Saturday, September 19, 2009

NYT Sunday 9/20/09 - Happy End-ding

This Sunday New York Times crossword seemed slightly harder than usual. Once we worked out what was going on from Raising Branding, we filled in the dings down the grid, trusting there would be no dongs (and clearly dings are much more amenable to the idea). But getting the rest of the theme answers usually required a lot of crossings.

The only theme answer I had any difficulty with was Gentle Bending, the character Gentle Ben not having come to my attention before. There are clearly black bears living in the woods right by us: we hear of sightings all the time, but I've only seen one in the far distance locally and one close up on our trip to West Virginia. It's just a matter of time before I bump into one on our property - I hope then that I meet the gentle variety.


Solving time: 40 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 100d bee {One using a comb}
Solution

Michael Ashley
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]

Theme

"Closing bell" ... ding is added to phrases, making a pun:
23a Raisin Branding {Goal of Sun-Maid's marketing department?}
39a greens feeding {Salad bar activity?}
52a Of Mice and Mending {Book on how to repair rodent damage?}
69a long time no seeding {Reason that nothing's growing on the farm?}
88a ain't we got funding {Question from a campaign committee?}
98a Gentle Bending {Exercise for beginning yoga students?}
120a drawing pending {Tardy illustrator's assurance?}
Crucimetrics
CompilersMichael Ashley / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 80 (18.1%) black squares
Answers140 (average length 5.16)
Theme squares103 (28.5%)
Scrabble points530 (average 1.47)
Letters usedABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
New To Me

19a Ana {Gasteyer of stage and screen}. Ana Gasteyer made her name on Saturday Night Live - since SNL didn't air in the UK, I don't usually know its alums unless they became globally famous later in their careers. She plays the latecomer Marissa in this sketch:



50a Neal {Beat poet Cassady}. Neal Cassady (19261968) was a major figure in the Beat Generation, being immortalized as Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac's On the Road. A biopic about his life was released in 2007.



87a run {Take a powder}. I'd forgotten the figurative meaning of "take a powder" and needed this reminder. It means to depart quickly, e.g. to avoid arrest. The origins of the expression aren't completely clear: perhaps you're running to powder your nose; stirring up the dust when running; or running having just taken a laxative powder?

118a Orser {Eight-time Canadian skating champion}. It looks like we had Brian Orser in April, so it's bad I didn't remember him. Known as "Mr. Triple Axel", Brian won silver medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.



126a Earl {Broadway columnist Wilson}. Wilson Earl? No, Earl Wilson (19071987), known for his nationally syndicated column, It Happened Last Night.

Hurrican Inez42d Inez {Deadly 1966 hurricane}. Hurricane Inez is among the deadliest hurricanes on record, with an approximate death toll of 1,000. Its erratic path took it through the West Indies, the Bahamas, Florida and Mexico.

71d Toni {Novelist Morrison}. Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 and a Pulitzer in 1988 for Beloved, which was made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998.



Gavin Newsom74d Gavin {San Francisco mayor Newsom}. Gavin Newsom is the incumbent Democratic mayor of San Francisco, being first elected in 2003. He's announced his candidacy for governor of California in the 2010 election.

Noteworthy

41d slim {Spare}. One of the few dictionary clues that made me pause to think about the equivalence of clue and answer: "spare" can mean thin/lean, as in "a spare figure".

Otranto93d Otranto {Town on the SE tip of Italy that's the title setting for a Horace Walpole novel}. I was pleased to get this one from the evidence provided in the clue. The novel in question is The Castle of Otranto, first published in 1764; it's generally regarded as kicking off the Gothic literary genre, subtitling itself as "A Gothic Story". Otranto's castle is in reality called the Castello Aragonese.

102d grin {Meaning of the emoticon :-D}. Lovely clue - it's great to see such freedom and innovation in crossword cluing.

