Sunday, September 27, 2009

NYT Sunday 9/27/09 - XLNC

This Sunday New York Times crossword was another that Magdalen and I solved together after midnight. We'd been to see the current show at the Cider Mill Playhouse - 8-Track: The Sounds of the 70's. Magdalen seemed to know all the songs, but I only remembered about a quarter of them - maybe because some US hits didn't make it to the UK, but probably because I wasn't hugely into popular music at the time (was I ever?).

Anyway, we were a little puzzled at the start why the longer answers seemed to be normally clued, but then rationalized our first rebus square (the tooth decay one, I think) and were off. We have met this type of idea before, but this one was implemented with some excellency: the only very minor blemish we noted is that all the letter pairs correspond to one answer word except for CU in see you later; and we regretted that the rebus squares weren't symmetrically disposed, as that would have helped with the solving (but concede the idea must have been hard enough to implement without that added constraint).
Solving time: 45 mins (with Magdalen, no solving aids)
Clue of the puzz: 7d alarm {Screamer at a crime scene}

Patrick Berry
Grid art by Sympathy [about the grid colors]


Thirteen "rebus" squares contain two letters. In one direction these are a normal part of the answer; in the other direction, the answer contains the sound of the two letters:
31a tooth decay {Dental problem} DK
70a Around the World in Eighty Days {1873 adventure novel that begins and ends in London}
87a rest easy {Stop worrying} EZ
108a poison ivy {It's not to be touched} IV
116a green with envy {Jealous} NV
2d photo essay {Life magazine staple} SA
13d carpe diem {Latin catchphrase sometimes seen on sundials} DM
14d see you later {Casual farewell} CU
48d Eydie Gormé {Singer who played herself in "Ocean's Eleven"} ED
60d Katey Sagal {"Married ... With Children" actress} KT
67d to excess {How drunks drink} XS
94d Casey Jones {Driver of the Cannonball Special} KC
104d Kewpie doll {Carny booth prize} QP
The highlight for me was Casey Jones, the title of a hugely popular TV show in our household when I was a small kid ... my younger sisters loved to sing the theme tune, but never quite picked up what the words were (so "steamin' and a-rollin'" became "steaming à la Roman" etc). Here's the real thing:

CompilersPatrick Berry / Will Shortz
Grid21x21 with 72 (16.3%) black squares
Answers138 (average length 5.35)
Theme squares142 (38.5%)
Scrabble points581 (average 1.57)
New To Me

Leopard10a iMac {Leopard's home?}. Leopard is apparently the nickname for the otherwise prosaically dubbed "Mac OS X version 10.5". This attempt to mislead was perhaps too obvious for Apple users and maybe too obscure for PC users ... and you tend to be in one or the other camp. The market share for operating systems is now about 5% Mac and 93% Windows according to the Net Applications site, though I suspect there may be a higher proportion of Mac users than that among solvers of the NYT.

97a poem {Masters piece}. That "Masters" really does have a capital M, since this clue refers to the American poet Edgar Lee Masters (1869-1950). His most famous work is the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of short free-form poems that collectively describe the life of the fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' home town.

106a atonic {Unaccented syllable}. A dictionary word obscure enough that I haven't encountered it before. "Unaccented" is in the sense of "unstressed" (rather than lacking a grave/acute etc): when a word is pronounced, the stressed syllable is the tonic, the unstressed syllables are atonic.

43d Dinah {Singer Washington}. Dinah Washington (1924–1963) was an American singer known as the "Queen of the Blues"; although she died young, she was one of the most influential vocalists of the twentieth century. Here she is performing in a very odd dress at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.


60a K-tel {Music compilation marketer}. This took our minds back to 8-Track: The Sounds of the 70's, which opens with the cast plugging a song compilation à la K-tel.

81a mare {Flicka, e.g.}. A reference to the 1941 novel My Friend Flicka and its two sequels, written by Mary O'Hara. I think my mother has/had this one on her shelves, which is how I came to remember it. It spawned popular film and TV adaptations.

125a Yeats {"Sailing to Byzantium" writer}. I got this answer right by accident: it seems Yeats wrote a poem called Sailing to Byzantium (1927) and one called just Byzantium (1930), which seems to be a rethinking of the earlier poem. I in fact only knew the latter, from Sir Michael Tippett's 1991 piece for soprano and orchestra of the same name.

