety guy}; 9d Gaye {Marvin of Motown}; 10d acrobat {Circus performer}; 12d dad {Mom's mate}; 18d direr {More grim}; 22d Ramadan {Month-long Islamic observance}; 25d tool {Hammer or saw}; 26d tank top {Close-fitting sleeveless shirt}; 28d Ovid {Roman love poet}; 29d tens {Fives and ___}; 31d Zambezi {Africa's fourth-longest river and site of Victoria Falls}; 36d bun {Hot dog holder}; 37d Raul {Fidel Castro's brother}; 41d duet {Performing pair}; 44d italics {Type for book titles}; 46d sahib {Form of address in British India}; 48d joshes {Teases playfully}; 50d Sonora {Mexican state on the Gulf of California}; 51d apemen {Tarzan and kin}; 52d Lisbon {Portugal's capital}; 55d sarge {Beetle Bailey's boss}; 58d ecru {Light brown}; 60d Lynn {One of the Redgrave sisters}; 61d MBA {Degree for a C.E.O.}; 62d all {Entirely}; 64d eso {That, south of the border}; 65d Rip {___ Van Winkle}.

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