The Rest

1a dim {Low-I.Q.}; 4a wisp {Slender amount}; 8a CBS-TV {Letterman airer}; 13a age-old {Venerable}; 20a roué {He's less than a gentleman}; 21a audio {Broadcast element}; 22a vendor {Carnival sight}; 26a engine {You might give this a gun}; 27a end at {Conclude by}; 28a pelt {Shower with force}; 29a start anew {Go back to square one}; 31a desk {Office holder, of sorts}; 32a osiers {Willow twigs}; 35a user {Word with interface or option}; 36a shoe {Part of a brake}; 45a gas {Hot air}; 48a Arne {Composer Thomas}; 51a Lenya {Actress Lotte}; 58a ESL {Immigrant's course, for short}; 59a Iranis {Dwellers on the Strait of Hormuz}; 60a VOA {Overseas news source, in brief}; 61a amortizes {Pays down incrementally}; 64a Nolte {Murphy's "48 HRS." co-star}; 65a oozed {Seeped}; 68a darn {"Drat!"}; 75a idio- {Peculiar: Prefix}; 76a scrum {Rugby play}; 77a beads {Units of sweat}; 80a Britannia {Subject for 48-Across}; 85a ami {Athos, to Aramis}; 86a huevos {Dish served ranchero-style}; 92a iBook {Old Apple laptop}; 95a goad {Push}; 96a Sega {Company founded in 1940 as Standard Games}; 97a net {Bottom line}; 103a loll {Hang around}; 105a rile {Push too hard, maybe}; 106a stared {Was gaping}; 108a Oahu {Aloha Tower site}; 112a colanders {Porous kitchen utensils}; 117a rigs {Throws together}; 119a avenge {Repay}; 124a teeter {Be on the brink}; 125a at-bat {Up time}; 127a ace {Whiz}; 128a errors {Position player's stat}; 129a Sacha {Baron Cohen who created 25-Down}; 130a dray {Cart for heavy loads}; 131a Ned {Lead character on "Pushing Daisies"}.

1d dared {Took a chance}; 2d inane {For the birds}; 3d maids {Ones who'll straighten you up?}; 4d writ {Formal order}; 5d ion {Cloud chamber particle}; 6d subpoena {Form of 4-Down}; 7d Peres {P.M. preceded and succeeded by Shamir}; 8d canter {Easy gallop}; 9d bud {Chum}; 10d SDI {Reagan cause: Abbr.}; 11d tins {Pantry array}; 12d Vogt {Science fiction author A. E. van ___}; 13d averse {Against, with "to"}; 14d genteel {Well-bred}; 15d en garde {Cry before waving the hand}; 16d Odin {Ruler of the Aesir}; 17d lone {Isolated}; 18d drew {Had no play in crazy eights}; 24d Saks {Retailer beginning in 1867}; 25d Ali G {Alter ego of Borat and Brüno}; 30d auf {Start of a German goodbye}; 33d René {Haitian president Préval}; 34d seen {In the public eye}; 37d hacienda {Home south of the border}; 38d ores {Gemstone sources}; 40d nada {Zilch}; 43d NYSE {Closing bell place: Abbr.}; 44d gals {Hoedown participants}; 45d go in {Enter}; 46d afro {Early Michael Jackson style}; 47d small {Petty}; 49d envoi {End of a ballade}; 53d into it {Really engrossed}; 54d doom {Something often thought of as impending}; 55d mazes {Lab challenges}; 56d node {Branching point}; 57d grad {Diploma holder}; 62d tribunal {Court of justice}; 63d in need {Destitute}; 66d enc. {S.A.S.E., e.g.}; 67d do-rag {Informal headwear}; 70d Gina {Actress Lollobrigida}; 72d sumo {Sport of a rikishi}; 73d emits {Sends out}; 78d done {Ready, in the kitchen}; 79d SSgt {U.S. Army E-6}; 80d brig {Naval lockup}; 81d rube {Bumpkin}; 82d in on {___ a secret}; 83d Inge {Pulitzer playwright of 1953}; 84d a ton {Heaps}; 86d Hugo {Science fiction prize}; 89d wads {Lots of moolah}; 90d edit {Switch lines, say?}; 91d feldspar {Mineral that crystallizes from magma}; 94d Klinger {"M*A*S*H" corporal}; 99d elders {Council members}; 100d bee {One using a comb}; 101d Narita {Tokyo's airport}; 104d lord {Whom a thane attended}; 107d egged {Pushed, with "on"}; 109d Asian {Broad style of cuisine}; 110d hence {From this time}; 111d urged {Pushed}; 112d Cate {Actress Blanchett}; 113d over {Much-repeated word in air traffic control}; 114d leer {Creepy look}; 115d RDAs {Vitamin bottle info, for short}; 116d Srta. {Mex. miss}; 118d only {Right turn ___}; 121d ABC {Symbol of simplicity}; 122d wah {When doubled, a musical effect}; 123d era {Prohibition, e.g.}.

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