The Rest

1a appal {Horrify}; 6a pack {Get ready to go}; 14a cudgel {Club}; 19a shine {Excel}; 20a alai {Jai ___}; 21a mama {Baby carrier}; 22a Leone {Sierra ___}; 23a Costa Brava {Resort region near Barcelona}; 25a pharmacist {Drug distributor}; 27a Ott {Famous Giant}; 28a Terri {Country singer Gibbs}; 29a ore {Vein contents}; 30a patines {Surface films: Var.}; 33a marker gene {Key sequence in a chromosome}; 36a gab {Chitchat}; 37a salient {Very noticeable}; 39a Riis {Jacob who wrote "How the Other Half Lives"}; 40a admirable {Praiseworthy}; 42a proud {Self-satisfied}; 44a tests {Hospital bill items}; 46a dys- {Prefix with function}; 47a reds {Chianti and Beaujolais}; 50a blitz {Big rush}; 52a Rubik's {___ Cube}; 56a agts. {Authors' aids: Abbr.}; 58a Sino- {___-Japanese War}; 59a Topeka {Brown v. Board of Education city}; 63a forma {Pro ___}; 65a palatal {Of the mouth's roof}; 68a foresee {Envision}; 73a emptier {Less popular, as a restaurant}; 74a Rex Stout {"Fer-de-Lance" mystery novelist}; 75a sagos {Certain palms}; 76a Les {"WKRP in Cincinnati" role}; 77a tee pad {Driving surface}; 79a pate {Crown}; 82a came at {Attacked}; 83a Benin {Republic once known as Dahomey}; 84a Lee {Surname of two signers of the Declaration of Independence}; 85a A to {From ___ Z}; 90a enter {Take part in}; 93a crank case {Dipstick housing}; 99a Graham {Car make of the 1930s}; 102a amt {No. on a check}; 103a John Q Public {American everyman}; 110a dry {Like some humor}; 111a Doria {Andrea known as the liberator of Genoa}; 113a is a {"Patience ___ virtue"}; 114a Liam Neeson {Ethan Frome portrayer, 1993}; 118a Ernie {"Sesame Street" regular}; 119a role {It might be assumed}; 120a Aida {Opera set in ancient Egypt}; 121a atria {Courtyards}; 122a teats {Baby bottle tops}; 123a sold {Tag in an antique store}; 124a tbsp. {Med. dose}.

1d ascot {Dressy tie}; 3d pistol {Something to draw}; 4d ant {Queen's servant, maybe}; 5d leather {Baseball coverage?}; 6d Parr {Catherine who survived Henry VIII}; 7d alarm {Screamer at a crime scene}; 8d caviar {Pricey appetizer}; 9d Kia {Maker of the Optima}; 10d impress {Wow}; 11d Maher {"Real Time With Bill ___"}; 12d AMA {Antismoking org.}; 15d deci- {Numerical prefix}; 16d going by {Passing}; 17d enseals {Closes tight}; 18d lets be {Doesn't bother}; 24d bedknobs {Post decorations on four-posters}; 26d Man I {"The ___ Love" (Gershwin song)}; 29d Okie {Depression-era migrant}; 32d tip {Recommendation}; 34d Ritz {Prestigious London hotel}; 35d gas up {Fill the tank}; 38d tulip-tree {Yellow poplar}; 41d ads {Some pop-ups}; 45d Trollope {Author of the Barsetshire novels}; 47d Rafael {San ___ (San Francisco suburb)}; 49d strops {Barbershop sights}; 51d tolerate {Stomach}; 53d befitting {Suitable for}; 54d ikon {Venerated image: Var.}; 55d karats {Units of fineness}; 57d smut {Offensive lines?}; 59d tart {Like vinaigrette}; 61d Eeyore {Gloomy Milne character}; 62d lessee {Flat dweller}; 64d Anita {One of the Pointer Sisters}; 66d awed {Full of fear}; 69d Edam {Dutch export}; 71d deem {Judge}; 72d Duane {Guitarist Eddy}; 78d paren. {One end of a digression, for short?}; 80d entrain {Go aboard}; 82d con {Flimflam}; 83d bezel {Chisel face}; 85d armoire {Large wardrobe}; 86d Tatiana {"From Russia With Love" Bond girl Romanova}; 88d spurned {Rejected as unworthy}; 89d Toby {Mug with a mug}; 91d eat away {Corrode}; 92d rho {Density symbol}; 93d caplet {Pill that's easily swallowed}; 95d A-one {Excellent}; 96d shivers {Flu symptom, with "the"}; 98d midrib {Leaf vein}; 100d Anitra {"Peer Gynt" princess}; 101d mishit {Bad connection, say}; 105d Coeds {"Here Come the ___" (Abbott and Costello film set at a girls' school)}; 107d canvas {Sneaker material}; 109d smit {Struck down, old-style}; 112d reap {Harvest}; 115d Soo {The Great Lakes' ___ Locks}; 116d gat {Slang for a 3-Down}; 117d -ite {Suffix with favor}.


Melissa said...

Did I miss something or is there a miss on 55d - not enough room for plural Karats?

Crossword Man said...

Hi Melissa ... did you put the AT of karats in a single square, so that it makes the "Eighty" of the across answer? If you do that, everything should fit just fine.